Leaked Video Shows Mike Flynn On Zoom Call Praising QAnon Figures

Leaked Video Shows Mike Flynn On Zoom Call Praising QAnon Figures

A QAnon influencer has leaked footage of former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn participating in a Zoom call in 2022 with a group of QAnon figures, wishing one of them a happy birthday, saying “I love you guys,” and being told, “You have no idea how much you are respected and loved and admired by your digital soldiers.”

The footage, released on X (formerly Twitter) on January 11 by a QAnon influencer known online as “The Authority,” shows Flynn dropping in on a call with members of a QAnon influencer collective known as We The Media. “The Authority” — a former member of the group who has since turned against both the collective and Flynn — wrote that he released the footage to show that Flynn “knows many members of We The Media.”

While a QAnon influencer and We The Media member Scott Zimmerman (known online as “Beer at the Parade”) previously mentioned that Flynn joined the Zoom call, no footage appears to have been made public before. According to Zimmerman, Flynn “knew daggone near everybody in the room,” which was proof that “the people that really matter” know We The Media.

During the Zoom call, Flynn wished Zimmerman a happy birthday. In response, the QAnon influencer told Flynn that “you have no idea how much you are respected and loved and admired by your digital soldiers” — a term popularized by Flynn and embraced by QAnon supporters to refer to themselves — and said he had a license plate with the words “we go all,” seemingly referring to the QAnon slogan “where we go one, we go all.” On the call, QAnon influencer “AbsoluteConviction” also thanked Flynn “for your support and everything you’ve done for us.” In turn, Flynn told the participants on the call that “I love you guys” and “even though we … may never physically meet, we have to meet virtually constantly.”

MICHAEL FLYNN (FORMER TRUMP NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER): And I just want to wish you a happy birthday. You know, 60 is the new 20.

SCOTT ZIMMERMAN (QANON INFLUENCER): Alright, Gen. Flynn, if I may close out, you have no idea how much you are respected and loved and admired by your digital soldiers.

FLYNN: I mean, we are going to win because we have — you know, even though we may not — may never physically meet, we have to meet virtually constantly. And we have to bombard. I mean, that’s our — that’s our ammunition, that’s our weapons system, right?

“ABSOLUTECONVICTION” (QANON INFLUENCER): First, Scott, happy 60th birthday to you, man. You’ve been such an inspiration to me. … Mrs. Beer, thank you for supporting this man, who has supported so many digital soldiers along the way. Thank you to all my We The Media friends and Gen. Flynn, thank you for your support and everything you’ve done for us and the fight you carry on for this country. It means more to us than we could ever explain.

FLYNN: I love you guys.

ZIMMERMAN: Gen. Flynn, my license plate reads “we go all.”

Flynn’s appearance on the Zoom call is part of his wider embrace of the QAnon movement, including invoking the QAnon slogan, associating with multiple QAnon figures, and relying on the community for fundraising.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

GOP's Debate Streaming Site Features 'Lizard People' Conspiracy Theory

GOP's Debate Streaming Site Features 'Lizard People' Conspiracy Theory

Rumble, an extreme right-wing video-sharing platform that has been the official streaming site of the 2024 Republican presidential primary debates, on December 4 listed as one of its “editor picks” a video featuring a conspiracy theory about supposed “lizard people” controlling the world.

The lizard people conspiracy theory, also known as the reptilian conspiracy theory, was popularized by infamous conspiracy theorist David Icke. Business Insider highlighted the likely antisemitic background of the concept, noting that Icke’s written commentary about the conspiracy theory is “clearly evocative of the centuries-old blood-libel conspiracy theory, which alleged that a cabal of Jews were controlling the world and drinking the blood of Christian children.” The lizard people conspiracy theory has also been tied to multiple violent incidents, including a man who killed his brother with a sword in 2019 and a man who exploded his recreational vehicle in downtown Nashville in 2020.

Rumble’s “editor picks” section is apparently curated to highlight specific videos available on the platform. A video titled “Lizard Climate Scam ReeEEeE Stream 12-03-23” was featured in Rumble’s “editor picks” section on December 4. The video was posted by “TheSaltyCracker,” who has amplified conspiracy theories and harmful rhetoric before. The thumbnail features an image of King Charles III with a long cartoon tongue sticking out, seemingly a reference to the conspiracy theory about lizard people.

During the video, “TheSaltyCracker” criticized attendees of COP28, the United Nations' annual climate summit, saying that “you just saw all these lizard people fly in to Munich, Germany, on private jets screaming about … climate change. They don’t care about climate change. It’s a scam.”

“THESALTYCRACKER”: But look the hell around. These people lied about everything. Lied about everything. They tell you about the polar bears, the polar ice. They say, “No, go out there and take a bunch of experimental vaccines. Everything's going to be totally fine.” Nope. I’m good. I’m good. Also, don't worry about all the stabbings. I’m worried about all the stabbings. There’s a lot of stabbings popping off lately. I’ve worried about a wide open border. “No, there’s no such thing as an open border.”

These fucking people are lying about everything. Everything they tell you to not be worried about, be worried about. Everything they tell you to be worried about, it’s a fucking scam. It’s a total scam. You just saw all these lizard people fly in to Munich, Germany, on private jets screaming about [unintelligible] climate change. They don’t care about climate change. It’s a scam. It’s a straight up scam.

He also criticized King Charles III for calling for action to address climate change in a speech at the summit, claiming that he has “tiny lizard balls.”

“TheSaltyCracker” also attacked former Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) for her criticism of former President Donald Trump, claiming that “every single apparatus of lizard person fucking monstrosities are throwing everything that they got against Donald Trump.”

THESALTYCRACKER”: By the way, you were on the receiving end of this, you dumb cow, you Miss Piggy-looking son of a bitch. We told you. We don’t give a fuck. We don’t care who hates Donald Trump. We don’t care who likes Donald Trump. We just understand that every single apparatus of lizard person fucking monstrosities are throwing everything that they got against Donald Trump. Everything. Everything. This corrupt fucking judicial system, the kid-fuckers in Hollywood, the dipshits on the sports ball fields, everybody. Everything’s against my dude, everything.

He also claimed that Cheney was “the fucking spawn of a lizard person war criminal,” referring to her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney.

Rumble has previously featured videos as “editor picks” that were dedicated to the QAnon conspiracy theory, 9/11 trutherism, and a claim that an August mass shooting in Jacksonville, Florida, was a false flag.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Donald Trump Jr.

Don Jr. Praises White Nationalist: 'My Favorite Twitter Account Of All Time'

Donald Trump Jr. interviewed antisemitic white nationalist Douglass Mackey — who was recently convicted of election interference during the 2016 presidential election — on the December 7 episode of his Rumble podcast, Triggered with Donald Trump Jr., and said that Mackey’s suspended “Ricky Vaughn” Twitter account “may be my favorite Twitter account of all time.” Trump Jr. also suggested that he may have been in contact with Mackey in 2016.

During the 2016 presidential election campaign, Mackey had a Twitter account under the name “Ricky Vaughn.” HuffPost revealed his real name in 2018 and reported that the account was known for spreading “anti-Semitism and white nationalism,” such as using the antisemitic “echo” and tweeting that Jews had “control of the media” and were broadcasting “antiwhite messaging” in the mid-1900s. HuffPost also reported that Mackey had appeared on “numerous white supremacist podcasts.” Mackey has also reportedly spoken of his support for creating all-white communities and said he shuns interracial marriages “to maintain our unique culture and racial heritage,” and he has promoted Islamaphobic and anti-migrant content.

In October, Mackey was sentenced to seven months in prison for “spreading falsehoods via Twitter … in an effort to suppress Democratic turnout in the 2016 presidential election,” specifically by falsely posting that it was possible to vote for Democrat Hillary Clinton by texting or posting on social media. (Trump Jr. indicated on his podcast that Mackey is appealing the decision.)

During the December 7 interview, Trump Jr. described Mackey as an “original MAGA meme lord” and misleadingly claimed that Mackey’s prosecution and conviction was “literally over a meme from 2016” (a claim other right-wing media figures have also made; in reality, the Department of Justice said that thousands of people tried to vote by texting to the number he distributed). While introducing Mackey, Trump Jr. also said that “we’ve probably gone back and forth on Twitter back in the old days and DMs.”

DONALD TRUMP JR. (HOST): And with that, guys, joining us now is Doug Mackey. Again, if you guys were in the meme wars, like, early adapters like me back in 2015 and ’16, you’ll know him as Ricky Vaughn. But Doug, for the people watching — and it’s great to have you. You know, I know — we’ve probably gone back and forth on Twitter back in the old days and DMs, and I’m sure we were put on lists way back then. But for the people watching, can you explain what happened here? I mean, you literally ran a Twitter account named Ricky Vaughn. And you got charged for posting a meme. What’s going on?

Later in the interview, Trump Jr. told Mackey that his Ricky Vaughn account was “awesome” and “may be my favorite Twitter account of all time” and “maybe the best of all time.” (Trump Jr. also lauded Mackey on Tim Pool’s show earlier this year.)

DONALD TRUMP JR. (HOST): But, hey, you had an awesome account. It may be my favorite Twitter account of all time. Now I’ll get in trouble for saying that because they’ll say, oh, he said something once that you must disavow. Like, it was hilarious, OK? Like, again, like I said, maybe the best of all time, but how’d you get into the idea of that account? How were you able to grow such a large following that put you on the radar of these people?

Trump Jr. also helped Mackey promote his legal defense fund, asking, “How much funds do you need to get through that next level if in fact you need to take it to the Supreme Court?” An on-screen graphic also told viewers to go to the defense fund’s site to donate. Trump Jr. ended the interview by thanking Mackey for “all of the entertainment over the years.”

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Elon Musk

Elon Musk Praises Antisemitic 'Replacement' Theory As 'The Truth'

Ever in search of a new low, Elon Musk managed to find one on November 15 when he declared on X (formerly known as Twitter) that a paid X Premium (previously Twitter Blue) user’s antisemitic conspiracy theory attacking Jewish people was the “actual truth.”

The antisemitic post Musk endorsed came in response to a user writing, “To the cowards hiding behind the anonymity of the internet and posting 'Hitler was right': You got something you want to say? Why don't you say it to our faces…”

The conspiracy theory, that Jewish populations are pushing “hatred against whites” and supporting “hordes of minorities” coming into the country, is the same one that motivated the 2018 Tree of Life shooter in Pittsburgh, as noted by The Atlantic’s Yair Rosenberg. Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes and other figures linked to white nationalism are cheering on Musk.

The Tree of Life shooter, who was found guilty this year, wrote on far-right platform Gab that he blamed Jewish people in the U.S. “for bringing in an invasion of nonwhite immigrants.” (Gab owner Andrew Torba is also one of the people cheering on Musk; Gab’s X account even bragged about red-pilling Musk on “JQ” – that is, the “Jewish question.”)

How did we get from a mass shooter writing something on a platform that most people have never visited to Musk endorsing it? First, Musk himself has rebuilt X around extremists like this, making a concentrated effort to lift up extremism, even providing financial incentives.

Musk’s platform, ostensibly run by CEO Linda Yaccarino, has said that posts claiming “Hitler was right” and that there needs to be a “final solution” regarding Jewish people don’t violate the platform’s “safety policies”; run ads for major brands on Holocaust denial accounts; and apparently paid a pro-Hitler Holocaust denier a share of its ad revenue.

Indeed, Musk and Yaccarino have reinstated known white nationalists and antisemites on the platform. Musk has directly engaged with some of the reinstated antisemitic accounts and amplified conspiracy theories that were used to push antisemitism. Musk’s posts earlier this year earned the praise of a leading neo-Nazi.

Don't overlook the role of Fox News here

But the true middleman between the Tree of Life shooter in 2018 and the billionaire CEO of Tesla and SpaceX is Fox News — and specifically Lachlan Murdoch.

In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, a Fox guest railed against the “Soros-occupied State Department.” TPM’s Josh Marshall noted that this claim was “straight out of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the foundational anti-Semitic tract.” The guest was banned from Fox; in retrospect it appears his main offense was being ahead of the curve.

Indeed, it did not take long after the Tree of Life shooting for the conspiracy theory to pop up on Fox News, with former host Glenn Beck in particular making a similar argument while appearing on Sean Hannity’s show.

The major inflection point came when then-Fox host Tucker Carlson pushed his own version of replacement theory in 2021. There was a big outrage — but Fox Corp. CEO Lachlan Murdoch personally made clear that Carlson had the green light to go there. And go there he did. A New York Times analysis, conducted before Fox fired Carlson, shows that he pushed it in more than 400 episodes.

And now it’s not just Carlson. Numerous Fox personalities and others have followed his lead and made the conspiracy theory into a core plank in GOP politics.

Of course, Carlson now effectively works for Musk.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.


RFK Jr. Gives Fawning Interview To 'Repulsive' QAnon-Linked Magazine

The QAnon-affiliated revival of the late John F. Kennedy Jr.’s magazine George interviewed independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who said that his cousin would “really like” the magazine’s revival.

George was originally established in 1995 by John F. Kennedy Jr. and went defunct in 2001 following its founder’s 1999 death in a plane crash. The magazine was revived last year by Gene Ho, a photographer for former President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign who has promoted the dangerous QAnon conspiracy theory.

Ho has appeared at QAnon events and reportedly “stressed to attendees that he believed that the Q movement ‘is all about blood.’” John F. Kennedy Jr. himself has a special place in QAnon lore, with some in the community falsely claiming that he is still alive and will team up with Trump as his running mate. As noted byMother Jones, Ho “used to sell T-shirts online emblazoned with ‘Trump/Kennedy 2020.’”

On October 7 — just two days before Robert F. Kennedy Jr. announced that he would be running as an independent instead of continuing in the Democratic primary — Kennedy sat down for an interview with “Rachel Writeside Blonde,” the executive managing editor of George. Writeside Blonde is a QAnon supporter who has associated with QAnon influencers Tom Sidney Bushnell (known online as “Tom Numbers”) and Wayne Willott, known online as “Juan O. Savin.” (Some have falsely claimed that Savin is John F. Kennedy Jr.)

During the interview, Kennedy promised to give Americans “good information” and attacked the media, accusing intelligence agencies of “manipulating the American press for many, many years” and media outlets of being “CIA assets” in response to a question from Writeside Blonde about a “coordinated effort between big tech and government.”

The two praised each other throughout the interview. Writeside Blonde said Kennedy’s answers were “so great,” and Kennedy wished the magazine “the best of luck” and said that his late cousin would “really like this.” (A staffer of the original version of the magazine and a friend of John F. Kennedy Jr. both appear to disagree, telling Mother Jones last year that the QAnon revival of the magazine “makes me sick” and was “repulsive,” respectively.)

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s interview with this QAnon-linked outlet comes as he and his anti-vaccine organization Children’s Health Defense have promoted and partnered with multiple QAnon conspiracy theorists over the years, and Kennedy has built alliances with and promoted misinformation from anti-vaccine and far-right figures in general.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Far-Right Message Boards Threaten Fulton County Grand Jurors

Far-Right Message Boards Threaten Fulton County Grand Jurors

Users on far-right message boards are targeting the Fulton County, Georgia, grand jurors who voted to indict former President Donald Trump, including supposedly doxxing their addresses, threatening them with violence, and digging up their supposed online presences.

On August 14, Trump and 18 others were indicted “over their efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss” in Georgia, “with prosecutors using a statute normally associated with mobsters to accuse the former president, lawyers and other aides of a ‘criminal enterprise’ to keep him in power.” The grand jurors who indicted Trump were named in the indictment, per state law.

A Media Matters review found that following the release of the indictment and the grand jurors’ names, users on far-right message boards began targeting them in retaliation.

On a message board that has been the home of “Q,” the central figure of the QAnon conspiracy theory, a user posted the names of the jurors alongside their supposed addresses (Media Matters has blurred the supposed doxxing to protect the jurors, and has chosen to blur and remove other material posted by message board users). And on another message board, where the QAnon conspiracy theory initially emerged, a user seemed to threaten to “follow these people home and photograph their faces.”

Other users on the message boards also issued direct threats against the jurors. One user wrote that the grand jurors’ names was a “hit list” to which another user responded, “Based. Godspeed anons, you have all the long range rifles in the world,” while another wrote that they were “about ready to go Turner Diaries on these treasonous n***** fucks” (referring to a violent white nationalist book). And another user ominously wrote that the jurors were “committing election interference” and so they “should indeed be careful.”

Additionally, message board users tried to dig into the jurors’ online presences and backgrounds, posting images of jurors’ supposed Facebook and LinkedIn pages as evidence that they were biased against Trump and posting a link to their supposed political contributions pages from the Federal Election Commission. (According to The Washington Post, “several of the jurors disabled their profiles on LinkedIn and Facebook.“) Users also tried to determine the ethnic and religious backgrounds of the jurors.

Outside of the message boards, users on right-wing social media platforms like Truth Social and GETTR also tried to dig into the jurors’ backgrounds.

The supposed doxxing and targeting of these grand jurors comes after users of these far-right message boards have repeatedly targeted entities and figures with troll campaigns, harassment, and death threats.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Musk Returns QAnon Conspiracist  To 'X' Despite Child Sex Abuse Images

Musk Returns QAnon Conspiracist  To 'X' Despite Child Sex Abuse Images

Far-right conspiracy theorist Dom Lucre — who was banned from Twitter (now called X) last month for sharing a screenshot from a child sexual abuse video and then unilaterally reinstated less than a day later by owner Elon Musk — has announced he has received money from the platform’s ad revenue sharing program.

On July 25, Lucre — a far-right figure known for pushing Pizzagate and QAnon conspiracy theories and whose real name is Dominick McGee — was banned from Twitter after posting an image of child sexual abuse while pushing a baseless conspiracy theory that the Obamas had murdered their former personal chef. Amid a day of pressure from right-wing figures, Musk announced that the child abuse material would simply be removed and Lucre would be reinstated, despite the platform's “zero-tolerance” child sexual exploitation policy.

Now, Lucre has seemingly earned revenue from the platform through its ad revenue sharing program, which is a program Musk announced in February that pays eligible creators a share “for ads that appear in their reply threads.” The first payments to creators started on July 13, with Musk confirming that “revenue payout to content creators will be cumulative from when I first promised to do so in February.” Multiple right-wing misinformers and bad actors announced that they had received a combined total of at least tens of thousands of dollars in ad revenue from that first payment.

A second round of ad revenue sharing payouts were seemingly sent to creators on August 7, including to some creators who also received revenue from the first payout.

Lucre announced that he also received a payout via the ad revenue sharing program, posting an image that showed that he had earned about $2,400 from the platform.

Besides Lucre, another figure associated with QAnon, influencer John Sabal, known online as “QAnon John,” announced that he received his “first payout” from the ad revenue program on August 7 — earning over $1,200. Sabal lauded Musk for making it “possible to make a LIVING fighting the GOOD fight.”

Lucre and Sabal’s announcements come as major companies continue to pay for advertising on the platform, thus helping to subsidize these extreme figures and harmful content, despite advertisers overall fleeing the platform due to its increasingly toxic environment under Musk.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

U.S. Court

Far Right Lauds Affirmative Action Decision -- And Aims At Civil Rights Act

As the Supreme Court handed down its decision that the race-conscious admission policies of Harvard College and the University of North Carolina violated the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment, effectively dismantling affirmative action in higher education, right-wing media poured praise on the conservative justices for ending what they claim is a “discriminatory” and “racist” practice.

On June 29, the Supreme Court’s decisions in both SFFA v. Presidentand Fellows of Harvard College and SFFA v. University of North Carolina essentially decided that race can no longer be a factor in college admissions, striking down affirmative action. Both cases involved Students for Fair Admissions, a nonprofit with financial ties to anti-civil rights strategists, suing Harvard University and the University of North Carolina over their admissions processes that the group claimed violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the 14th Amendment, respectively. The elimination of affirmative action has been a right-wing policy goal for years and has been bankrolled through SFFA in order to see its elimination come to fruition.

Right-wing media continuously amplified their hatred of affirmative action leading up to its elimination, platforming guests who view the policy as “un-American.” Some right-wing figures that are celebrating the end of affirmative action have now begun calling for the end of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and “disparate impact” regulations, revealing their ultimate goal to destroy civil rights protections in the United States.

The Supreme Court’s decision to dismantle affirmative action coincides with a network of “parental choice” activists and right-wing media figures demanding radical changes to the U.S. education system. Anti-critical race theory proponents like Christopher Rufo and Russ Vought have worked hand-in-hand with right-wing media to mount aggressive smear campaigns against critical race theory and diversity policies. These groups have deliberately tried to gut the 14th Amendment, which would create massive obstacles to communities of color in education.

As part of their attacks on education, Fox News hosts have already started calling for the destruction of the public school system, arguing that the U.S. should “defund government education” and replace it with private school vouchers. The network has also spread misinformation about critical race theory, even claiming that proponents want to “brainwash your child so that they feel guilty about being born white.” Right-wing media attacks on the education system serve to minimize the impact that the Supreme Court’s decision to end affirmative action will have on diversity and equity in higher education.

Right-wing media agreed with Supreme Court that affirmative action is “unconstitutional,” labeling it a “racist” and “discriminatory” practice:

  • Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk praised the decision, tweeting, “Finally the Court has corrected another awful 70s mistake, and ruled that racially discriminatory college admissions are unconstitutional.”
  • Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich called affirmative action “unconstitutional and anti-American, for college admissions and everywhere else. This is an earthquake that should upend the left’s racist standards, not just in education but in employment at every level.”
  • On America’s Newsroom, former Trump official Roger Severino claimed that “45% of the students of African American descent admitted to Harvard would not have made it according to Harvard's own statistics had they not done the racial balancing in the name of diversity. Now, Harvard only has 8% of conservatives that are admitted students, 82% of Harvard students come from wealthy backgrounds. It’s not really about diversity. It was about racial balancing.”
  • The Daily Caller published an article, titled “Supreme Court Rules Against Racial Prejudice In College Admissions,” framing affirmative action as being discriminatory.
  • Newsmax’s Justine Brooke Murray tweeted that people “already knew” affirmative action was discriminatory prior to the Supreme Court decision, arguing that prospective students “should not be judged by the color of their skin but by content of their character!”
  • Racist livestreamer Steven Crowder claimed that because of the Supreme Court decision, “Asian students can no longer be discriminated against.”

Some right-wing figures praised former President Donald Trump for his Supreme Court picks who helped bring affirmative action to an end:

  • Former Trump adviser and white nationalist Stephen Miller called the decision a “colossal win for USA. Colossal achievement for 45 in shaping the Court to realize this victory.”
  • Failed congressional candidate and “proud IslamophobeLaura Loomer celebrated the decision as a “great day” that “was only made possible today thanks to President Donald J Trump’s nomination of 3 SCOTUS justices.”
  • Newsmax contributor Karoline Leavitt claimed that “President Donald Trump made today's historic decision to end the racist college admissions process possible because he delivered on his promise to appoint constitutionalist justices.”

Despite polling on affirmative action showing high rates of approval with marginalized groups, right-wing media argued that the Supreme Court’s decision was “popular” with all Americans:

  • Former Fox News host Megyn Kelly tweeted, “Race-based admissions will still continue bc these institutions will find sneaky ways of doing it, but they will no longer have the absurd cover of law. THESE POLICIES HAVE BEEN HURTING MINORITY GROUPS FOR DECADES. And ppl of all races oppose them. This is a great day for America.”
  • Fox News Radio host Guy Benson tweeted, “We are told SCOTUS is ‘losing legitimacy’ by issuing rulings that are ‘out of touch’ or unpopular. That misunderstands the justices’ function, of course, but many of the same people who’ve engaged in such concern trolling will be screaming over today’s decision.” Benson also posted an image of polling data, seemingly ignoring that the results showed that among American adults familiar with affirmative action, nearly every racial category mostly saw it as a “good thing.”

Fringe and right-wing accounts also celebrated the decision as a victory for white people and discussed what’s “next up”:

  • Following the decision, Rufo tweeted: “The Supreme Court has struck down affirmative action in college admissions. It's time to go further: abolish DEI bureaucracies, prohibit race-based hiring, eliminate the ‘disparate impact’ doctrine, and restore the principle of colorblind equality in all of our institutions.”
  • Gab founder and virulent antisemite Andrew Torba posted, “Affirmative action is dead. Roe is dead. Next up: the Civil Rights Act so we can restore the freedom of association in this country.”
  • White nationalist vlogger Steve Franssen tweeted “LETS GO WHITE RACE” in response to the decision.
  • On Gab, failed Senate candidate and Proud Boys supporter Lauren Witzke posted on Gab, “How many hopes and dreams have been destroyed for White people due to this vile policy? Affirmative Action is truly one of the biggest stains on America. Overqualified people were rejected from jobs and schools due to the color of their skin. It’s been unconstitutional from the start. It’s time to put an END to the cruel and evil practice of Affirmative Action.”
  • Far-right account Write Winger posted on Gab, “With race-based admissions being struck down at colleges, now is the time for White people to claim their space in this oh so diverse and inclusive environment, and I’ll tell you how you personally can help. If your school or employer has or does anything based on race, I want you to politely ask, in writing preferably via email, how you can go about creating the same for White people.”
  • Author Padraig Martin posted on Gab, “While Affirmative Action harmed hundreds of thousands of qualified White applicants over the past five decades, nobody gave a damn. How many aspiring White applicants from low income homes were denied economic advancement because they were White? I appreciate this decision, but just remember - if you are White, the United States government still hates you for being White and actively seeks your displacement and replacement with its myriad of anti-White policies.”

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Elon Musk

Extremist Musk Repeatedly Promotes QAnon 'Influencer' On Twitter

CEO Elon Musk has repeatedly boosted a QAnon influencer on Twitter, doing so at least two dozen times since he took over the platform and reinstated the influencer’s account, a Media Matters analysis has found.

The QAnon influencer, known online as “Kanekoa,” is a member of a QAnon influencer collective known as We The Media. Kanekoa is also a member of an online anti-vaccine influencer channel that includes both anti-vaccine and QAnon-supporting figures, and had partnered with election denial organization True the Vote to target an election software company. The account was previously banned on the platform, but was seemingly reinstated in December, while also gaining reach in right-wing circles by being promoted by figures like Steve Bannon, Dan Bongino, Mike Lindell, and Michael Flynn (then-President Donald Trump also amplified the account multiple times on Twitter in December 2020).

Since Kanekoa’s reinstatement, Musk has repeatedly interacted with the account, replying at least 24 times to the QAnon influencer’s tweets, according to a Media Matters review. The replies have featured Musk making positive remarks about Kanekoa’s tweets, calling them an “interesting thread” and a “very important thread” and responding with a bullseye emoji. Musk also entertained a conspiracy theory from Kanekoa about voting and seemed to agree with Kanekoa’s baseless claim that “Anthony Fauci funded the development of COVID-19.”

Musk also tagged Twitter’s community notes multiple times in Kanekoa’s replies — referring to the platform's crowdsourced, volunteer-driven fact-checking system which asks users to add context to a tweet and then vote on the most helpful additions. Notably, this feature is not actually a stand-in for rigorous, in-house content moderators — many of whom Musk has fired.

The Twitter CEO’s interactions with Kanekoa’s tweets have been correlated with a boost in the QAnon influencer’s engagement, as the tweets that Musk has replied to have gotten far more engagement than is typical for the account. At time of publication, Kanekoa has earned an average of more than 7,500 retweets for each tweet Musk has replied to — or more than 159,000 retweets in total. This is more than four times as many retweets as Kanekoa’s average of over 1,700 retweets for all of the account’s tweets since it was reinstated.

Kanekoa has even hyped Musk’s interactions with their tweets, calling it “the Elon Musk stamp of approval,” and other supporters in the QAnon community have also praised and hyped Musk as an ally.

Musk interacting with Kanekoa, a QAnon influencer who was reinstated on the platform under his management, is part of a larger pattern of the new CEO boosting right-wing content and extremism. Since taking over the platform, Musk has reinstated dozens of extremist and misinformation-peddling accounts on the platform and interacted with far-right accounts hundreds of times, while also firing content moderation staff and weakening content moderation policies. The platform has subsequently lost hundreds of millions in advertising revenue.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Trump Coup Lawyer's 'Election Integrity' Outfit Aligning With QAnon Influencers

Trump Coup Lawyer's 'Election Integrity' Outfit Aligning With QAnon Influencers

The head of Fairfax County, Virginia’s purported “election integrity” task force lauded the supposed research abilities of certain QAnon influencers and admitted to sending their materials to the Fairfax County Office of Elections on a podcast hosted by the Conservative Partnership Institute’s Cleta Mitchell. Mitchell reportedly helped organize the group in 2021 ahead of the Virginia gubernatorial race, along with 18 other local task forces.

Mitchell leads CPI’s Election Integrity Network, an organization that she says aims to create “a volunteer army of citizens” in various positions related to election administration, motivated by false claims of election fraud. She is one of at least 20 of Trump’s allies — along with former chief of staff Mark Meadows and former Pentagon official Kash Patel — who were intimately involved in Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election and are now associated with CPI, a pro-Trump think tank. Mitchell, who was on the call with then-President Donald Trump when he pressed Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” votes to overturn the presidential election in the state, was subpoenaed as part of a Fulton County, Georgia, special grand jury investigation into potential criminal election interference.

Christine Brim, the leader of the task force in Fairfax County, appeared on an episode of Who’s Counting? with Cleta Mitchell uploaded on October 11, and she claimed that the group put together a “20-page memo” on election software company Konnech in September that “really just aggregated data, screenshots and so on from” QAnon influencers. Brim said the task force sent the memo to the county board of elections.

Konnech has been targeted by influential election-denial organization True the Vote and collaborating QAnon influencers, who allege that the Chinese Communist Party used the company to influence American elections. Konnech has sued True the Vote for defamation. Attacks on Konnech ramped up when its CEO was arrested “on suspicion of theft of personal identifying information” about poll workers, even though the charges were unrelated to vote tabulation or election results. After the CEO’s arrest, the Fairfax County Office of Elections canceled its contract with Konnech.

The QAnon figures behind the data Brim shared, whom she called “very professional researchers,” are known online as Kanekoa and CognitiveCarbon. They are members of We The Media, a collective channel of QAnon influencers. (A blog post from the group mentioning the memo also cited another QAnon influencer and member of We The Media known as The Authority.)

CLETA MITCHELL (HOST): I want to come back to something here because I think that it’s one of the reasons I think this is so important is that you and your group of volunteers and, as you say, researchers around the country, but because you already were working in Fairfax County, you were able to and did take the initiative starting when — I mean, walk us through the schedule of the things that you took to the county board of elections, what they said, how, you know, sort of what happened each step along the way. Because there were multiple — there were multiple steps.

CHRISTINE BRIM (CHAIRMAN OF FAIRFAX COUNTY GOP ELECTION INTEGRITY TASK FORCE): There were. And let me just backtrack slightly. We had a much more difficult relationship with our prior registrar. We got a new registrar in late March of this year. And he has been working very hard with a — with his staff, with his staff to increase transparency and to improve relationships. And we also have, under Gov. [Glenn] Youngkin, our new Republican governor, appointed Susan Beals as our new commissioner of the state Department of Elections. And she has been issuing guidance after guidance that has improved transparency. So this has been a — an exciting year for us. The problem, of course, with transparency is you have to go copy the documents, right? But we even got the right to photograph where before we hadn’t had it. So we — when this situation started in August, we were still clarifying some issues in terms of transparency. But we had established a good working relationship with the office and with the staff much better than last year. And last year was much better than the year before.

We do a lot of training of poll watchers. We have 264 precincts. We coordinate with the Fairfax County Office of Elections so our training conforms to what they’re actually teaching their chiefs and their supervisors as well. We want to teach the right thing.

So there’s — that’s the environment in which this, this bomb kind of went off, from an informational point of view, and we said, “Oh, my gosh. What are we going to do?” So we immediately, I immediately emailed them, August 16, and said, “You really need to escalate this. This is a problem. We have to take this seriously.” And at that point, send in also a Freedom of Information Act for any additional contracts. We already had — because we have an active Freedom of Information activity, already had the original contracts from 2016.


BRIM: This has been out since 2016 that our election officers, names, mail, mailing addresses and so on, have been potentially going over to China, but certainly looked at. But the — that didn’t get a response and so we —

MITCHELL: You sent that in and, what, got no response?

BRIM: So August 16, so the email didn’t get a response, but we did get the contractual information back and that was helpful. And then following that on — I’m trying to think the sequence here — we again send another email saying, “No, you really need to take this seriously.” And at that point I think they were probably talking to their lawyers because we were getting fewer responses from them.

Then on September 6, we constructed a whole memo, which is linked from the article, about a 20-page memo, which really just aggregated data, screenshots and so on from these wonderful researchers, Kanekoa, CognitiveCarbon. They all work under pseudonyms over at Substack, but they had done — these were clearly very professional researchers with a lot of linguistic capabilities. They — and also I.T. knowledge — who were trying to corroborate, and did corroborate, all of the information with these links to the Chinese companies. And we — our team, we had a small research team, which was pulling this together, of three, four people, just scanning the environment for additional research out there, which they do anyway. They’re always scanning the environment for opposition situations, opposition groups, opposition publications in Virginia. So they focused on this, and that was tremendously helpful because we also could combine that with the contractual information that we had.

And pulled that together, reverified every single link. So we went back and, you know, revisited the links, so that everything was firsthand. Took our own screenshots.

MITCHELL: Wow. I see, I see what you did.

BRIM: Everything was — so that we didn’t send in anything that was uncorroborated by us, that we were told they would research the issues.

Later on in the interview, Brim told Mitchell that “one-off researchers, like Kanekoa,” provided “tremendous information,” from whom “election integrity working groups … have the capability to take that information and turn it into something operational locally.”

CLETA MITCHELL (HOST): I think that I really wanted you to have the opportunity — I wanted to have the opportunity for people to hear what you all had done, in conjunction with many, many others, but that ultimately, where the rubber meets the road, is taking the information and getting something done in the local election office. And you've really demonstrated the importance of that. Unfortunately, the bureaucracy wouldn’t have acted on its own. I don’t think they would have acted on their own.

CHRISTINE BRIM (CHAIRMAN OF FAIRFAX COUNTY GOP ELECTION INTEGRITY TASK FORCE): I think eventually they would have. In 2023, they wouldn’t have renewed the contract, but it would have not been — it would have stayed in place through the election. And I think some places may choose to do that. I know DeKalb County —

MITCHELL: Georgia.

BRIM: — is another user of PollChief. There’s — but, you know, it is not just a team. It’s the fact that this is a growing team. This is a growing team in Fairfax. The coordination across Virginia is there. We work and communicate and get ideas from people in other states.


BRIM: In part due to the wonderful efforts that you’ve made. And then we have these outside groups that are just these one-off researchers, like Kanekoa, who suddenly provide tremendous information. And the counties, these election integrity working groups, are poised and have the capability to take that information and turn it into something operational locally. And this is just kind of organically happening. It's extremely effective. Little by little, we’re kind of learning how to do this.

Since the interview came out, Kanekoa has praised the group for relying on the materials that both Kanekoa and CongnitiveCarbon put online, calling it “very cool” and claiming it “demonstrates the power of getting involved in your local elections.”

This instance of a CPI- and GOP-linked Fairfax County group sending material from QAnon influencers to the county board of elections further demonstrates the connections between the QAnon and election denial movements. Media Matters has previously documented True the Vote’s collaboration with QAnon figures, major election denial funder Patrick Byrne’s significant connections to the QAnon community, and a QAnon influencer’s involvement with a coalition recruiting and aiming to elect election-denialist secretary of state candidates. And according to Nevada Republican secretary of state candidate Jim Marchant, the leader of that coalition, he had been “working very close” with Mitchell and CPI.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Arizona GOP Candidate Kari Lake Campaigns On QAnon Show

Arizona GOP Candidate Kari Lake Campaigns On QAnon Show

Days before the state’s August 2 primary, Arizona Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake appeared on a QAnon show where she asked viewers to donate to her campaign and vote for her. The hosts also endorsed her; invoked the QAnon conspiracy theory’s central figure and mentioned other QAnon figures; and seemingly bragged that her interview showed the influence of the “anons.”

On July 29, Lake, a frontrunner in the primary, appeared on the MatrixxxGrooove Show (or MG Show), which is co-hosted by QAnon influencer Jeffrey Pedersen. (Pedersen is known online as “intheMatrixxx” and Lake has previously been photographed with him.) During the interview, Pedersen asked viewers to donate “$17, $20, $50, you know, to help her get to the final stretch, maybe get some TV ads out there”; 17 is a reference to “Q,” the conspiracy theory’s central figure, being the 17th letter of the alphabet. He also urged Lake to use one of his followers who has “such a beautiful voice” for her campaign events.

Lake also asked viewers to “vote early, if you can, vote on election day,” to donate to her campaign, and to “let your friends and relatives in Arizona know how much is on the line right now.” Pedersen also mentioned other QAnon influencers and a QAnon influencer collective that he is a part of, and he urged viewers to vote for Lake. Lake also said it was “a real pleasure” to meet the show’s co-hosts, and Pedersen said that “MG Show endorses Kari Lake for Arizona governor.”

After the interview, Pedersen praised Lake for coming on, saying, “I’m proud that she came on the show. That really shows me a lot.” He also seemingly suggested it showed the influence of “the anons out in this community.”

Multiple other Arizona political figures have now appeared onMatrixxxGrooove Show, including Dan Schultz, who played a major role in an increase in QAnon supporters becoming Republican precinct committee members.

(To see the full Kari Lake interview on the MG Show, click here.)

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

QAnon Republican Threatens 'Civil War' If America 'Moves Past' 2020 Election

QAnon Republican Threatens 'Civil War' If America 'Moves Past' 2020 Election

Wayne Willott, a QAnon influencer known online as “Juan O. Savin” who is recruiting and supporting candidates for election-administration positions around the country, warned of “civil war” if people try to “move past” the 2020 presidential election.

Savin is part of a coalition led by Jim Marchant, which aims to recruit and elect secretary of state candidates who have pushed false claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

While appearing on a QAnon supporter’s online show, Savin said that “you cannot move past” the false voter fraud claims in the 2020 election and that if people try to there would be “probably civil war for America” because “there’s plenty of Americans that will not put up with this and they will not stand down.”

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Trump’s New Attorney Demanded ‘Capital Punishment’ For Biden Officials

Trump’s New Attorney Demanded ‘Capital Punishment’ For Biden Officials

Peter Ticktin, an attorney for former President Donald Trump, has repeatedly gone on online shows hosted by supporters of the QAnon conspiracy theory. During some of these appearances, hosts have asked Ticktin to connect them with Trump, and in one instance, Ticktin and the host suggested members of the Biden administration should be put to death.

In March, Politico reported that Trump filed a lawsuit against some of his perceived political enemies, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former FBI Director James Comey, and the Democratic National Committee, accusing them of a “racketeering conspiracy for allegedly joining in ‘an unthinkable plot’ to falsely accuse Trump of colluding with Russia in the 2016 presidential election.” Ticktin, who is a longtime friend of Trump’s, is serving as one of the lead counsels for Trump on the case.

Later that month, Ticktin spoke at Mar-A-Lago for an event for QAnon-supporting Florida congressional candidate Darlene Swaffar, during which QAnon influencers Ann Vandersteel and Jeffrey Pedersen — who is known online as “intheMatrixxx” — also spoke. Pedersen was photographed with Ticktin at the event.

In June, Ticktin appeared on RedPill78, which is hosted by QAnon supporter Zak Paine, who participated in the January 6 insurrection at the United States Capitol. During the interview, Ticktin told Paine that “the real insurrection occurred on November 3 and 4,” referring to false voter fraud claims, and that “if we had a stolen election, that means the people that are in the White House are criminals -- not only criminals but criminals guilty of capital punishment crimes.” Paine agreed, later saying, “You’re absolutely right when you said that these are capital crimes. We’re talking about treason.”

When Paine asked Ticktin “what are we doing” in terms of “exposing this fraud,” Ticktin said, “I've got one thing I’m working on now that you're going to hear about in about a month.” And at the end of the interview, after they discussed Trump’s lawsuit, Paine asked Ticktin to “tell Donald Trump I said hello” and to “help me get an invite to Mar-A-Lago,” adding after the interview, “Hopefully one of these days, I am going to be able to get down to Mar-A-Lago and if I could interview President Trump, you all know it would be a dream come true.”

A couple of months earlier, on April 11, Ticktin appeared on Vandersteel's online show, Steel Truth. During the interview, the two discussed Trump’s lawsuit and Ticktin’s book about Trump (Vandersteel suggested Ticktin signed a copy for her), and she told Ticktin, “It was a pleasure to make your acquaintance the other evening at another event in Mar-A-Lago.”

The following day, Ticktin appeared on the QAnon-supportingMatrixxxGrooove Show (or MG Show), co-hosted by Pedersen. During the interview, Ticktin promoted Trump’s lawsuit and pushed false voter fraud claims alongside the hosts, suggesting the 2020 presidential election was “the real insurrection.” While promoting Ticktin’s book, Pedersen also noted that he had a signed copy, and he asked Ticktin to tell Trump that “we’d love to have him on the show.” (Pedersen had also claimed to be at Ticktin’s office the day before, weeks after claiming that he “might be meeting with” Ticktin “for some other things too.”)

Days later, Pedersen claimed on his show that he had met Trump at Mar-A-Lago that past weekend, saying that “Peter Ticktin also let him [Trump] know that we were there” and that Trump “knew we were there. He knew who we were.”

Ticktin’s association with the far-right internet extends beyond QAnon as well: In April, Ticktin apparently teamed up with far-right blog The Gateway Pundit to “crowdsource videos” from the January 6 insurrection, “requesting footage of ‘Trump protestors being peaceful’ and of ‘police or anyone else waving/encouraging people to go into the Capitol building,’” as reported by Mediaite.

This is not the first time a person in Trump's orbit has associated with QAnon-connected figures. Trump himself amplified and praised the QAnon community when he was president. And Pedersen and his co-host Shannon Townsend obtained press credentials for a Trump rally last July, after which “Trump associates … told POLITICO that they had attempted to weed out any QAnon influences — both adherents and postings — getting close to him.” But Trump has continued to amplify QAnon-promoting accounts since he began actively using his social media platform Truth Social.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Fox Network’s Lara Logan Goes Full QAnon, Questions Moon Landing

Fox Network’s Lara Logan Goes Full QAnon, Questions Moon Landing

Lara Logan, a Fox Nation host whose current relationship with the network is unclear, was interviewed by a QAnon influencer with ties to a QAnon group in Dallas that is awaiting the supposed return of the late President John F. Kennedy and his son. During the interview, the influencer directly invoked “Q,” the conspiracy theory’s central figure, and Logan appeared to suggest that the 1969 landing on the moon was somehow suspect.

In videos uploaded in separate parts on February 23 and 24, Logan -- who has been absent from Fox since comparing Dr. Anthony Fauci to the Nazi doctor Josef Mengele -- did an interview with Tom Sidney Bushnell, a QAnon influencer known online as “Tom Numbers.” Bushnell has been associated with Michael Brian Protzman, another QAnon influencer known online as “Negative48” who is leading a gathering in Dallas organized around the belief that John F. Kennedy and John F. Kennedy Jr. will appear at the grassy knoll where the senior Kennedy was shot with former President Donald Trump.

Bushnell’s videos of his interview with Logan were uploaded to his own YouTube channel, despite the platform’s supposed QAnon crackdown, and even appeared to be monetized via ads.

During the interview, Logan alleged that there was some kind of secret technology that could have prevented the attack in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012. She also seemed to suggest that there was something suspicious about the July 1969 moon landing, using air quotes when mentioning Neil Armstrong and (wrongly) claiming that the United States government officially sent astronauts to the moon only once. During the interview, Bushnell also directly invoked Q by claiming that Trump mentioned the number 17 -- referring to Q being the 17th letter of the alphabet -- during an event about the Space Force.

TOM SIDNEY BUSHNELL: I mentioned about the Space Force flag ceremony with President Trump, with POTUS in the Oval Office. And he specifically spoke very deliberately. I think there were a lot of codes -- well there were, but it’s interesting what you’re saying now. He said that there were a number of -- so he had people from the Space Force Command, he said, “Whether people like it or not, the future is space,” and he kept going on and on about it. And he shows the Space Force flag and the Space Force flag is the arrowhead, which is the same symbol as Star Trek.
And he talked about missiles and weapons, and he says -- and he kept repeating. He says, “We have — all these other countries have, you know, really quick missiles, but we have -- we have one that is 17 times quicker than any -- anyone.” ... And he kept repeating the word 17. Seventeen is Q, et cetera, but he kept saying it over and over again. Then he said, “Yeah, it’s faster than anything out there, and it’s 17 times quicker than any, you know, anything that either everyone else has got or we had with the U.S. industry.” I think he was making the point that the U.S. is behind China and Russia and other places, and theirs was a bit faster. But then this one that they’ve got now because of Space Force was 17 times quicker. And he kept reemphasizing that all the time. So I think it was loaded with code.

LARA LOGAN (FOX NATION HOST): You think the Chinese didn’t know we had a Space Force or the Iranians or the Russians and so on and so on, right? It’s ridiculous. So it becomes a bigger question that we forget to ask because we get caught up in the arguing, you know, this and that about Trump. Why was this kept secret from the American people? We put Neil Armstrong on the moon. That wasn’t a secret, right? And really, if you think about it, we’re supposed to believe that after putting Neil Armstrong on the moon, we never went back? We just decided to go to the moon once and then we decided, “Oh, we’re going to concentrate on going into Mars, deeper into space. Let’s go into deep space.” Come on. It’s not even logical. And yet all of us fall for these things, me included, you know, because we have this innate faith in our leaders and our institutions and our media, in our government. We know that they lie and this and that. But we sort of think that there’s a threshold below which they won't go -- well that used to be the case anyway. It’s not the case anymore. And it’s a very important question, why was Space Force classified in the first place?

Logan’s appearance with a QAnon influencer comes months after John Sabal, another QAnon influencer who is known online as “QAnon John,” initially claimed that Logan would be appearing at his QAnon conference in Las Vegas, which Fox later denied. This is not Logan’s first brush with conspiracy theory influencers, as she has previously collaborated with Mikki Willis, the director of the viral coronavirus conspiracy theory videoPlandemic.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

How Gab Is Becoming A Platform For Neo-Nazi Propaganda

How Gab Is Becoming A Platform For Neo-Nazi Propaganda

The CEO of Gab -- a social media platform known as a haven for white nationalists and extremism that is now attracting Republican political figures including Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ) -- has increasingly affiliated himself with a Holocaust-denying white nationalist with ties to the January 6 insurrection as part of efforts to create a “parallel economy” for far-right forces banned from other platforms.

Gab CEO Andrew Torba -- whose account all Gab users follow by default -- has increasingly praised white nationalist Nick Fuentes and his “America First” movement, announcing that the platform would be collaborating with Fuentes to sponsor his upcoming far-right conference, repeatedly promoting Fuentes and his group, and even sending America First content directly to Gab users. Torba has also defended him from backlash after some Gab users criticized the platform’s support for Fuentes, who has repeatedly attacked them.

The platform’s growing relationship with Fuentes and his organization highlights Torba’s own escalating extremism, which includes lauding the Capitol insurrection as it was happening and urging the insurrectionists to storm the U.S. Senate; endorsing a call for then-President Donald Trump to declare martial law and overturn the 2020 election; and endorsing the white nationalist “great replacement” conspiracy theory. Torba has also used Gab to undermine vaccination efforts and actively courted far-right figures to join the platform, including supporters of the QAnon conspiracy theory.

Fuentes is a Holocaust-denying white nationalist organizer and host of America First who has previously been banned by both YouTube and Twitter. In late 2019, Fuentes came to prominence leading a campaign to have followers of America First harass more mainstream conservative figures, which he called the “Groyper War” (his followers call themselves “Groypers”). He also attended the deadly 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and encouraged the 2021 Capitol insurrection. Last month, he was subpoenaed by the House January 6 committee over “his ‘America First’ group’s involvement in the run-up to the event.”

Torba announced in January that Gab would be sponsoring Fuentes’ upcoming America First Political Action Conference (AFPAC), calling the event “a group of grassroots young Christian thinkers who, like it or not, are the future of right wing politics in this country.” Fuentes thanked Torba for the sponsorship, claiming the “parallel economy and Gab alternative tech ecosystem are the future.” America First has since announced that Torba will also be a featured speaker at AFPAC.

Torba’s announcement fits with a larger pattern of the Gab CEO praising or promoting Fuentes and his group. A Media Matters review of Torba’s Gab posts since 2019 found that he has mentioned Fuentes or “America First” over 140 times. Torba’s references to Fuentes picked up significantly since the beginning of 2021, having made more than 120 references to Fuentes or “America First” -- over six times as many as in all of 2019 and 2020 combined.

Media Matters’ review also found that Torba has used Gab’s email list to promote content from Fuentes to users at least a dozen times since 2021, including: “Nick Fuentes unmasks gatekeeping Zionists who control the American political conversation”; “Nick Fuentes discusses the enshrinement of anti-white HATRED in public policy”; and a video of Fuentes claiming “the System HATES White People.”

Gab Fuentes video email6

Citation From an email from Gab in August 2021

Torba’s embrace of Fuentes also fits his pattern of pushing antisemitism alongside his own brand of “Christian Nationalism.” In April 2021, Torba shared a video of Fuentes criticizing the American Jewish Congress for being critical of Gab and wrote that Fuentes “is waking Conservatives up and shifting the Overton Window in the right direction. It's long overdue.”

In July, he wrote that Fuentes “and the millions of young Christian men and women like him are the future. … America First Christian Nationalism is inevitable.”

And that same month Torba took his praise even further, calling Fuentes the “civil rights hero of our time” and writing a blog post claiming that “in an age where young, straight, White, Christian men who hold Biblical values are being treated as second class citizens for their political and religious beliefs, Nick Fuentes is a voice of reason.”

Torba Fuentes civil rights hero post

Torba also criticized those in conservative media who were critical of Fuentes, claiming that “they are not on our side” and that they were criticizing Fuentes “because what he says is TRUE.” Torba also defended Fuentes in response to criticism from The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro and promoted a quote from Fuentes that “denying Christ is far worse than denying the Holocaust, and Ben Shapiro and all the jews can take that to [the] bank.”

Torba Fuentes Holocaust post

In addition to praising and defending Fuentes on Gab, Torba has also repeatedly shared clips of Fuentes and America First. Media Matters found that Torba shared Fuentes and America First clips more than 20 times within just a four-month period alone in 2021, including a video titled “WAKE UP! ‘Holocaust RELIGION’ Is ANTITHETICAL To America First,” and a video of Fuentes saying the U.S. is a Christian nation and telling American Jews to move to Israel if they don’t like antisemitism, to which Torba wrote, “There are tens of millions of us who feel this way and we aren’t going away.

Torba Fuentes Holocaust video

In the days leading up to and right around Torba’s sponsorship announcement of AFPAC, he also created a Gab account on Fuentes’ streaming platform, where he began doing livestreams and openly expressed hope for a “partnership” between both platforms.

Torba also used Fuentes’ streaming platform to defend the AFPAC announcement against criticism from Gab users, saying it was “unbecoming” and “leftist-type behavior” and that Fuentes’ attacks on Gab users were simply cases of him being a “provocateur” like Torba. He said that the conference was “the best possible thing for Gab to sponsor” because it would “give glory to Christ” and feature “a bunch of young people who are the future.”

Gab’s Twitter account has also praised Fuentes, writing that he and Gab “embody the true and relentless spirit of American excellence, ingenuity, grit, and defiance in the face of tyranny.”

Fuentes has reciprocated Torba’s praise, calling the Gab CEO a “21st century Founding Father” and adding, “It was people like him that created this country.”

On an episode of Fuentes’ show in January, the host said that Torba was a “total rock star and Gab is blowing up,” pointing to the growing number of Republican political figures joining the platform as evidence. He later said that Torba’s involvement is “absolutely critical,” adding, “He’s going to be a very important figure. He is already, but his importance will grow because Gab is very important.” And on the day that Torba announced Gab’s sponsorship of AFPAC, Fuentes wrote: “I trust Gab because Gab is run by a faithful Christian. And not some Judeo-Christian either, a Christian.”

Fuentes has also repeatedly and directly lauded Gab, which he joined in the days after the Capitol insurrection, writing that it is the “one true free speech platform in the entire world” and “an amazing platform” because “without it there would be nowhere else on the entire internet for us to go.”

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

The QAnon Cult Isn’t Flaming Out, But Morphing Into A Dangerous Political Movement

The QAnon Cult Isn’t Flaming Out, But Morphing Into A Dangerous Political Movement

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

In early 2021, there was speculation that the movement built around the QAnon conspiracy theory had finally reached an end, with “Q” -- the central figure of QAnon -- having gone silent in December 2020. But the year started with dozens of QAnon supporters participating in an assault on the United States Capitol, fueled by a belief in false claims of large-scale voter fraud the QAnon community helped spread. And the events of January 6 were the harbinger of what was to come: a year in which QAnon influencers and adherents promoted conspiracy theories and falsehoods about the 2020 presidential election, helped organize efforts to challenge or “audit” the election results, and aided in an alleged plot that, if successful, may help sway the outcome of future elections at the state and national level.

An alleged plot announced by Jim Marchant, a former member of the Nevada state Assembly and now a Nevada secretary of state candidate, is a primary example of how dangerous QAnon became in 2021. On October 25, Marchant took the stage at the QAnon-supporting “Patriot Double Down” conference, claiming that he lost his congressional campaign due to voter fraud. Marchant then said he was asked to “put together a coalition” in swing states “of other like-minded secretary of state candidates” -- referring to the officials that help run elections -- and that he had successes with the involvement and recruitment of QAnon-connected figures thus far.

Although there had been discussion about QAnon dying out in 2021, efforts like Marchant’s show that QAnon has continued to erode our democratic system and may even pose threaten a constitutional crisis -- even without “Q.” Though several social media platforms had finally announced crackdowns on QAnon by early 2021, these efforts were too little too late. By not dealing with QAnon earlier on (Facebook even spent years algorithmically promoting it), these platforms enabled the community to grow, becoming so big and organized that adherents no longer need their titular leader. Meanwhile, it’s become an easy vehicle for political figures to advance anti-democratic agendas.

Some Thought 2021 Was The Year QAnon Would Flame Out -- And They Were Wrong

After Q fell silent in December 2020, some speculated that 2021 would be the end of QAnon. The conspiracy theory had been around for more than three years at that point, starting in October 2017, when an anonymous figure known as Q posted on message board site 4chan (and later on 8chan/8kun), claiming to have “Q” government clearance and promising to have an inside scoop showing then-President Donald Trump had a secret plot that would take down his perceived enemies, the “deep state,” and a cabal of pedophiles.

Over the following years, the conspiracy theory grew on mainstream social media platforms, slowly but steadily building a network of Twitter hashtags, Facebook pages and groups, and YouTube channels, and it was boosted by other conspiracy theory figures like Infowars founder Alex Jones. During that time, some of its followers engaged in violent or threatening acts, including murders and kidnappings, and multiple government agencies issued internal warnings about it. (The FBI issued a warning as recently as June of this year).

The conspiracy theory had a breakthrough year in 2020, when consumption of QAnon-related content boomed on social media due to the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, two people who had expressed some level of support for QAnon were elected to Congress, and Trump praised the conspiracy theory’s followers.

But starting in summer 2020 and through January 2021, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and TikTok finally announced crackdowns on QAnon ( resulting in a decrease in QAnon-connected phrases on those platforms). Q went dark after December, and despite the January 6 insurrection and the QAnon community’s predictions that Trump would somehow stay in office, Joe Biden was inaugurated as president. Although this did confuse and disappoint some followers, the result was not the end of QAnon, but a shift in the community.

Rather than give up, QAnon supporters said that “the task of Q was completed” because “the Q team [had] put out enough info” and had “created an army of digital soldiers” that would not “exist if there was no Q.” Supporters also claimed that Q was “a way to teach people how to research and how to look into things themselves” and that thanks to Q’s “guidance,” it was now time for individuals to “fight for our country.” One QAnon show host (who participated in part of the insurrection) even said that additional Q posts were not needed as “the point had been made. They were meant to wake people up, to push us to stop looking outside ourselves.” In fact, throughout the year, the community -- including political figures like Marchant -- actively tried to escape the “QAnon” tag, echoing Q’s “camouflage” command in 2020, which asked followers to deny that QAnon existed.

QAnon also continued to gather significant support among Republicans. The Daily Beast’s Will Sommer said in November that a pollster told him that “QAnon’s never been more popular in her polls of fellow Republicans.”

A main reason for the QAnon community’s resilience is the motivating power of false claims that “we've got fraudulent elections … to deal with” and that Biden was not the rightful president, which meant the election -- and the presidency -- could be “restor[ed] … back to Trump.”

QAnon, Trump-connected Figures, And The Idea Of Trump’s 'Reinstatement'

After Biden took office, the QAnon community used false voter fraud claims to rationalize that somehow Biden was a “fake president” and would be removed from office, or that Trump and/or other forces were still in control.

Some even called for a military coup against Biden, with one QAnon influencer, David Hayes (known online as “Praying Medic”), saying the military was “the last line of defense against tyranny, and I think they're going to be forced to step in.” This narrative played out most starkly when the QAnon community applauded Myanmar’s military in February for overthrowing the civilian government and imprisoning its leaders over claims of voter fraud, calling it a model for what should happen in the United States.

QAnon supporters also claimed Trump would somehow be reinstated as president -- even initially settling on a specific date of March 4. The false claim gained enough traction that it became one of the reasons almost 5,000 National Guard troops remained in Washington, D.C., after January 6. One QAnon supporter told an on-duty soldier outside the Capitol on March 3 that he was considering “test[ing] the National Guard tomorrow to see if they were loyal to the people or to the President.”

After nothing happened on March 4, some QAnon supporters continued to claim that Trump would be “reinstated.” In particular, some focused on claims from pro-Trump businessman Mike Lindell, one of four prominent QAnon-connected players -- along with Sidney Powell, Michael Flynn, and Patrick Byrne -- to push the reinstatement claim. And all four are central to QAnon’s political influence.

Mike Lindell

Lindell had met with Trump days before Biden’s inauguration to float the idea that Trump use martial law to stay in office, a call that had been pushed by QAnon supporters. Lindell also has other ties to QAnon, including helping the community financially.

Originally, Lindell claimed that based on the supposed evidence of voter fraud he had, “Trump will be back in office in August” -- a claim that Trump himself reportedly came to believe. Lindell moved the date back of this reinstatement and, in November, released a supposed complaint that he promised would get the Supreme Court to act.

In response to Lindell’s claim, one QAnon influencer named Terpsichore Maras-Lindeman, known online as “Tore,” launched a “#jointhesuit” campaign to urge her followers to get state attorneys general to sign on, with some of her followers saying they had spoken with Republican state officials in multiple states about it. Arizona state Sen. Wendy Rogers even participated in a #jointhesuit event to get the attorney general of Arizona to sign on, and Tore joined her in person.

Wendy Rogers Tore

Sidney Powell

Former Trump campaign attorney Sidney Powell is another QAnon-connected figure who promised Trump’s reinstatement. Powell helped Trump in his legal campaign to overturn the election, including by citing multiple QAnon-connected figures and claims, and Trump considered naming her a special counsel on voter fraud. At a QAnon conference in Dallas in May, Powell said that due to voter fraud, Trump “can simply be reinstated.”

Michael Flynn

Another figure with deep ties to the QAnon community is former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn -- whom Trump considered making the FBI director and who also met with Trump post-election. At one point before Biden’s inauguration, Flynn called for martial law, and at the QAnon conference in Dallas, he echoed the community’s support for a Myanmar-style coup in the U.S. On QAnon supporter Ann Vandersteel’s show in June, Flynn said that due to voter fraud, “you reinstate the guy [Trump] and you get rid of the guy [Biden] that’s there.”

Patrick Byrne

Former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne, who has a number of connections to QAnon shows and influencers, also met with Trump post-election. Byrne has a significant number of QAnon connections, including apparently having a QAnon influencer on his group’s leadership committee and endorsing QAnon’sdigital soldiers.” He claimed, “You’ll see Donald Trump back in [office] sometime next year.” In separate videos, Byrne promoted Lindell’s Supreme Court complaint before it was released, along with Tore’s campaign for it.

In June, the Department of Homeland Security expressed alarm about the Trump reinstatement claim, noting its spread among “Qanon conspiracy theory adherents.”

QAnon, Arizona, and the “audit” and “decertify” movement

As part of this push for reinstatement, much of the QAnon community latched onto an effort to launch “audits” in swing states Biden won -- in particular Arizona -- to prove voter fraud. QAnon supporters believed that the supposed audit, launched by the Arizona state Senate to look into ballots cast in Maricopa County, would start a domino effect of audits in other states, leading states to “decertify” their election results and causing Trump’s reinstatement.

The Arizona audit was extensively intertwined with QAnon:

  • Doug Logan, the CEO of Cyber Ninjas, the company conducting the audit, was involved with efforts by Powell, Flynn, and Byrne to push voter fraud claims, along with QAnon-supporting attorney Lin Wood.
  • Logan helped with a lawsuit from lawyer Matthew DePerno in Michigan, where DePerno is also running for attorney general in 2022. DePerno appeared to follow and amplified multiple QAnon influencers including former 8kun administrator Ron Watkins (known online as “CodeMonekyZ”) and Praying Medic, the QAnon influencer who called for a military coup.
  • Some of the biggest boosters of the audit in the Arizona state legislature have affiliated themselves with QAnon. Arizona state Sen. Wendy Rogers has promoted QAnon and repeatedly gone on QAnon shows to promote the audit and other “decertification” efforts. State Rep. Mark Finchem (who is running for Arizona secretary of state in 2022) has promoted QAnon narratives. And state Senate Majority Whip Sonny Borrelli has also gone on multiple QAnon shows. All three (along with another state representative) attended a QAnon conference in Las Vegas to discuss the audit.

Another connection between the audit and QAnon was a conspiracy theory, based on a Q post, that Trump watermarked ballots so that Democrats would be caught cheating by using fake ballots without watermarks. The audit workers reportedly used UV light to examine ballots to look for supposed watermarks, and some 2022 state secretary of state candidates, including Arizona’s Finchem, have now called for watermarked ballots to prevent supposed fraud.

While the audit did not find the promised fraud, the audit movement did spread elsewhere -- along with more QAnon connections.

In Wisconsin, one of the most prominent advocates for the decertification of the state’s results was Wisconsin state Rep. Timothy Ramthun. Ramthun called for Cyber Ninjas to aid with an audit in the state in a video titled “The Calm Before The Storm” -- a key phrase in QAnon lore. He also appeared on a QAnon channel to push for an audit.

And in Pennsylvania, one of the most prominent advocates for an audit was state Sen. Doug Mastriano, who also visited Arizona to observe its audit. Mastriano has previously expressed support for QAnon. The founder of Audit The Vote PA -- a group associated with Mastriano -- is also a QAnon supporter.

An alleged QAnon-connected plot that could lead to a constitutional crisis

As the audit movement spread around the country, Nevada secretary of state candidate Jim Marchant took the stage at the QAnon conference in October in Las Vegas. Marchant -- who is friendly with the conference organizer, who is also a QAnon influencer -- baselessly complained that he was “a victim of voter fraud” in his 2020 congressional bid and said that he worked with Juan O. Savin, a QAnon influencer who some QAnon supporters believe is John F. Kennedy Jr., to supposedly “expose … the fraudulent election here in Nevada.”

Video fileVideo Player

Marchant suggested election fraud had supposedly been occurring “for a long time” and involved Democrats winning secretary of state offices around the country and “in key swing states.” He said that “we need to take back” those offices in 2022 because “they are the most important election in our country in 2022” as they “control the election system.” And he claimed he was asked to run for secretary of state in Nevada and to “put together a coalition of other like minded secretary of state candidates.”

Marchant said the “coalition,” which he developed with Savin, in May had its “inaugural meeting to start strategizing,” which included Lindell, Byrne, Jim Hoft and Joe Hoft of The Gateway Pundit, and Brian Kennedy of the Claremont Institute. The Gateway Pundit is a far-right blog that has previously given credence to QAnon and has played a major role spreading voter fraud misinformation. The Claremont Institute also has far-right ties.

Marchant named some secretary of state candidates who have expressed support for QAnon as part of this recruitment effort: Arizona’s Finchem and California’s Rachel Hamm, both of whom also attended the conference. Marchant also mentioned trying to recruit Pennsylvania’s Mastriano to run for governor because in Pennsylvania, the governor appoints the secretary of state. Another secretary of state candidate who attended the conference, Michigan’s Kristina Karamo, said she had been “asked to be a part of the coalition” and that “we came here to Vegas and we sat in the room and we met and we talked, all of us on the coalition together.”

Trump has also endorsed some of the candidates connected to the effort. If elected, these figures could potentially try to use their office to cast doubt on or even reverse a future presidential election result.

Even without Q, QAnon has continued to corrode our democratic system -- and social media made that possible

Despite Q’s disappearance, the crackdowns by the platforms, and Biden’s assumption of office, QAnon did not go away. Animated by a belief that Trump was somehow still in power or would be reinstated, the community focused intensely on proving voter fraud. QAnon’s influence on the audit and the decertify movement, particularly in Arizona, is an extension of the influence QAnon had on Trump post-election, via some of the same figures.

The continued political influence of QAnon traces back to the original sin of the social media platforms. Failing to take action on QAnon sooner let it grow unchecked, becoming big and organized enough to influence politics. As Rogers herself said, the audiences of QAnon shows were, in part, helping “mov[e] the needle.”

And now this QAnon infrastructure -- in place due to the catastrophic mistake of the social media companies -- has helped cause an insurrection, struck at the integrity of our democracy, and sowed the seeds for a potential constitutional crisis.8

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

White Nationalist Gab Now Sabotaging Vaccination Effort

White Nationalist Gab Now Sabotaging Vaccination Effort

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Gab's Andrew Torba, the CEO of a site known as a haven for white nationalists, has been using his platform to actively help people avoid getting coronavirus vaccines in response to possible mandates from government agencies and private companies.

Torba founded Gab in 2016 and it aimed to be a place for extremist content under the garb of free speech that other platforms had banned. Since then, the site has become a haven for white nationalists and extremist users, including the man accused of killing multiple people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Torba has also made his activity central to Gab. All Gab users follow his account by default and his blog posts are sent directly to their email accounts. Now, Torba is using the platform to encourage people to avoid getting coronavirus vaccines, which are safe and extremely effective at preventing hospitalization and death.

Torba has made his anti-vaccine views clear for months and spread misinformation about the vaccines in blog posts sent to the platform's users, falsely calling them "an experimental vaccine" and "the largest science experiment in history." Torba has also shared messages he claims are from active-duty military users or their family members worried about a vaccine mandate, and his avatar on Gab openly promotes that he is "not vaccinated." (He also emailed Gab users a viral video of a man at a town hall meeting sharing vaccine misinformation, thereby playing a significant role in its spread.)

But in recent weeks Torba has ramped up his opposition to the vaccines and is now sending users materials that can be used to avoid taking it. In late July, Torba shared documents he claimed he got from a Twitter user, writing in a post that they contained "what the creator of the documents calls an 'air tight religious exemption request' for the COVID vaccine if it is mandatory for you at work, school, or in the military." These documents featured vaccine misinformation and also cite Solari Report, a site run by Catherine Austin Fitts, the star of a viral coronavirus misinformation video. Torba encouraged Gab users to "share" the documents "everywhere." Later in a video, he bragged about the documents, saying, "We've had a lot of great feedback on these. People are very thankful that we put these out there. You're not going to find these anywhere else."

Torba exemption documents wanting shares post

Torba's post featuring the documents, besides being shared on Gab, has also received more than 24,000 Facebook engagements, according to the tracking tool CrowdTangle. MultipleQAnon influencers also shared the post and those received hundreds of thousands of combined views. (A former candidate for chair of the Colorado Republican Party also sharedthe post.) Additionally, a user on the far-right forum formerly known as "TheDonald" wrote that Torba's post helped a family member get an exemption from the vaccine at college.

More recently, Torba launched another anti-vax initiative, announcing a Gab group that is meant to serve as a job board "for employers who are hiring and do not require their employees to inject an experimental substance into their bodies in order to retain employment." The group, which has more than 30,000 members, has featured numerous job listings for people looking to avoid taking the vaccines, including a posting from far-right and antisemitic outletTruNews, which listed positions "that will NEVER require you to get the jab." Torba has also used the group to promote another site for jobs not requiring vaccines and one with "a great religious exemption template for employees." The Gab group job board was also promoted onthe far-right forum formerly known as "TheDonald."

Torba job board announcement post

Around the same time, on August 24, Torba sent users yet another vaccine exemption template, this time for college students, writing, "My twin brothers received a letter from their College letting them know six days before they start classes that the college will be mandating vaccines for all students. … I worked with them to draft their exemption request and thought it could be helpful to other college students out there who are facing the same insane abuse of their religious liberty and bodily autonomy." (The post was shared on Facebook by an Arizona county Republican Party chapter.)

Torba and his platform have repeatedly shown support for extremism, such as courting QAnon supporters and antisemites (as well as pushing antisemitism), repeatedly promoting content from white nationalist Nick Fuentes to users, and cheering on the January 6 insurrection at the United States Capitol as it was occurring. Torba has been trying to create his own services for Gab users who have been barred from using other sites for payment processing and more. These services include what Torba calls "an alternative to PayPal," Gab's own streaming service, and even its own phone. In his email announcing his anti-vax job board, Torba acknowledged these efforts, writing, "This job board aligns with Gab's vision of building infrastructure for a parallel economy and we hope to expand further on this job board initiative in the coming months."