Pro-Trump conspiracy theorists have a new enemy (The Washington Post)

Members of the pro-Trump mob in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. The shirtless “QAnon Shaman,” Jacob Anthony Chansley, was sentenced in November to 41 months in prison. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

The far-right firebrands and conspiracy theorists of the pro-Trump internet have a new enemy: each other.

QAnon devotees are livid at their former hero Michael Flynn for accurately calling their jumbled credo “total nonsense.” Donald Trump superfans have voiced a sense of betrayal because the former president, booed for getting a coronavirus immunization booster, has become a “vaccine salesman.” And attorney Lin Wood seems mad at pretty much everyone, including former allies on the scattered “elite strike-force team” investigating nonexistent mass voter fraud.

After months of failing to disprove the reality of Trump’s 2020 presidential election loss, some of the internet’s most popular right-wing provocateurs are grappling with the pressures of restless audiences, saturated markets, ongoing investigations, and millions of dollars in legal bills.

The result is a chaotic melodrama, playing out via secretly recorded phone calls, personal attacks in podcasts, and a seemingly endless stream of posts on Twitter, Gab, and Telegram calling their rivals Satanists, communists, pedophiles or “pay-triots” – money-grubbing grifters exploiting the cause.

The infighting reflects the diminishing financial rewards for the merchants of right-wing disinformation, whose battles center not on policy or doctrine but on the treasures of online fame: viewer donations and subscriptions; paid appearances at rallies and conferences; and crowds of followers to buy their books and merchandise.

But it also reflects a broader confusion in the year since QAnon’s faceless nonsense-peddler, Q, went mysteriously silent.

Without Q’s cryptic messages, influencers who once hung on Q’s every “drop” have started fighting to “grab the throne to become the new point person for the movement,” said Sara Aniano, a Monmouth University graduate student of communication studying far-right rhetoric and conspiracy theories on social media.

“In the absence of a president like Trump and in the absence of a figure like Q, there’s this void where nobody knows who to follow,” Aniano said. “At one point it seemed like Q was gospel. Now there are a million different bibles, and no one knows which one is most accurate.”

The cage match kicked off late in November when Kyle Rittenhouse, acquitted of all charges after fatally shooting two men at a protest last year in Kenosha, Wis., told Fox News host Tucker Carlson that his former attorneys, including Wood, had exploited his jail time to boost their fundraising “for their own benefit, not trying to set me free.”

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Source: THE WASHINGTON POST



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