On The Guardian’s Politics Weekly America, Media Matters’ Alex Kaplan explains how the QAnon community has shifted its focus to local elections

Kaplan also discusses the community's reaction to the Supreme Court confirmation hearing of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson

Alex Kaplan discussing political impact of QAnon

Alex Kaplan discussing political impact of QAnon
Audio file

Citation From the April 1, 2022, edition of The Guardian's Politics Weekly America podcast

JOAN GREVE (GUEST HOST): So, as these Republican senators were questioning Judge [Ketanji Brown] Jackson over these unfounded claims, what was happening online as those hearings were unfolding?

ALEX KAPLAN (MEDIA MATTERS SENIOR RESEARCHER): The QAnon community was embracing the claim. You were seeing memes being shared among QAnon influencers pushing the claim. They were calling her a “pedo protector,” a “pedo sympathizer,” “soft on pedoes.” A QAnon show host, who, according to his own words, participated in the Capitol insurrection — he said that she was “an apologist for someone who was looking to judicial activism on behalf of child molesters and people like her colleagues in the Democrat Party.” Ron Watkins, who — a QAnon influencer and former administrator of the site where “Q” have been based, who may have been Q for a period of time himself, called her a “pedophile enabler.” Some actually pointed to her being the sentence — the person who sentenced the Pizzagate shooter as evidence for the claim. Some also invoked a longstanding claim that they have that President Biden is a pedophile himself as evidence for the claim. So they embraced it.

GREVE: So, we’ve talked a little bit about how QAnon is influencing politics at the national level. But can you tell us a little bit about how QAnon is also really influencing some important local political races as well?

KAPLAN: Yeah. So the QAnon community, since I would say last year, has really started to focus in particular on local elections. So you’ve started seeing QAnon figures run for school board or target school boards. So they’ve really kind of focused on local politics, school boards, and also they have embraced a plan by a guy named Dan Schultz, what he called the precinct strategy, which is basically to take over the Republican Party at the local level by becoming Republican precinct members. He started going on multiple QAnon shows pushing this plan, telling QAnon followers, you know, who follow these shows, “go [be] Republican precinct members,” and QAnon hosts were embracing the call, telling their followers to go do what he said. And then it came out in a ProPublica report months later after Dan Schultz did this that there was a noticeable jump in QAnon supporters becoming Republican precinct members.