MARLEY CLEMENTS (CO-HOST): Why is QAnon considered so dangerous?
ANGELO CARUSONE (PRESIDENT & CEO, MEDIA MATTERS FOR AMERICA): You know, we've always gone after the right. We've had death threats before and other sorts of things. This has been different. We've had to have security at the office during periods of time because of the amount of threats that have happened. It's harder to, I think, ensure the safety of staff. They go after us, and they use the same tactics that they use on people every day — doxxing, harassment, trolling.
Doxxing is, you know, they will pull private information, and post about it online. Not that long ago, somebody doxxed my sister and my niece.
WILL SOMMER (TECH REPORTER, THE DAILY BEAST): I hear several times a week, I would say, from people who have lost their families to QAnon, or have lost a husband or a son or a mother. And these are often people who, you know, they go on Facebook — in March, when the pandemic’s starting, and suddenly they see all this QAnon stuff, and they just fall headfirst into it.
CARUSONE: A lot of it is tied into the same actions and behaviors that makes them deeply connected to QAnon. You are doing your own research. You're investigating. You’re deciphering clues. You're invested in the idea in a different way than just, say, believing a conspiracy theory. It's a lot harder to disentangle somebody from that.
BAYAN JOONAM (CO-HOST): Should Q be classified as a domestic terrorism threat?
SOMMER: QAnon we know in one case has already inspired domestic terrorism, in the case of the Hoover Dam armored truck situation.
WOMAN: Do you know that there is a man on the bridge with a gun?
CLEMENTS (VOICE-OVER): In 2018, a man walked the entrance to the Hoover Dam in an armored truck, with a sign that said, “Release the OIG report.”
CARUSONE: They were convinced, based off all this chatter in the Q threads, that inside this report, finally, all of the prime people within the “deep state” that were running this child sex trafficking conspiracy would be exposed.
CARUSONE: There's a few major narratives and themes, but they always weave it back to this idea of this massive operation of child sex trafficking.
SOMMER: We’re talking about people in banking and Hollywood who are drinking children’s blood. So this playing on some kind of classic anti-Semitic tropes. I mean, George Soros looms very large in QAnon.
SOMMER: I think the initial reaction is “surely, this can’t be,” and surely, you know, we’re talking about maybe a dozen kooks on the internet. But then when you start kind of showing to people that really, I mean, this is the internet reaching into our real worlds, and this is really happening, and we can’t just look away from it.
JOONAM: How big do you think the movement is?
CARUSONE: Overall, I'd put it at about 10% of the population, 10-15%.
CLEMENTS: Though the size of the movement is widely debated, Angelo's assessment closely matches ours — which lands at about 30 million followers in the U.S.
CLEMENTS: On a personal level, I understand that you have seen this in your own life.
CLEMENTS: Would you be comfortable talking a little bit about that?
CARUSONE: Sure. I mean, it happens to everybody, even if they don't fully appreciate or even know why that person seems to be gone. In my case, it's a family member, it's an uncle, who's gone fully down the Q rabbit hole. It's somebody that I grew up with, telling me that Donald Trump was going to put my head on a pike, you know — and at least I would assume he knows that I'm not, like, running this massive child sex trafficking ring where I'm a demon, eating children. I would at least assume that.
It's pretty clear that he's gone. Yeah, he's gone, he's completely gone.
CLEMENTS: Very sorry to hear that.
BOONAM: So sorry.
CLEMENTS: Yeah, that’s terrible.
CARUSONE: You know, a lot of times when we think about violence like this, it seems like it’s going to be in the context of political violence. And sure, I think that’s possible. But I actually think it’s going to be like most violence that occurs — with people they know, and love, because they will be convinced that they’re doing something nefarious, that they’re running a child sex trafficking ring, that they’re members of the “deep state,” and they will take matters into their own hands.