Years after it first bubbled from the gnarliest corners of the internet, the Qanon conspiracy theory was today presented to US President Donald Trump in a White House press conference.
And, because he is who he is, he accepted the praise of Qanon’s adherents with zero qualms whatsoever.
In case you’ve been blissfully distant from social media for the past couple of years, Qanon is a wide-reaching conspiracy theory which claims Trump and his closest allies are secretly locked in combat with a global cabal of paedophiles.
A core Qanon belief is that many real-world figures are secretly deep-state baddies, and Qanon scripture – the anonymous posts of a supposed military operative named Q – have been interpreted as proof that people like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama will be arrested, or worse, for their supposed crimes against humanity.
None of that has happened, of course. Trump is exactly what he looks like, Q is most likely a bunch of 4chan degenerates, and no matter how much we’d all like there to be a unified worldview to make sense of our current political moment, this ain’t it.
But the self-propagating theory has drawn in hundreds of thousands of adherents on sites like YouTube and Facebook, the latter of which nuked a suite of QAnon groups overnight.
Which brings us to the press conference, which saw an NBC reporter ask Trump about Qanon. He said he didn’t really know what was going on, but was stoked to have their approval.
“Well, I didn’t know much about the movement, other than that I understand they like me very much, which I appreciate, but I don’t know much about the movement,” he said.
“I have heard that it is gaining in popularity.”
When asked about the suggestion he is “secretly saving the world from this satanic cult of paedophiles and cannibals,” Trump effectively gave the claims a grinning thumbs up.
“Well, I haven’t heard that, but is that supposed to be a bad thing, or a good thing?” he said.
“If I can help save the world from problems, I’m willing to do it, I’m willing to put myself out there and we are, actually.
“We’re saving the world from a radical left philosophy that will destroy this country and, when this country is gone, the rest of the world will follow.”
REPORTER: QAnon believes you are secretly saving the world from this cult of pedophiles and cannibals. Are you behind that?
TRUMP: Is that supposed to be a bad thing? We are actually. We are saving the world. pic.twitter.com/rPYFU1B8WB
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) August 19, 2020
While Trump didn’t outright say that yes, he is locked in mortal combat with bottomless paedophilic evil, the suggestion he’s never heard of Qanon is interesting.
The FBI last year declared Qanon a domestic terrorism threat, a designation which you’d think would draw the attention of the White House; considering the guy’s statement that there were “very fine people” on both sides of a 2017 White supremacist rally, it seems likely he has tacitly accepted Qanon’s approval without acknowledging the implications.
That’s not how the press conference has been interpreted by Qanon believers, though. In Facebook groups which survived the recent purge, some folks are dissecting his appearance for clues – and asserting that he was just playing dumb.
With Republican Party challengers now openly professing to be believers in the teachings of Q, you can reasonably expect Trump to face further questions about the theory between now and November’s election.
Any way you look at it, the future of this one is grim. If one stupid press conference can be strip-mined for clues of a global conspiracy, what happens if Trump actually learns about the theory – and how to exploit its true believers?