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tv   CNN Special Report  CNN  January 31, 2021 7:00pm-8:00pm PST

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the following is a cnn special report. on january 6, qanon came out of the shadows. what had started as an online conspiracy theory had become a kind of cult, and for some qanon followers, this was the day they had been waiting for.
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>> i'm here because q sent me. >> they made their presence known in the crowd of trump supporters in washington that day, and when the crowd stormed the capitol, many qanon supporters were on the front lines. >> freedom! >> at least one supporter died that day. this woman, ashley babbitt tried to break through a door inside the capitol. she was shot to death by a capitol police officer. she was 14-year veteran of the air force and the air national guard. this is her in a qanon shirt at a trump rally in september. how does a veteran fall into a deranged conspiracy cult? to understand what qanon is, you have to go down a rabbit hole, where suspicion and fantasy mixed with age old anti-semitic conspiracy theories and resentments. >> we will not kowtow to evil! >> some q believers liken it to a scene in "the matrix," when
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the truth of the world is revealed to those who take the right pill. the truth, according to q, was that then president trump was a kind of messiah. some q followers believed he might have been a time traveler or being from another planet. they believe trump was secretly fighting a holy war against the deep state and a cabal of democrats and celebrities who were satan-worshipping pedophiles, molesting children and harvesting their blood. it sounds ludicrous, but not if you believe in qanon. once you believe, you see the signs everywhere. >> the calm before the storm. >> what storm, mr. president? >> you'll find out. >> those vague words about the storms spoken by then president trump at the white house in october 5th, 2017 are often cited as the beginning of what we now know as qanon. >> the calm before the storm.
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>> what storm, mr. president? >> you'll find out. >> this at a time when iran was in the news. >> thank you, everybody. >> there was a lot of tension about relations between the united states and iran. so a lot of focus on that. and the president said something that was cryptic and strange about a coming storm and this was the calm before the storm. and the reporters in the room sort of seized on that with iran in mind and asked sort of what storm, mr. president, what are you talking about? and he was very sort of, you know, you'll see. wait and see. >> q really took off after this remark that president trump made. they interpreted that as a coded signal that something called the storm was coming. and the storm, in their minds, was this day of reckoning. >> and that became one of the foundational bits of lore for q which started posting on an image message board a couple of
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weeks later. >> on october 28th, someone who later called themselves q clearance patriot wrote on an online forum called 4chan which was known for anonymous, or anonpost. claimed to have a high level security clearance called q clearance which comes from the department of energy. >> this was not the first anon that had claimed to be a high-ranking government insider on 4chan, but q clearance patriots said basically i am a member of the trump administration. i have this q clearance, this high level intelligence clearance, and i am providing you with secret information about what's really happening behind the scenes in washington. >> q claimed hillary clinton would soon be arrested and the military and national guard would be activated to quell mass riots. the posts incorporated other v conspiracy theorys that had been online for years. claims that global elites, high level democratic leaders and celebrities were all working to
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sex traffic children. >> they kidnap and traffic and torture and kill children for fun, as part of a satanic ritual, but also in order to harvest a life extending chemical from their blood. and that president trump was recruited by the military in order to bring this cabal down and bring its members to justice. and he's been secretly working to eliminate the deep state and to find and arrest and punish the members of this global cabal. >> elizabeth newman served in the department of homeland security when qanon first i merged and said the claims that emer emerged were so preposterous, it was hard to take them seriously. >> i think most of us, you know, just on its face dismissed it, because a q-clearance has nothing to do with the things he was talking about. second of all, having been serving in multiple administrations, holding very
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high security clearances, working in the white house and department of homeland security, none of those conspiracies have my merit. they're completely baseless. none of us foresaw this catching fire the way that it did. >> the false sex trafficking claims targeting hillary clinton actually dated back to 2016. the conspiracy theory that came to be known as pizzagate. >> after the wikileaks email hack in 2016, there was a searchable database where people could just look through all of these emails that wikileaks had dropped on the internet, among them john podesta, hillary clinton's then campaign chair's emails. and among them you could find references to comic king kong, this pizza shop. they started this resume they're comet was secretly a front for
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child abuse and what sort of pizza should we order? these conspiracy theorists started saying that pizza and cheese and pasta were code words referring them back to child sex abuse. of course, there is no evidence of that. >> pizzagate is a conspiracy theory. you don't believe it's a conspiracy theory? >> no, it's definitely not. pizza is a code word for child pornography. cheese pizza, child pornography. >> believing those false claims, a man named edgar welch showed up at comic ping congress armed with an ar-15. he claimed he came to rescue children he believed were locked in the basement as part of a sex trafficking ring. >> it ended up being handled where the police were able to subdue the suspect. he did have weapons on him. it could have turned violent, but the irony of that whole story is that pizza parlor didn't even have a basement. >> this to me is emblematic of how much real world danger the
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conspiracy theory could cause. but at that moment, people started backing away from pizzagate which set the stage for a new conspiracy theory to take its place and borrow heavily from its story, and that's where we get q. >> some of q's conspiracy claims go much farther back than pizzagate. they're actually based on age old racist and anti-semitic beliefs, the idea of elites harvesting the blood of children is a notion the nazis pushed. they accused jews of doing the same thing. >> there are elements of this narrative you can find in crusades era narratives. even during the black death in europe centuries ago, you had conspiracy theories then that said the jews were spiking the water with poison frogs and lizards. and you get a same sense of that anti-semitism very much within q. so in some ways, this is a very modern conspiracy theory because
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it is enabled by the social web. in other ways, it goes to some of the most ancient and dark biases and bigotries in history. >> over the months and years, q continued posting vague clues, often in the form of questions and ridlings. they became known as q drops. followers would then spend days and weeks trying to decipher the meaning of them, and certain catchphrases became commonly used among believers. >> where we go one, we go all. >> there is sort of a rallying cry that where we go one we go all, which is an expression of solidarity. >> they call each other patriots almost universally. >> there is this reference to the calm before the storm. this idea that the storm is this moment when a mass number of arrests will take place. >> and everything is sort of in this, like, militariesque code. >> thank you very much. >> so potus is always used instead of calling him president
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trump. or hillary clinton in the qanon drops is never hillary clinton, she's always hrc. >> there's the great awakening, which refers to this period after the storm when q believers believe they will be a society wide spiritual awakens. >> there are also things like, yeah, enjoy the show would be watch for fireworks in the coming days. >> similarly is trust the plan. >> trusting the plan is an important part of qanon belief, because there are some times that the predictions don't pan out and the things q has said would happen don't. >> it's not clear if anything q had predicted has come true. the first post said that hillary clinton was about to be arrested. q also predicted other dates when this nonexistent global cabal would be exposed. there were supposed to be mass arrests of deep state actors and martial law, all fantasy, but it
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didn't seem to matter to q followers. they either ignored the inconsistencies or explained them away. >> q made reference to d-5. that was interpreted as a sign that something big was going to happen on december 5th. some report was going to be unveiled that unmasked the deep state conspiracy. and then turned out to be the day of george h.w. bush's funeral. and so qanon believers convinced themselves that d-5 was a reference to the fact that on december 5, at this funeral, when all these world leaders, including former presidents and people who are allegedly part of this cabal would be in attendance in the same building, that is when the mass arrests happened. obviously, that didn't happen. there were no mass arrests. so instead of admitting like, we were wrong, maybe this d-5 thing didn't happen, they said maybe it's december 7 actually. so therefore, the real date is sometime in the future.
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and that's constantly happening with qanon. >> so this has been one of the more mind melting aspects of reporting on q for me that you talk to people who are true believers. >> we are q. >> and you can confront them with reality. you know, evidence of here's what happened. we both saw this with our own eyes. why do you still believe? and there's just an utter rejection of reality and a total faith in q, with no sort of attention to impiricism or regard to the facts. >> this man says he was a true believer in qanon until about a year and a half ago. he explains the passion many q followers still have. >> this is to them, they believe this. and this is not like a battle between, you know, marxists and capitalists, between authoritarians and libertarians. between nations. this is a battle between good and evil for them. the cabal are just evil. they don't want to just control
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you, they don't just want to kill you, they want to take your soul. they want your soul, your family's soul, your daughter's soul, your son's soul, your brother's, your mother's, whatever. they want it for all eternity. like the stakes for them could literally not be more existential. well, imagine if someone believed that, imagine if you believed that, what would you do? what wouldn't you do? >> at the center of that belief is donald trump. to qanon he's a savior. they believe he supports them through hidden signals and signs when he's out of public. the former president seemingly did all he could to keep their beliefs in him alive. >> i do know they are very much against pedophilia. they fight it very hard.
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let me ask you about qanon. it is this theory that democrats are a satanic pedophile ring and that you are the savior of that. now can you just once and for all state that that is completely not true and disavow qanon in its entirety? >> so -- >> i told you. >> i know nothing about qanon. >> i just told you. >> that doesn't necessarily make it a fact. i know nothing about it. i do know they are very much against pedophilia.
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they fight it very hard. >> this was president trump on nbc news this past october. he repeatedly claimed he didn't know anything about qanon, but he also praised them, giving q followers encouragement. these q supporters in arizona cheered on president trump's words to nbc. many q followers believe trump is on their side and signals his support for them in public with hidden messages and signs. >> so qanon believers, they study all of trump's public appearances with this extreme rigor, looking for all these little signs, these details that he supports them, that he's listening to them, that he's sending them coded signals. every time he says the number 17 or uses it in any way, they take that as a sign that he's talking to them, because q is the 17th letter of the alphabet. >> 17. >> 17. >> 17. >> i heard qanon believers
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saying trump makes these signs with his hand when he talks that looks like he's doing a q or tail look at a tie that he is wearing, like a pink tie, and they'll say oh, pink is hospital code for a child being abducted. so clearly he's sending a signal about this global cabal of pedophiles and sex traffickers. >> this former qanon follower say many believers' faith in trump is limitless. do you believe that president trump was working to attack this global cabal of satan worshipping pedophiles? you believed he was actually deeply involved? >> oh, yeah, of course i believed that. i believed that he had been charged by military intelligence, that he was an avatar, right. there are people out there who believe he is a time traveler. there are people out there who believe he is jesus. so, yeah, yeah.
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100%. >> president trump clearly knew qanon followers supported him. he said as much in august of 2020 when asked about them by a reporter. >> i understand they like me very much. which i appreciate. >> it's hard for me to envision that nobody at any point briefed him. probably something the fbi director would normally brief a president on. and here's the key, especially since in their movement, he is a messianic figure for them. their movement is entirely built around this idea that he is the savior. he will fix things. he is going to hold hillary clinton accountable and make sure that the children are saved. so i'm looking at this and saying, we need to make sure he's aware so that he's a little careful with his speech so it doesn't unnecessarily rile them up. >> how did a conspiracy cult
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based on lies and bizarre accusations spread so fast? it wouldn't have happened without the help of social media. >> in earlier times, the main place you would find conspiracy theories would be in letters to the editors of newspapers. you'll see people arguing that the weather is secretly controlled by the government, or that aliens have already arrived and are living among us. and now just because of the mega scale of platforms like facebook and to a lesser extent twitter, the degree to which this was able to spread on a global scale, it would not have happened without the social web. >> the way in which it went main stream is they turned these concepts into memes, and things that were very shareable on sites like facebook and twitter, that capture people's interest, there's a reason they call it a rabbit hole, right? so the cause, in particular, save the children. they took that slogan and
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co-opted it and made it feel comfortable for a main stream person to be like, yes, i want to help save the children. they take one click and learn some things and click another and they may do some searches. and all of a sudden they've spent hours and gone down this rabbit hole to a place where they've now been exposed to some darker theories that are not as simple as the meme they may have initially found. >> experts say the save the children hash tag proved for a powerful recruitment tool for qanon. save the children rallies have been seen all over the country. >> the knack you guys are attacking us and making us look like we're crazy when we're just trying to save some children pisses me off. qanon's spread was also made possible because of the cryptic nature of the so-called q-drops. they're vague, seemingly presented as puzzles that loyal followers could solve or decode. >> there are these q-drop apps
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that people use to get alerted every time. and immediately they'll take screen shots and post them in facebook groups and chat rooms, and they'll start trying to kind of decipher it and make sense of it all and figure out how it connects to the larger qanon narrative. >> these clues that q leaves are written in really ambiguous, and cryptic terms. railroad riddle-like, which is part of what people are drawn to, right? people want to do the research. you hear this again and again. people want to do their own research and pore over these clues and interpret them. >> this is an example of a q-drop from september of 2018. >> it starts with an all-caps line that says "panic in d.c.." and then it says, "ll talking equals truth, reveal tarmac, d.c.." so this is basically a reference to loretta lynch, the former attorney general under president obama, in some sort of truth
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that q was saying was revealed in a conversation with bill bill clinton on the tarmac. then it continues "ll talking reveals truth revealed comey hrc email case." comey is james comey, the former fbi director. "ll talking truth equals truth reveal close insane instructions reveal hrc case. to name potus, fisa equals start. fisa brings down the house. when do birds sing? q." so as with most q drops, this one doesn't have a clear hint or narrative. it's coded. it's sort of written in this crept tick language. but basically, the message people take from this is there is some nefarious link between loretta lynch, the former attorney general, this clinton email case, john brennan the
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former cia director, and a plot against president trump. "when do birds sing" is sort of a cryptic reference to when do people confess to their crimes?" when does this storm happen and this house of cards that this global cabal has erected come crashing down? so when you're part of qanon, you are not just absorbing things that people tell you. you are out there, you are digging, you are trying to put together pieces of this puzzle. and then you are congratulated for finding stuff. it's almost like a video game. >> a video game based on lies, played by potentially hundreds of thousands of followers around the world. >> one thing i learned when i started spending a lot of time in qanon chat rooms and forums and facebook groups is that this is really social for them. this is a kind of collaborative truth-seeking effort, and it's a community. they make friends with other
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qanon believers. they congratulate each other on their birthdays and wish each other happy holidays and talk about how their grandkids are coming to visit next week. for a lot of believers, this has become their primary social life. so they get more out of it than just politics. they get affirmation, they get friendships, they get meaningful missions that they feel they can be part of. >> what surprised me was the number of people i met who, yes, they were pro trump, but more than that, they were driving a sense of spiritual satisfaction from q. there was a lot of -- i heard from people, they felt a sense of peace or serenity in their lives they didn't have before. they started getting into q, and that's what really led me to understand this isn't just a political movement, it isn't really a conspiracy theory, but really it takes on the contours of a baby religion or on the internet. it raises questions sort of about like what is a religion
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versus what is a cult versus what's a conspiracy theory versus what's a mass delusion. and i think you see pieces of all of those things in q. >> this man says he was a qanon follower for nearly two years, but he says after watching q's predictions repeatedly fail and realizing trump's so-called signals to qanon weren't signals at all, he's now realized it was all made up. >> i would say that q is kind of like jesus, and trump is kind of like the god figure, right? for me personally, the part that was really appealing was that in a sad kind of way, this kind of gave me some joy and a sense of optimism. you know, i was looking at the world and it was just so chaotic, everything was so negative. bad things happening all the time. and i just -- the idea that we could somehow make the world a better place for all of humanity, just really gave me a sense of optimism.
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so that was the irony of the situation that my life was so sad and i was so sad that i was looking to q for joy, as well as a sense of belonging, just like any cult. they prey on the vulnerable and disaffected. that's exactly what happened. >> considering some believe they were fighting to save children, it's no surprise this online conspiracy could result in real world violence. ♪ in a year of changes. don't take chances on your taxes. be 100% certain with jackson hewitt. we'll get your taxes done right, guaranteed. ♪
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q is -- is a -- a real thing. >> they're killing our children and using their blood and stuff. using blood sacrifices in hollywood. >> the bizarre and false theory that a global cabal of satan worshipping democratic leaders and celebrities are trafficking in children and harvesting their blood is at the core of the qanon conspiracy theory. but there are many other far out claims made by q followers. >> it has branched in many different directions, and now you'll find qanon believers talking about everything from the illuminati to aliens in area 51 to control of the banking system by george soros and other
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shadowy mostly jewish financiers. they believe are in power. >> i've heard everything from the idea that john f. kennedy jr. is still alive and secretly supports trump to john f. kennedy jr. was assassinated by hillary clinton. >> okay, when it comes to hillary clinton, all you have to do is look into the emails and the way she is involved in spirit cooking with a known satanic witch. hillary clinton is a satanic witch, okay? >> you may recognize this guy, a so-called qanon shaman. this is him at a rally in arizona two days after the election. his name is jacob chansley. he's been seen at other trump rallies, as well. >> freedom! >> on january 6, he was front and center in the attack on the capitol. chancely has been arrested and charged for his role in the riots. prosecutors say among other things, he obstructed a police officer. they also say he told the fbi that vice president mike pence
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was a child trafficking traitor. chancely's lawyer says he wasn't violent and didn't cross police lines. >> we have evidence that this is a dangerous conspiracy theory. most recently on january 6 when we saw people brandishing q signs and perpetrating q's message as they stormed the u.s. capitol. there was evidence before that they were dangerous, but it is abundantly clear now that they are dangerous and violent. >> this man is named doug jenson. he was arrest arrested and charged for his role in the attack. he is wearing a q shirt with the motto "trust the plan." >> we have seen lots of incidents of violence and law breaking related to qanon and inspired by qanon. there have been murders, there have been kidnappings, there have been threats against lawmakers in the name of q. >> in march 2019, this man allegedly shot and killed a reputed mafia member in new york city. he told his lawyer he was a the victim was a member of the
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deep state working to bring down president trump. at his arraignment, he flashed a q symbol that he drew on his hand. he has been charged with murder and has pleaded not guilty. another q follower caused an armed standoff near the hoover dam in 2018, demanding a government rereport on hillary clinton's emails. he pleaded guilty to a terrorism charge. though some in the republican party have spoken out against qanon, others seem to be trying to appeal to its followers. in august, the texas gop started using the slogan, we are the storm. the same term used by qanon followers. the texas gop denies any connection to qanon but continued to use the term, even after the attack on the capitol. nearly two dozen republicans across the country have engaged with the qanon conspiracy ran for office in the 2020 election. marjorie taylor greene is from georgia. >> marjorie taylor greene for congress.
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>> now, q is a patriot. he's someone that is very much loves his country. he's on the same page as us. he is very pro trump, okay. now he appears to have connections at the highest levels, all right? he's posted many things that seem to verify that he is the real deal. >> lauren boebert is from colorado. >> everything that i've heard of q, i hope that this is real. >> both women are now serving in congress. bobby boebert has since said she's not a follower of greene and has tried to distance herself from the group. >> we've had conspiracy theorists in government before, but i think qanon is different in that it's a movement that has now become violent and insurrectionist, and that has shown it can cause real offline damage. we know that many of them don't accept that joe biden is the legitimate president. we know many of them may never accept that. and so to have millions of people out there following an
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ideology like that, including elected officials who are taking their cues not from their constituents or the general public, but from random people posting conspiracy theorys on internet message boards is pretty worrisome. >> and q still is, at this point, an anonymous message board poster. it is not known who he or she, is or even if it's a single person or foreign government attempting to sow division. >> it's everybody. q is a movement, okay? it says speak for yourself. it doesn't tell you to follow one leader. you can think about what you want with q. but i follow the facts and i follow information, and i think for myself as an american. >> the really interesting thing for me is i've talked to a loft qanon believers who say it doesn't matter to me who q is, the identity of this perpetrator or whether it even is the same person all along seems to have become secondary in this case.
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it's sort of -- they're curious who it is, but they would almost rather not know because it allows them to preserve the illusion. >> the more people i talk to who really deeply believed in it just didn't care. it was sort of like well, what if you find out tomorrow that it's a hoax and the person who is q admits that it's all made up? i heard again and again from people who said it doesn't matter who q is, this is so much bigger than q. >> what's it like to be named by q? find out what happened after q posted this question, who is a. cooper? you actually believed that i was drinking the blood of children? say, for colon cancer. humana does you one better and sends you an at-home test kit, when it's overdue. huh! one of those tests could save your life, or at least a little hassle. or both. yeah! you get it, you do it, you send it back. i get it, i do it, i send it back. you get it, you do it, you send it back. yeah, i got it. you got it!
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what's going on with tom hanks? >> so you guys just want me to explain everything today, right? dude, it's all suspicion. that's suspicion. >> how do you know tom -- >> how do you not know? you're negative. >> you're make agnone fact. >> tom hank just one of dozens of celebrities that supporters have accused of being part of the so-called global cabal. there is no evidence, of course, no reason at all to believe these sick claims, but that doesn't matter to believers in the cult of qanon. >> but you have him on your sign. you're calling him a pedophile. >> yes. >> but you don't know that. >> how do they get to that position of power? >> some of the celebrities attacked by qanon have been
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critical of president trump in some way. others are simply thought to be democrats. >> they will turn these people into enemies and they will viciously harass people. once they fixate on a target, they will all go on social media. they swarm a target. i've been the target of it. it's happened to a lot of reporter, political pundits, celebrities, and it's very unpleasant to be on the end of that. >> q first posted about me november 5th, 2017, asking the question, "who is a. cooper?" this came two days after i was on the air reporting about indictments in the russia investigation. once mentioned by q, the followers of this conspiracy cult went to work, inventing a bizarre and crazy false story about my life. according to q followers, my mom gloria vanderbilt was a satanist. they pointed to this photo taken when i was about 6 years old. that mexican folk art on the wall behind us is the virgin
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mary with christ, but they said it was satanic and the christ figure was a child being sacrificed. they also claimed i had been molested. likely in this old pool in a mansion in which q followers said was my old house. it's actually an old vanderbilt astate in asheville, north carolina that as far as i know neither i or my mom had ever been to. the cia allegedly trained me as a super cia agent infiltrating the media as part of a program called operation mockingbird. the confirmation, according to q supporters, the necklace my mom wore in that photo looked like it could be from guatemala. the cia had supported a coup in guatemala in 1954. i was also called a pedophile, phony flight logs reported to be from convicted sex offender jeffrey epstein's airplane appeared online with my name and dozens of other well-known
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people. it's all made up, of course, but qanon supporters seem to believe it or at least use it to try to harass me. jitarth jadeja was a believer until june 2019. did you at the time believe that democrat, high level democrats and celebrities were worshipping satan, drinking the blood of children? >> anderson, i thought you did that. and i would like to apologize for that right now. so i apologize for thinking that you ate babies. but yeah, 100%. >> but you actually believed that i was drinking the blood of children? >> yes, i did. >> was it something about me that made you think that? >> it's busy q specifically mentioned you, and he mentioned you very early on. he mentioned you by name, and from there, he also talked about like, for example, your family. i'm going to be honest, like people still talk about that to
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this day. there were posts about that just four days ago. so some people thought you were a robot. >> you really believed this? >> i didn't just believe that. i one stage believed that qanon was part of military intelligence, which is what he says. but on top of that, the people behind him were actually a group of fifth dimensional enter dimensional extraterrestrial bipedal aliens. i was so far down in this conspiracy theory black hole that i was essentially picking and choosing whatever narrative that i wanted to believe in. >> i've tried to engage sometimes with people who have contacted me, and there is no rational way to, you know, to prove you haven't committed a crime. >> there's nothing you can say. whatever you do or don't do will be more proof of your guilt,
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right? but the thing is, this is not really about you in their mind. this is about them. this is about their internal fears and internal projections and their internal lack of control over their own lives. >> jitarth jadeja says he no longer believes in qanon, but there are hundreds of thousands, some even suggest millions of others who are still trusting the plan. >> i've met qanon believers who are young, who are old, who are male, who are female, who are white, who are nonwhite, who are former democrats and life-long republicans, rich, poor. this is not some fringe movement any more. this is a mass movement of people from every walk of life. >> but will people continue to believe in q now that president trump is gone from the white house? and nothing q had promised has come to pass. that's next.
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when president trump left the white house on january 20th and qanon believers were stunned. nothing they were promised had come to pass. we were promised arrests, exposures, classified documents. where is it, one online message read. another wrote i'm scared, feeling sick in my stomach but i'm holding the line still. >> it was fphenomenal. there was a complete meltdown of qanon followers. there was a belief that even though they weren't able to stop the election from being certificated by congress that president trump would declare martial lei law at the last minute, issue a national emergency broadcast alert, that electricity was likely to go down. water was likely to go down. so everybody needed to stockpile food and water and be able to survive in the winter for a couple of weeks and then president trump would rightly take his place for his second
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term as president and there would be no president biden. >> i, joseph robinette biden jr. do solemnly swear. >> reporter: as we've seen in the past, false predictions do not deter them. the beliefs simply evolve. one user wrote anything that happens in the next four years is actually president trump's doing. others are suggesting president biden might actually be working for q. >> a lot of them will maintain they misinterpreted the signals, that the real inauguration is going to happen in march instead of january or that, you know, joe biden is actually one of the good guys. like did trump use biden to take down the kabul? they're looking for these symbols like joe biden's first day in office he signed 17 executive orders. 17 is the magic q number. and so some of them interpreted
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that as a sign that he was secretly on his side. >> some people believe joe biden is now part of the plan? >> yeah. >> he's actually working -- >> yes. >> with q? >> yep. and that was the plan all along. >> former qanon believer says he has seen other followers give up their online postings and now social media companies have decided to rack down. twitter says it has banned more than 70,000 accounts for promoting qanon. facebook said since august they've removed 18,000 profiles and more than 27,000 instagram accounts for violating its policies against qanon. but it's still out there. still a conspiracy cult with die-hard followers looking for a sense of belonging and a way to take action. some experts believe q followers may migrate to fringe extremist groups. >> here is the dangerous part.
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the white supremacist and anti-government extremists started to realize this was likely to happen after january 6th. they weren't able to stop biden from being approved by the congress so there was a disheartening moment for trump supporters and qanon supporters. you started to see the white supremacists come up with recruitment techniques and started posting on their sites to educate other white supremacists on how to approach a disheartened qanon, a trump supporter. they have to feed their grievance. make sure they stay angry. make sure they put blame on the sy system, on the government, on trump itself. they're looking to recruit. >> the hard part about leaving qanon is once you started to see the world in the way that qanons see the world, lies being told
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by elites, it becomes very hard to trust in mainstream authorities ever again. they sort of have this idea that the knowledge that they're being fed is not real and they have to go looking for their own sources of truth. >> there have always been conspiracy theories, but never before have they been able to spread so quickly. just a few clicks can take you down a rabbit hole of deranged fantasies and dangerous beliefs. qanon shows us that even the most ludicrous and disturbing ideas can find an audience onl online. >> you don't want none of this.
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no time for delay. new coronavirus variants emerge in the u.s., threatening to worsen the spread and increase the death toll by thousands. >> the covid relief has to pass no ifs, ands, or buts. >> as the new administration pushes for more relief, will they get the bipartisan support the president promised? i'll speak to top biden economic adviser brian deese and republican senator rob portman next. gamestop. wall street turns into a frenzy

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