QAnon was born in October of 2017 with a post on the message board 4chan that predicted the imminent arrest of Hillary Clinton. The anonymous writer, known as Q, who claimed to be a government insider with top security clearance, said her arrest would spark mass riots.
“HRC extradition already in motion effective yesterday with several countries in case of cross border run. Passport approved to be flagged effective 10/30 @ 12:01am. Expect massive riots organized in defiance and others fleeing the US to occur,” Q wrote.
But that original prediction never came true, and dozens more like it over the last three and a half years have also failed to materialize. And yet, since that first false message, QAnon has grown into a global conspiracy phenomenon with millions of adherents in dozens of countries across the globe. QAnon believers now serve in U.S. Congress, and a group of followers were part of the mob that stormed the Capitol on January 6.
So it should come as no surprise to find that the latest incorrect QAnon prediction—that Trump would miraculously return as president on March 4 had little impact on the faith of the movement’s believers.
“The entire QAnon belief system is built on getting burnt,” Julian Feeld, a co-host of the QAnon Anonymous, a podcast that investigates all aspects of the conspiracy theory, told VICE News Tonight. “It has never been a problem for the movement, it's been a feature of the movement.”
In January, QAnon followers were sure that Joe Biden would not be inaugurated as president, and believed that Trump would stage a last-minute intervention to prevent Biden from entering the White House on Jan. 20. When that didn’t happen—arguably QAnon’s biggest failed prediction—followers glommed onto a new date for Trump’s return: March 4.
The March date was based on another fringe movement’s misinterpretation of a 150-year-old law and the old date of presidential inaugurations.
As the date approached, most of the movement’s major influencers decided that they wanted to avoid a repeat of January 20, when so many believers said they felt let down when Biden became president. Those influencers dismissed the March 4 prediction as something created by the “fake news” media “to make the movement look dumb.”
In the real world, National Guard troops remained in Washington D.C. on March 4 due to what officials said was a heightened threat of violence. The Capitol Police said they’d received intelligence related to a possible plot to storm the Capitol by a militia group on Thursday.
In the end, nothing happened, and as for QAnon followers, that’s perfectly fine.
Unlike the aftermath of the Biden inauguration, there was no anger or frustration Friday morning within QAnon channels and groups on platforms like Gab and Telegram.
Instead, followers said that they always knew that March 4 was a false prophecy, saying that “true believers” knew not to expect a Trump inauguration. They claim that the people who had predicted something would happen on March 4 hadn’t done their research.
“Q never mentioned March 4 Anons are no different than me and you. Don't blame Q for what crazy ideas people come up with,” one member of a prominent QAnon channel on Telegram said.
Others mocked coverage of the March 4 predictions by media outlets:
The reaction underlines just how used to dealing with failed predictions the QAnon community has become, and highlights how QAnon followers can block out the things they don’t like.
Instead, the movement serves as a way for believers to identify as peace-loving patriots while also hoping for the execution of their enemies.
“That is all a byproduct of a broader cultural yearning in America for fascism, for hardcore order in law,” said Feeld. “For the boot of the state and the military to come down onto the neck of those that you don't like, those you blame for your material conditions.”
And no matter what happens, according to Feeld, the goal will always be the same.
“Just because QAnon’s wrong doesn’t mean that they're suddenly not going to want to see their enemies hanged.”