After previously campaigning on a QAnon-supporting program and drawing criticism and media scrutiny over his appearance, right-wing commentator and Republican House candidate Burgess Owens went on another QAnon-backing program to ask for money and support.
QAnon is a violence-linked conspiracy theory based on cryptic posts to online message boards from an anonymous user known as “Q" that have spread rampantly on social media and among fringe right-wing media. QAnon conspiracy theorists essentially believe that President Donald Trump is secretly working to take down the purported “deep state,” a supposed cabal of satanic high-ranking officials who they claim are operating pedophile rings. The FBI has labeled the conspiracy theory a potential domestic terror threat.
In May, Owens appeared on the QAnon program The Common Sense Show on the Patriots' Soapbox network and asked for money and support for his campaign. (He did not directly talk about QAnon but called the Democratic leadership evil.) The Salt Lake Tribune later reported that Owens’ campaign stated “he ‘does not believe’ in the platform of QAnon and that he was unfamiliar with the group when he went on the show, which was one of hundreds of campaign speaking engagements he’s participated in over the past few months.”
Despite attempts to distance himself from the violence-linked conspiracy theory, Owens appeared on the September 23 edition of the QAnon-supporting program Flockop. The program airs on the Freedom First Network, a relatively obscure right-wing podcast network that has promoted QAnon. Flockop, which is hosted by two individuals who call themselves “Goose” and “T,” has promoted QAnon on several shows.
The program’s Twitter account has frequently promoted and supported QAnon, including tweeting QAnon’s main hashtag “WWG1WGA” (“where we go one, we go all”). Flockop also has tried to appeal to QAnon supporters, including tweeting:
Flockop’s account also tweeted that “we love respect #QAnon folks”; claimed that “Q is non-partisan, this coming from a couple months of research since our Qanon episode on the Podcast”; and wrote that they have been “literally trying to get the word out via podcast” about QAnon.
Owens appeared on the September 23 broadcast of Flockop. During the program, the Republican candidate repeatedly asked for support for his campaign, including stating:
- “This is a team effort. What you guys are doing right now is part of the team. Those who donate to my campaign and those across the country are part of the team.”
- “We need help, guys. … So for those who can put in $20 or more, obviously the more the [merrier].”
- “Join our Twitter feed, share our messages, whatever you can do to get the message out.”
Like his other appearance, Owens and the hosts did not directly discuss QAnon. He did, however, lob incendiary rhetoric, including claiming of the political left: “These guys are shameless. They have no empathy. They will destroy anybody, anything until -- to get their way.”
Media Matters has documented how Republicans have helped build up the QAnon conspiracy theory, including by appearing on QAnon supporters’ programs.