Former U.S. President Donald Trump leaves Trump Tower to meet with New York Attorney General Letitia James for a civil investigation on August 10, 2022 in New York City. (Photo bJames Devaney/GC Images)
It’s been a tough 18 months for QAnon followers. Their leader Q has disappeared. Former President Trump has been kicked off major platforms like Twitter, and President Joe Biden remains firmly in the Oval Office. But this week, there was hope. More than hope, in fact: QAnon followers believed they’d seen incontrovertible proof that Trump was still in charge and that everything was going according to plan.
Unraveling viral disinformation and explaining where it came from, the harm it's causing, and what we should do about it.
When Trump posted what most observers saw as a campaign ad for a 2024 presidential run on his Truth Social account on Monday—in between peddling baseless conspiracy theories about that FBI search of his house and riling up his base to the point that a federal judge’s home address was doxed online—QAnon followers saw something different.Soon after the video was posted, QAnon believers (who are keen to see signs in virtually everything Trump does and says) claimed that the video’s soundtrack contains a song called “WW1WGA,” one of the best-known phrases associated with the QAnon movement (it means, “Where we go one, we go all”). The song is by an artist called “Richard Feelgood.”The claim sent the Q universe into freakout mode. “I don’t know who needs to hear this, but the song playing behind Trump and Scavino’s storm video is literally called Wwg1wga,” a QAnon influencer with over 200,000 followers wrote on his Telegram channel. “If that’s not a Q proof, then I don’t know what is. Boom.”For days, the QAnon world has been celebrating what it sees as proof that they were right all along.There’s only problem with all of this: The track on the video is not a song titled “WWG1WGA” by Richard Feelgood, but rather, according to a statement sent to VICE News by Trump spokesperson Taylor Budowich, a song called “Mirrors”, by TV and film composer Will Van De Crommert, who has composed music for Saturday Night Live and the 2016 Rio Olympics, among others.
The video features Trump speaking ominously about a “nation in decline” over a soundtrack of thunderstorms and rain—which immediately appealed to the QAnon audience, who have spent the last four and a half years waiting for “the storm” to arrive. Then, “Mirrors” kicks in. But it appears that there is good reason for QAnon believers to have thought it was a song called “WWG1WGA”, because the songs are identical, according to a professor of music theory.“I have listened to both closely several times now, and I have 100% professional confidence these recordings are identical, not even a reinterpretation of a composition, but the same recording,” David Dominique, who taught at William & Mary College in Virginia, told VICE News.This is backed up by an analysis conducted by researchers from media watchdog Media Matters, who used both Google’s voice assistant and Apple’s Shazam app to match the music to the track from Feelgood’s 2020 album.Van De Crommert’s recording of “Mirrors” appeared on his SoundCloud account in 2019, a year before the Feelgood song was posted to Spotify. Van De Crommert did not respond to a request for comment about the situation.But for QAnon followers, all that mattered was their belief that Trump was speaking directly to them. Some quickly pointed out that “WWG1WGA came from Feelgood’s 2020 album “Silver Cloud 5,” which also contains tracks titled: “Q Sent Me,” “Antifa Assholes,” and “Adrenochrome Shit” which references the hardcore QAnon conspiracy theory that the Democratic and Hollywood elite drink the blood of terrified children containing the life-preserving chemical adrenochrome.
“Holy smokes!! What an amazing confirmation,” one member of a Telegram channel dedicated to QAnon wrote. “Looks like I have a new favorite song.”Despite constantly telling people to “do your own research,” QAnon believers didn’t appear to question the claim, and continued to post about how this was an absolute vindication of everything they’ve ever believed.“There has been a ton of Q proofs throughout the years, but if you needed a direct proof from POTUS himself, here it FOOKING IS!!!!!,” one Telegram user wrote.Over on the Great Awakening message board, users took the inclusion of the song as evidence that Trump was still somehow in charge of the nation and it was all part of the plan.“Can it even be denied now? Trump is trying to make it plainly obvious to us that everything is under control and not to worry, the Q plan is still in motion,” the user wrote. Another added: “Not sure how any liberal can deny any of this.”In another QAnon Telegram channel, one user pointed out that the message was being spread further than just Truth Social, as Fox News host Sean Hannity had played the video on his top-rated show on Wednesday night.And soon followers were diving further down the rabbit hole to generate even more outlandish conspiracy theories. One follower pointed out that former President John F. Kennedy, who is a central figure within QAnon lore, had a physician called Dr. Feelgood—meaning this must all be connected.While QAnon’s core audience remains on Telegram, Truth Social has become an increasingly important platform for the conspiracy and Trump has used it in the past to promote QAnon content.In fact, many within the QAnon community view the @Q account on Truth Social, which was created even before Trump’s own account was, as the real successor to the person who posted on 4chan and 8chan for years.An earlier version of this story asserted that Trump's video did not feature the song "WWG1WGA" by Richard Feelgood, but "Mirrors." Due to the similarity, it features both. Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.