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Joe Biden condemned the QAnon conspiracy theory as "dangerous" and "embarrassing" in a campaign event on Friday, recommending that people who support the sprawling network of falsehoods to seek mental health treatment.

Why it matters: It's the first time Biden has publicly addressed the once-fringe, far-right conspiracy theory, which has been flagged as a threat by the FBI and has slowly seeped into mainstream U.S. politics.

Catch up quick: QAnon alleges the "deep state" is engaged in a global fight to take down President Trump and evolved from the 2016 Pizzagate conspiracy theory into a decentralized network that analyzes cryptic prophecies dropped in remote online forums by "Q," who claims, without offering evidence, to be a Trump administration official with high-level clearance.

What he's saying: "I've been a big supporter of mental health," Biden said. "I'd recommend the people who believe [in QAnon] maybe should take advantage, while it still exists, of the Affordable Care Act."

  • "What in God's name are we doing? Look at how it makes us look around the world. It's mortifying. It's embarrassing, and it's dangerous. If the president doesn't know better, which he has to know better, then my Lord we're in much more trouble than I ever thought we were."

The big picture: When informed in August that the crux of the theory is a belief that he is "secretly saving the world from this Satanic cult of pedophiles and cannibals," Trump responded, "Well I haven't heard that, but is that supposed to be a bad thing or a good thing?" In a press conference last month, the president said QAnon supporters "like me very much."

Go deeper: How QAnon works like a video game to hook people

Go deeper

Nov 12, 2020 - Technology

Election reality fails to pop GOP's online filter bubble

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The Trump administration's fight to question the election's outcome is providing a massive field test of the effectiveness of online echo chambers and filter bubbles.

The state of play: So far, the evidence from the Trump universe shows partisan delusion winning out over objective reality.

Bernie Madoff dies in prison at 82

Photo: Jin Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Bernie Madoff, a former investor sentenced to 150 years in prison for perpetrating the largest Ponzi scheme in U.S. history, died Wednesday at age 82, AP reports.

The big picture: Madoff pleaded guilty in 2009 to a multibillion-dollar scheme that investigators said began in the 1970s and defrauded as many as 37,000 people in 136 countries — including high-profile victims like Steven Spielberg, former New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon and actor Kevin Bacon, according to CNBC.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
1 hour ago - World

John Kerry and China's long road ahead on climate

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Brian Snyder/AFP via Getty Images

Yes, special climate envoy John Kerry's really in China and no, don't look for a huge breakthrough between the world's two largest carbon-emitting nations.

Driving the news: The State Department yesterday announced Kerry's visit this week, confirming plans that began emerging Saturday.

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