Pro-Trump cable network One America News is selling QAnon emojis on its YouTube channel, cashing in on the conspiracy movement that the FBI considers a potential source of domestic terrorrism.
OAN viewers who pay $4.95 a month to become “members” of the OAN channel on YouTube can use customized QAnon emojis in OAN’s comment sections, in an apparent attempt to win over QAnon believers.
OAN’s sale of the right to use custom QAnon emojis in its comment stream is yet another illustration of how deep QAnon has become integrated into conservative media and, relatedly, the Republican Party, which now has two Senate candidates and several House nominees endorsing the conspiracy theory.
It’s not clear how many people have signed up for the OAN YouTube membership, when OAN started offering the emojis, or how many of those sign-ups were driven by the opportunity to use QAnon emojis. But the creation of the emojis reflects a decision to monetize, not expel, the conspiracy believers. If QAnon fans are going to spam QAnon in the OAN comments, it seems the network has decided they might as well get some money out of it.
An upstart cable network that has been embraced by President Trump, OAN didn’t respond to a request for comment. Neither did YouTube, which receives a 30 percent cut of all memberships sold in OAN’s YouTube channel.
For that $4.95, OAN fans can buy a “membership” in OAN’s channel, which entitles them to mild perks like a star-emoji flair next to their names. But it also gives them access to custom emojis—that one can use to comment on streaming videos—that have been put in place by the channel’s owner: OAN.
Most of the custom OAN emojis are innocuous, featuring pictures of Trump and his allies. They also include more specific Trumpworld reference points, including a can of Goya food—which Trump turned into an avatar of his support among Hispanics—and an emoji of MyPillow founder and Trump supporter Mike Lindell. Others feature the outlines of various states shaded in a Republican red.
But OAN has also gone big on QAnon. One QAnon emoji, dubbed “QAnon1” in files, features a large Q in a patriotic color scheme. Another 2020-themed emoji replaces the zeroes in 2020 with Q’s, making it “2Q2Q.”
Another OAN emoji—that is just a yellow box with black letters spelling out “GITMO”—ostensibly offers viewers the chance to support the prospect of top Democrats being arrested and sent to Guantanamo Bay. QAnon believers hold that Trump is engaged in a shadowy war with a cabal of cannibal-pedophiles in the Democratic Party, and that he’ll eventually order a series of mass arrests called “The Storm” that will result in figures like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama facing military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay. To show their support for this purge, QAnon believers who buy the OAN membership can post the “GITMO” emoji. Another, similarly themed, emoji shows Clinton behind prison bars.
OAN’s YouTube channel emojis even promote the theory—a fringe one even within QAnon circles—that John F. Kennedy Jr. faked his death and will take Mike Pence’s spot on the 2020 ticket. OAN’s chat offers a custom emoji for QAnon believers to show their support for Vincent Fusca, a scruffy Trump supporter who QAnon believers think is JFK Jr. in disguise. The emoji, entitled “FUSCA,” features the fedora-wearing man smiling.
This isn’t the first time OAN has dabbled in conspiracy theories. The channel was the source for Trump’s bogus claim that an elderly Buffalo, New York, protester who was pushed over by police was secretly trying to scan police communications. In June, Pizzagate promoter and OAN personality Jack Posobiec claimed, without offering any evidence, that a cache of pipe bombs had been discovered near the Korean War Memorial. No proof of the supposed pipe bombs ever emerged, and law enforcement agencies in the area said there were no bombs.
Still, OAN has not been explicitly pro-QAnon, perhaps in part because QAnon believers have been accused of committing a series of crimes, including two murders, a terrorist incident near the Hoover Dam, and two child kidnapping plots, as an outgrowth of their beliefs.
And it was Posobiec himself who produced a segment in 2018 aiming to debunk the conspiracy theory. “Thousands of dollars have been made by the professional Q decoders, while others turned the movement into a cheap buck,” Posobiec said.