Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a rally at the Sarasota Fairgrounds on July 3, 2021 in Sarasota, Florida, United States. (Photo by Paul Hennessy/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Two major QAnon influencers were given official press credentials to the latest Trump rally held in Sarasota, Florida over the weekend, signaling a new level of acceptance of the QAnon conspiracy theory by the former president and his team.In the build up to last November’s election, Trump repeatedly failed to directly condemn QAnon, instead calling them “people that love our country” and who “like me very much.”
Now Trump, who QAnon supporters—and much of the Republican party—believe is still the rightful president, appears willing to embrace QAnon even further, by handing two of the movement’s most influential voices official press passes to his rally.Jeffrey Pedersen, known in the Q world as In The Matrixx, announced on his Telegram channel on Friday that he and his podcast co-host, known as Shady Grooove, had been approved by the Trump Organization for media credentials.“We are the news now,” Pedersen wrote.Throughout Saturday, Pedersen posted photos and videos of the pair wearing their press passes at the rally. In one video, Pedersen is seen in the press area calling journalists the “fake news media.” In the video Pedersen can be seen wearing a wristband with the QAnon phrase “Where we go one we go all” emblazoned on it.
As Alex Kaplan, a researcher for the left-wing Media Matters for American think tank pointed out, this is not the first time a QAnon influencer was granted press credentials to a Trump rally.Back in 2019, Derik Vance, a host on the then popular Patriots Soapbox show on YouTube, was granted a press pass for a rally in Ohio. Brad Parscale, Trump’s then reelection campaign manager, even posed for a picture with Vance. But in 2019, QAnon was still very much a fringe movement with few followers. Today, however, the movement has tens of millions of adherents who played a major role in the storming of the Capitol in January.
By giving credence to Pedersen and his colleague, Trump is effectively endorsing the many conspiracy theories the movement spreads, including the lie that the November election was stolen and that Trump is still the rightful president. Throughout Saturday’s rally, which was attended by thousands of die-hard Trump supporters, the former president once again repeated the conspiracies about stolen elections that were first promoted by QAnon.“We won so much, and then we had a rigged election unfortunately,” Trump told the crowd. “I am not the one trying to undermine American democracy," he said later. "I am the one trying to save American democracy.”Trump’s effort to “save American democracy” includes supporting the bogus recount currently taking place in Maricopa County, Arizona, which is being run by a company called Cyber Ninjas, a group the county’s Republican-led Board of Supervisors called “grifters and con artists.”