The family of disgraced former national security adviser and current QAnon influencer Michael Flynn says that a video of them taking a QAnon oath is in fact just part of a “simple” Flynn family tradition.That is the claim being made by Flynn’s brother and sister-in-law, Jack Flynn and Leslie Flynn, in a new court filing related to the couple’s $75 million defamation lawsuit against CNN.
Unraveling viral disinformation and explaining where it came from, the harm it's causing, and what we should do about it.
The lawsuit relates to a CNN report from Feb. 4 that features a two-second clip of a video posted to Twitter by Michael Flynn on July 4, 2020, showing him and his family all reciting an oath of allegiance that includes the phrase “Where we go one, we go all.”
While some QAnon believers claim the phrase is taken from an inscription on a boat owned by former President John F. Kennedy, the reality is that it’s simply a phrase from the 1990s sailing movie “White Squall” that was subsequently co-opted by the QAnon movement.Indeed the exact wording used in the oath taken by the Flynns came from a message posted by QAnon’s anonymous leader several weeks earlier—a message that also encouraged followers to take the oath.
But in Tuesday’s court filing, the Flynns claim the saying had no connection to the extremist movement when they said it.“It was not an oath of allegiance to QAnon, or any kind of oath at all. It was a simple, family, July 4 statement of support for each other,” lawyers for the Flynns said in the document filed Tuesday.But the argument that this was all just an extraordinary coincidence of having a family motto that exactly mimics a well-known QAnon phrase is somewhat undermined by the fact that Michael Flynn shared the video on Twitter alongside the QAnon-linked hashtag #TakeTheOath—a tweet that Jack Flynn then shared to his followers.In the video Michael Flynn is seen reciting the oath before all the family members repeat what he says. However, if it’s a family motto, then Flynn doesn’t seem to be too well acquainted with it, as he is seen reading it from his phone.
Michael Flynn has become a central character in the QAnon universe, where he is revered as second only to former president Donald Trump. Followers believe Flynn is working alongside Trump to unmask the deep state plot to cover up a global child sex-trafficking ring being operated by pedophiles and Hollywood elites.Flynn, for his part, has at times openly embraced QAnon conspiracy theories, while at other times appeared to downplay the movement. But all along, the disgraced former national security advisor has benefited financially from his connection to the cult, including speaking gigs at QAnon conferences and even selling QAnon merchandise.In May, CNN moved to dismiss the lawsuit, seeking to recover their legal fees and saying the matter should never have come before the court. The broadcaster said in their filing that the report in question wasn’t about the plaintiffs, didn’t mention them or name them. But Tuesday’s filing saw the Flynns double down on their claims that the CNN report damaged their reputation. The filing says their fleeting appearance in the report was enough to undermine their credibility, and worse, was equivalent to labeling them Nazis.“Accusing the Flynns of being “QANON FOLLOWERS”, even for a few seconds, is no different than accusing them of being Nazi sympathizers. It is common knowledge that Nazis, white supremacists, and adherents of QAnon are violent extremists. That is the connection that CNN intended and did make in the minds of viewers. To imply that a person is a Nazi sympathizer or a “QANON FOLLOWER” is the same thing. It is an egregious thing to say about a businessman, like Jack Flynn, especially in light of the January 6, 2021 storming of the United States Capitol,” the lawyers wrote.