The Disinformation Factory — Part II
Qanon, COVID, Elections, and Beyond.
In the previous chapter, we learned the historical roots that laid the foundation for the disinformation machine, who was responsible for #pizzagate, and how it led to putting Trump in the White House in 2016, which is where we left off. Now let’s look at what happened next.
Once in office, it became abundantly clear that Trump was a miserable president who could not even be bothered pretending to show any interest in the actual job of governing. He bragged to the Boy Scouts about having sex parties on a boat, publicly took Putin’s word over the US intelligence service, and threw paper towels at hurricane survivors in Puerto Rico. Not even his wife liked him. It’s a long, long list.
In the face of that reality, support was going to be tough to maintain, let alone build. So they fired up the UnReality Generator, and just lied. From Day One it was a blistering assault on the Truth. They started talking about “Alternative Facts” with a straight face, deliberately defecating on the shared sense of truth we need for the world to work, and driving the wedge that led to the chasm we’re faced with today.
Meanwhile, in actual reality, investigations continued to mount into the Trump team’s corrupt dealings, including their ties to Russia, and the influence that had on the election. Countering that narrative became a key priority. Any suggestion of Russian connections must be dismissed as a “deep state conspiracy”, perpetrated by radical Democrats, desperate to take down this noble warrior. And not only did they need to preach to the choirs on the right, through the usual platforms of the Mercers and Murdochs, they needed to penetrate the ostensible “left” as well, via characters like Aaron Mate, Jimmy Dore, Matt Tabibi, and Glenn Greenwald. After the way Bernie Sanders was treated by the DNC, it wasn’t hard to find fertile ground to sow the seeds of discontent.
On October 27, 2017, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates (the one who asked Psy Group for the proposal during the primaries) were indicted, as part of the Mueller investigation into Russian interference. The next day, another character appeared on 4Chan. This time, they claimed to be from Military Intelligence, with inside information on Trump’s righteous quest to save the world. All that bad stuff happening wasn’t actually real, Trump was just playing chess, he was a totally stable genius in complete control, taking down the evil cabal. They went by the mysterious moniker of “Q”.
There are obvious similarities with FBIanon (being an “insider LARP on 4Chan”), but the model was different, and so was the style. The story was more grandiose, and the stakes were higher. This wasn’t just an email investigation case, this was the future of civilisation and humanity itself. They often spoke in code or riddles. There was an awful lot of nonsensical trite too, but it engaged the reader by asking cryptic questions, leaving it to them to dig their own rabbit holes, and generate theories and content themselves.
Ultimately, it successfully transformed this odious, narcissistic, corrupt real-estate developer, into a glorious Light Warrior, leading the world to a 5th-dimensional galactic ascension.
In doing so, it tore a hole in the fabric of the shared reality we rely upon for a functioning society. It used cult strategies and recruitment techniques to drag people into its universe and keep them there, breaking people’s brains, fracturing families, destroying communities, and even threatening the foundation of democracy itself.
So again, like we did with #pizzagate, it’s worth considering who or what is actually behind this. Because whoever it was, they weren’t doing it ironically. They genuinely supported Trump and his agenda, and were trying to grow that support. It is, by definition, propaganda — an attempt to influence public perception of a political figure. Campaigns have been doing it since the dawn of time.
Identifying the source of an anonymous post on the internet is not easy, but nor is it necessarily impossible. There are over 5,000 “drops”, and when taken together they tell us a lot. To start with, we can look at who or what it serves and protects. Which includes the network, agenda, and reputation, of Micheal Flynn:
Why would an anonymous prankster go to the trouble of carrying such water for someone like Flynn? He was an Obama appointee who openly sold out America’s interest to foreign powers, and got fired by Trump for lying to the Administration about his dealings with Russia. Furthermore, why would Flynn put so much stock into something which he knew was a LARP he didn’t have any control of, the rug of which could be pulled out at any moment? He might look goofy, but he is literally a world expert in Special Operations. Using the Q movement to raise money for his legal defence certainly doesn’t preclude him from being behind it, as some commentators have weirdly tried to claim. And it sure sounds awfully similar to his stated strategy of weaponising “Digital Soldiers”:
But even a professional like Flynn can’t pull off something like this all by himself. So let’s have a look at some other drops to see what other data we can find to figure out who else was involved. There’s a lot, but it’s good to get a taste of the different flavours that were served up:
So, we know that Q is a New Age Fascist, probably a boomer, with delusions of grandeur, who enjoys messing with people’s minds, has a deep understanding of psychological operations, likes LARPing as a super spy, and posting internet puzzles on 4Chan.
Well that gives us something to work with, so let’s see if we can figure anything out. There are two components to analyse: The “narrative”, or the story, and the “medium”, or the mechanics of the delivery.
First let’s look at the narrative. It’s sometimes been compared to a Tom Clancy Novel — a high-stakes spy thriller. Which is notable, because one of Clancy’s writing parters was a guy called Steve Pieczenik.
He does have experience in Military Intelligence, specialising in Psychological Operations for the State Department throughout the 70s. As often happens to people in this position, he became deeply committed to the conservative cause, preserving the rights of rich white men to do what they want, and fighting progressive policies that called for a more equitable distribution of power and resources. Conspiracies, of course, were a major weapon in his arsenal. (The extent to which he genuinely believes them, as opposed to cynically exploits them, is unclear, which is why the “virus” is such a helpful descriptor.) He’s been a prolific guest on Alex Jones’ Infowars over the years, masterfully using the platform to pepper the landscape with his narratives, in a way that created the universe from which Q would ultimately emerge.
In October 2015, he began talking about Trump :
Thanks to you Alex, and thanks to your listeners, they are falling apart […] the globalists did get control, but now there is a war to expose them, and they are losing […] Geopolitically, what does this do to the criminal cabals on the inside? This is one of the most phenomenal revolutions America has ever seen,[…] Trump had been monitoring the MSM for some time.. when we put his name up for the next presidency, he took it […] we are so tired of the people who committed the crime of 9/11, that once Trump gets in, many of them will be arrested […] I know a lot about his character […] we have to look at this as very positive movement. The backlash is huge. They never expected us to come in and be able to pronounce the truth […] America is not going quietly into totalitarianism without a fight […] We want them to show how stupid they are.”
This is clearly the foundational narrative of Qanon. A lot of the drops include that very language. So we’ve got 3 options:
- Q came up with this narrative entirely independently,
- Q was an Alex Jones fan who watched that episode (or heard it elsewhere) and committed it to memory, thereby becoming a “product” of the operation,
- Steve Pieczenik, who has openly promoted Q, writes spy thrillers professionally, and bragged about running Psychological Operations, was part of the creative team behind Q.
With that in mind, let’s turn our attention to another of the primary Q promoters, Robert David Steele. Like Steve, he worked in the intelligence services (or claimed to have at least), and became deeply conspiratorial. Then he got on the Trump Train, making it his mission to get him elected and keep him in power, using Blood Libel more explicitly and enthusiastically than anyone else. When “Save the Children” took off in 2020, if you followed the sources for people’s posts, most of them would ultimately lead to videos of Steele in a made-up court called the “International Tribunal for Natural Justice (ITNJ)”, lying about “Adrenochrome”.
He died of COVID in 2021. But before then, he spent most of his time on zoom calls with other Q promoters like Sean Stone, Sacha Stone, Ken O’Keefe, Mark Steel, Charlie Ward, and Martin Geddes. He called Qanon “the greatest information operation of all time”, and is as close to the centre of this network as it is possible to get. And in January 2017, who does he credit with kicking it off? Putin, Trump, Flynn, and our good friend Steve Pieczenik:
“Aided by enormous restraint on the part of Vladimir Putin, the soft coup in the USA has collapsed […] Trump earns most of the credit, bringing to the matter his deep business experience and common sense, he understood that the narrative against Russia was fabricated […] With that Foundation, he was able to listen to Michael Flynn, who’s deep experience in the nether world of black special operations and clandestine and covert action operations informs him in a manner few can claim.
William Binney, who created the NSA capability that has been used against US politicians […]was the first to reveal the leaks were coming from insiders. Ray McGovern, a retired CIA analyst and founder of the “Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity” (VIPS), has been a respected voice challenging the false assertions by the CIA against Russia. Finally Steve Pieczenik… A former deputy assistant Secretary of State, who was […] the first to announce the countercoup against Hillary Clinton was being undertaken by insiders. I have done what I could and I am proud to stand in support of Donald Trump…”
The VIPS appears to be where all this really began. A bunch of disaffected ex- Military Intelligence operatives who hated progressivism, and saw Trump, perhaps under Russian influence, as the best way to advance their agenda. So they deployed their knowledge of psychological intelligence operations to manipulate the public and help him win. The central theme of Qanon being about a small team of “white hats” from Military Intelligence who tapped Trump years ago exists because that’s how they saw themselves. Steele, Pieczenik, Binney, Valley, McGovern, Wiebe, Flynn, et al. These people haven’t fallen for a 4Chan prank, they helped put it there.
Over the last 30 years, story telling has taken on a new dimension — interactivity. Plots that involve the reader, sending them on a treasure hunt, or asking them to solve riddles in order to advance the narrative. They introduce a fantasy element to the otherwise mundane drudgery of our lives, and create a bridge to a more exciting alternative reality. So they are known as Alternative Reality Games, or ARGs.
The upshot is that they can be incredibly captivating. So much so that to be done responsibly, they must be carefully managed with “guardrails”, so that participants know where the game ends and reality begins. Otherwise they can be swept away, even if they go into it knowing it’s a “game”. And if they don’t know it’s a game, and believe it’s actually a literal plan to save the world instead, then it can become a phenomenally powerful tool of political propaganda.
And when we look at the “baking” that goes into decoding the “crumbs” of the Q drops, that’s exactly what we see:
Ok, so what can this tell us about where it’s come from. Well for starters, “Gamification” as a strategy is explicitly articulated in a pitch deck from Wikistrat, one of Joel Zamel’s digital influence companies:
Sounds like Qanon. But even for them, this is a little specialised. Creating a “puzzle LARP” on 4Chan requires a fairly niche skill set. And for that, we now come to a character called Thomas Schoenberger.
He was a lot of things, but mostly a composer, who tried to make his music more interesting by involving puzzles. He had a thing for prime numbers, for example, and would work them into his compositions to generate more engagement.
The best puzzle going around was called Cicada 3301. It was a fascinating phenomenon which started with an enigmatic post on 4Chan in January 2012, and then repeated again in 2013, and 2014.
By 2016, it seemed to have gone quiet, so Thomas and some associates, including Hollywood composer Michael Levine, basically tried to take it over.
There was a fairly strong community of solvers from previous iterations. And even if Thomas’ version didn’t quite match up to the magic of the original, there were plenty of people still willing to work on something so cool. And at least four of those people have all pointed the finger at Thomas as being one of the people behind the creation of Qanon. So, let’s have a look to see if that’s plausible.
Court documents reveal that in 2011, someone from the Pentagon asked him to play a concert in Afghanistan, and he somehow ended up in Turkey trying to recruit former special operations officers. To ‘fight ISIS’, you see.
“I was attempting to start a business. I went into Turkey to pull together former military people who have been involved in special ops who would then train Kurdish forces in an effort to exterminate and eliminate ISIS. Because I was concerned that ISIS was metastasizing and would end up going into Europe to do soft terrorism and then coming into America to do soft terrorism. I met with Kurdish resistance fighters in Turkey (in 2014). […]
I had contacts in Naval intelligence, and I was hoping that I could put together people with military backgrounds who could train the Kurds and that our company would act as a broker putting together money, talent and fighters. […]
I was charged with putting together a program that was going to be the basis for clandestine activities near the border of Iran... Myself and another individual were going to go meet with the Governor of the province with an idea of doing a concert… I was involved in operations that had to do with national security… The person is no longer at The Pentagon. The person’s name is Bijan, B-i-j-a-n, Kian, K-i-a-n.”
Bijan Kian, you remember, is Micheal Flynn’s business parter. He was the one who hosted the Nowruz Gala in 2013, which Flynn attended as the newly nominated Director of the DIA, around the beginning of his bizarre downward spiral. Even if Thomas is lying or exaggerating about the rest of the story (ie. “LARPing as a super spy”), it’s still a very particular name to drop.
Thomas is also very close with a guy called Nasser Kazeminy, who’s company, NJK holdings, paid Michael Flynn $140,000. And he’s an investor in a company called Amadeus Holdings (he has a thing for Mozart), with a woman called Rhonda Donahoe, who has 7 other companies with Kazeminy.
Ok, so we’re in the right ballpark at least. But we’re still a fair way out. As we move closer, however, we learn that he actually started an influence company of his own, called “ShadowBox”.
Their promotional material describes themselves as:
“An elite online reputation management firm … We address smear assaults head-on by custom-creating shadow ‘bot’ campaigns as a counter strategy … use targeted chaos to confuse your opponents… your army … use cyber-guerrilla tactics…. Where your enemies have lied to paint you as the bad guy, we sow the seeds of doubt and present the counter-narrative that they are, in fact, the villains, and you have been unjustly accused… We do this through sophisticated use of internet technology, meme creation, PR, and cyber-guerrilla tactics that stop the bleeding and begin to sway public opinion and the media in your favor.”
It’s a great name for what’s sort of an off-brand version of Black Cube or Psy Group. Their first (and perhaps only) client was a guy called Ed Butowsky, the deep-pocketed GOP donor and friend of Erik Prince, who famously pushed the Seth Rich theory, and #Pizzagate.
One of his partners in Shadowbox was a guy called Trevor Fitzgibbon. Trevor used to run a relatively successful political PR firm, then got hit with a sexual harassment scandal in 2015.
In 2016, he created #Unity4J, ostensibly as a way to build support for Julian Assange and his cause. This whole thing appears to have been a significant “cross-pollinating” event, bringing people from opposite sides of the political spectrum together, under the guise of government transparency and accountability, and introducing progressives to the world of conservative conspiracies. People like Bill Binney, Jack Posobiec, Ray McGovern, Jimmy Dore, Cassandra Fairbanks, Cynthia McKinney, Kim Dotcom, and Breitbart’s Lee Stranahan, were sharing a stage with people like the Australian Greens’ Senator Scott Ludlum.
These days, Trevor’s business appears to mostly consist of representing conspiracy theorists, including one mister Robert David Steele:
It’s hard to know how long all these people have been working together. What we do know is that by 2017 (in the months leading up to the launch of Q), Thomas, Trevor, and Robert, were all in regular email correspondence, along with Tanya Cromwell and her husband, SLAPP-happy attorney Steven Biss, who represents Michael Flynn’s “best friend in DC”, Devin Nunes. (He also represented Mike Flynn’s brother, Jack Flynn, Trevor, RDS, Svetlana Lokhova, Kash Patel, Tim Holmseth, and Dan Bongino.)
Alright, we still need to connect this crew to Q though. Which can be tricky, because one of Q’s hallmarks was only making vague, sweeping, predictions, like “No Name will be back in the headlines”. Then when someone like John McCain dies a month later, followers can retroactively claim “See! Q told us!”. The believers think that the drops are deliberately cryptic to maintain plausible deniability and stop the Deep State from getting to them, and the Q Watchers can confidently claim that Q is just a charlatan. It’s a tidy little arrangement which worked perfectly well over almost all of the 5,000 drops.
But in drop 3110, they appear to overplay their hand. They call out Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, invite him to play a game, and say the STRIKE will be FAST. The very next day, on behalf of Devin Nunes, Steven Biss files a $250 million lawsuit against Twitter.
It’s a little vague, but not vague enough. They slipped up. It’s like when Dennis Hopper calls Sandra Bullock a “Wildcat” in Speed. It reveals that whoever wrote that drop knew about the law suit in advance. Which tells us they were in communication with Biss / Nunes, or the people in that circle.
Thomas also knows (or claims to know) Erik Prince. In the email on the left below, we see discussion of a company the Prince family are invested in called “Neuro Core”, which uses “entraining brainwave” technology, to do things like implant subliminal messages in video. When so many people report that it feels as if their loved ones have been “brainwashed” by all this, that should at least make our ears prick up. And on the right, we see some discussion of another type of virtual reality puzzle technology that uses the “natural entropy of the internet” to create “immersive experiences”. If you were describe Qanon that way, I don’t think many people would disagree.
Now we come to one of Thomas’s other partners in Shadowbox, a guy called Manuel Chavez III, AKA Defango, who has loudly and repeatedly tried to take credit for having the creative inspiration for “Q”.
He says he found a book by late 20th century Italian anarchist collective Luther Blissett, about an anonymous radical fighting a secret revolution. He may also have taken some inspiration from the much loved Star Trek character, and other LARPing threads on 4Chan at the time.
He’s a notorious shit-talker, but even when taken with a shovel full of salt, the broad strokes seem to mostly check out. There are plenty of emails between them all discussing the “Q” project, and how best to manage it in varying degrees of deniability:
Anything can be faked of course, so those emails don’t constitute proof in and of themselves. But they are completely consistent with everything else that we see, and the simplest explanation is that they are genuine. If we want to break Occam’s Razor and say they’re not, then we need to answer the question of who faked them and why.
A key part of Qanon’s growth was the way it was covered, by the “alternative media” and the world of conspiracy websites, like “Lift the Veil”, or “Victurus Libertas”. And here we find Thomas writing an email to his friends who run that site, pitching an article where he claims to speak for Q:
We also know that some of the key people responsible for taking Q to that wider audience were the Watkins, and a woman called Tracy “Beanz” Diaz. And surprise surprise, in 2017, Thomas was in chats with a woman called Courtney Tubbs (who worked for Jim Watkins’ website The Goldwater), and Tracy herself. And guess what Tracy was talking about right before she turned on to Qanon? Cicada 3301.
To go back to our list from before and cap it all off, he’s a boomer, with fascist sympathies, delusions of grandeur, a history of messing with people’s minds (and ripping them off), and he even has passionate opinions about satanic psy-op pioneers like Micheal Aquino. Of course he is intimately familiar with running puzzle operations on 4Chan, and he even likes to LARP as a super spy embroiled in a feud with the CIA:
To be clear, I’m not saying it was all his idea, or that he was the one writing them all. He doesn’t appear to have that kind of talent. Exactly who did what when isn’t the point. The point is that the p-value of Qanon being the mere product of an anonymous shit-poster, wholly unrelated to any of the above, is well below a reasonable threshold.
That’s not to call it all a perfectly controlled conspiracy either. It is a bunch of decentralised dickheads making it up as they go along, one day at a time. They didn’t even have to expect it to work, let alone succeed the way it has. A character on an anonymous message-board is disposable and untraceable. They could roll the dice as many times as they liked, and if they blew it by going too far, so what? It was just a LARP, try another one. They carry virtually no financial or political cost. Like a machine gun with bullshit bullets, they can spray fire across the internet to see what sticks.
If all this sounds like “string on a cork-board”, it’s because that’s the way the world is. Everything that happens is the result of a confluence of factors. Every film that gets made, or product that gets sold, is the result of a “vast conspiracy”, and like a hydrographer charting a water catchment, explaining anything requires looking at how all the paths of its different components intersected. All history is just One Big Story, on the same four-dimensional tapestry of space-time. As Carl Sagan said, “if you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe”.
One ingredient we haven’t talked about yet is the board Q posts on. After about a month on 4Chan, the Anons there got sick of the bullshit and banned it. So it migrated to a different board, called 8Chan. Because, as we’ve already learned, the moderating decisions of online forums are a surprisingly important part of all this. So now it’s time for a bit more internet history. A kid called Fredrick Brennan felt that 4Chan wasn’t wild enough, so in October 2013 he came up with “Infinite Chan” (8Chan). He allowed everything, including hideously violent patriarchal white supremacy. It became the go-to place for the worst of the worst. So, perhaps unsurprisingly, it wasn’t a place to which many people wanted to go. Traffic was light and it nearly teetered off into irrelevance. Until 2014, when Gamergate got kicked off 4Chan for being too abusive, and Fred welcomed the movement to 8Chan with open arms. Not only did he allow it, he encouraged it, and personally participated. Traffic boomed. He said:
“Image boards are a haven for all of the terrible things you listed [nihilism, misanthropy, misogyny]… and that’s exactly what makes them such wonderful places. I wouldn’t change a thing.”
But it turns out that a site like that is a hassle to run. It was too toxic for advertisers to touch, and Fred struggled to make enough money to keep it online. He was about to go out of business altogether, when in walks a guy called Jim Watkins. He’d served in the US military as a helicopter repairman, got trained in computers, then left to set up shop in the Philippines and run a series of dodgy websites with names like “Asian Bikini Bar.” In 2014, his son Ron told him about the woes of this website called 8Chan. They saw an opportunity, and swooped in to snatch it up. They flew Fred over to the Philippines, and gave him a place to live with a full-time carer. Seemed like a good deal for a while. But Jim is not a particularly pleasant person to work for. When Fred asked for some time off, Jim showed up at his house to berate him. It was a bad situation, and in December 2018 they acrimoniously cut ties.
The hate machine he had built called 8Chan however, remained in full effect. 2019 saw a series of mass shootings — Christchurch Mosque in March, the Poway synagogue in April, and El Paso in August. All the gunmen came from 8Chan, and used the platform to to post their manifestos and/or livestream their slaughter.
Naturally, as the creator of the board where this kept happening, Fred received a lot of calls from the media. He didn’t say it should be taken down after 51 Muslims were massacred in Christchurch. He didn’t say it should be taken down after the Poway Synagogue shooting a month later. It wasn’t until the wake of the El Paso shooting, in August 2019, when another 18 people were killed, in 8Chan’s third murderous rampage of the year, and internet provider CloudFlare pulled their hosting services, that Fred finally joined the chorus of people calling for it to be removed. Because, in his own words, having the world’s journalists call you for comment about all these mass-shootings that are coming from the website you built gets in the way of making his fonts. He wasn’t against image-boards, he just didn’t want the responsibility of having his reputation tied to this one. And since they wouldn’t change the name after they stole his site, he had a vendetta against the Watkins.
But because the Watkins are loathsome filth merchants who play a major role in keeping Q online, his vendetta has managed to land him a position as a sympathetic figure and a credible commentator in the Anti-Q community. And he has used that position to keep the focus of that community squarely on his nemeses. Which mostly checks out of course - as the owners of the board they’re almost certainly involved in some way, with some degree of control over the movement since it left 4Chan, possibly including posting and/or even writing at least some of the drops themselves. And if that’s where Fred left it, we probably wouldn’t even be talking about him at all. But he has also used his position to specifically keep the focus of the Q-watchers away from particular people, including a certain Mr Thomas Schoenberger.
In the middle there with Fred is Travis View, a co-host of the Qanon Anonymous podcast, and arguably the leading voice that covers all this. They appeared in August 2018, and have produced ~ 350+ episodes, and countless hours of Twitch streams. They make $125,000 per month on Patreon (plus merch and live shows), for producing 3–4 hours of content per week. Which has included some decent entertainment and some valuable journalism, and a lot of laughing at how stupid the whole thing is.
Given the impact this thing has had, and their specialist role in reporting on it, you might expect a rigorous investigation of the people and networks we’ve outlined here. They’ve been presented with it all, but have generally responded by either mocking or ignoring it, and most other journalists have followed their lead. Meanwhile, they have done entire episodes on: Sherlock Holmes Fan Fiction, WWE, Grand Theft Auto, Napoleon, Werner Herzog, Monoliths, The Loch Ness Monster, Mel Gibson, MothMan, Skinwalker Ranch, Tomorrow War, and Signs.
But hey, it’s a free market, they’re entitled to cover whatever they like of course. After that many episodes, there’s bound to be some filler. And we all need some light relief in these dark times every now and then. If they don’t want to cover any of the content of this article, that’s their prerogative I guess.
What’s interesting, however, is the way they portray some of these characters when they do come up. Mike Flynn, for example, who openly boasts of his dangerously effective efforts to subvert democracy with a literal insurgency of Digital Soldiers, is presented as a bumbling buffoon who “found a way to connect to the internet”, and was just lucky enough to happen to stumble upon this cult which inexplicably worships him. An almost impenetrable consensus has been created that he is merely “in it for the grift.”
Another example is the way they deal with our good friend Thomas Schoenberger. As we have seen, he is smack in the centre of all this. Yet in over 1000 hours of content, they have mentioned him exactly once, on a Twitch stream, and it was to specifically tell people in no uncertain terms to absolutely NOT look at him:
“I just listened to Fred… If I had an episode where I claimed that Thomas was Q, I would delete that episode…In group chats, Fred was like “Dale investigated this”, and I was like “it’s bullshit, don’t bother”… Ignore it, don’t give it oxygen, just never report on it…The people who investigate the origins are delusional.. How about we exclude the guy who lied about being cicada or whatever… It’s actually dangerous in some ways… To focus on who Q “is” seems like to do it a disservice”
If you dig down into that segment, you’ll find it’s based on what can most charitably be described as a mistake. A reporter called Dale Beran got a key detail wrong (specifically, confusing “MegaAnon” with “FBIanon”). He then rejected the entire story based on that error, and that seems to have defined the conversation from that point on. Now, any suggestion of Schoenberger’s involvement is completely dismissed out of hand. What’s more, even the idea of Q being any kind of Propaganda Operation, orchestrated by any of the people in this story, is roundly and often aggressively derided for being a “crazy conspiracy theory”.
It’s weird to go out of one’s way to ignore everything described here, then literally make something up to point at and say “well it must be all wrong”, but it’s hard to say how deliberate any of this was. What we do know is that they have had multiple opportunities to address the mistake, and have thus far declined to do so.
Among the mix on the right above, we find the name Lisa Clapier. Who Fred wants you to know isn’t Q, she’s the only one he’s sure isn’t Q, and isn’t involved in Q at all. Which is a curious amount of of doth protesting.
And so we come to the last piece of the puzzle, which is how this mess has managed to so effectively penetrate the divine and sacred feminine circles of the New Age, Spiritual Wellness World. They seem nice, so what makes those kinds of people reconcile those kinds of hippy inclinations with support for an agenda like Trump’s, as they suddenly did in such alarming numbers in 2020?
The short answer is they were deliberately targeted with traumatising and dissociating content from this Disinformation Factory, but we’ll come to that in a minute. Because first we need to acknowledge that the New Age scene has always had a certain susceptibility to fascistic thought.
We’re inclined in the West to think that we beat Fascism in the 40s. Fought a war about it and everything. But as well as fighting the Nazis in Germany, most Allied countries had to fight their own Fascist parties at home. That was a lot closer than you might think, particularly in America, and the truth is it never really went away. We still see it today, not just in swastiked white supremacists marching in the streets, but in people who look like Savitri Devi or Barbra Marx Hubbard, and believe that “humanity is on the threshold of a quantum leap”, but one fourth of the planet is standing in the way, so will have to be eliminated.
And right there, giving an adoring interview to a lovely lady who wants to wipe out a quarter of the world’s population, is the reason why so many in the “spiritual” community have fallen into this rabbit hole and found themselves promoting anti-progressive or even outright fascist propaganda — the aforementioned Lisa Clapier.
To understand her journey, we need to look at a surprisingly important film called “THRIVE”, by heir to the Proctor & Gamble fortune, Foster Gamble. It’s a well-produced and aesthetically pleasing rollercoaster of a film, who’s pretty visuals mask a particularly virulent strain of the Conspiracy Narrative Virus.
At the core of his story, weirdly enough, is a Torus. The donut shape. He claims it holds the key to the code for a Free Energy Device. As in, a machine that can literally extract energy from thin air. To support this, he says that circular patterns which have been found at ancient sites across the world are in fact 2D representations of these 3D energy machines, which were left to our ancestors by intergalactic aliens. He’s travelled the world for 20 years talking to various inventors, who claim to have mastered this magical ability, yet are somehow mysteriously unable to reproduce it.
If any of it worked, he’d have set up a lab to develop it, which he hasn’t. So it’s obviously bullshit. But it seems harmless enough, right? If he has his little “free energy fantasy”, who cares, good luck to him. The issue is that this Lie is the foundation upon which he builds his entire Conspiracy Narrative. He claims that this fictional technology has been deliberately suppressed by a small group of powerful elites, and those same elites are now forming International Unions and use poison vaccines in their quest to take over the world and “eliminate the majority of the world’s population”.
It’s the same JBS script that Alex Jones is reading from, just said softly instead of shouted. The same message, for a different demographic. It pretends to be on the side of the hippies, with a nice colour palate and gentle music and soft pacing. It lures them in by talking about organic foods and ancient wisdom and evil greedy corporations, and then smacks them with a conspiracy about how doing anything about climate change is actually part of a plot to kill them.
There’s even a media network that accompanies the film called the “FREEDOM PORTAL”, which gives the game away. InfoWars, Collective Evolution, David Icke, Epoch Times. These platforms are a network of propaganda outlets, which serve as delivery vehicles of the disinformation factory.
Keen eyes may notice “Natural News” in the above. Like THRIVE, it spreads these narratives by appealing to people who like “alternative therapies”. It’s run by “The Health Ranger” Mike Adams, who mastered the dark art of SEO and built a massive network of websites to push the same propaganda as Alex Jones, just with a different aesthetic for a different demographic.
Now there is even a streaming service called “Gaia” offering virtually endless hours of THRIVE-type content on demand, 24/7, pumping this poison into people who like yoga and sacred geometry.
A kid by the name of Jordan Sather was working in a health store in 2012, when he came across THRIVE in the video section, and points to that as his radicalising moment. The virus infected another super-spreader. He would notoriously go on to become one of the earliest and longest-serving Q promoters, and lead a lot of the “baking” that went into “decoding” the drops and pushing them to a wider audience.
But a less famous super-spreader, and the reason we started talking about all this in the first place, is Lisa Clapier. She pops up in all sorts of interesting places. Like #Occupy LA in 2011, where she was acting as media liaison, and hosting screenings of THRIVE. She’s had multiple media platforms over the years: Unify, Activism Media, The Torch TV, BeARealityBender, Unanimous. They all pushed versions of this “awakening” narrative in one way or another. On the right below, we can also see her bizarrely conducting Russian foreign policy in 2014.
The power of decentralised digital movements like Anonymous (which can also be seen in Qanon) became clear around the same time, and Clapier capitalised on that too, both by lifting the original aesthetic, and with another channel called “Unanimous”, to “express the feminine aspect of Anonymous”, and post videos with names like the “Great Awakening of Q Angels”.
Now the story is about to get a bit more interesting, with a little esoteric historical detour. In 1875, a Russian ex-pat by the name of Helena Blavatsky and a few of her friends at The Miracle Club in NYC founded a quasi-religion called Theosophy. Drawing on the ideas of Rosicrucianism, they claimed that there was a Secret Brotherhood of Enlightened Masters, with paranormal powers, who had preserved the mystical wisdom of the ancient religions throughout the millennia, and held the key to understanding the Universe. These “Masters” were all over the world but based mostly in Tibet, and communicated through Helena. In the early 1930’s, a Theosophist and conman called Guy Ballard was hiking on Mt Shasta in California, when he claims to have met the reincarnated soul of one of the Ascended Masters, whose past lives included: A High Priest in Atlantis 13,000 years ago, Merlin, and most recently, a mysterious 18th century adventurer and polymath called Saint Germain. Guy (and his wife Edna) claimed to be the sole “accredited messengers” of the Ascended Master Saint Germain, and went on to form an offshoot of Theosophy called “I AM”.
Credit where it’s due, it’s a cracking tale. They even told stories of powerful insiders (including an agent by the name of K-17) waging secret wars to protect us against dark forces. They printed millions of books, attracted tens of thousands of followers, and currently have members in locations in over 300 cities around the world. One of whom, by December 2015 at least, was Lisa Clapier.
Ok, so how do we get from all this to Qanon? Well, aside from Mike Flynn openly using I AM prayers, guess who was trying to develop a screenplay about the “Adventures of St Germain”, while also scoring the film and casting himself as the lead? None other than ol’ Tommy Showbags. The “Th Stg” in his emails actually stands for “Thomas St Germain”. It turns out that he and Lisa had a “unique” relationship. And in early 2017, she reached out about working on a project together:
But it doesn’t stop there. Lisa was also deeply involved with #Unity 4J, Trevor Fitzgibbon’s operation for Julian Assange and Wikileaks. And this is where the secret begins to unravel. Because a #Unity4J volunteer named Arturo noticed Clapier using a twitter account called SnowWhite7IAM, which was one of the primary promoters of Qanon:
One of the earliest catchphrases of the Qanon movement was “Follow The White Rabbit”. Because that was the original intention, to lead people through this warren, like Alice, like Neo, to “awaken” in the alternative reality they had made. One observer noticed that in Q’s first month, before anyone even knew about it, there were over 10,000 tweets per day featuring the hashtag. This is not the work of a random troll who “happened to hit the jackpot”. This is a clearly co-ordinated campaign.
Now have a guess at what Cicada 3301 was saying immediately before Q, in September 2017... “Follow The White Rabbit”. Does that prove anything by itself? Of course not. Is it completely consistent with everything else that we’ve seen? Absolutely.
Which makes the “Q-Watching” community’s relentless reluctance to look at any of these figures, and their aggressive insistence that none of them have anything to do with it, extremely bizarre.
Again, it’s unlikely Clapier was writing or posting the drops herself, especially after it migrated to 8chan. That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying that there is a massive amorphous machine behind this, and she is a part of it. Because her fingerprints are all over the movement. It matches her language, her ideas, and her agenda. That last one is the perhaps the hardest part of this whole story to wrap our heads around — how does a “Peace Love and Unify Media” ~hippy~ become such a diehard Trump supporter? That’s one of the biggest questions of the whole Qanon affair, how everyone’s crystal-loving Aunt got turned on to this stuff. And along with professional influence agencies using powerful manipulation techniques, a big part of the answer can be found in the story of THRIVE, and Lisa’s journey to becoming the Typhoid Mary.
Here she is basically admitting to the whole thing. She might be lying, or at least exaggerating her role, but it’s notable nonetheless:
Because it doesn’t stop there either. You may have heard the name Mikki Willis before. He was an actor / model from the “New Age” community in California. He started a production company a film festival both called “Elevate”. We can see him appearing at events like “Knowphest”, featuring “free energy” presentations, and working with people like Ken Schwenker, who ran red-pilled spiritual events like “One Love”, “Bhakti fest”, and “Leaders Causing Leaders”. And at some point, he started working with Clapier.
Mikki and Lisa were both at Standing Rock #NODAPL. There is a lot to be said about that whole Thing, and what those two were up to there, but perhaps that’s a story for another time. For now, it might be worth noting that the “Q Shaman”, Jake Angeli, points to this movement as the beginning of his own radicalisation journey.
When COVID hit in 2020, the conspiratorial narratives came the closest they had ever come to reality. Governments were drastically restricting the freedoms of their citizens, based on the advice of international scientists, over something which didn’t necessarily seem that bad, and pharmaceutical companies stood to profit. The messaging was complicated, confusing, and often contradictory, and the upshot was the world was basically turned upside down. As we know, in times of turmoil, people look for graspable explanations. And when they’re locked inside for months on end, getting worried and pissed off with with nothing to do but scroll the internet, there is a powerful opportunity for the conspiracy narrative to provide those explanations.
Mikki moved quickly, and on the 4th May 2020, just six weeks into the pandemic, he released the now infamous film “Plandemic”, featuring Judy Mikovits. It was essentially a lie, which is a theme that would unfortunately go on to become a defining feature of the anti-vax movement.
With so much going on, and so many things that seemed ridiculous, leading to such disruption and disappointment, all being watched like a hawk by so many eyes, it’s easy for this massive disinformation machine to jump on any inconsistencies and twist them to manufacture a narrative, and create a scare campaign around vaccines. Athletes passing out at the same rate they always had became undeniable “evidence” of a mass plot to kill us all. The testing process for Ivermectin was irrefutable “proof” of a vast conspiracy to cover up a cure. And if misunderstanding or misrepresenting things wasn’t enough, they can always resort to outright fabrication.
Of course pharmaceutical corporations’ influence on health regulation is an issue (thanks in no small part due to the industrial lobbying work of people like Roger Stone and Paul Manafort). But unless you’re advocating for strong government, or to remove the profit motive from medicine entirely and provide it as a public service (which this machine is ferociously fighting against) it’s not clear what’s actually being proposed. It’s possible to think the government reacted poorly to COVID without needing it be part of an evil conspiracy.
Nevertheless, despite the shady evidence and contradictory internal logic, a self-sustaining media ecosystem quickly sprung up. Conspiracy content was rewarded with dramatic jumps in viewership and engagement. A community emerged, rallying around powerful words like “freedom”, and providing a desperately needed sense of connection and liberty. But instead of bringing everyone together, it dragged them directly into the pipeline of far-right propaganda, where they were locked in by the algorithm. Anyone who listened to the mainstream narrative was a “brainwashed sheep”, while those who followed the “alternative” media were Lions, bravely leading humanity towards the “Great Awakening” of being anti-progressive.
Which turned into the crisis that we see today. “Plandemic” proved to be the spark that hit the tinderbox that set the world on fire. Or perhaps a better metaphor is that it was the hammer on the chisel in the crack of our shared foundation of facts, and split it right open. Bannon sent it rocketing around the internet through Breitbart, and millions of people, if not more, point to that as their radicalising moment. Because it typically led to two other films that came out around the same time: “Out Of Shadows” and “Fall of Cabal”, which in turn led straight to Qanon. They essentially reanimated the #pizzagate narratives to become “Save the Children”, and the world hasn’t really been the same since.
And on January 6, 2021, guess where Mikki Willis was? In the Capitol, with a few thousand insurrectionists, chanting “Hang Mike Pence”.
Speaking of Bannon, we should check in on what he’s been doing. After leaving the White House in 2017, he began working with Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui (AKA Miles Kwok). Guo had fled China after being charged with corruption, and has since made it his mission to take down the CCCP from his exile in NYC. He and Bannon became fast friends and business partners in multiple projects, including a disinformation network, GTV Media Group, and the “New Federal State of China”, which has the simple goal of overthrowing the Chinese Government.
One of their ventures was a think tank called the “Rule of Law Institute.” And when we trace the origins of the story that COVID was made in a lab, that is where it came from. The personal and political crusades of Steve Bannon, and Guo Wengui.
And that’s basically why the world’s gone mad. A decentralised, trans-national and inter-generational network of ruthless capitalists and theocratic fascists, opportunistically weaponising the Conspiracy Narrative Virus and other UnRealities across multiple media platforms, to turn people against Progressivism.
Digital influence is the cheapest, easiest and most effective tool they have, and of course Psy-Group don’t have a monopoly in this space. Firms like Bell Pottinger, Crosby Textor and Topham Guerin, and who knows how many others, all provide these services, to what seems to be an exclusively conservative clientele. Erik Prince has even been training Project Veritas operatives at his ranch in Wyoming. And if anyone knows what Peter Thiel is up to then please let us know.
Russia has been doing this for decades. It’s an unfortunate fact of life. The “Internet Research Agency” were caught creating facebook pages and events specifically to cause trouble in the lead up to the 2016 election. And their state media was only too happy to amplify the COVID protests, by broadcasting livestreams that were filled with Qanon messaging.
It also seems like some of Cambridge Analytica’s worldwide operations include setting up groups with names like “Nigeria Forward”, “Reignite Britain’s Promise”, and “Reclaim UK”. Meanwhile in Australia, we see groups with names like “Victoria Forward”, “Reignite Democracy Australia”, and “Reclaim Australia”. All of which have quickly capitalised on the lockdowns to push their anti-progressive agenda, and convince people that “BLM” were the real bad guys, or mindless pawns in the evil globalist plot.
Coincidence? Perhaps. But Steve Bannon sat down with Nigel Farage, on camera, and specifically told him that’s exactly what he wanted to do:
“I’ll fund it somehow. We’ll help knit together this populist nationalist movement around the world. Cos guys in Egypt are coming to me, Modi’s guys in India, Duterte, and we get Orban, and somehow, some sort of convening authority, so we can get ideas out there. Nobody’s doing it right now. The reason we’re going to beat Corbyn and Sanders is […] we’re fire breathers. It’s a global revolt. It’s a zeitgeist.”
If that’s not “proof”, the question we need to ask ourselves is, do we think they’re not doing this? Do we think that that conversation happened and nothing came of it, and then all these groups with this exact same branding and agenda just emerged independently? Do we think that the opportunity to create these astro turfed organisations would present itself, and they wouldn’t take it? Is Psy-Group just sitting around twiddling its thumbs all day? I’m not really feeling that lucky.
Bannon is deadset on the Global Revolt. He’s even got an an eight-hundred-year-old monastery outside Rome as a training academy for “fascist gladiators”. From Bolsonaro in Brazil, to Brexit in Britain, to Bosi in Australia, dishonest conspiracy based digital influence campaigns are a key part of the strategy to elect far-right or outright fascist governments, because they cannot run on the truth. Their ideology is so barren, that all they can do is lie.
We’re accustomed to electoral laws that regulate campaign finance contributions, and require candidates to “authorise” certain messages. We need to realise that this is a woefully antiquated understanding of the way things work. Anyone can hop on Telegram or Bitchute, or the comment sections of neighbourhood facebook groups, and anonymously pump all kinds of content into anywhere. They can create hashtags, or crank out memes, and seed whatever narratives they like. For free.
Andrew Breitbart said “politics is downstream from culture”, and that has essentially become the mantra for this movement. Change politics by controlling the culture. Ultimately that’s what this whole article is about. How the landscape has been littered with twisted stories, or flat out fabrications, in order to generate enough outrage to impact the ballot box.
From Dr Suess, to Mr Potato Head, to Joe Rogan getting mad about “litter boxes” in schools that were never there, they just invent things to be mad about. Adele said she was “proud to be a woman” at an awards show, so a troll makes a tweet complaining, so people can say “the left are cancelling Adele, how ridiculous!”, and then comedians can call them crazy and say that’s why they support Trump. And now we have chilled people who should be sitting in a drum circle sharing spliffs in the Northern Rivers who are sharing content from this machine and ranting about Agenda 2030, instead of voting for progressive candidates.
The GOP have become the party where everything’s made up and the votes don’t matter. But it’s not a game, and it’s not just the elections they’re impacting. They have caused incalculable trauma, both to individuals and society.
Q was only one product from this amorphous “factory”. A concept car, if you will, which performed wildly better than expected. There are plenty of other irons in the fire, doing the same thing in slightly different ways. Groups with names like the “Galactic Federation of Light”, or the “Pleadian Council of Starseeds”, with aryan alien “representatives” like “Ashtar” bring messages for humanity about its coming liberation, which basically boil down to “fighting the globalists”.
This level of Unreality is a significant step on the road to societal collapse. Which may well turn out to be the goal. With Julius Evola in Bannon’s ear, and Aleksandr Dugin in Putin’s, the world is on a dangerous path, a Hyperstitian, hurtling towards a “Kali Yuga” or “Fourth Turning”, after which they can presumably build their fascist utopia.
Because crucially, this does not just stay online. The whole point of cognitive manipulation is to have very real physical consequences. They believe absurdities, and are ready to commit atrocities. They are quite literally gearing up for a war.
Fuelled by the manufactured culture wars of Critical Race Theory, Mask Mandates, and malnourished psychology professors fighting Transgenderism and Pride, they are taking over as many levels of administration as possible — from school boards, to local councils, state legislatures and governorships, congress and the senate, all the way to the Presidency and the Pentagon. They restructured the Department of Defence, so that Flynn loyalists in the Special Operations department would report directly to the Acting Secretary. They stacked all circuits of the judiciary with a record number of nominees, including 3 Supreme Court Justices radical enough to overturn settled law.
All of which meant that when the disinformation wasn’t enough to get them over the line and the 2020 election didn’t go the way they wanted, they could have a red-hot go at just stealing it anyway. It was clear enough at the time but has become indisputable now. This was a full-blown fascist take over attempt. And it remains a full-blown fascist take over attempt.
Recent Republican platforms show that this is very much an active threat. The playing field we thought we were operating on no longer exists. They just flat-out reject the validity of our institutions. They are not interested in truth, have given up pretending to be interested in democracy, and are openly calling for violence.
What happens next remains to be seen. Without a shared sense of reality it’s difficult to know where things can go. All the people mentioned, and many more, are still walking free and hard at work around the world. As long as this article is, it barely scratches the surface.
We can take hope in the fact that despite the best efforts of this machine, Australia roundly rejected their candidates at the 2022 federal election. As did Brazil. Compulsory preferential voting seems to help, and sanity has thus far prevailed. It’s powerful, but it’s not unstoppable.
Progressives aren’t baby-eating demons. They want people to have access to good healthcare and education without going into crippling debt. Because that is a better way to run a society. They want your kids to be able to go to school without fear of getting shot, have a good lunch while they’re there, and grow up to enjoy humane working conditions, in liveable cities, with drinkable water, on a planet with viable ecosystems. They want people to be their true selves and love who they love, and choose when they have children. Sometimes they can be annoying, sure. Sometimes they can even be insufferable. Like anyone. And there is room for nuanced debate within all of those policies, if it takes place in the same reality, with a shared foundation of facts. But America has been so poisoned by the conspiracy virus, and generous lashings of lead, that we’ve lost confidence in that commonality. People think that all the above is part of an evil plot, or write it off as “woke”, while worshipping the holy profits of unrestrained capitalism. Such is the power of the Disinformation Machine.
We are living in a soup of Psychological Operations, which has everyone at each other’s throats. Most people genuinely believe they are on the right side, doing the right thing, and fighting for a noble cause. If you tell good people that there is bad stuff going on, then they will try to stop it. The factory is very brightly coloured, and it’s very loud, and it has become far better at telling and distributing lies that exploit our vulnerabilities than we are at dealing with them. Like with all disinformation, it’s notoriously difficult to know who is being influenced and who is doing the influencing, and after decades of propaganda the answer is almost certainly not as clear as we would like anyway. That is how the virus works. When we’re not sure what’s what, perhaps the best we can hope for is to be honest, fair, and kind. And be absolutely ruthless with those who aren’t. If we can manage that, then we might have a chance.
Thank you to everyone who has helped in any way to put all this together.