A clear indication that Marjorie Taylor Greene was more than a dabbler in QAnon was her 2018 endorsement of “Frazzledrip,” one of the most grotesque tendrils of the movement’s mythology. You “have to go down a number of rabbit holes to get that far,” said Mike Rothschild, whose book about QAnon, The Storm Is Upon Us, comes out later this year.
The lurid fantasy of Frazzledrip refers to an imaginary video said to show Hillary Clinton and her former aide, Huma Abedin, assaulting and disfiguring a young girl and drinking her blood. It holds that several cops saw the video, and Clinton had them killed.
When Greene posted a picture of Donald Trump with the mother of slain New York Police Officer Miosotis Familia on Facebook, one of her commenters described Frazzledrip and wrote, “This was another Hillary hit.” Greene replied, “Yes Familia,” then continued, “I post things sometimes to see who knows things. Most the time people don’t. I’m glad to see your comment.”
Contemplating Frazzledrip, it occurred to me that QAnon is the obscene apotheosis of three decades of Clinton demonization. It’s other things as well, including a repurposed version of the old anti-Semitic blood libel (which accused Jews of using the blood of Christian children in their rituals) and a cult lusting for mass public executions. According to the FBI, it’s a domestic terror threat.
But QAnon is also the terminal stage of the national derangement over Clinton that began as soon as she entered public life.
“It’s my belief that QAnon really took off because it was based on Hillary Clinton,” said Rothschild. “It was based specifically on something that a lot of 4chan dwellers wanted to see happen, which was Hillary Clinton arrested and sort of dragged away in chains.”
I was curious what Clinton thinks about all this and it turns out she’s been thinking about it a lot.
“This is rooted in ancient scapegoating of women, of doing everything to undermine women in the public arena, women with their own voices, women who speak up against power and the patriarchy,” she said. “This is a Salem Witch Trials line of argument against independent, outspoken, pushy women. And it began to metastasize around me.” In this sense, Frazzledrip is just a particularly disgusting version of misogynist hatred she’s always contended with.
Greene now claims that she no longer believes in QAnon. In a speech Feb. 4 before the House voted to strip her of her committee assignments, she blamed her claims that leading Democrats deserve to die for their role in a diabolic pedophile ring on her inability to trust the mainstream media.
“I was allowed to believe things that weren’t true,” she said.
To my surprise, Clinton thought Greene’s passive account of her own radicalization wasn’t entirely absurd. “We are facing a mass addiction with the effective purveying of disinformation on social media,” Clinton said. “I don’t have one iota of sympathy for someone like her, but the algorithms, we are now understanding more than ever we could have, truly are addictive. And whatever it is in our brains for people who go down those rabbit holes, and begin to inhabit this alternative reality, they are, in effect, made to believe.”
Clinton now thinks that the creation and promotion of this alternative reality, enabled and incentivized by the tech platforms, is, as she put it, “the primary event of our time.” Nothing about QAnon or Marjorie Taylor Greene is entirely new. Social media has just taken the dysfunction that was already in our politics, and rendered it uglier than anyone ever imagined.
Michelle Goldberg is a columnist for The New York Times.