Tag: right wing
Trump Has Promoted QAnon Cult Over 800 Times On Truth Social

Trump Has Promoted QAnon Cult Over 800 Times On Truth Social

Former President Donald Trump has amplified QAnon-promoting accounts over 800 times during his first two years of actively posting on his social media platform Truth Social, according to a Media Matters review.

In our review, we deemed Truth Social accounts “QAnon-promoting accounts” if they explicitly promoted the conspiracy theory by sharing affiliated slogans, posts from QAnon’s central figure “Q,” or imagery related to the conspiracy theory. We counted reposting or quoting a post as amplifying it.

This activity marks a stark increase for the former president, who previously boosted promoters of the conspiracy theory on Twitter (now X) during his presidency. From 2017 until his account was suspended on January 8, 2021, Trump amplified QAnon-promoting accounts on that platform more than 300 times, and he also praised the QAnon community multiple times.

Months after Trump left office, and after the hosts of a QAnon show received press credentials for a Trump rally, Politico reported that associates of Trump would try to “weed out any QAnon influences — both adherents and postings — getting close to him.”

Yet between April 28, 2022 — when Trump began actively posting on Truth Social — and April 28, 2023, Trump amplified QAnon-promoting accounts on Truth Social nearly 500 times. In some cases, he promoted explicit QAnon content.

That trend continued during Trump’s second year of actively posting on the platform: A Media Matters review found that between April 29, 2023, and April 29, 2024, Trump amplified QAnon-promoting accounts nearly 350 times, raising his total to over 800 times overall. Those second-year amplifications also included some explicit QAnon content.

The activity from Trump, who helped create Truth Social following his ban from Twitter after the January 6 insurrection, fits with an analysis from The Washington Post, which found that Trump posts on the platform “29 times a day on average, far more than he tweeted during his first campaign and most of his presidency,” that he is “more likely to write in all caps,” and that his posts frequently “contained insulting language directed at someone.” The Post also found that the former president’s feed “is packed with links to right-wing news sites and conservative influencers,” which differs from his previous Twitter activity of linking “to a mix of mainstream and partisan sources.”

Among Trump’s over 800 amplifications of QAnon-promoting accounts on Truth Social, he specifically:

  • Amplified at least 6 posts from QAnon-promoting accounts that featured text from Q posts. That includes 1 video that also included 9/11 Trutherism, and 1 post that also mentioned the letter “P,” which has been invoked in multiple Q posts in reference to supposedly nefarious figures.
  • Amplified at least 33 posts that featured the letter “Q” in their text or image; the QAnon slogan, “where we go one, we go all” (or “WWG1WGA” for short); the QAnon phrase “nothing can stop what is coming” (or “NCSWIC” for short); or “Q+,” a term some QAnon supporters use to refer to Trump himself. Twenty of these came during his first year of actively posting on the platform, and 13 in the second.
  • Amplified more than 170 individual QAnon-promoting accounts.
  • Amplified 1 post from a QAnon-promoting account which linked to a Rumble video that showed a Q post, with Trump calling it an “incredible video!”
  • Amplified 2 posts from QAnon-promoting accounts featuring a video that included the QAnon slogan.
  • Amplified 1 post from a QAnon-promoting account with the phrase “Do it, Q!” Some QAnon supporters claim that a photo from a Trump tweet had that phrase in its source code.
  • Amplified 1 post from a QAnon-promoting account that was originally posted in a Truth Social group dedicated to the conspiracy theory.
  • Amplified 2 posts from an account named after the QAnon slogan. He has also amplified 4 posts from an account whose handle is the QAnon slogan.
  • Amplified “Patri0tsareinContr0l,” who has pushed the QAnon conspiracy theory and has been a member of a known QAnon influencer collective.

This activity comes as Truth Social’s leadership has actively courted QAnon supporters to the platform, and the former president and his allies have associated with and appealed to the QAnon community in other ways. For instance, former Trump administration official and Truth Social board member Kash Patel said that “we try to incorporate” QAnon “into our overall messaging scheme to capture audiences.” The former president has also been photographed with multiple QAnon figures, and his campaign has given QAnon figures press passes for his events, while denying some mainstream journalists. Trump has also used a song associated with QAnon on social media and at his rallies.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Trump and Biden

How Right-Wing Echo Chamber Amplified Biden 'Assassination Plot'

Over a handful of hours on Tuesday, the right’s conspiracy theory ecosystem concocted a sinister plot by President Joe Biden to assassinate his predecessor out of the banal fact that FBI agents received standard instructions on the use of force before conducting a court-ordered search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in 2022.

Hundreds of pages of filings were unsealed on Tuesday in Trump’s classified documents case, revealing that the former president — who is charged with 40 federal criminal counts related to his alleged willful retention of documents after leaving the White House — had multiple documents marked “classified” in his bedroom that were discovered months after the 2022 search.

Credible outlets reviewed the documents and produced a wave of news stories detailing what a judge described as “strong evidence” of Trump’s allegedly criminal acts. Meanwhile, Trump’s MAGA media supporters ginned up a counternarrative based on a credulous reading of a deceptive argument from Trump’s lawyers that was included in the unsealed documents.

The story that emerged from the right-wing media echo chamber posits that pro forma language provided to FBI agents before the 2022 search which stated that “law enforcement officers of the Department of Justice may use deadly force when necessary” was actually part of a Biden scheme to assassinate Trump. This is both a horrific accusation to make without evidence and facially absurd for any number of reasons. (Why would the Biden administration issue assassination orders in writing and then conduct the Mar-a-Lago search on a date specifically selected because Trump would be in New York instead?) But it spread quickly from its initiation by a key figure in the right’s January 6 disinformation community, through the ranks of MAGA influencers, to Trump himself, and then to the Fox News airwaves.

By Tuesday night, Trump’s campaign had issued a fundraising email in which the presumptive Republican presidential nominee alleged of the Biden administration, “You know they’re just itching to do the unthinkable … Joe Biden was locked & loaded ready to take me out & put my family in danger.”

The startlingly quick adoption of an unhinged conspiracy theory shows how the right-wing media apparatus operates, dreaming up convoluted but inflammatory nonsense and bombarding their audience with it. Here’s how it happened.

Right-wing fabulist turns standard FBI policy into “mind-blowing” story

The right-wing writer Julie Kelly, in a series of Tuesday afternoon posts on X (formerly Twitter), purported to reveal the “bombshells” she had uncovered by scouring the unsealed documents.

“Tons of new unsealed filings on classified docs case--I will try to post as much as I can (there goes the workout) but this is mind-blowing,” she posted at 1:21 p.m. ET. “FBI authorized the use of deadly force at Mar-a-Lago.”

She included a screenshot of a filing from Trump’s lawyers which stated that the FBI’s “Operations Order” for the Mar-a-Lago search “contained a ‘Policy Statement’ regarding ‘Use of Deadly Force,’ which stated, for example, ‘Law enforcement officers of the Department of Justice may use deadly force when necessary.’”

Kelly went on to post the “Policy Statement” and claim that the instructions show that “the FBI risked the lives of Donald Trump, his family, his staff, and MAL guests for a publicity stunt to make it look like Trump stole national security files.” She added, “People need to be arrested for this.”

In reality — and as more credible journalists pointed out — those instructions are standard for FBI searches.

“These are the rules that apply to FBI agents whenever they do anything,” Reuters reporter Brad Heath wrote in response to Kelly’s initial claim on X. He added, “Agents - like all cops - can use deadly force when met with a sufficiently serious threat. The policy the FBI followed here applies all the time; they are the same rules agents follow when walking down a sidewalk.”

“One clue that this is the generic DOJ use of force policy — not something cooked up for Mar-a-Lago, let alone ordered by the president — is that it talks about the use of warning shots in prison,” Heath noted in response to Kelly’s post with the “Policy Statement.”

The FBI would later issue a statement confirming that the bureau had “followed standard protocol in this search as we do for all search warrants, which includes a standard policy statement limiting the use of deadly force.”

Kelly is among the foremost proponents of the right’s January 6 counternarrative. She has argued that the violent rioting at the U.S. Capitol by Trumpists who assaulted scores of law enforcement officers “was probably the biggest instance of police brutality that this country has seen since the Civil Rights movement,” described a police officer who testified before the January 6 select committee as a “crisis actor,” and suggested that the FBI fabricated the pipe bombs discovered at the Republican and Democratic national headquarters that day because it is “an enforcement arm, a surveillance arm of the Democratic Party.” And her interpretation of the filings made no sense and was quickly debunked.

None of that slowed down the ranks of MAGA influencers, who quickly seized on her story.

MAGA influencers run with “assassination” nonsense

Within minutes, influential figures in the MAGA movement adopted Kelly’s interpretation and effectively began competing for the most overwrought response as they furiously posted on X. Many alleged that the document showed a Biden-directed assassination plot against Trump.

“The FBI authorized the use of **deadly force** when they raided Mar-a-Lago,” Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk commented. “You read that right. They were authorized to kill Trump employees, possibly even assassinate Trump himself, to exact their political revenge.”

“The FBI authorized the use of deadly force when they raided Mar-a-Lago?” wrote podcaster and former One America News host Liz Wheeler. “Were they hoping to assassinate Trump or his family or employees? This is insane.”

“So that was the real reason for the FBI raiding a president’s home: an excuse to use deadly force against Donald Trump,” offeredThe Federalist’s Sean Davis. “The court case was just plan B for the corrupt DOJ and FBI.” He added, “The FBI is a domestic terrorist organization.”

Trump ally Laura Loomer similarly argued that the document shows “a possible assassination attempt of President Trump by the Biden regime and FBI!”

Trump and the GOP lie that this shows Biden is “A SERIOUS THREAT TO DEMOCRACY”

Trump and his campaign are very attuned to the nonsense his online supporters generate, and within hours they adopted their bogus narrative.

At 5:21 p.m. ET — just four hours after Kelly’s initial post — Trump posted on his Truth Social account: “WOW! I just came out of the Biden Witch Hunt Trial in Manhattan, the ‘Icebox,’ and was shown Reports that Crooked Joe Biden’s DOJ, in their Illegal and UnConstitutional Raid of Mar-a-Lago, AUTHORIZED THE FBI TO USE DEADLY (LETHAL) FORCE. NOW WE KNOW, FOR SURE, THAT JOE BIDEN IS A SERIOUS THREAT TO DEMOCRACY. HE IS MENTALLY UNFIT TO HOLD OFFICE — 25TH AMENDMENT!”

Trump’s campaign posted his comment to X, where it was quickly reposted by an arm of the Republican National Committee.

The former president’s most unhinged congressional supporters chimed in.

“The Biden DOJ and FBI were planning to assassinate Pres Trump and gave the green light. Does everyone get it yet???!!!!” commented Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA).

His biggest media supporters were not far behind.

Fox “news” and “opinion” sides parrot the MAGA spin

Right-wing commentators have spent the last nine years figuring out how to respond to Trump’s massive lies. At this point, everyone who retains a major platform knows their role is to, at the least, soft-pedal his unhinged claims, and at most, to prove they are on board with the MAGA movement by treating them as truth.

That’s what played out on Fox’s airwaves after Trump declared that the FBI’s use of standard orders for the Mar-a-Lago search showed that Biden is “A SERIOUS THREAT TO DEMOCRACY.”

Fox could have provided credible reporting tamping down on the lies circulating online. The network employs people who report on the Justice Department and FBI and even has Kerri Kupec Urbahn, a former top aide in the Trump DOJ, on the payroll. If the network wanted to find out if the FBI orders were standard, it would be really easy to do so.

But Fox’s business model and its political agenda both depend on propagandizing for Trump, so that’s not what happened. Instead, around an hour after Trump’s Truth Social post, FoxNews.com sent the following push alert: “BREAKING NEWS New docs reveal Biden DOJ authorized ‘deadly force’ in Mar-a-Lago raid.’” Here’s how the story’s promotion looked on the website’s front page:

From FoxNews.com at approximately 6:23 p.m. on May 21, 2024.

When the network first discussed the story later that hour on the flagship “news” show Special Report, the segment focused on the same “deadly force” language Kelly had flagged.

Bret Baier, the network’s chief political anchor, opened by highlighting that “former President Trump's attorneys argue the Biden administration Justice Department authorized the use of deadly force if necessary” during the Mar-a-Lago search. Correspondent Kevin Corke responded that the order is “quite shocking.”

Baier went on to downplay the notion that the FBI instructions were standard.

“There may be some people, Kevin, who say that this is just a policy statement of standard operating procedures put inside this operations order for this specific raid,” he said. “But obviously it's not standard operating procedure when you're going into the house of the former president, who happens to be protected by Secret Service.”

When Baier offered a similar comment later in the hour during a panel segment, contributor Byron York described the situation as “kind of worrisome” because the FBI was supposedly “loaded for bear and prepared for the possibility of some sort of violent confrontation with the Secret Service. … The idea that it was prepared for this way, as opposed to, say, worked out in advance, is really troubling.” (In fact, the FBI ensured that “the Secret Service would receive a heads-up a few hours before FBI agents arrived to avoid any law enforcement conflict,” The Washington Post has reported.)

Fox’s “opinion” hosts have been running with the story ever since.

“They were actually thinking of using deadly force, or it's on the table that might be necessary at Mar-a-Lago?” Laura Ingraham asked Sen. Eric Schmitt (R-MO). “Deadly force? OK. It’s really lawfare, it’s not funny. Something actually could have gone down I guess at Mar-a-Lago, beyond just looking for the documents.”

Jesse Watters and Jeanine Pirro went even further on Watters’ show, with the host declaring, “Authorized armed agents to use deadly force in the Mar-a-Lago raid. That is insane. Is there any justification for that?”

“Absolutely not,” Pirro replied, adding that “my mind as a prosecutor goes to maybe they wanted the engagement of physical force. Maybe they wanted to come in without FBI, without DOJ, without all of that identifying so that they could engage in deadly physical force.”

Sean Hannity called the “deadly force” language a “shocking new revelation.” He acknowledged it was “boilerplate language” but nonetheless asked, “Why was Merrick Garland prepping for a possible, what, shootout?”

Fox was still carrying Trump’s water on Wednesday morning:

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

LGBTQ Transgender

Fox Staged A Freakout Fest Over Fabricated Biden 'Attack On Easter'

President Joe Biden expressed his belief that trans Americans deserve to live their lives in safety and dignity in a Friday proclamation and Sunday statement marking the Transgender Day of Visibility. But the right-wing demagogues at Fox News and Newsmax apparently disagree with that sentiment — they have spent the last few days furiously denouncing Biden’s statements, which they describe as an affront to Christians because Transgender Visibility Day, celebrated annually on March 31, happened to fall on Easter Sunday this year.

Fox News devoted 2 hours and 19 minutes, including 37 full segments, to freaking out over Transgender Visibility Day’s overlap with Easter Sunday as its propagandists slammed Biden for recognizing the former, according to a Media Matters review of the network’s programming from March 30 through April 1. Newsmax chimed in with another 1 hour and 45 minutes on the subject, including 40 segments, over the same period.

Stars at both networks used the time to warn Christians that they were under attack from Biden’s statements recognizing Transgender Day of Visibility. Fox’s Jesse Watters argued that Biden is “waging spiritual warfare against Christianity,” and complained that “the trans thing is over” because “we have accommodated the trans for quite some time.” His colleague Laura Ingraham said Biden had put “egg on his faith” by “commemorat[ing] godlessness” through his “demonic” actions. “Easter has now been replaced or at the very least, is now forced to share a day with a new holiday that the administration clearly prefers,” Sean Hannity declared. Over at Newsmax, Eric Bolling cited the situation as evidence of a “spiritual war” and an “all-out attack on Christian faith.”

It’s worth comparing the hateful bile spewed by the right-wing media to Biden’s actual message.

“On Transgender Day of Visibility, we honor the extraordinary courage and contributions of transgender Americans and reaffirm our Nation’s commitment to forming a more perfect Union — where all people are created equal and treated equally throughout their lives,” Biden’s Friday proclamation began. “Today, we send a message to all transgender Americans: You are loved. You are heard. You are understood. You belong. You are America, and my entire Administration and I have your back.”

The president added on Sunday that “transgender Americans deserve to be safe and supported in every community,” and denounced “MAGA extremists” for trying to pass “hateful and extreme state laws that target transgender kids and their families.” He termed such legislation “un-American,” highlighted mental health resources available to transgender youths, and promised that his administration will “never stop working to create a world where everyone can live without fear.”

“I want every member of the trans community to know that we see you,” he concluded. “You’re each made in the image of God, and deserve love, dignity, and respect. You make America stronger, and we’re with you.”

Biden’s message is in keeping with the traditional American creed, first set forth in the Declaration of Independence’s resolution “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” America’s greatness comes in part because its leaders have sought to expand that circle over time so that it brings in previously excluded groups like women, people of color, and LGBTQ people. Trans Americans, to Biden, deserve the same rights and privileges and should be treated with the same respect as any other citizen of this country.

This need not be a controversial sentiment or one which attracts a vitriolic response. Indeed, Fox News is going to great lengths to avoid acknowledging that its corporate cousins at Fox TV celebrated Transgender Visibility Day in 2021, tweeting, “Trans Day of Visibility is dedicated to celebrating transgender people, their contributions to society and raising awareness of discrimination they face. To all the transgender men, women and non-binary folx, we see you and stand with you.”

But Fox and Newsmax hosts, like their Trumpist media brethren, are the “MAGA extremists” Biden called out in his statement. They’ve spent years spreading hateful, bigoted attacks against transgender people and any person or entity associated with them. As propagandists for a movement that merges a cult of personality around Trump, blood-and-soil nationalism that mocks our civic tradition, and a theocratic brand of Christianity focused on perceived slights, they met Biden’s remarks with days of outrage.

That Biden also issued a Sunday statement celebrating Easter as a time to “remember Jesus’ sacrifice” and appeared Monday morning at the traditional White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn was apparently insufficient.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump, recently seen hawking his own line of Bibles and preparing for his upcoming trial over paying hush money to a porn star so she wouldn’t say they had an affair during his third and current marriage, marked the day of Christ’s resurrection by posting unhinged rants on Truth Social, including this gem nominally celebrating Easter:

That behavior, apparently, is just fine to his supporters at Fox and Newsmax.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Leonard Leo

GOP Lashes Out At D.C. Attorney General Probing Extremist Profiteer Leo

GOP activist Leonard Leo is co-chair of the influential Federalist Society, which has produced all six of the Supreme Court of the United States' (SCOTUS) conservative jurists — including Chief Justice John Roberts. And ever since the office of Washington, DC Attorney General Brian Schwalb started investigating the Federalist Society for alleged violations of its nonprofit status, Leo's allies have been attacking him every step of the way.

Politico reporter Heidi Przybyla wrote Saturday that Schwalb has been steadily battling an onslaught of GOP attacks that include conservative media, 12 Republican state attorneys general and even Congressional committee chairs. This assault began last August, after Schwalb announced he was investigating the Federalist Society for alleged self-dealing. Leo is accused of using millions of dollars in tax-exempt organization funds to prop up his private consulting firm, CRC Advisors.

According to the outlet, both Reps. James Comer (R-KY) and Jim Jordan (R-OH), who chair the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees, respectively, announced their own investigations into Schwalb on October 30 — shortly after Schwalb announced his own investigation into Leo's group. One of Leo's organizations is the Concord Fund (previously known as the Judicial Crisis Network), which has donated $20 million to the Republican Attorneys General Association since 2014. And Przybyla noted that 10 days before Comer and Jordan announced their investigation, Concord hired a Virginia-based lobbying firm to handle issues relating to "law enforcement" and "oversight."

"The decision to launch a probe was not influenced by the lobbying firm," a spokesperson for the House Judiciary Committee told Politico. "Any suggestion that it was is lazy, in bad faith, and completely ridiculous. It’s well-known that this probe is part of a broader portfolio the congressmen are pursuing related to the weaponization of the federal government."

While the suggestion that Leo's money and connections are influencing the attacks on the man investigating him makes Republicans bristle, it's difficult to ignore the timing of large sums of money changing hands. Just one day after both Comer and Jordan threatened to subpoena Schwalb, a House Republican leadership-aligned political action committee received a $250,000 contribution from the Concord Fund. Politico reported that it was Concord's first donation to a federal PAC in nine years.

Republicans' ferocity in attacking Schwalb could be attributed to Leo's outsized influence over today's GOP — particularly as it concerns the GOP's efforts to cement a conservative SCOTUS majority for decades.

"[Leo] has been called former President Donald Trump’s 'court whisperer' for helping to choose and advocate for his Supreme Court nominees," Przybyla wrote. "His aligned network of tax-exempt nonprofits is also a major contributor to Project 2025, an initiative seeking to create a 'government in waiting' for another Trump term."

Caroline Ciccone, who is president of anti-corruption watchdog group Accountability.US, directly attributed the various attacks on Schwalb to Leo's far-right organizational muscle.

"Leonard Leo is working to implement policies with a vision that’s far too extreme for most Americans," Ciccone said. "Now, members of Congress have weaponized their government power against his critics."

In addition to being investigated for self-dealing by Schwalb's office, Leo's group is also being investigated by the Senate Judiciary Committee for its alleged facilitation of lavish gifts to far-right justices like Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas. In late November, the committee sent subpoenas to both Leo and billionaire business magnate Harlan Crow, who took Justice Thomas and his family on several exceedingly expensive getaways.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.