How QAnon Became a Movement, Cult, and the Conspiracy Theory of Everything

Listen 49:15
FILE - A QAnon conspiracy theory button sits affixed to the purse of an attendee of the Nebraska Election Integrity Forum on Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022, in Omaha, Neb. Former President Donald Trump is increasingly embracing and endorsing the QAnon conspiracy theory, even as the number of frightening real-world incidents linked to the movement increase. On Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022, using his Truth Social platform, Trump reposted an image of himself — wearing a Q lapel pin — overlaid with the words “The Storm is Coming.

FILE - A QAnon conspiracy theory button sits affixed to the purse of an attendee of the Nebraska Election Integrity Forum on Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022, in Omaha, Neb. Former President Donald Trump is increasingly embracing and endorsing the QAnon conspiracy theory, even as the number of frightening real-world incidents linked to the movement increase. On Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022, using his Truth Social platform, Trump reposted an image of himself — wearing a Q lapel pin — overlaid with the words “The Storm is Coming." (AP Photo/Rebecca S. Gratz, File)

At a recent Trump rally in Ohio, ominous music played under the former president’s speech as the crowd simultaneously raised their index fingers in the air. To people in the know, the music sounded identical to the QAnon theme song, and it elicited the conspiracy theory salute. It also signaled Trump’s overt embrace of the conspiracy theory and its supporters.

Journalist MIKE ROTHSCHILD writes in a book on QAnon that the conspiracy theory is no longer a “cool, secret club that you had speak the jargon to have a chance of getting into” and instead has become mainstream “conservatism.” Rothschild is the author of The Storm is Upon Us: How QAnon Became a Movement, Cult, and the Conspiracy Theory of Everything. We’ll talk with him about why QAnon caught on and spread so effectively, who believes this far-out conspiracy theory and why, and the threat it poses to democracy.

 

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