An anonymous online entity called “Q,” who claims to have high-level clearance in the Trump administration, is the sole source of political truth, followers say, and nothing reported by the mainstream media can be trusted.
Lately, supporters of Q have been showing up in person at President Donald Trump’s rallies, and they’ve held small rallies of their own. One supporter, armed with an AR-15 rifle and ammunition, used an armored vehicle to block a bridge near the Hoover Dam in July. No one was injured in the incident.
Followers of Q, or QAnon, say a secret group of powerful bad guys in politics, business, media, agriculture, and entertainment are responsible for most of the world’s problems, from the Great Recession to ISIS. The bad guys include the Clinton, Bush, and Obama families and the CIA. Good guys such as Presidents John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan tried to overthrow the bad guys, and now President Donald Trump is close to completing the work, proclaims a pro-Q YouTube video.
Q is believed to be a close aide to the president, the president himself, or a combination of both. The anonymous user posts mysterious messages on 8chan, an online forum with very few rules, and followers start to “decode” Q’s posts. (Google banned 8chan from searches in 2015 due to the amount of child pornography on the site.)
Cheryl Sullenger, senior vice president for the pro-life organization Operation Rescue, told me she has been following Q since December and is convinced the shadowy entity is the real deal.
“I know it sounds a little bit complicated and it actually is,” she said. “A lot of this stuff, the messages are very cryptic because they can’t release anything that is classified information.”
Sullenger referenced a photo of an American flag draped between two fire trucks that appeared in the media after North Korea freed three hostages this May. The photo itself is real, and was made available to media outlets at the time by Getty Images (see above). But one of the trucks in the photo bears “Q74” in large white lettering. Q followers latched onto this as a clue, believing it was planted as a reference to the 74th post on a particular forum.
“So that would imply that Q had a hand in changing the number on the fire truck,” Sullenger said, citing research from others on 8chan. “Fire trucks are not numbered that way.”
The “mega-theory” might sound to outsiders like a worldwide game, an outgrowth of an internet generation where whistleblowers are heroes and everyone considers themselves investigative reporters.
“This is clearly just some guy messing with people,” wrote Will Sommer, an online journalist who critiques conservative media.
To followers, deciphering Q’s messages is anything but a game.
“This is serious,” Sullenger said. “This is about exposing people who want to kill our president.” —Laura Finch