You Canceled an RNC Speech Over QAnon Tweet, but Won’t Condemn QAnon?

Trump campaign director of communications Tim Murtaugh struggled to explain on Wednesday why Republicans and President Donald Trump won’t condemn the unhinged conspiracy theory QAnon, claiming it was just a media obsession that the campaign is not “focused on.”

A day after the Republican National Convention pulled a speech by “angel mom” Mary Ann Mendoza after The Daily Beast reported that she boosted an anti-Semitic, QAnon social-media thread, MSNBC host Hallie Jackson pressed Murtaugh on the RNC’s decision.

“You had an on-the-record statement saying her video was pulled. Why was that?” Jackson wondered aloud.

“Well, I think everyone knows the story about the tweet from earlier in the day,” Murtaugh replied. “And people pointed to some really very foul and objectionable anti-Semitic tropes and different conspiracy theories and we decided to pull the speech.”

After Murtaugh confirmed that Mendoza’s peddling of anti-Semitic tropes was something the campaign denounces “fully,” Jackson pivoted to Republican congressional candidate and proud QAnon conspiracy theorist Marjorie Taylor Greene.

“I appreciate you responding to that and acknowledging that it was because of those sort of conspiracy theory Tweets and anti-Semitic tweets she sent out,” Jackson noted. “Marjorie Taylor Greene was invited to tomorrow night to be on the South Lawn with the president. She’s a candidate who’s embraced conspiracy theories—these QAnon, and in many cases, anti-Semitic conspiracies as well. Will she be disinvited?”

“We hear from the media all the time about this QAnon business, and frankly we don’t have time to—or the inclination to—we have a lot of things that we work on here in the campaign,” Murtaugh deflected. “And chasing down conspiracy theories isn’t one of them.”

Jackson, meanwhile, pointed out that they just pulled an RNC speaker for sharing “deranged conspiracy theories” while asking the Trump flack how the situation with Greene and QAnon was different.

“Because anti-Semitism is something that is clear and everyone understands how foul and repulsive it is,” Murtaugh answered, prompting the MSNBC host to retort that QAnon is explicitly anti-Semitic.

“The latest conspiracy theory the media seems to be focused on—the only ones we ever hear about this from are the media,” an undeterred Murtaugh continued. “It is not something we deal with here in the campaign, not something we ever think about, I never heard the president even offer an opinion about it.”

“It is always coming from the media side,” he concluded. “QAnon is not something we focus on. We’re focused on drawing from the president’s record to gather support for his re-election. And the latest flavor of the month that the media seems to be obsessed with, like this one QAnon, is not something that we get distracted by.”

The president was specifically asked a week ago about QAnon’s belief that he is “secretly saving the world from this satanic cult of pedophiles and cannibals,” following his embrace of Greene after she won her Republican congressional primary in a GOP-leaning district in Georgia.

While attempting to play coy and claiming he “hadn’t heard that,” Trump also seemed to affirm QAnon’s theory that he’s commanding a war against a child-molesting deep state, saying “if I can help save the world from problems, I’m willing to do it.” He also noted the movement was “gaining in popularity,” adding that “these are people that love our country.”

Furthermore, Murtaugh’s assertion that the campaign is completely unaware of QAnon and is something they aren’t focused on is belied by the fact that one of their campaign officials appeared on a QAnon program to promote Trump’s re-election campaign. 

During an October 2019 appearance on The Common Sense Show, hosted by QAnon supporter Derik Vance, director of press communications Erin Perrine called on the program’s audience to “sign up and attend a Trump Victory Leadership Initiative training” and “talk to their local GOP party, their state party.”

Originally published: 2020-08-26 11:01:00

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