Where Things Stand: That Was The Most Ominous QAnon Embrace Yet. We Checked.

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YOUNGSTOWN, OH - SEPTEMBER 17: Audience members put their index finger up to symbolize America First while President Donald Trump speaks at a Save America Rally to support Republican candidates running for state and ... YOUNGSTOWN, OH - SEPTEMBER 17: Audience members put their index finger up to symbolize America First while President Donald Trump speaks at a Save America Rally to support Republican candidates running for state and federal offices in the state of Ohio at the Covelli Centre on September 17, 2022 in Youngstown, Ohio. Republican Senate candidate JD Vance and Rep. Jim Jordan(R-OH) will spoke to supporters along with Former President Trump.(Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images) MORE LESS

Like the soft piano chords of an old time hymn underscore a fire-and-brimstone tent revival service, the chords of a QAnon ballad filled the arena at a Trump rally this weekend — as the former president angrily bemoaned just how “in decline” our nation is.

At a campaign event for Ohio Republican Senate nominee J.D. Vance Saturday, Trump delivered a speech about the perceived failures our nation has experienced in the two years since he was booted from the White House. The rally featured a speech from QAnon congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and the event was filled with standard fare MAGAworld grievances.

But toward the end, we witnessed the former President embracing the dangerous QAnon conspiracy theory movement more explicitly than he ever has in the past.

“But now we are a nation in decline,” Trump began, as a familiar dramatic tune began to play softly in the background. Media Matters For America and several QAnon observers have identified the music as extremely similar to “Wwg1wga,” which is a piece written by someone identified on Spotify as “Richard Feelgood.” The title is of course a reference to the QAnon community slogan “Where we go one, we go all.” As Trump continued to speak, a few members of the audience raised their arms in the air, extending their index finger. In a scene straight out of the Hunger Games, more and more attendees across the rally eerily followed, raising their index fingers in the air as the former president continued to speak. He closed out his remarks yelling about how the world respected America up until “two years ago.”

While it is not entirely clear what the symbol was meant to communicate, Media Matters and multiple journalists who have covered the conspiracy theory intimately over the years took it as a gesture in line with the “Wwg1wga” slogan. While the Trump campaign told the New York Times over the weekend that there was no link between the song and the QAnon community, it’s the same tune Trump team used in a recent campaign video that stoked excitement among members of the Q community.

It’s not the first time or the second time in recently months that Trump has acted in ways that suggest he has moved from winking at the movement to outright embracing its followers, who, lest we forget, literally believe that Hillary Clinton eats babies and that Democrats and Hollywood stars comprise a satanic cabal of pedophiles. Last week, Trump’s Truth Social account retweeted (“re-truthed”) a photo from a user who posted a picture of Trump wearing a QAnon lapel pin.

In June, a new report out from Media Matters found that Trump’s Truth Social account had promoted 25 separate QAnon-related accounts almost 50 times in the first few months of Truth Social’s operations. And last month, just a few hours after the FBI raided Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, Trump posted that campaign-style video on his Truth Social page, the one featuring the “Wwg1wga” tune.

The escalation of the last several months stands in stark contrast with the days of 2018 and 2019, when the White House tried to create an aura of distance between the then-president and the conspiracy theory that handpicked Trump as its Messiah. In fact, up until the summer before the 2020 election, Trump himself at least tried to feign ignorance about the details of the movement, pretending to not understand how internet things, like memes, work.

But from a quick review, it seems the gap between Trump and his most fervent Q followers began to close in July 2020. QAnon conspiracy theories were already running rampant online as the nation weathered the first six months of the coronavirus pandemic. But on the Fourth Of July that year, Trump (who still had Twitter back then) retweeted 14 tweets from accounts hyping the conspiracy theory, notably on the same day that his former national security adviser Michael Fynn took some bonkers QAnon oath with his family.

A few days later, Trump once again retweeted QAnon content, but it was a bit less hazy than the others — he retweeted a post from devout QAnon supporter and conspiracy theorist Antoine Tucker who argued Democrats “don’t give a fuck about helping Americans.”

“Wow!” Trump said, retweeting the conspiracy theorist.

Things only got less murky from there. After praising her primary bid in the summer, Trump congratulated the victory of now-Rep. Greene, who, not yet a household name yet at the time, was openly referred to by Democrats, some Republicans and the media as the “QAnon congresswoman” for her less-than-subtle embrace of the movement.

In the months leading up to Jan. 6, we covered a flurry of developments related to Trump’s flimsy QAnon distancing: he tried to pretend like he didn’t know what QAnon was yet again; his campaign pushed the same playing-dumb talking point in the weeks leading up to the election; reports surfaced in December 2020 suggesting that Trump was chill with the movement all along: QAnon-ers are people who “basically believe in good government,” he theorized.

Then Jan. 6 happened and Trump encouraged a mob of people — that included a man who referred to himself as the QAnon Shaman and members in QAnon attire — to storm the nation’s Capitol.

When the insurrection and fake-prophecies about Trump retaking the White House during President Biden’s inauguration failed to come to fruition, the movement, in some ways, retreated to lick its wounds.

Saturday’s District 12-like salute will certainly reenergize QAnoners who salivate over Trump nods and easter eggs. He handed them a full-course meal.

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