Up until the end, Trump's truest believers thought something was going to happen. Biden arrested as he walked onto the inaugural stage. A last-minute military coup to keep him in office. Anything that would keep alive the conspiracy theory that Trump was quietly working to expose and destroy the elite cabals of which he is, in obvious truth, a fully paid-in member.
Now the prophecy has failed, with Qanons splitting between those who are now disillusioned and those willing to commit to even stranger theories that keep the flame alive—and MAGA ranting about Jews and rappers.
In one Telegram channel with more than 18,400 members, QAnon believers were split between those still urging others to 'trust the plan' and those saying they felt betrayed. "It's obvious now we've been had. No plan, no Q, nothing," wrote one user. … Jared Holt, a disinformation researcher at the Atlantic Council, said he had never before seen disillusionment in the QAnon communities he monitors at this scale.
"It's the whole 'trust the plan' thing. Q believers have just allowed themselves to be strung from failed promise to failed promise."
The first, not particularly scientific survey of online forums suggest about a third of Qanons are still in the game. It speaks to crushed hopes more broadly among the MAGA set, with many flipping the hats in the trash but a lot of doubling-down too.
"So just to recap: Trump will pardon Lil Wayne, Kodak Black, high profile Jewish fraudsters … No pardons for middle class whites who risked their livelihoods by going to 'war' for Trump," fumed a user in a white supremacist channel on Telegram, the encrypted messaging service that has gained thousands of new subscribers since the Jan. 6 Capitol riots.
Conspiracies flew — out of the mouth of Fox News host Tucker Carlson — that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had blackmailed Trump out of pardoning Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, further infuriating MAGA hardliners.