On Thursday night, after backing out of the second presidential debate, Donald Trump sat down for a town hall with NBC to make his case to America on why he should be reelected to a second term. While he was asked questions by moderator Savannah Guthrie on everything from white supremacy to COVID-19 to his taxes, one exchange in particular really crystallized the choice voters face. In Joe Biden, they would be electing a candidate who believes in science, expertise, and facts and would spend his time as president working for all Americans. And in Trump, they would be getting four more years of a guy who floats conspiracy theories that, among other things, his political enemies are running a satanic pedophile cult.
“Let me ask you about QAnon,” Guthrie said, referring to the far-right, batshit-fucking-crazy conspiracy theory that a cabal of Democratic politicians, liberal Hollywood actors, and high-ranking government officials, who worship Satan, are running a child-sex-trafficking ring and simultaneously plotting against Trump, who is planning a day of reckoning in which thousands of members of the cult will be arrested. “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?” To reiterate, the thing Guthrie was asking the president of the United States to reject was the completely insane, entirely baseless claim that his political enemies and other liberals are running a satanic child-sex-trafficking cult. Which is not hard to denounce, unless you (1) believe it and/or (2) are counting on these deeply disturbed individuals to vote for you. And yet:
“I know nothing about QAnon,” Trump said.
“I just told you,” Guthrie responded.
“I know very little,” the president insisted. “You told me, but what you tell me doesn’t necessarily make it fact. I hate to say that. I know nothing about it. I do know they are very much against pedophilia,” he added, contradicting his claim to know nothing about the group and also giving the impression that they’re human rights workers instead of fringe lunatics. “They fight it very hard. But I know nothing about it…I’ll tell you what I do know about. I know about antifa, and I know about the radical left, and I know how violent they are and how vicious they are. And I know how they are burning down cities run by Democrats, not run by Republicans.”
Informing him that Republican senator Ben Sasse recently said, “QAnon is nuts—and real leaders call conspiracy theories conspiracy theories,” Guthrie again pressed Trump on why he won’t “just say it’s crazy and not true.” And apparently the answer is that the president thinks QAnon might be onto something:
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