What the hell is QAnon?
The nutty conspiracy theory espoused by Trump supporters is so labyrinthian and removed from reality that even its biggest fans can’t seem to fully explain it.
Speaking with a bevy of QAnon groupies attending Trump’s Thursday evening rally in Wilkes-Barre, Penn., CNN correspondent Gary Tuchman pressed them to offer evidence for the fringe movement’s claims.
“Who do you think Q is?” Tuchman asked one woman wearing a Q shirt reading “The Storm Is Here.”
“It’s an entity of ten or less people that have high security clearance,” she replied.
“How do you know that?” Tuchman asked.
“I’m just telling you what it appears to be,” she said.
“What it appears to be,” the reporter repeated. “So you don’t have any proof of it. You’re just guessing.”
“And you don’t have any proof there isn’t,” the woman defiantly fired back.
As The Daily Beast’s own Will Sommer recently explained, QAnon is a grassroots conspiracy theory that originated on 4chan and its fringe companion 8chan last year. An anonymous person or persons, going by the pseudonym “Q,” has been posting a vague series of what supporters (the “Anon” part) call “breadcrumbs,” helping them piece together a completely bizarre plot line in which President Trump was secretly appointed by the U.S. military to take down a cabal of global banking fat cats, Hillary Clinton-led murder squads, deep-state actors, and Pizzagate-like pedophile rings that have long controlled the “criminal presidency.”
Trump and his allies will eventually send all of these supposed enemies of freedom—including Clinton, Barack Obama, and Tom Hanks (wtf?)—to prison at Guantanamo Bay. That great reckoning is called “The Storm.”
Further complicating an already-insane narrative, QAnon disciples have been told that Special Counsel Robert Mueller—who is currently probing alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia—is actually working hand-in-hand with the president to take down this shadowy cabal of pedophiles.
Oh, and after previously thinking Trump himself was Q, some disciples now believe John F. Kennedy Jr. faked his own 1999 death to take on the anonymous identity and destroy the pedophiles and deep-state operatives who control the government.
You may think “these people cannot possibly be real,” but the past week has proven that they are very much flesh-and-blood and are willing to shed anonymity to appear in public and espouse their beliefs.
The ground-zero for QAnon gatherings, of course, have been President Trump’s rallies. This week, he traveled to Florida and Pennsylvania, where local and national media got their first real taste of the insane conspiracy theory. Trump fans waved “We Are Q” signs in front of Fox News’ cameras during the president’s speeches, held up wood-carved Q placards, wore t-shirts with the letter Q, or donned a crown of glittery letters spelling QAnon.
And when reporters, both local and national, attempted to let QAnon supporters explain what the hell it is they believe, things went off the rails.
Tampa-based ABC affiliate WPLG-TV caught up with one particularly twitchy QAnon acolyte who showed off a palm-sized “Q” coin and explained that Trump’s covert mission to take down a cabal of pedophilic deep-staters began last year when he met with military leaders.
Since then, the unnamed man explained, QAnon has been “military intelligence… talking to all of us… letting us know what’s going on behind the scenes… letting us know the covert battles that are waged between the deep state and President Trump and his military alliance.”
The man continued to say “We have control now” and that QAnon is an effort to “combat the mainstream media,” long a bugaboo of Trump’s conservative base.
Vice News reporter Evan McMorris-Santoro interviewed a QAnon-supporting couple, Jennifer and Jamie Buteau, who became internet-famous when Q fans believed they saw President Trump directly wave at and acknowledge the pair at the end of his Tampa speech.
“It’s fun [to be a part of] because things get revealed,” Jennifer claimed. “It’s fun because we know before it’s going to happen,” Jamie chimed in, adding that “Q told us that at 4 a.m., the media get their talking points.”
His proof that the prophecy came true: “The video with the media, [where it] starts out with one, and then they keep adding blocks and, before you know it, they’re all saying the same thing,” a.k.a., the damning Deadspin video compilation showing affiliate anchors working for Sinclair, a right-wing media conglomerate, reading off the exact same Trump-like script decrying “the troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories plaguing our country.”
Buteau offered that example without irony or seemingly any knowledge of the actual pro-Trump nature of those infamous must-read Sinclair scripts.
The lack of any physical evidence even remotely confirming their claims hasn’t stopped QAnon supporters from confidently boasting of the movement’s success.
Speaking with another woman in Q shirt in Wilkes-Barre on Thursday, CNN’s Tuchman pointedly asked: “You think maybe it just makes you comfortable talking with other frustrated, sometimes angry people?”
“Yes!” the woman beamed.
“But maybe it’s not true because there’s no evidence of it,” Tuchman continued, “it’s just stuff being talked about on the internet, right?”
Her response: “There hasn’t been any non-evidence yet.”
Another man Tuchman spoke with refused to concede it is possible he believes in “bogus information,” instead staring directly into CNN’s cameras and pleading directly with the cult-like movement’s leader:
“Let’s see, Q, let’s see!”