President Trump on Friday refused to answer a direct question on whether or not he supports the QAnon conspiracy theory during a press briefing.

Why it matters: Trump congratulated Georgia Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene, who vocally supports the conspiracy theory, on her victory in a House primary runoff earlier this week — illustrating how the once-fringe conspiracy theory has gained ground within his party.

The backdrop: QAnon is a far-right conspiracy theory that purports without proof that posts by an anonymous internet user from within the federal government are alluding to a secret war that the "deep state" is waging against Trump.

  • Its growing influence is sowing fear and confusion around some of today's most important issues, such as election integrity and the coronavirus pandemic, write Axios' Stef Kight and Sara Fischer.
  • The FBI identified QAnon and other fringe conspiracy theories as domestic terrorist threats in 2019, according to Yahoo News.

Go deeper

Sep 16, 2020 - Technology

Exclusive: False fire rumors keep spreading on Facebook despite ban

A burned car is seen by the Oak Park Motel east of Salem, Oregon on September 13, 2020. Photo: Rob Schumacher / Pool / AFP via Getty Images

Conspiracy theories about the origin of fires in Oregon are still spreading through private Facebook groups days after the social media giant announced it would remove the false claims, according to research from the German Marshall Fund of the United States shared exclusively with Axios.

Why it matters: Facebook's efforts to control misinformation on its vast platform continue to lag behind the spread of rumors and conspiracy theories about life-and-death crises, and researchers are urging earlier and stronger action, especially as the election gets closer and the coronavirus continues to rage in the country.

America on edge as unrest rises

Louisville on Wednesday. Photo: Jon Cherry/Getty Images

Rarely have national security officials, governors, tech CEOs and activists agreed as broadly and fervently as they do about the possibility of historic civil unrest in America.

Why it matters: The ingredients are clear for all to see — epic fights over racism, abortion, elections, the virus and policing, stirred by misinformation and calls to action on social media, at a time of stress over the pandemic.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
33 mins ago - Health

The long-term pain of the mental health pandemic

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A less visible but still massive trauma caused by the coronavirus is becoming clear: our mental health is suffering with potentially long-lasting consequences.

Why it matters: Mental health disorders that range from schizophrenia to depression and anxiety exert a severe cost on personal health and the economy. Addressing that challenge may require out-of-the-box solutions.

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