Reprinted with permission from Media Matters
Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon's podcast, War Room: Pandemic, is a deceptive showcase for the QAnon conspiracy theory.
Bannon's podcast is broadcast by Real America's Voice, a far-right news site that also has a history of propagating QAnon content. Streaming platforms that host the show – including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and ViacomCBS' PlutoTV – are dispensing a program closely connected to the dangerous QAnon conspiracy theory.
Apple Podcasts has delisted dangerous conspiracy theory content in the past, including Alex Jones' Infowars. According to ProPublica, Apple Podcasts has declined to comment on why the company continues to list Bannon's show while it seemingly violates its terms of service against "harmful or objectionable content."
The former Trump adviser started toying around with the conspiracy theory publicly on his show in October 2020, describing QAnon as "the elephant in the room" and claiming it "at least appears directionally to be correct."
STEVE BANNON (HOST): This is the elephant in the room. The elephant in the room is this QAnon thing that's been out there.
The elephant in the room is, people say they're crazy, I'm just leaving that -- put a pin in it. But when they look at the facts of this, how are they not, at least an aspect of their argument, at least appears directionally to be correct.
After QAnon adherents and other Trump supporters stormed the Capitol on January 6, Bannon attempted to distance himself from the conspiracy theory by labeling it an "FBI psyop."
Despite this attempt to distance himself, Bannon has grown increasingly supportive of the conspiracy theory, defending it from scrutiny. On the July 8 edition of his show, for example, Bannon complained that mainstream media "disparages" the conspiracy theory and uses its coverage to "smear" QAnon believers.
While "Q," the lead figure in the conspiracy theory, is not discussed on Bannon's program, the show's complete detachment from reality, its extremism, and the sheer number of QAnon connections make War Room appear essentially indistinguishable from other QAnon podcasts.
Bannon has embraced and touted his podcast guests as trustworthy sources of information on politics, without noting their connections to baseless conspiracy theories.
Here are some of the people connected to the QAnon conspiracy theory who have appeared on War Room:
- Jason Miller, a former Trump spokesperson and one of the original co-hosts of the War Room podcast, appeared on the 24-hour QAnon channel Patriots' Soapbox on November 2. Miller appeared on Bannon's show as recently as October 20 and October 21.
- Jack Maxey, another former War Room co-host, appeared on QAnon influencer RedPill78's livestream on November 13.
- Former Trump national security adviser and retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn was interviewed by Bannon on August 27. Flynn is a central figure to the conspiracy theory who has profited from and promoted QAnon.
- Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) has appeared frequently as a guest on War Room over the past year. Greene is also a well-documented QAnon supporter.
- Militia member and Arizona Republican state Sen. Wendy Rogers has appeared often on War Room this year. Rogers is a QAnon supporter who attended a QAnon conference just last month and has appeared multiple times on QAnon shows.
- Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) appeared at least twice on War Room over the past year. Boebert is a QAnon supporter.
- MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell is a constant presence on War Room. Lindell has multiple QAnon ties of his own and has boosted Ron Watkins, a longtime promoter of QAnon who has even been suggested as a possible source behind "Q" itself.
- Pennsylvania Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano has appeared at least twice on War Room since the 2020 election. Mastriano promoted QAnon content on social media over 50 times and appeared on Patriots' Soapbox on December 21, 2020.
- Arizona secretary of state candidate and Republican state Rep. Mark Finchem is a frequent guest on Bannon's podcast. Finchem has shared QAnon content on right-wing social media site Gab and appeared on the May 9 edition of RedPill78's livestream and Patriots' Soapbox on June 29.
- Arizona Republican state Sen. Sonny Borrelli is a frequent War Room guest. Borrelli recently spoke at a QAnon conference. He also appeared on the October 29 edition of RedPill78's show and the October 25 edition of the QAnon show MG Show.
- Anthony Sabatini, a Republican member of the Florida House of Representatives who shared "Q" posts on social media, appeared on War Room on September 21 and appeared on Patriots' Soapbox on September 10.
- Bannon's daughter Maureen is a frequent guest on War Room. She appeared on Patriots' Soapbox on March 9 and August 16.
- Ex-Trump attorney and serial liar Sidney Powell appeared on War Room periodically over the past year. Powell is an adamant QAnon supporter.
- Joe Kent, a candidate for U.S. Congress from Washington, is a frequent War Room guest. Kent appeared on Patriots' Soapbox on July 16.
- Tea Party activist and attorney Dan Schultz is a frequent guest on Bannon's show. Schultz appeared on various QAnon shows promoting the QAnon-linked precinct strategy.
- Former Trump adviser and media personality Gina Loudon, who also hosts a show on Real America's Voice, appeared on War Room on August 23. Loudon was listed as a speaker at a QAnon-aligned conference in September 2019 (the event was later canceled).
- Conservative lawyer, QAnon promoter, and all-around conspiracy theorist Lin Wood appeared on the November 21, 2020, and December 8, 2020, editions of War Room.
- Scott Presler, a GOP organizer, QAnon conspiracy theorist, and anti-Muslim extremist, appeared on War Room on January 23 and November 8.
- Bannon frequently hosts QAnon adherent Toni Shuppe to advocate for a Pennsylvania 2020 election "audit."
- Vernon Jones, a former Democrat in the Georgia House of Representatives and current Republican candidate for governor of Georgia, appeared frequently on Bannon's show this year. Jones also appeared on Patriots' Soapbox on May 28.
- Maggie VandenBerghe (also known as FogCityMidge) co-hosted and appeared on War Room multiple times in 2021. VandenBerghe has also promoted QAnon.
- Noor bin Laden, Osama bin Laden's niece, appeared multiple times on War Room over the past year. Bin Laden reportedly "loves QAnon," even tweeting "numerous QAnon-related hashtags alongside a picture of her adorned in Trump merchandise."
- Robert Beadles, a cryptocurrency enthusiast, appeared on War Room on October 13 and October 15 to tout the QAnon-aligned precinct strategy. Beadles interviewed QAnon influencer SGT Report on the January 5 edition of his show.
- Stephanie Locricchio, an advocacy liaison for the anti-vax network Children's Health Defense, is a frequent guest on War Room. Locricchio has also posted QAnon content on Facebook while promoting the baseless Wayfair conspiracy theory.
- Patrick Colbeck, a former Republican member of the Michigan state Senate, has appeared on War Room at least two times in 2020. Colbeck appeared on Patriots' Soapbox on July 21.
- Arizona Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake appeared numerous times on War Room over the past year. Lake is linked to Nazi sympathizers and QAnon figures.
- QAnon-adjacent event organizer Clay Clark appeared on War Room on July 31. Clark also appeared on Patriots' Soapbox on July 30 and the QAnon program MG Show on October 5.
- Andrew Torba, founder of the far-right social media platform Gab, appeared often on War Room over the past year. Torba has openly pandered to the QAnon community and appeared on the December 13, 2020, edition of RedPill78's show.
- Real America's Voice news correspondent Heather Mullins routinely appeared on War Room over the past year. Mullins also sat down for an interview on Patriots' Soapbox on August 3.
- Election fraud conspiracy theorist Seth Keshel appeared on the August 13 edition of War Room wearing the logo of the QAnon show MatrixxxGrooove.
- Mary Ann Mendoza, a former member of the 2020 Women for Trump advisory board, is a frequent guest on War Room. Mendoza has a history of spreading antisemitic QAnon content and appeared on Patriots' Soapbox on March 11.
- Jim Marchant, a QAnon-linked former Nevada state representative who's running for secretary of state, appeared on the June 18 edition of War Room. Marchant is working with QAnon figures and Mike Lindell to recruit secretary of state candidates.
- Cindy Chafian, the director of coalitions and engagement at Moms for America, appeared on War Room on September 27 to discuss the arrest of conservative pastor Artur Pawlowski in Canada. Chafian also appeared on Patriots' Soapbox on May 18.
- Teddy Daniels, a candidate for U.S. Congress from Pennsylvania, appeared on War Room on July 30 and August 4 to discuss his candidacy, a Pennsylvania election "audit," and media criticism of his campaign. Daniels appeared on Patriots' Soapbox on November 4.
- Google "whistleblower" Zach Vorhies appeared on the July 22 and October 4 editions of War Room. Vorhies also appeared on RedPill78's livestream on August 6 and reportedly "loves QAnon."
- Kylie Kremer, executive director at Women for America First, appeared on War Room on January 4. Kremer was involved in planning the January 6 rally that preceded the Capitol riot and appeared on Patriots' Soapbox on December 7, 2020.
- Amy Kremer, chair of Women for America First and co-founder of Women for Trump, appeared on the November 12, 2020, edition of War Room. Kremer was also involved in planning the January 6 rally and appeared on Patriots' Soapbox on November 13, 2020.
- Right-wing commentator Anna Paulina Luna was interviewed on the November 11 edition of War Room. Luna previously appeared on a QAnon program and praised the hosts.
- Conservative pollster Richard Baris, a frequent guest on War Room, appeared on the November 29 edition of RedPill78's livestream.
- Liz Harris, a major promoter of election "audits" who is also linked to QAnon, was interviewed multiple times by Bannon to push debunked claims of voter fraud in Arizona.
- Rachel Hamm, a QAnon-supporting candidate for California's secretary of state, appeared on War Room on September 14 to baselessly claim that election fraud occurred during the recent California runoff election.
- War correspondent Michael Yon appeared at least twice on War Room. Yon appeared on Patriots' Soapbox on August 31.
- Conspiracy theorist Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai appeared on the August 12 edition of War Room. Ayyadurai posted "QAnon-styled conspiracies" on Instagram and has tweeted the QAnon slogan.
- Latinos for Trump President Bianca Gracia has appeared at least twice on War Room. Gracia also sat down for interviews on Patriots' Soapbox on April 9 and June 9.
- Bannon interviewed notorious anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists Ty and Charlene Bollinger on July 24, discussing the couple's inclusion among the top 12 vaccine misinformers by the Center for Countering Digital Hate. The two appeared on the April 17 and July 23 editions of RedPill78's livestream. Charlene Bollinger has also pushed the QAnon-connected adrenochrome conspiracy theory on RedPill78's show.
- Conservative activist Joe Oltmann appeared on the August 11 edition of War Room. Oltmann also appeared on the August 4 edition of MG Show.
- Anti-vaccine gym owner Ian Smith has appeared on War Room at least three times. Smith also appeared on the July 24 edition of MG Show.
- Disgraced professor and election fraud conspiracy theorist David Clements appeared on the July 13 edition of War Room to advocate for election "audits" in all 50 states. Clements also appeared on the September 15 edition of MG Show.
- Founder of Warriors for Ranchers Mike Miller appeared on the May 27 edition of War Room. Miller also appeared on the July 24 edition of MG Show.
Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, ViacomCBS' PlutoTV, and other outlets are responsible for providing a platform to Bannon and dozens of QAnon supporters and conspiracy theorists to spread their dangerous misinformation and lies about the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccines, elections, and more.