BREAKING NEWS : Jury reaches verdict at trial over George Floyd's death Full Story
SEVERE WX : Winter Weather Advisory View Alerts
STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Is the QAnon movement dead?

The moment of reckoning promised by the QAnon conspiracy theory never came. Now, many believers feel confused, duped, and uncertain of what comes next.

Posted: Jan 22, 2021 7:41 AM
Updated: Jan 22, 2021 7:41 AM

On Wednesday at noon, Joe Biden became the 46th president of the United States. He was not arrested beforehand. Nor were any of the other high-profile Democratic politicians who attended the inauguration. Donald Trump didn't declare martial law. He flew to Florida quietly.

And thus died one of the longest-lasting and most widespread conspiracy theories of last four years -- organized loosely under the flag of the group known as QAnon. Adherents to the conspiracy theory, which had become a sort of conspiracy catch-all for people who saw Trump as some sort of savior figure, were left wondering what the heck happened.

So, where does Q go next? Or is it over? I reached out to CNN's Donie O'Sullivan, who has been covering the movement adeptly for CNN, to answer those questions -- and more.

Our conversation, conducted via email and lightly edited for flow, is below.

Cillizza: QAnon's core belief was that Trump was installed by the military and would conduct a roundup of Democratic politicians engaged in wrongdoing. That, uh, didn't happen. Do they have an explanation?

O'Sullivan: Wednesday was a rough day for believers of this conspiracy theory. The reaction has been mixed.

Some believers seem to be coming to the realization they have been duped. For some of them, it was confirmation of suspicions they have had for a while. They feel like Trump has betrayed them.

I was at a QAnon event in Arizona back in October and one of the guys who was speaking at it, someone who is a major peddler of the conspiracy theory, was telling the audience to stay patient, that even though the conspiracy theory was three years old at that point and the big round-up of Democratic politicians didn't happen -- it would happen and everything would be fine after Trump's reelection.

Guys like that, who have social media accounts and sell QAnon merch to cash in on the conspiracy theory, are already coming up with ways to spin the conspiracy theory forward -- some are even trying to say Biden is actually a QAnon guy.

Cillizza: How much (or little) was Q impacted by the January 6 riot where its adherents seemed to play a major part? Did it hurt itself?

O'Sullivan: January 6 was the physical manifestation of the online mob.

The guy with the horns on his head who is in all the pictures from the Capitol and has now been arrested was a big QAnon believer. He was at that event in Arizona, too, and I saw him outside Trump's rally in Dalton, Georgia, two days before the insurrection.

A lot of these guys really thought they could get away with doing this because they so believed in the conspiracy theory and they so believed that they were doing what Trump wanted them to do.

I think seeing them now being rounded up and eventually prosecuted sends a message to QAnon followers that they can't act with impunity. Though it is also going to create some QAnon martyrs.

Cillizza: Is Trump still championed as a Q hero? Or does the fact that he didn't make good on the promise they had for him?

O'Sullivan: That remains to be seen. QAnon followers are trying to figure out a narrative right now. In a few weeks' time if Trump finds a platform that will have him online again and he starts spreading more misinformation and hate -- he might find himself again the QAnon darling.

Cillizza: And now the big Q about Q: Is the movement dead? Or will it reorganize around another conspiracy and live another day?

O'Sullivan: This is the most important question.

In our story published today, we spoke to a guy who says he isn't a QAnon follower, but he does espouse some of its conspiracy theories.

I met him in the early hours of the morning in DC on Wednesday and he was repeating a conspiracy popular among QAnon followers that Trump would stop the inauguration of Biden using martial law.

He also said the election was stolen and that it was left-wing radicals responsible for the violence here on January 6.

I caught up with him after the inauguration when reality was settling in. While he accepted he was wrong about martial law -- for him the lies about the stolen election and the left-wing radicals were still the truth.

And so there are possibly millions of Americans who have been indoctrinated in conspiracy theories, and just because Biden is the President, that is not going away.

It might get even worse for some now that the major social media platforms are kicking off a lot of QAnon accounts (at least for now) it is forcing some believers to darker corners of the internet where they will see more wacky theories and might get radicalized further.

One of the great challenges, I think, in 2021 is how America is going to deal with that very issue. We have a domestic radicalization problem with disinformation at its core.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 708779

Reported Deaths: 13226
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion966191721
Lake51761946
Allen39224672
Hamilton34549405
St. Joseph34157541
Elkhart27356432
Vanderburgh22081394
Tippecanoe21853212
Porter17935299
Johnson17544374
Hendricks16822310
Clark12697190
Madison12353337
Vigo12219244
Monroe11469166
LaPorte11162204
Delaware10366184
Howard9664211
Kosciusko9134114
Hancock7990139
Bartholomew7893155
Warrick7691155
Floyd7563176
Wayne6906198
Grant6844171
Boone6556100
Morgan6405138
Dubois6085117
Marshall5786108
Dearborn570376
Cass5685102
Henry5579101
Noble542683
Jackson493569
Shelby479495
Lawrence4342118
Gibson429089
Harrison428570
Clinton419753
Montgomery418086
DeKalb411184
Whitley380239
Huntington379880
Miami372865
Knox366689
Steuben365757
Putnam353160
Jasper350946
Wabash347878
Adams338052
Ripley334668
Jefferson313180
White308454
Daviess289499
Wells286481
Decatur279092
Fayette277262
Greene270785
Posey268833
Scott261153
LaGrange253670
Clay253544
Randolph235680
Washington231031
Spencer228031
Jennings225047
Fountain208845
Sullivan207942
Starke204752
Owen192356
Fulton192039
Jay186429
Carroll185920
Perry180736
Orange177853
Rush170724
Vermillion166043
Franklin165635
Tipton161043
Parke144616
Blackford133831
Pike130334
Pulaski113845
Newton104234
Brown100140
Crawford97614
Benton97113
Martin82915
Warren79715
Switzerland7698
Union69910
Ohio55811
Unassigned0408

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1054807

Reported Deaths: 18991
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1225191356
Cuyahoga1074592069
Hamilton783261168
Montgomery50176996
Summit45557909
Lucas40298765
Butler37768570
Stark31513895
Lorain24246473
Warren23910293
Mahoning20946583
Lake20067362
Clermont19459229
Delaware18085130
Licking16149207
Fairfield15757197
Trumbull15627460
Medina14922259
Greene14706236
Clark13660293
Wood12806185
Portage12431196
Allen11352229
Richland11067198
Miami10548214
Muskingum8717127
Wayne8594209
Columbiana8569226
Pickaway8439121
Marion8390135
Tuscarawas8387240
Erie7600154
Hancock6730123
Ross6707146
Geauga6553146
Ashtabula6530165
Scioto6295101
Belmont5634158
Union558447
Lawrence5470102
Jefferson5343147
Huron5314114
Darke5273121
Sandusky5189120
Seneca5139120
Washington5087107
Athens503856
Auglaize476284
Mercer471984
Shelby456590
Knox4397108
Madison423959
Putnam421799
Ashland413488
Fulton410567
Defiance404296
Crawford3883101
Brown386955
Logan374476
Preble371098
Clinton362160
Ottawa357978
Highland347459
Williams328674
Champaign321557
Jackson308551
Guernsey307549
Perry290549
Fayette278048
Morrow275939
Hardin264764
Henry264366
Coshocton259857
Holmes253499
Van Wert239262
Pike233831
Gallia233446
Adams229152
Wyandot227553
Hocking209759
Carroll189447
Paulding168838
Meigs141738
Noble132937
Monroe128941
Morgan106823
Harrison105636
Vinton81614
Unassigned02
Fort Wayne
Cloudy
33° wxIcon
Hi: 39° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 25°
Angola
Cloudy
30° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 24°
Huntington
Cloudy
32° wxIcon
Hi: 39° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 27°
Fort Wayne
Cloudy
33° wxIcon
Hi: 40° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 25°
Lima
Cloudy
41° wxIcon
Hi: 42° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 34°
Significantly cold air settles in across northeast Indiana and northwest Ohio Tuesday night.
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events