Listen, I don’t like this either, but: CNN ran a segment that involved talking to Donald Trump supporters about QAnon, an online conspiracy theory that involves all the right wing internet’s favorite ingredients: Hillary Clinton, child sex rings, murder, and a heroic Trump.
The segment, which ran on Thursday night during Anderson Cooper’s show, featured Trump supporters waiting in the rain to see the president at a rally in Pennsylvania while wearing t-shirts and carrying signs that referenced “Q,” the nickname for a supposed high-level government official who has apparently chosen to leak state secrets to 4chan.
(Obligatory disclaimer: there is no evidence for this, or anything the QAnon people allege whatsoever!)
Among the somehow real things that real people told CNN’s Gary Tuchman:
It’s a movement, man, it’s the shift. I can feel it coming. Some call it the great awakening.
Tuchman: How do you know that?
Trump supporter: Well, I’m just telling you, this is what is appears to be.
Tuchman: So you don’t have any proof of that?
Trump supporter: And you don’t have any proof it isn’t.
There hasn’t been any non-evidence yet.
Yes, it is deeply difficult to prove a negative.
You guys [the press] are totally weaponized by the CIA.
[brain starts to leak out ears]
Tuchman: Is it possible you’re believing bogus information?
Trump supporter looking directly into the camera to address “Q”: Let’s see, Q, let’s see.
Incredible, truly mind-numbing stuff. The simplest possible explanation for what’s become a sprawling mess is that these people are convinced that “Q” is sharing secrets about Trump’s alleged fight against the “deep state”—which, in this instance, is an Illuminati-like group of the country’s most powerful people like the Clintons, who are mired in a massive scandal to perpetuate and cover up child sex rings. As you would expect, true believers think this has come to involve the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich for knowing too much, and they believe Trump is secretly rounding up and prosecuting these kingpins for their crimes against god and country. It’s a lot!
We live in deranged times. The mechanisms through which deeply confused people indulge in alternate explanations for reality make sense, even if the products of their fever dreams do not. But none of this means you have to put adherents of this fully unproven, fully insane conspiracy theory on national television.