Here are the basics.
I wanted to write a short primer on QAnon. If you’ve been following my work you know most of this already, but I wanted to write it out in case it’s helpful. QAnon is complicated by design but the basic story is easy to understand. Here’s some background:
Pizzagate was proto-QAnon
QAnon was the second major psychological operation (psyop) launched by MAGA3X — a group of “Digital Soldiers” funded by Peter Thiel and operated by Putin asset Mike Flynn — which was formed to train and coordinate a who’s who of white nationalist hackers and trolls in the project to steal the 2016 election.
The first MAGA3X psyop was “Pizzagate” which was designed to install the image of Hillary Clinton as a child-eating demon into the minds of voters through disinformation.
Pizzagate was a combination of archetypical Russian propaganda (pedophilia, Satanism, antisemitism) and GamerGate — a misogynistic cult created and operated by nazi-sympathizer Fredrick Brennan, who also created 8chan, which was the home of “Q” for most of its existence.
Pizzagate was launched by stealing and redistributing Clinton aide John Podesta’s emails — which were hacked by the Russian government and delivered through GRU cutouts “Guccifer,” Wikileaks and Julian Assange — via Roger Stone and CNP member Jerome Corsi.
Pizzagate and other illegal operations, including the FBI “reopening” the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails — which was paid for by Mike Flynn with Turkish money — successfully tanked her campaign, resulting in an illegitimate president controlled by Vladimir Putin and his American lieutenants in the White House.
Mike Flynn was removed as National Security Advisor at the beginning of Trump’s presidency for lying to the FBI about his communications with the Russian government. He was forced to cooperate with the DOJ and was publicly silenced. Pizzagate largely faded away — as did MAGA3X itself.
But MAGA3X did not stop, it just went quiet and created “Q” in October 2017. “Q” was simply Pizzagate 2.0. It also served as Mike Flynn’s alter ego and was a way to raise money for his “legal defense fund.”’
“Q” was a live action role play character (LARP) that reinvigorated the Pizzagate libel but added a number of features to the psyop.
First, “Q” incorporated alternate reality game techniques. By having a central character deliver “clues” about a mystery, the LARP “gamified” traumatic propaganda and pulled in people who were just curious and ultimately brainwashed tens of millions of them.
Second, “Q” established a central location — first 4chan, then 8chan — as the official platform of the LARP. This was an important choice, because these websites are designed for radicalization, particularly angry white men. By forcing people who were curious about the “mystery” to expose themselves to 4/8chan, the LARP had already succeeded in its primary purpose — to radicalize and weaponize a generation of new “digital soldiers.”
The people behind the original “Q” LARP were MAGA3X members Justin McConney aka Trump’s “Twitter Whisperer” aka “Microchip,” Douglas Matthew Stewart, and James Brower, along with Manuel Chavez III aka “defango,” who was part of Cicada 3301, an alternate reality game appropriated by internet terrorist Thomas Schoenberger. They set up a discord server to talk about strategy and then started “officially” posting to 4chan /pol/ on October 28th, 2017.
Like Flynn, “Q” was ostensibly “military intelligence,” targeted Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, George Soros and Democrats at large, and began to spit out “Q drops” about how its followers should “trust the plan” and explained that Russia might be our friend after all. Everything Q did and said was designed to benefit Donald Trump, Mike Flynn and Vladimir Putin.
Brower quit posting several days after “Q” started. McConney stayed on for a few weeks until Pizzagate promoter and Mike Flynn employee Tracy Diaz showed up on the scene to take over the LARP and make it bigger in mid-November 2017. She did this in cooperation with Jerome Corsi (who originally connected Roger Stone to Guccifer), Jordan Sather, Dave Hayes and others — along with 8chan operators Jim and Ron Watkins.
Starting in January 2018, Diaz, Corsi, as well as Coleman Rogers and Christina Urso of Patriots Soapbox, ran “Q” as they freely admitted to Trump on video.
In Summer 2018, “Q” was taken away from this group and given to Dave Hayes, Ann Vandersteel and others to control. While Ron and Jim Watkins were fully aware of these operations and cooperated with the people posting to 8chan, there is no indication that they wrote their own Q drops or participated in constructing or running the psyop. They ran the website.
Through 2018, Flynn and his family raised millions of dollars through QAnon and built a sizable cult through coercive, traumatic propaganda as well as a large network of promoters on both the right and the left.
Q muddled through the first half 2019 while neo-nazi mass murders started being broadcast on 8chan. The website was shut down in August 2019 for three months while Ron and Jim Watkins reestablished 8chan (renamed 8kun) on Russian servers. Mike Flynn also hired QAnon lawyer Sidney Powell to extract him from his deal with the DOJ — which Bill Barr illegally cooperated with by withdrawing the charges. Flynn was ultimately freed of his cooperation deal in May 2020.
Q reanimated with 8chan in November 2019, and when COVID started at the beginning of 2020, with the election around the corner, hundreds of millions of people around the world were stuck in front of their computers. Many people who would have never normally found QAnon, did. The cult grew exponentially in size and influence throughout 2020.
While the quality and frequency of Q drops varied over the LARP‘s existence, it’s primary goal of radicalizing people into Trump’s cult, convincing them their children’s lives were at stake, and targeting all of Mike Flynn’s personal enemies, never wavered. There are dozens of people who contributed to researching Q drops. Here are some of them.
In 2020, the QAnon cult appropriated “Save the Children” and continued to disseminate traumatic lies about a cabal of elites led by Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and George Soros that extracts “adrenochrome” by torturing and killing kids. A large network of QAnon promoters gained massive followings. These included the people who had popularized Q in the first place.
Leading up to the election, QAnon continued to pull in victims and violent incidents began to become more frequent. The QAnon influence on the election is hard to quantify, but it is undoubtedly a reason the result was as close as it was. By the time the election came, a large percentage of Trump voters believed QAnon fiction, even if they had never visited 8chan themselves.
On Election Day 2020, when it was clear that Trump had lost, Q quit, along with 8chan administrator Ron Watkins. In its place, the same QAnon promoters began to distribute the Big Lie that Trump had really won. It is critical to understand that the lies that led to the insurrection were started and first amplified in the QAnon cult.
This effort to overturn American democracy was led by Mike Flynn himself, Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, Ron Watkins, Sidney Powell, Lin Wood, “E” / Jason Sullivan, InTheMatrixxx, Jordan Sather, Dave Hayes, along with the support of Erik Prince, Steve Bannon, Jack Posobiec and many, many others. This included controlled opposition on the left who caused trauma and chaos among anyone who tried to expose it.
QAnon has never gone away — it just rebranded. The cult is largely discouraged from using “Q” but the propaganda channels, the promoters, and the fiction is largely the same today as it always was. And, at the center of the entire operation, six years after it began, is the same traitor that started it — Putin’s General, Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Mike Flynn aka “Q.”