San Diego-Based Host Of 'QAnon Anonymous' Podcast Breaks Down The Conspiracy Theory
Speaker 1: 00:00 What to Hillary Clinton, Tom Hanks, Barack Obama, Pope Francis, Oprah Winfrey, and the Dalai Lama have in common followers of a conspiracy theory called Q Anon claim. They belong to an underground satanic cult. That's sexually abused as children and practices, cannibalism Q Anon. Isn't so anonymous. Now that president Trump has acknowledged them and at least one of their inherence is likely headed to Congress. And last night, a speaker was pulled from the GOP convention lineup at the last minute after tweeting antisemitic and Q Anon conspiracy theories. Joining me to explain this phenomenon is Travis view a San Diego based researcher on conspiracy theories and cohost of the podcast Q Anon anonymous. Welcome to midday edition. Speaker 2: 00:43 Thanks so much for inviting me. Speaker 1: 00:44 So who is Q and what is Q Anon, which we've seen tout in OD signs and shirts at many Trump rallies, it was associated with the infamous pizza gate incident in 2017, right? Speaker 2: 00:56 Well, yeah. Uh, cue is an anonymous entity that first started posting on four Chan in October of 2017. And Q essentially claimed that they were some kind of government insider who was releasing secret coded information about a, uh, great global war that Trump was allegedly fighting against a satanic cabal of, uh, pedophiles love Cuba followers. Believe that Q is a group of high level military intelligence officials that are close to Trump. Of course, there's no real evidence that anything besides someone who was very, uh, very good at sort of manipulating people's hopes and desires Speaker 1: 01:35 And how many people believe in QA, Speaker 2: 01:38 You really don't have a good solid poll about the size of the Q Anon community. There was a recent analysis by the guardian that showed that 3 million Facebook accounts followed various Facebook pages and groups. Uh, but there's probably some overlap there. There's a recent analysis by, uh, Mark Andre. Argentino at Concordia university that showed the presence of Q Anon in 71 countries. So I can't say for sure, but it is a global worldwide phenomenon and probably has somewhere in the low millions of followers. Speaker 1: 02:07 And this group sounds crazy even in today's swamp of conspiracy theories, but Facebook, Twitter, major newspapers and national leaders are sounding the alarm and the FBI warns of the potential for violence. There's already been a few incidents, right? Speaker 2: 02:20 Yes. In fact, we've already had a Q and a follower who pleaded guilty to a terrorism charge, uh, Matthew, right. He held an armed standoff on the Hoover dam bridge, uh, demanding the release of inspector general report that doesn't exist, but he thought existed because of Q Anon. Uh, there's also, you know, other instance, there was a case of the Cynthia Absec. This is a Colorado woman who pleaded guilty for, uh, plotting an armed raid with fellow Q and on followers. Uh, there's also a case about Ryan [inaudible] who committed arson against the pizzeria comment, ping pong for falsely believing that it was a center of a sex trafficking ring. So yeah, there is, uh, many concerning incidents of a domestic tied to QA. Speaker 1: 03:00 What's your sense of how people get attracted to this? I have a bunch of people in this country just submerge themselves and grow scalability. Speaker 2: 03:08 Uh, I mean that is basically it, there is a really a widespread sense of like institutional distrust. Um, they just simply reject anything that they consider to beat what they consider to be the mainstream narrative, which more often than not is simply, uh, you know, well evidenced, uh, you know, facts about the world. And so they, instead, instead of submerge themselves in this, uh, alternate fantasy world, that's a little bit more appealing to their personal perspective. Speaker 1: 03:35 And what are social media platforms doing to put a stop to the Q and a nonsense? Aren't they a little too late. Speaker 2: 03:42 They are really too late. I mean, um, some, uh, social media platforms acted quickly read it, for example, all the way back in September of 2018, they banned all Q and unrelated sub right it's because they realized there was a problem. Uh, other the bigger, uh, social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, they recently have taken action to stop recommending, uh, Q and on pages in algorithms and even band some, uh, Q and non-related pages and groups. But by this point, the, the, the Q and on network of followers has grown beyond in any individual, uh, social network online. So I don't think this is going to do much to slow the popularity of the movement. Speaker 1: 04:22 No, I ran for it's to Marjorie Taylor greener Republican candidate for Congress and Georgia, whom Trump has called a rising GOP star and a winner if she wins in November, which is likely what might her presence in Congress mean? Speaker 2: 04:35 I mean, we already have a, a, a, at least one Congress member who's sympathetic to Q and on this, Paul Gosser, even though he hasn't specifically endorsed Q Anon, he has sort of, uh, retweeted Q on the followers. I mean, it was certainly signal that this kind of extremism is becoming a more acceptable. And I think the real danger there is that we start having more legislators who base their views, not on a sort of real concerns that the country's facing the rather some sort of alternate fantasy world that, uh, that they prefer. I think that that's certainly very dangerous Speaker 1: 05:06 Because of Green's primary. When Trump was confronted about Q Anon by our reporter the other day, what was the president's response? Speaker 2: 05:14 Wasn't Trump said in response to a question about Q Anon is that, uh, he prays the Q and long community. He said that there are people who love the country. Um, when, uh, when told about the broad outlines of the more derange aspects of the Q and on theory, he didn't denounce it or deny it. He said, he simply said, is that a good thing or a bad thing? I claimed he didn't know much about it. Um, but, um, this was very, very encouraging to the Q Anon community. I mean, they, they took this as a validation and they took this as encouragement. And, um, so the E uh, he seems to, uh, be, uh, be willing to signal to these people that he's willing to, uh, not, not denounce them in any way. Speaker 1: 05:54 Other Republican leaders have been pretty direct in their criticism of Q Anon, right? Speaker 2: 05:59 That's true. There is a handful of, uh, criticisms. Uh, one of the more, uh, forceful the announcements of Q Anon came from Congressman Adam Kinzinger. So there are a handful of, uh, you know, congressional Republicans who have spoken out against Q Anon, however, nobody in the white house, including, you know, uh, press secretary Kaley, uh, McInerney, or the chief of staff, um, have really claimed to have never spoken out against it any way. Um, they, um, they instead tend to play dumb. There is a bit of a division between the white house Republicans and the, um, the house representatives, Republicans in terms of how they respond to Q Anon. Speaker 1: 06:37 And that'll be interesting to see as we move in this, uh, election year. Now, the party's worried enough about Q and on. And a lot of these are controversial tweets. They yanked the speaker, Maryann Mendoza member of the Trump campaign advisory board from the convention lineup on Tuesday night. Now does this Q and on thing go away. If Trump is defeated in November, Speaker 2: 06:56 I sincerely doubt that QR will simply go away. If Trump loses the coming election, I mean, QL and followers, they are experts at rationalization and continuing to believe despite whatever failed prediction queue makes. So if a queue does not win in the coming election, they'll simply find excuse to keep believing. Speaker 1: 07:16 I've been speaking with Travis view cohost of the San Diego based Q Anon anonymous podcast. Thanks very much. Thank you for having me.