It can’t be easy to keep the faith in QAnon these days. For some reason, God-Emperor Trump is limited to a handful of rallies and the occasional snarling press release. The mysterious poster known as Q has been silent for almost a year. The movement is fractured, with many prominent supporters arrested after the Capitol riot on January 6th. At a QAnon conference in Las Vegas over the weekend, Couy Griffin, a New Mexico county commissioner who founded “Cowboys for Trump” and is facing charges over his role in the siege, denounced the former president for failing to lock up Hillary Clinton, among others. “Okay, Mr. President, you were in charge of the law for four years,” he said. “At the end of your four year time, the only ones that were locked up were men like me, and others like me, that have stood by the president the strongest.”
These remarks strike at the very heart of the QAnon myth — that Trump would punish, imprison or execute a wide swath of the liberal establishment for their crimes against this nation. Guys like Griffin are living proof that, when backed against a wall, the most hardened cultist may yet realize he’s been duped by his divine leader, who never made good on a single promise.
With this potential disappointment in Trump himself, some QAnon believers have focused their attention elsewhere, spreading conspiracy junk about the COVID-19 vaccines and election fraud. They’ve also gone to great lengths to paint Joe Biden as a doddering pedophile barely cognizant of his surroundings — which, according to one theory, are far away from Washington, D.C. Since he took office, the Q faithful have speculated that images of Biden at the White House are from an elaborate TV set on director and producer Tyler Perry’s 330-acre studio lot outside of Atlanta. Supposedly, the difference is clear from photographic comparisons.
Biden-hating denialists have a few reasons to push this narrative. For one, it allows them to trust that the real White House has been secured by the U.S. military, as the fake news website Real Raw News “reported” this summer. “To avoid shame and maintain an illusion of power” after being repelled from the property on January 20th, the column asserts, “Biden’s people concocted a ruse, supported by his media allies, to deceive the American public into believing he had won a fair election and had moved into the White House on schedule.” In this version of events, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is dark and empty, awaiting Trump’s glorious return. The bogus theory got another bump in recent weeks when people noticed that Biden had received his vaccine booster and addressed the nation from a room outfitted with fake windows and digital backdrops.
Media outlets explained that the president’s team was only using the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building — part of the White House complex — because it’s bigger and more accessible than the Oval Office, with auditorium space for press and cameras. Trump appeared there often himself, although the new administration’s set dressing has doubtless helped to convince QAnon foot soldiers that Biden is play-acting in a remote location.
Perry’s White House, found on his massive studio lot, is an 80 percent scale model of the real thing, built for shooting his BET soap opera The Oval, which explores the lives of a fictional first family and their resident staff. Biden, to my knowledge, hasn’t visited the set. Its mere existence, however, is the final puzzle piece for those who need assurance that the sitting commander-in-chief is delivering remarks and greeting dignitaries as an exiled, illegitimate ruler. For TikTok propagandists, zooming in on satellite imagery of this White House is enough of a gotcha to confirm that Biden’s handlers have orchestrated an outlandish hoax. It’s like seeing a selfie your friend took in front of the Eiffel Tower and saying, “Nice try, you were obviously posing at the fake one they have at Disney World.” No deduction necessary.
How any of this squares with blaming Biden for high gas prices and supply chain problems is of course too trivial to worry about, as is the apparent vacuum in the executive branch: if Joe’s faking his duties, but Trump’s not back in charge, then who, exactly, is running the country? Doesn’t matter as long as you’re taken with the idea that Biden is mooching off his Black friend while the world falls apart outside — a neat parallel, also, to how conservatives might characterize his two terms as vice president under Obama. Those ready to look for answers in and around Perry’s White House, however, should be warned: He doesn’t take kindly to trespassers on his property, and will press charges or sue you when you’re caught. If the man can provide security to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, he can ensure strict privacy.
Though it makes you wonder. What’s he hiding? Why is the studio perimeter locked down so tightly? Doesn’t this seem excessive for a bunch of film sets? Ah, now you’re thinking like a conspiracist — the absence of evidence is the story. You can’t hide the truth forever, Tyler.