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The Rise Of QAnon Among Congressional Candidates


We're going to turn our attention now to a group you may have heard something about. It's called QAnon, and it's a group of people who adhere to some far-right conspiracies and believe a number of absurd things. We have seen members of this group at far-right gatherings from time to time, but now there is a troubling new escalation. Throughout the country, congressional candidates who have shown support for the conspiracy are advancing to the general election.

And Travis View says this movement is only growing. He's been chronicling the rise of QAnon on the podcast "QAnon Anonymous," of which he is a co-host. And he's with us now to tell us more.

Travis View, thank you so much for joining us.

TRAVIS VIEW: Thank you so much for having me.

MARTIN: Could you just start with QAnon itself, as briefly as you can? What do they believe? And how did this all start?

VIEW: Sure. As briefly as I can, QAnon is basically - it's a very elaborate conspiracy theory - and, I would argue, also a domestic extremist movement - that holds that the world is controlled by a satanic cabal of pedophiles that they believe control everything like the media, politics and entertainment. Just simply, they hold all the levers of power.

And they further believe that Trump knows all about this evil cabal, is working to fight with them. They believe that he's fighting them with it with the help of this group of military intelligence officials known as Q Team. And they believe that Q Team is actually sending out coded messages about this sort of battle with the cabal on these image boards.

It was started on 4chan, later moved to 8chan and now on 8kun. And they essentially believe that eventually, Q Team and Trump will defeat this global cabal once and for all and free all of us.

MARTIN: I mean, many people might remember the guy drove from North Carolina and shot up a pizza parlor in Washington, D.C., a couple of years ago. Thankfully, no one was hurt. But he claimed that he thought he was rescuing kids who were being held by a pedophile ring. Was that an example of somebody who believes in this QAnon conspiracy? And have there been other examples like this where people have taken this conspiracy from their own heads into the real world and done things because of it?

VIEW: Now, that specific example actually happened before QAnon, but it was motivated by Pizzagate, which was essentially the predecessor of QAnon, which works on many of the same themes. But there have been multiple violent or dangerous incidents related to QAnon.

MARTIN: Presumably, people are asked about this when their candidacies proceed. And you've reported that there are people who have actually advanced to the general election who have expressed support for this. Do they acknowledge it?

VIEW: Yeah, yeah. In fact, there are actually - there are currently 14 candidates who have advanced to the general election. Their names will appear on the ballots in November. The candidates have taken different strategies. Senate Republican candidate up in Oregon Jo Rae Perkins continues to explicitly endorse QAnon. Other ones, like a candidate named Lauren Boebert in Colorado, distanced herself from QAnon and called QAnon fake news after appearing on a couple of QAnon-promoting YouTube shows.

So there are different sort of strategies of dealing with the QAnon belief after they start experiencing the scrutiny of a general election candidate.

MARTIN: And what is the Trump administration's relationship with this group?

VIEW: So Trump has tweeted or retweeted QAnon accounts over 160 times, I think is the last tally. And, of course, we have instances of Eric Trump on Instagram posted a clear Q image. But no one in the current administration has ever done anything to endorse QAnon. But it seems as though they have been willing to sort of wink and nod and encourage these people.

MARTIN: Travis View is a co-host of the podcast "QAnon Anonymous."

Travis, thanks so much for talking to us about this.

VIEW: Thank you so much for having me on.

(SOUNDBITE OF RATATAT'S "MAGNIFIQUE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.