The wild QAnon conspiracy was asked to Donald Trump on Thursday night. Much like his public comments about the white supremacist group the Proud Boys last month, he did little to distance himself from the vast conspiracy theory.
As a disagreement over the debate format led to Trump refusing to participate, a second debate between Trump and Joe Biden didn’t happen on Thursday night.
However, both Biden and Trump held separate town hall-style events, where NBC’s Savannah Guthrie flinging a number of things at Trump to comment on. One of those was QAnon, a vast conspiracy shaded in online image boards in latest years that considers a high-ranking government insider is leaking info through an unidentified account online.
The history of this unbalanced theory and its spread to the borders of mainstream culture has been well-covered elsewhere, but the gist is that Donald Trump is the last line of defense against a satanic cabal of pedophiles that traffic children through the Democratic party and other areas of power.
QAnon followers believe a variety of wild theories that have all combined into one larger crusade for Trump and his savior status, and in some ways it’s gone mainstream and often viral in recent months, with “save the children” rallies fueled by QAnon hysteria. There was also that woman who thought Adult Swim was a satanic cult who had QAnon slogans and phrases on her Twitter account as well.
Trump was asked whether he would detach himself from the satanic cult conspiracy theory and refused to, saying he didn’t know anything about them despite Guthrie explaining it to him beforehand.
“I know nothing about it,” Trump said, though he then admitted that they are “very strongly against pedophilia, and I agree with that.”
At one point, Trump said he could not know whether the root of the QAnon conspiracy — that there’s a “satanic pedophile cult” secretly running high levels of government and Hollywood — currently exists in America.
Guthrie: "But there is not a satanic pedophile cult."
Trump: "I have no idea."
Guthrie: "You don't know that?"
Trump: "No I don't know that. And neither do you know that."
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) October 16, 2020
Trump also drew ire from people on social media for demeaning Guthrie and interjecting her throughout the night.
The episode will obviously do little to stop those who believe the entirely baseless conspiracy in the first place, as it has slowly taken hold on social media, especially those on Facebook (though in recent days the site has said it’s finally banning its groups and content). And it got quite a reaction online as part of what was a wild night for Trump.
BIDEN: Here's my detailed plan to combat COVID-19
TRUMP: QAnon actually discovered Osama bin Laden alive and well in Phoenix. I don't know, check it out
— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) October 16, 2020
Trump basically endorsed QAnon with that answer. He is their top recruiter after Facebook groups focused on essential oils.
— Tommy Vietor (@TVietor08) October 16, 2020
Do you denounce QAnon?
President Trump: “I just don’t know about QAnon.”
Savannah Guthrie: You do know.
Trump then adds: What I do hear about it, they are very strongly against pedophilia.
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) October 16, 2020
Guthrie also pointed out Trump sharing a theory on Twitter that Barack Obama had members of Seal Team 6 killed, which he also didn’t deny.
On spreading the conspiracy that Obama had SEAL Team 6 killed.
TRUMP: "That was a retweet! People can decide for themselves!"
GUTHRIE: "You're the president, you're not someone's crazy uncle."
— Pod Save America (@PodSaveAmerica) October 16, 2020
With less than three weeks left before the election and Trump trailing in the polls, he’s desperate to get any kind of momentum going in his nationally televised events. But it seems all he was able to manage on Thursday night was to rile up people who are already some of his biggest supporters.