Media Matters' Alex Kaplan on NPR's Here & Now discusses the spread of QAnon online and in Trump's orbit

Alex Kaplan interview on Here & Now

Alex Kaplan interview on Here & Now
Audio file

Citation From the August 6, 2020, edition of NPR and WBUR's Here & Now

ROBIN YOUNG (CO-HOST): So, what do you make of the fact that QAnon seems to be -- have picked up speed this summer? Ten times as many Google searches in July as January, a 200% increase in positive tweets, many of which the president himself has retweeted. You know, what do you make of that surge and how would you describe the Trump administration's relationship to QAnon?

ALEX KAPLAN (MEDIA MATTERS SENIOR RESEARCHER): Yeah, so I think the coronavirus is a big reason why. I think -- you know, we're at home more, we're in quarantine, and we have more time to be online, more time to be on social media, more time to Google stuff, and I think that's leading people down rabbit holes. At the same time, I think, maybe some people, as a result of the pandemic, are feeling frustrated, worried, scared, want answers. They want to try to make sense of what's going on, and that maybe leading them to QAnon as well.

And regarding the Trump administration, there's been people in Trump's orbit that have amplified QAnon content in some manner, whether intentionally or unintentionally, such as -- I'll name a couple of examples -- Dan Scavino, President Trump's social media advisor, has winked at QAnon. He, for example, a few months ago posted on Facebook a photo that had a “Q" in it, and I was able to tell that he got it from a QAnon supporter on Facebook. They had sent him the photo beforehand. Eric Trump, Trump's son, recently posted on Instagram a QAnon graphic, which he then took down without any explanation. It was a clear QAnon graphic. And Trump, as you mentioned -- Trump himself has amplified QAnon-promoting accounts many, many times, at least 90 times since the pandemic began specifically. Some of those tweets that he's amplified have sometimes had QAnon stuff directly in the tweet or they have QAnon -- stuff that identifies them clearly as supporting QAnon right in their profile.