What Is QAnon? The Conspiracy Theory Grabbing Media Headlines


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QAnon, a baseless conspiracy theory from the dark corners of the internet, has earned media coverage in outlets including The New York Times, Washington Post and CNN.

So what is it? Here are three quick points to know:

  1. It’s a conspiracy theory depicting a fictional alternate reality.
    QAnon originated with an anonymous 4chan poster, “Q,” who left a series of vague clues (“breadcrumbs”) about a fictional, sprawling counterintelligence operation in which President Donald Trump is secretly working together with special counsel Robert Mueller to investigate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other prominent Democrats. There’s zero evidence this is the case. (RELATED: It Turns Out Alex Jones Is Just Pretending)
  2. It’s unclear that many people actually believe it.
    Despite gobs of media attention, it’s unclear how many people actually believe it. Supporters staged a march in Washington, D.C., which saw a meager turnout. “Dozens” of QAnon supporters showed up at Trump’s rally on Tuesday, according to the Tampa Bay Times’ estimate.
  3. Liberal journalists are happy to give it attention.
    Some liberal journalists are happy to give attention to QAnon. New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg claimed the conspiracy theory is “profoundly revealing about the lengths to which some Trump supporters will go to convince themselves that his presidency is going well.” Left-wing website Think Progress claimed QAnon had “gone fully mainstream,” citing a handful of well-placed signs at Tuesday’s rally.

This article has been updated to note that QAnon started on 4chan, not Reddit.  

Follow Hasson on Twitter @PeterJHasson

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