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November 9, 2022 44 mins

Is JFK Jr. still alive? Daily Show contributor and podcast host Jordan Klepper digs deep into this conspiracy theory that’s circulating at Trump rallies and the larger MAGA world. Where did this idea come from? Where is it going? Jordan sits down with journalist and author Will Sommer and political scientist and conspiracy theory expert Joseph Uscinski to trace the JFK Jr. myth back to its QAnon origins.

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Speaker 1 (00:02):
John F. Kennedy Jr. Was the son of John F. Kennedy,
President of the United States. Tragically, jfk Jr. Was killed
in a plane crash in Or was he Yes, he was,
of course he was. But what if he wasn't? What
if he were about to re emerge as the vice

president of Donald Trump, who, by the way, is still
the president. Sounds crazy, it is. In fact, it's one
of the wilder conspiracies I've heard in my seven years
covering Trump rallies. You're probably familiar with my daily show
segments Jordan Clapper Fingers the Pulse Emmy nominated twice, lost twice,
where I chat with Trump supporters at rallies. We are

not a call. It's an American ideal that we treat
women with respect. You gotta give me the back of
that show one more time. That's too much fun. Trump,
that bitch. We don't even see the irony of it.
And if you're into conspiracy theories, then there's nothing that
comes close to a Trump rally. What's on your back?
Q flag? One of those crazy people are fine and
commulaw are not legitimate. What's a cute whole thing that

Trump would be reinstated at President never looked. If you
go online, there's a whole list of pedophile symbols. Really, yes,
it's like Woodstock, except everyone there thinks Jimmy Hendrix is
a holograph. Normally, when one of these conspiracy theories comes up,
I have to respond then moved past it because we're
shooting a piece for TV and we have to say
somewhat focused. But this is a podcast, we don't have

to stay focused at all. So I'm finally diving into
some of the most incredible conspiracy theories that have been
pitched to me at Trump Rallies by America's most imaginative minds.
This is Jordan Clapper Fingers, the Conspiracy and All new
limited series podcast from the Daily Show. So, folks, come
on down from your grassy knolls and let's dig in.

Let's talk about John F. Kennedy Jr. But to help
me do that, I want to bring in our first guest,
Will Summer Wills, of politics reporter for The Daily Beast.
He's got a book coming out in February called Trust,
The Plan, The Rise of Q and On and the
Conspiracy that unhinged America. Well, welcome to Jordan clapper fingers
the conspiracy. I'm excited to have you on. You are

here to help me walk through an understand what is
going on in this world of John F. Kennedy Jr.
And I will say this. I I go out on
the road and I start hearing people talking about JFK Jr.
And initially I'm thinking, you know, they're talking about JFK.
There's a long history of conspiracies with JFK. And then
I'm putting together that as JFK Jr. And then I

start to see signs up. I start to see bumper
stickers that have him as vice presidential Kennedy to Donald Trump.
And then a month or so back, I go to
a rally in the Midwest and I'm hearing sweet old
grandmother's talk about John F. Kennedy Jr. And I can't
make head or tails of it? Can you? Can? You
set out a little bit of this began? What do

we need to know? Sure? So, I mean, this is
really bizarre. As you noted, I mean the origins of
this are within Q and on Um. Of course, there
was the this figure Q who was giving these anonymous clues.
And then at one point in teen Q sort of
vanished for a month on the forums where the clues
came out, and then someone named Are shows up and

starts saying, you know, all of this is really about
JFK Jr. And so that's kind of where the where
it begins. And eventually Q comes back and kind of
says like this JFK JUNI yourself is garbage. You know
what have You've been tricking all my people? Um, But
the JFK Junior stuff really starts there with this idea
that JFK Jr. Faked his death to take on the
deep state and help Donald Trump sort of bring about

this sort of Q and on utopia. There's a conspiracy
inside the conspiracy, it's a it's a it's a conspiracy
to ducan right now exactly. It's sort of a splinter faction,
and you get this situation where, like the kind of
the mainline Q and On people will often be like,
oh my god, Like, you know, I believe all this
Pizza Gate stuff. I believe this about Hillary Clinton, but

these JFK Junior people are embarrassing us. They just believe
totally stupid stuff. That's the dynamic you want there, and
we're like, oh my god, can we just go back
to serious things like talking about how the Democrats drink
baby's blood and all this JFK Junior stuff. We're losing credibility.
People were losing credibility. Put your tidfoil heads back on
and let's march. Yeah. I mean basically they're saying, you know,

these JFK Junior people are almost like a government meant
to embarrass Q and on. But really this belief has
in JFK Jr has persisted ever since. So so what
was ours intention in this situation? Like initially that JFK
Jr one is alive, so perhaps he faked his death.
And two he's aligning himself with Donald Trump. It feels

like there's four steps there that I'm even a hard
time connecting why JFK Jr. And let's start with why
he's alive and why that should matter? Sure, so the
arc that is presented by R, and I want to
point out here that R is the letter after Q,
and so that's sort of the explanation for them, is
it or is it will? Your mainstream elitist alphabet says

it's the letter after Q. But I have I only
if you're moving forward through time, But that's a whole
another podcast exactly. So, So the the sort of the
story that's laid out is that John F. Kennedy, the
father is killed by the deep State, you know, in
nineteen sixty three. JFK Jr. Sees this and says, oh, man,
the Deep State might come for me, and I want

to get revenge on them for murdering my father. And
so for years he builds up this relationship with Donald Trump,
you know, because they were both sort of these New
York socialite figures. There are pictures of them together, and
so this is used to suggest that they were like
best buddies. Then in this storyline, JFK Jr. Fax his
death in this plane crash to sort of go undercover
and sort of lay the groundwork for the Q and

On journey and eventually emerge. For a while they thought
he was going to replace Mike Pence in on the
ticket and that he would sort of kind of helped
Trump and sort of get this final revenge on the
Deep State. So in this world they see JFK Jr.
Is faking his own death to exist undercover and wait
for the right time, still maintaining a relationship with Donald

Trump throughout all of this, or did or did Donald
Trump just come about and become sort of an avatar
for JFK Jr's ascension. Yeah, that that's a great question.
I mean a lot of it is a little contradictory
and not super thought out. Uh you know that might
be surprise you right now. But but basically, the the
idea is that, you know, back in the nineties or
the eighties, they kind of cut this deal and they said,

Donald Trump said, man, this stuff is really messed up,
you know. And then and JFK Jr. Said tell me
about it. You know, they shot my dad, and so
then they sort of teamed up and JFK Jr. Winning
to hide it. Tell me about it. They shot my dad.
Oh wow, Yeah, you're right, this is messed up. Let
me let me run for president a few decades from
now and make this thing happen. You're helping me connect
that circle. If it's a circle. What I'm confused about.

I go out there, JFK. Fame Slee not a Republican
um John F. Kennedy Jr. At least from my perspective,
New York elite, not political, but somebody who is a
magazine magnate and Seinfeld character uh doesn't exactly match up
as the type of person that this often far right

group would would align themselves with. What why Why did
they see this potential in in somebody who's so outside
of the norm, you know, I think that's a great question.
And what is the emotional residence of JFK Jr. Why
is why is the JFK Jr they fixate on rather
than another celebrity who died in the nineties. So the
I think the answer to it is that when we

think about the Q and on believer, and I think
in particularly the people who go for the JFK Junior stuff,
they're usually baby boomers, and I think the JFK assassination
had a huge sort of emotional impact on them. And
I think also JFK Jr. Was sort of seeing those
this very like prominent baby boomer um, sort of an
avatar of his generation, and so that way, I think
there is this kind of this very emotional connection to

him in a way that there that there wouldn't be
with another celebrity. I think also the idea of JFK
as like the last good Democrat is something that has
persisted among Republicans even before Q and On this idea
of kind of this popular martyred president UM and Oh,
isn't it terrible that you know LBJ in the in
the sixties took being a democrat into such an awful direction.

So I think JFK himself still has a lot of
residents with Republicans and Q and On believers. So I
think there's a lot of kind of like emotions tied
up in all that. When you look back on JFK conspiracies,
does it seem quaint? Does it seems sort of like
the initial modern conspiracy theory that Americans have sort of
built a mythos around. I mean, I think obviously we've

had conspiracy theories throughout American history, but the Kennedy assassination
is such a sort of an epical one that I
think gets a lot of people into conspiracy theories, and
it is certainly, I think the biggest and the richest
one to dive into in modern history. It also sort
of brings everything full circle incorporating Kennedy, Q and On.
Is this um it's sort of a super conspiracy theory

or a mega conspiracy theory that where you can sort
of get whatever you want out of it, and so
we see a lot of Kennedy conspiracy theorists drawn into it.
I talked to a guy who was a really big
Q and On leader, and he had for decades been
just like a f K crank. I mean, he was
going to all these conventions stuff like that, and then
Q and On arrives and he says, oh, you know,
I can sort of incorporate my Kennedy beliefs into Q

and On and sort of broad in my worldview and
and see more of the world explained to me in
that way. Um So I do think that's an aspect
of it as well. It's it's interesting. I think what
a lot of people miss is just how fun conspiracies are.
They They are engaging, especially if you're on a computer.
One of the most fun things you can do is
go down that rabbit hole and and also come away
with something that empowers you because you feel like you

know something somebody else doesn't. I I did a job
down in Dallas a decade ago, and I was walking
through the Grassy Knoll multiple times right there there in
daily plaza, and people would approach you and they would
tell you things that you should know and shouldn't know,
And so there was it was like a cottage industry
for conspiracy theorists to give small little tours, take you

to places that they tell you what what happened and
what they're not telling you. And it's easy to get
wrapped up in that. And you see the people starting
to develop um uh you know, not only mindsets out
of it, but it gives them importance. It gives them
in some cases a job, but it makes them important
in that little place. And I start to see that
pop up at some of these Trump rallies that I

go to, seeing people who now own part of these
little conspiracies and they become many celebrities at these rallies
that we see and looking at this JFK Jr. Coming
back as part of UH, there's been discussions of his
reappearance and there's been groups, one group called Negative forty
eight who has staged events waiting for his um return.

Can you tell us a little bit about Negative forty eight? Sure? Yeah,
So Negative forty eight is a group that is is
very convinced that JFK, not only JFK Jr, but but
Kennedy at JFK himself UH and all sorts of sort
of a bevy of other beloved deceased celebrities are are.
It's not that they're gonna come back to life, but
they've sort of been in in inclusion, they've been in hiding,

and that they're gonna come back and and sort of
usher in this Q and on world. The reason they're
called negative forty eight is because they this is kind
of hard to explain, dude, to someone who's that really
deeven it, but essentially they believe in this thing called
jim Atria where they assign numerical values to letters and
then they derive meaning from that A equals one, be
equals too, and so on. But essentially they would say,

like Jordan Klepper twenty trust the plan twenty uh make
America great Again twenty five and they just sort of
speak in this language that doesn't really make sense to
anyone outside of it, but they they see importance in
these numbers and in these these coincidences, and so from
there they essentially kind of whipped themselves up into believing
these things like JFK Jr. Is coming back. I found

out what Jamatria was real quick. One of the rallies
I went to when a woman kind of walked me
through this. She brought out a Gematria calculator and started
typing in my name, typing in Trump's name, and connecting
all sorts of numbers. It was it was wild, It
was real fun. You can kind of make anything makes sense.
They're type it in the calculator. You get these numbers.

And so Michael Jackson's last concert was this is it
comes to you know what that means? Do you? I
don't know what that means. So one thirteen means not true.
So Michael Jackson that wasn't his last concert, and he's
a lie. It's not necessarily conspiratorial thing, although it's used
in that sense. It's correct me if I'm wrong. It's

essentially a mathematical way of turning letters into numbers, and
religions have been using this for centuries just to try
to find and try to derive meeting, trying to look
deeper into biblical texts and what have you. And I
thought that was a key component when I talked to
this woman, because the way she talked about Gematrium, it
was beyond this conspiracy. It's fun. I have power because

I have knowledge. It was also I'm serving a biblical character.
There's religion attached to this, and I think that's where
the real danger comes here, where you have people who
are serving UH, serving religion and serving God through this fun,
little weird game that they play, and then deciding that
Aaliyah is going to appear alongside Michael Jackson and perhaps

UH and jfk Jr. All at once Obama clarify who's
still alive. J jfk Jr. Still alive. Jfk Jr. Still alive.
So I think jfk Jr. Is gonna try and expose
globalist because they killed his father. We're talking about Tupac's
coming back, Robin Williams is coming back Aliyah. As you mentioned,

sort of pick your favorite dead celebrity, and so what
happened was these folks descended on Dallas where they thought
there was going to be sort of the dead Celebrities parade,
and they're milling around and they're seeing like a homeless
guy and they're like, I think that's Robin Williams. And
then everyone's like, oh, yeah, that's a Robin Williams and
so on, and a lot of these guys. I mean, look,
I'm not sure. These guys are super up on like

Tupac for example, and there there's I think that's Tupac.
You all these guys, I think that's Biggie. Uh And
and it's sort of this. You can see they're sort
of going into this world where like nothing bad ever happens.
No no one ever dies of a drug overdose or
a suicide. Um. The other thing I would add is
that they think a lot of dead celebrities were murdered,
uh or went into hiding, like JFK Jr. Faked their

deaths because they were gonna blow the lid off the cabal.
So like the the late dj of Echi, you know,
he faked his death. All these kind of people, uh,
just you know, Whitney Houston. But they're all coming back
at this big moment. And you can see these people
who have just particularly this when they were kind of
million around Dallas for months, just the amount of their
own lives and their own like hearts that they've invested
into into it. You know, they're just you know, headed

for a brick wall when eventually they realized none of
it's happening. It's just predominantly white people who live in
a bubble walking around Dallas thinking they see Tupac everywhere.
I mean, it's really that's to fuck. Do you really
know who Tupac is? And you think that guy's tu
fuck and biggie they are. These are diametrically opposed on

many levels. But I bet you're seeing it as the
same person who's going into a subway. Well, they would
do these live streams where they would say, like, didn't
y'all see that dead rapper? Like they wouldn't know any names,
you know, and they kind of have this game and
telephone to figure it out. I'm not going to be
a conspiracist or anything like that, but I just watched
the movie last week with Robin Williams in it. It
was called Man of Man of the Year. And guess

what they had election fraud back then? The machines that
are switching to doing electronically and they were counting wrong.
Because this is a documentary, No, it's just a movie.
Are there any lessons we can take from Morcan mindy? No,
it should be pointed out they've they pointed to people
specifically JFK Jr. As there's been a man who's gone
to multiple rallies stands behind Donald Trump, and that's JFK Jr.

I went to see pack and I saw him there
as well, and he's taken selfies because he's also JFK Junior.
So some people aren't just abstract apparitions. They are actually
humans that they point to and say, you know, this
is who you are. Yeah, I'm actually I was just
texting with him. So, so his name is is Vincent
Fuska and he is this like Trump super fan. In

the lead up to in the election, he had this
van kind of festooned with Trump paraphernalia, and so he
kind of ends up becoming because he's a big Trump fan.
He's behind him at a lot of rallies when the
JFK Junior stuff starts happening. And this guy, I should say,
looks nothing like JFK Jr. He dresses, uh, he wears
like a big fedora. He's very scruffy guy. He wears
like like a big suit coat. And so, to be clear,

JFK Jr. Was a stylish man, and yeah, it could
only be assumed that that style mixed with privilege and
wealth would have led him into the modern era. Not
choosing to wear a fedora. Yes, yes, thank you. Yeah,
maybe in the nineties, you know, but but now no,
I don't think so. And so yeah, earlier, early swing day,
big big bad voodoo Daddy would have had a fedor up.

There would have been a lot of college kids who
wanted to look like JFK Junior who could pull off
a a door off. But modern JFK Jor No, no
freaking way, no way. And so so he's standing behind
Trump and when the JFK Junior stuff starts happening, people go, oh,
my gosh, I think that's JFK Jr. Behind Trump. And
then there was like a blonde woman nearby and they said,
I think that's JFK Junior's wife, and so they I mean,
they kind of get going. But the wild thing to

me about it is this guy doesn't come out and say, hey, guys,
I'm not JFK Junior'll leave me alone. He goes, oh,
who's to say. And so I've seen this guy maybe
seven or eight times, and he'll be out a rally
or something and people go, oh, j K Jr. You know,
we want pictures. And then I say to him, Hey,
you want to tell me about how everyone thinks you're
jfk Jr. Obviously not, and he goes, oh, I'd love

to talk to you later, how about in an hour
let me catch I'm just so busy today, but I'm
in town. You know you have my number. Let's talk later.
Obviously never gets back to me. I talked to this
one woman who was like, oh, posing for all these
selfies with him, and I said, you know that's not
jfk Jr. Right, And she's like, haven't you ever heard
of Hollywood? Haven't you heard visual effects? Haven't ever of Medeia.
You know it's you know they I mean, they're really

deep in Tyler Perry as evidence. It's a it's a
smart move. And I give Vincent props. I tell you,
if somebody stops me on the street and says, Joel McHale,
I love you in community, I don't correct him. Nope,
that's let them think that. Let them live their own reality.
As Americans, we have every right to live our own reality.
I think it's in the Constitution somewhere somewhere deep. Now,

there's there's a dark side to some of this, because
I will say what. I talked to the woman who
was into Jamatrium, and she was a part of this
Negative forty eight group. They show up in Dallas, they
wait in Dallas for JFK Jr. To arrive, and then
they stay there for months and months on and and
their stories of families who are losing loved ones to
this conspiracy mindset, and people are sending money to these

The leader pratsman I believe, Um, Like, what are some
of the dark sides of believing in these weird fantasies? Yeah,
I'm mean, so you know, Q and I have talked
to so many people who have lost family and friends
to Q NON And when you talk about something as
extreme as Negative forty eight to sort of that faction,
I mean you're talking about people who have essentially given
up their lives at this point. I mean, it's like
they've joined kind of like a traveling commune or something.

I mean, you know, they're saying in this hotel room
for months at a time, which is not cheap. They're
kind of pooling all their funds. At one point, you know,
there were a bunch of like little toddlers, little kids involved,
which you know, it's not great for them to be
roaming around looking for tupac or whatever. Um and you know,
I talked to one guy who whose wife had He
thought he had a you know, totally fine, normal marriage,
and then she just says, oh, yeah, I'm gonna go

to this Trump rally. Well, as it turned out, she
was going to join negative forty eight and then just vanishes.
And you know it is he's seeing her in these
videos and stuff, and he's like, what is happening in
my family? There's no evidence she's ever coming back, you know,
all this kind of stuff. I mean, it is really
really grim stuff. This is a poor guy. You just
you see about homing like my wife she left me
for k Jr. It's I get. It's what a successful

man and he's in through a lot. You know, he's died,
he's come back. Um, he's living at this man Vincent.
He's trying to pull off Fedoras in modern times. It's
it's difficult. It's a bold decision. Yeah, Patty's found love,
but she's left me alone. We're gonna pause it right there,
we'll be right back. Welcome back to Jordan's Clapper Fingers.

The conspiracy. I want to bring in Professor Joe Uzinski,
political scientists and conspiracy theory expert at the University of
Miami who followed the JFK Junior gathering in Dallas. Joe, welcome,
Thanks for having me. So, Joe, we got Will summer here.
We've been going down this JFK JR wormhole, rabbit hole, uh,

whatever hole you want to call it, we're in it. Um.
You've you've looked at what's happening and what continues to
happen in Dallas. Uh. From your perspective, what's going on
down there? So you have people that probably have a
bunch of psychological issues. Maybe they're pro own to delusions,
they're prone to believing things in spite of evidence, and

that's what got them to this point. And this is fanciful.
It's fun for them. They're probably enjoying it. But it
doesn't shock me to hear the things that Will is
talking about. I mean, there are families, and I get
emails from these families once in a while, you know,
the sun disappeared, or you know one family member you
know got into a conspiracy theory. Now they can't even

talk to the person. And there isn't much I can
say to these families other than I'm not that kind
of doctor. I mean, there's nothing I can do for
this sort of stuff, and I sympathize and empathize with them,
but um, there isn't much you can do. What makes
people predisposed to believe conspiracy theories in the first place?

Why why did they go and seek them out? Well,
the answer is going to be a little bit unsatisfying,
but this is where we are, and that is that
some people, more than others, have a worldview in which,
you know, they over to the window when they wake
up in the morning, they look out and they see
stuff and they say, oh, that must be caused by
a conspiracy, you know, being driven by people who I

already don't like. And the question becomes, well, where does
that come from? And the answer is, we don't know yet.
We just know that it exists, and we know that, Um,
some people are just really prone to it. So it's
not the beliefs themselves, it's not the ideas. It's that
it's people that have a very thick set of lenses.
So when they come into contact with these ideas, it's

just easy for them to say, yeah, that must be true.
You know, America, it's not a new thing to believe
in conspiracy theories. It's not a new thing to have,
perhaps a warped sense of reality. We are the country
that gave you the Salem Witch Trials, were always looking
for weird ways of which to perceive what's happening around us. Um,

how serious is the situation we're living in now? Is
this is this an aberration? Is this is this something
that social media has one created or two is just
reflecting what's already been happening out there, and we're blown
it into Uh, we're it's it's overblown our perspective on it. Yeah,
you know, I mean look, as you said, I mean,
conspiracy theories have been with us throughout American history, as

going back to the witch Trials. I mean, there's really
rich history of it's sort of each kind of big
pivot moment in the United States of a conspiracy theory
is really abounding. Um. At the same time, I think
what's unique about the moment we're in is number one, Uh,
social media, as you mentioned, which I think helps people
with this kind of conspiratorial mindset connect with one another.
The way I think of it is, if you think

of like the Kennedy assassination, in order to find some
like minded people, you would have to maybe print a zine,
send letters, go to a convention, stuff like that, and
then everyone on your block would be saying like if
you're a nut or whatever. Um. Whereas now these people
can just go online and and find like minded people,
reinforce their beliefs, and find new recruits really really easily. Uh.
The other thing I would say is we've at least

I think, in modern history, we haven't seen this kind
of conspiratorial thinking embraced by so many politicians, to the
point where we have members of Congress who believe in
Q and on and have supported it. Recently, Donald Trump
is posting really explicit pro q and on videos. So
in that way, I think it really helps mainstream these
conspiracy theories in a way that we haven't had before.
I love thinking that in the old days, you at

least had to learn how to produce a zine, Like
there's something to the stereotype of like, well you had
to cut out letters and you actually had to build
a board and connect it with straightly here and there,
And it's like no, literally, there's a certain buy in
that that buys you. Now you can do that's all online.
You don't even have to go to hobby lobby to
buy the ship. You can do it on the internet,
the buy and it's so low. Uh, Joe, I wonder

where do you see the threat level of something like this.
It's it's it's with politicians. So to me, I don't
think people have changed all that much over time. If anything,
we're believing conspiracy theories as much as we did ten
twenty thirty years ago. Um, what's different now is not
just Trump, but particularly Trump and other people who want

to do what Trump has done. So when you have
people who can act on conspiracy theories with a monopoly
of authoritative force, when you have people who already have
large audiences because they're politicians, transmitting these things, Um, that's
going to reach a lot of people, and it's going
to influence a lot of people. Like any of us

could go on to social media and spurred out whatever
stupid conspiracy theory we want. Doesn't mean anyone's going to
pay attention, right, It doesn't mean anyone's gonna care or
even look at it. But if Trump does it, that's
a very different ballgame, right, And when you have people
who have political power engaging in this, that's incredibly dangerous.

And if you look back through history the times where
we have, you know, the worst episodes of conspiracy theorizing,
it's usually because of politicians getting involved in acting on
it in some way. Is it possible to put these
ideas back in the box? Can you roll this back?
You know, I recently was out talking to people about

the election and election deniers, and so much is based
on this idea of as soon as you have doubt
and you see it through a lens of doubt and
mistrust everywhere, it almost doesn't matter what's going to happen
in the next election, you're going to see it. It's
going to be there. Are we already hardwired these brains
to see and distrust so many things that there will

not be a turning back that even though somebody like
Donald Trump might wield so much power and be able
to direct it in certain ways, that we've sort of
already infected a generation with this mindset. Well, there's already
people who who think that no matter what, right after
any election, there's about you know, of the country who
think it was rigged why because they lost? Right? So

as in politics is and sports, who complains after the
football game? Now it's the losing team, right, So that's
sort of normal after every election. What's abnormal right now
is that you have the losing candidates saying it was rigged.
I was cheated, and going on and on and on
about it and pulling in the whole of the conservative

media and lots of allies in Congress. So now you
have sort of a full court press of people saying
it's rigged, it's rigged, it's rigged. So that's why you
have between sixty and of Republicans saying was rigged against them,
rather than the normal that might have otherwise said it

was rigged just for the fact that they lost. How
close are we to having six year and eight of
the GOP believe JFK Jr. Is coming back? Is that
is that weeks or months away? I think that would
be a tougher one to pull off. I mean, Trump
has a lot of influence, so if he got behind
a conspiracy theory repeatedly for a long period of time,

he could make people buy in. And if it's something
like election fraud, he can pull that off because those
ideas are always around. But sometimes you'll come out with
conspiracy theories that just don't influence anyone. I mean I'm
not aware of a lot of Ted Cruz, Dad Kill JFK.
Truther's out there, even though he pushed that, you know,
six or seven years ago. I mean, it just didn't

take off. But I think if you go after ideas
that people are sort of already inclined towards, I mean,
he can do a lot of damage that way. Yeah,
I mean, I think we are all inclined to the
idea of wanting Aaliyah to be back in our lives again.
We want another classic album, we want that redemption. I
think that's on the cosp if if he if he

even nudges us in that direction, I think we all
buy tickets immediately to the next concert, whether or not
she appears or not. I mean, we think that Q
and on stuff is wacky and crazy and where do
people come up with these ideas? But I mean we
lived through the eighties. I mean there was massive Satanic
panics during that time. Satan was everywhere, and even Oliver
Stone's JFK movie, which was you know, a popular movie

was about the pedophile deep going after the President the
United States. I mean Joe Pesci played the defrac pedophile priest.
So even the basic idea behind Q and on is
not new. I mean, all of this stuff is recycled
and rehashed, and it's largely the same people believing the
same stuff. Sort of a choose your own adventure mad

lib book that they're that that they're just replaying over
and over again. I think Q and on has a
political valance to it as well. Do you look at
the pictures in January six, the people all the people
who were there who were convinced that this was going
to be kind of this big, like kind of fascist
moment where the dreams were gonna come true. Um, and certainly,
I mean, I think it's unique in that it has

achieved such mainstream prevalence within the Republican Party. I mean,
we're talking about election denial stuff like that. And in
many ways, I think Q and on is kind of
an easy thing to talk about because you can kind
of get a handle on it. It's people holding cues
and stuff like that. But a lot of these ideas
that are core to Q and on have become are
kind of swirling around the GOP and I've become much
more successful without the Q label attached. So we think about,

for example, this idea that you know, talking about gay
people existing in a school is part of a pedophile
groomer plot. And so we can see these things really
being weaponized into policy in a uh, you know, I
think a really ominous way. I want to talk about
how this is covered. What you know, obviously there are
elements of conspiracy theories that belong in the news that
become news. Um. What think the role of roles should

be for journalists and coming some of these fringe beliefs?
Is it giving too much air uh to to to
follow some of these JFK JR ideas uh and and
put them up on a pedestal so people can see
those ideas and have that air out or or what
you're talking about right now? Because this is affecting our culture,
do they need to be more vigilant and bring this

to the forefront so we can engage with them, we
can knock them down or at least be aware that
they're out there. Sure, I mean, I think it's a
complicated one for me. You know, you certainly don't want
to just go find a couple of nuts online and
say like, oh, yeah, these guys are so crazy. For me,
it's when it starts crossing over into the real world.
I mean, we've had q and On believers murdering people.
We had a q and On guy murder his wife
in q and On guy shut down a bridge near

the Hoover Damn. He had a bunch of guns. That
was at the point where I was like, this is
not just an online thing anymore. This is something where
I have to trust my readers enough, both as an
audience and as you know, citizens, that they deserve to
know what's going on in the world. And you know,
I do think that idea of amplication is a relevant one.
But at the point where you have Donald Trump saying
like check out this que stuff, you know, I I
think the cow is out of the barn. And I

would add, in the case of JFK JR, I mean
one of these maybe he's kind of the evil JFK
Junior impersonator. There's another guy who's put together a coalition
that is going that has people running to control elections
in battleground states. Who's the JFK Junior impersonator. They're the
Republican nominee. So really, I mean this is stuff that
is going to have really, I think, really concrete impact

on our lives. Unfortunately, that was one of the details
when I talked to the Jamatria woman. You know what,
what the talk of the rally at that point was
not that this was just a person who believed the
wild thing, but there was a person who was in
Dallas who had a strong following in places like telegram Um,
and the talk was that they had a relationship with
the Trump campaign, that a lot of these people from

Negative forty eight were also uh setting up chairs, uh
and in you know, the fact that they would show
up and try to help the campaign get set up
at the rallies, they would get certain v I P passes.
And this is not just a fringe thing that exists
outside some of the campaigns in some ways that also
working and coordinating within them. It's it's becoming folded into it.
There is sort of this tension with the Trump campaign

where they seem to see these people as what they are,
which is huge Trump super fans, and Trump is kind
of constantly signaling to Q and on believers, but at
the same time they don't want the average person to
see a bunch of Q stuff at the rallies. So
we see the Negative forty eight people doing the Q
and on symbols and stuff at the rallies, and they're
being told, you know, don't do that, what have you.
But there's kind of this pull, this back and forth,
and Trump doesn't understand that it's so complicated, it's it's

so above him. There was some Onion headline that I
think nailed it that was essentially Trump half asking his
support of c and like, yeah, I guess the Democrats
eat babies or whatever the hell it is. You guys
think like you can you can feel in like I
if this makes you like me more sure, But I
can't even begin to wrap my head around what you

guys think is going on. Joe, I wonder what you
think the proper response from the media would be in
covering these types of stories. That's a really tough question.
I I'll tell you what. I started studying the topic
about fifteen years ago. There was barely any coverage of
conspiracy theories in the mainstream news. So I started a
Google alert back then, so every night I would get

all the articles that had the term conspiracy theory in it,
And back then I was getting four or five articles
a day and none on the weekends, and at the
end of that had jumped to a hundred a day
every day, and just just this is anecdotal, but just
for myself, I think I took close to three hundred
interviews in alone, so most every journalist was calling me

when they were writing about it, and they were all
writing it about it quite a bit. And then I
think what happened shortly after is that a lot of
major news outlets started getting their own misinformation conspiracy theory
social media newsdesk, so they now have dedicated reporters just
just covering this topic. So it's going to continue to

get a lot of attention. I don't know, you know,
what the what the effect of the coverage is. I mean,
I think that some things went wrong in I think
there were a lot of journalists that had sort of
a panic over conspiracy theories and misinformation, and the headlines
sort of gotten to their own echo chamber. Was like

Q was taking over the world and it's the biggest
thing ever. And you know, as I was pulling on it,
I was like, I'm just not getting these these massive numbers.
It's there, it exists, and they have a presence online. Um.
But I think Will was one of the few people
who was in journalism who was saying, you know, maybe
it's not as big as of the fantastic headlines are
saying it is. So I think in some ways, you know,

some of the sensationalistic report and got ahead of itself.
We'll be right back. Will give us a little perspective.
You're not only on the que and on movement as
to where it is now, but even looking at something
like this JFK JR theory, the negative forty eight group,
you know, how big is it actually and how much
of an effect doesn't have on the conversation. Yeah. Sure,

So I've actually got I've got some polls right in
front of me for for just this moment um. So yeah, okay,
So and now these polls are a little out of date,
and and Joe does some great polling on this, and
I think he has newer numbers. So, but the difficulty
of nailing down Q and on belief is there's a
couple of things. Number One, A lot of times people
are gonna say they may believe some of the tenets

of it, but they're not like on the forum saying
you know, where we go and we go all stuff
like that. At the same time, we have to realize
that at the end of Cute basically told the fans
the brand had become too damaged into stopped to saying
Q Q Q and just to sort of use the
talking points. And so there is gonna be an amount
I think of people who are kind of downplaying it.
There's a March five thousand people that's found that fifteen

percent of them believe Statana Satan worshiping pedophiles run a
global child sex operation. We got two thousand people in
January one that found fifteen percent believe that Trump was
at war with these Hollywood pedophiles. And now when you
started asking about Q and on the numbers get a
little lower. You're talking to think three to seven percent. Still,
we're talking about millions of people. That's more popular in

some religions in the United States. So you know, don't
ship on the Quakers. You gotta ship on the Quakers.
I know what you're getting at there. I can read
between the lines. They're a good, peaceful group of people.
Stop shifting on the Quakers. Don't come on my podcast
and make all this anti Quaker attacks. I know they
had a hard time getting people into the whatever they

call it community room. But they're working hard on this,
Okay exactly, retinue believe the Quakers out of a mouth
just getting wrecked by Q and on here. Yeah, they're
they're getting blown out. So so yeah, when we start
talking about that at the same time, I mean the
JFK JR people are kind of a faction of that.
And then we get down to the negative forty eight group,
which is smaller than that, So I would say negative
forty eight. I think UM has tens of thousands of

Telegram subscribers. I think when we think about hardcore fans,
we're probably talking a couple of thousands. Mhm uh. It's
actually interesting to see, Joe, where do you see? They're
the hardcore fans, the people who show up at the
events who are posting most of that information. But there's
that secondary element too of when it just becomes a brand.
I go to some of these events and I see
people wearing cue paraphernalia, queues back and there's cute ship everywhere. Yes,

the online conspiracy following a mysterious character known as Q
was more popular than ever. Is that a cue? Yeah?
Are you a cute supporter CTA? Some people I taught
you the way that just because they understand that it's
a it's trolling behavior, that it's a brand that they
can put on their body, it's gonna piss off the media.
It's good to get attention from the people they want
to get attention with. And they may not even know

the tenets of what Q is, but they do know
that it's something that they support in theory because in
their mind the support is just trolling. Is that dangerous?
Is that sort of a is it? Is it the
evolution of a conspiracy theory that when it just becomes
pepsi that we're we're in for a world to hurt?
Where do you see that? Well, we're sort of calling

everything Q and on now right, and and if you
go back to the idea that Q and on adopted
a lot of ideas that pre existed Q and on,
then it's not quite as disturbing. So between and more recently,
we're depending on how you asked the question. If you
if you're just doing direct questions, are you a believer
in Q and on? You follow Q and on? We're

getting between five and twelve percent, which makes it one
of the least believed and followed things that I pull on.
I mean to put that in perspective, and we just say,
do you think there was a conspiracy to kill Kennedy
in nineteen sixty three? We're getting between fifty and six.
So Q and On isn't isn't all that huge? But

when will is exactly right when we ask on these
more general ideas, like our teachers grooming kids to become
trans Are there satanic cults doing massive Satanic rituals across
the country. Are elites running sex trafficking rings? Um, we're
getting between twenty and thirty. Now, I wouldn't call those

ideas Q ideas. I mean Q and On adopts them,
but they could have existed decades ago. And some of
those ideas sort of have their origin thousands of years ago. Um,
So they've been around, and I just don't want to
attribute them to Q because then it says like, oh,
this guy was able to convince thirty percent of the
country that elites are running sex trafficking rings, when in fact,

those ideas, you know, might have been around well before that.
It's just we weren't paying attention. You know, even back
during the Satanic Panic of the eighties, were very few
poles taken of how many people were buying in to
this idea of satanic cults running around And I've only
found one pole, and it was of Texas, so you

have to you have to keep that in mind. But
it was eight percent of people at the end of
the eighties thought that, you know, one of the major
problems in the country was satanic cults going around abusing people.
So I don't know how well that might have been
believed in you know, some other state um at the time.
But but right now we're trying to poll on all
these things, and it's just we don't have good comparisons

to the past. You know. One thing I would note
there is that there's something unique about Q and On
in comparison to some of these other conspiracy theories. If
you're talking about, uh, like the thing of the Kennedy
assassination was it was it was a conspiracy theory, or
the moon landing was fake. Well, there's kind of not
a lot you can personally do about it. In the

case of Q and On, there's kind of this there's
sort of a fascist utopia at the core of it,
and that there are places that we are going to
go tear arise these satanic pedophiles. So there is kind
of like a way that people can participate about in
it that I think it makes it more dangerous than
you know, believing that again the moon Laney was fake
or something like that. Yeah, I mean it's a game.
There's a group identity, right, So a lot of people

believe Kennedy was killed by a conspiracy, but they're not friends,
they don't consider themselves to be part of a group
or a movement write, but Q and on a lot
of those people do like they are doing something together.
They're following along, they're solving the clues, they're expecting an
outcome in a shared way. And that's something that most

conspiracy theories don't really have. And that's why Q and
on has always been very hard to define, right because
it's sort of cult ish but not really a cult.
It's a group but sort of decentralized. Um. It's got
a lot of conspiracy theories in it, so it's not
just a conspiracy theory, and it's got sort of activities
that people can do to sort of be a part

of it and play along that other conspiracy theories just
don't have. I do love thinking of it like activities.
It's like, we get to get together, we get to
solve white Tom Hanks is drinking baby blood. It's it's
like just a bunch of little Encyclopedia Browns running around America.
It's funny you say that. I mean, they had a
rally in d C and they said, you know, we're
gonna kind of go on this excursion if you're interested

to go protest a comment ping pong, So they have
the whole itineraries well before I let you go. Part
of the reason this podcast is one for me to
wrap my head around some of the stuff that I'm
seeing out there on the road. But to help me
what am I going to see out there on the
road a couple of months from now. One in regards
to the JFK Junior conspiracy? How does that morph? And too?

Am I gonna get a new Robin Williams movie out
of all this? Uh? Yeah, you know. I I think
the JFK Junior stuff is going to continue. I mean
I saw and in particular, I think if Trump keeps
engaging more with Q and On, I think we're gonna
see more people getting into Q and On and kind
of see some fresh energy behind that. Um. I once
went to the kind of the Trumpian July fourth event

and all these women at the Trump Hotel were wearing
like JFKG in your shirts and this lady had a
JFKG in your mask on her face and I said
to her, uh, you know what's that about? And she goes,
he's alive, and she kind of flipped flitters away. So
I mean, I don't think that energy is going anywhere. Um.
And you know, I think we get we get new
conspiracy theories all the time, and so I think, you know,
you got the big one. I I'm seeing a lot

of movement on this idea that the elites want to
meet make us all eat bugs. Jordan's so like you,
you might want to be on the lookout for that.
I think there's gonna be a lot of like what
they say is I will not eat the bugs. And
so I think you might get someone you know accosting
you about that. So so don't don't make them do it.
I hate this. I hate this job so much. Dear Lord,
dear Lord, Jordan, you might want to be on the lookout.

I guess there's this thing about elite trying to make
you eat bugs bugs? Is that what it is? Uh? Joe?
What do I have to look out for? H So
worse than that, I think the same reporter who was
writing a about the bug eating was also writing about
forced anal swabbing. It's not just about testing for COVID.

It's about humiliating you in public. So if you walk
down the street and they have like a government tent
set up where they're sticking people with Q tips up
the ass, that's gonna be Um, that's gonna be something
come true somebody's dark dream apparently. So this is how
I'm writing it down right now. I need to be
aware of bug ghazi and bum ghazi. There they're on

the horizon. Uh, thank you gentlemen. Well, well, Joe, thanks
for coming on the podcast. Um, I'm gonna go down
to a Trump rally and a few do you guys
want to come along? Is that it might be a
little intense for me, bear up, bear enough. We'll thank
you guys for joining me and helped me figure this conspiracy. Thanks,
thank you. Listen to Jordan clapper Fingers The Conspiracy on

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