Best of AP — Honorable Mention


AP finds Trump embracing QAnon in social media, rallies

Former President Donald Trump takes the stage at a campaign rally in Youngstown, Ohio., Sept. 17, 2022. The event was laced with QAnon themes and music. (AP Photo / Tom E. Puskar)


AP reporters Ali Swenson and David Klepper,both tasked with tracking down disinformation masquerading as fact,teamed up to reveal that on social media,former President Donald Trump has regularly amplified QAnon,a platform for baseless conspiracy theories.

In her scans of online posts,New York-based Swenson had noticed a pattern: Trump referencing QAnon,even as the network promoted more extreme theories. She reached out to Klepper and the pair began monitoring the activity. Within days,Trump reposted an image on his Truth Social platform,showing himself wearing a Q lapel pin referring to the “storm” that will restore him to power. He’s published dozens of recent Q-related posts,in contrast to 2020, when he claimed not to know much about the movement. Trump has also evoked QAnon themes in recent rallies.

Swenson compiled and analyzed Trump’s posts,finding that more than a third of the accounts recently reposted by Trump had promoted QAnon content. She also researched recent examples of real-world incidents linked to QAnon. Klepper,meanwhile,reached out to expert sources who have studied QAnon,and Trump’s use of social media, to put the posts in context and perhaps explain Trump’s motives.

Their Friday story drew readership on AP News,and the piece turned out to be timely: At his Ohio rally the following day Trump continued to stoke the QAnon faithful with his words and choice of music,signaling that far from distancing himself from a false narrative, he’s embracing it. Other media leaned on AP’s reporting in their own coverage of the Ohio event.

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