Why the Media Hates the New HBO Documentary 'Q: Into the Storm'

Why the Media Hates the New HBO Documentary ‘Q: Into the Storm’

PamphletAnon and RadixVerum are founders of 24-hour  Patriots’ Soapbox Livestream, PatriotsSoapbox.com, an independent news network. Begun in January 2018 and comprised of an all volunteer on-line and behind the screens staff, our intention was and continues to be to provide a platform for a thoughtful public to engage in freedom of speech without being censored or deplatformed. Our widely diverse audience reaches around the world and is comprised of viewers/readers of all ages and political stripes, with allegiance to one basic cornerstone of our beliefs: America’s Founding Principles and the United States Constitution. ~~RadixVerum

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March 22, 2021 – The mainstream media (MSM) reviews are out for the new HBO documentary by Cullen Hoback, “Q: Into the Storm.” They are livid that the documentary humanizes the powerless people they have spent years attempting to smear, dehumanize, ridicule and paint in caricature. They cannot stand that these normal inquisitive American people are being given a chance to speak for themselves, without the usual addition of the MSM’s “context,” smears and spin. The media are angry that the public might see us for who we really are, not as the monsters in the pigeonholes they assigned to us.

Quite tellingly, the media apparently is upset because they expected yet another anti-Q hit piece. Rather, Cullen provides an unbiased look at some of the people who were involved in researching and discussing this internet phenomena from its beginnings.

Cullen Hoback

The media would have preferred that Cullen give no air time to the people they smear as “unrepentant conspiracy theorists,” instead of giving the privileged, powerful mainstream media another platform on which to spew their venom he gave regular people a chance. “How dare you talk to these poor people and give them a chance to tell their side of the story without adding a spin and slant on it!” they whine from their cushy corporate ivory towers. They hate this documentary because it shows the media as the conniving, swarmy, judgmental, hall monitor clowns that they are.

Their reaction betrays the fundamental fact that they NEVER took the time to do actual unbiased journalism nor did they ever try to give the people they smeared a chance to tell their side of the story. They simply were not interested in that. The MSM claim that people who covered Q, (they call us “Qtubers”) could be profiting from their reporting. I would turn that back on them. These mainstream media hacks are likely profiting far more than the “Qtubers,” by portraying them in a horrible, negative and dehumanizing light.

If the MSM had even a modest ration of moral principle, they would be terrified that people will see how uncharitably they have attacked normal Americans who are mothers, brothers, sons and daughters — people who have neither the platform nor the resources at the ready to abuse that power imbalance, as these privileged journalists routinely employ against them.

It is obvious that the media conjures an idea out of thin air — “Q is some person posting from their mother’s basement” — and then they try to confirm that pre-decided conclusion. They work back and try to find and twist information to fit that particular narrative, while ignoring other facts and pieces of information that would disprove this. That is hardly real journalism, and it is certainly not unbiased.

This documentary clearly has a goal, to discover Q’s identity. However, it does not ignore inconvenient information, nor does it twist things to squeeze into a pre-formed narrative. That is today’s MSM playbook. A documentary filmmaker strives to provide an unbiased look at the subject matter, letting the Q researchers speak and then allowing journalists and anti-Q folks to speak as well. Unlike the mainstream media, it does not ignore information such as Q posting a phrase and then Trump tweeting the same phrase, or the photos that appear to have been posted from on board Air Force One. It tries to understand who would have the ability to post photos from the air, of places like China and Singapore, etc.

Here is an example of how absurd some of the mainstream media reviews are. Apparently NBC objected to being called out for doxxing our family the way that they did and insinuating that we are Q. That is understandable inasmuch as those accusations show them to be the biased bullies without ethics that they are. Here is NBC’s article HBO’s QAnon documentary ‘Q: Into the Storm’ searches for its origins but misses its meaning“:

The new HBO documentary about the conspiracy theory QAnon, ‘Q: Into the Storm,’ is a diffuse six-episode mini-series directed, written, shot and narrated by Cullen Hoback. Hoback has made interesting and technically literate films before, notably 2013’s improbably entertaining documentary about license agreements, ‘Terms and Conditions May Apply.’

As far as his QAnon series goes, I liked the animation over the opening credits.

The problem with ‘Into the Storm’ is that rather than tightly focus on relationships within the conspiracy theory that essentially bookended the Trump presidency and contributed to the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol (which is most of the final episode’s climax), it is instead a sort of unified theory of the contemporary internet. Its six one-hour episodes track the lineages and influences of meme culture from the Something Awful forums (where today’s popular comedy writers and activists rubbed elbows in the late 1990s) to the hacker collective Anonymous and from the web-based hate campaign Gamergate in 2014 to two of several explicitly political right-wing movements it sired, ‘pizzagate’ and its amped-up successor, QAnon.

In that sense, ‘Into the Storm’ wants to be a grand story about the way we live now. Instead — and despite the high stakes — too much of it plays out as sub-‘Real Housewives’ catty infighting between boring and self-involved dudebros living in relative isolation in various noncontiguous countries and devoting their lives to … well, to nothing.

That is why the show is such a tedious, frustrating slog, punctuated by moments of frankly inexcusable prurience — including what appear to be blurred-out images of child abuse and footage of the Christchurch shooting taken by the killer and uploaded to an image board called 8chan specifically to inflame race-based hatred.

All of this is not to say ‘Into the Storm’ is worthless — just that it’s two hours of documentary in a six-hour bag. It’s entirely possible that one need not understand the entirety of the modern internet to grasp QAnon; after all, most of its adherents don’t.

At its core, QAnon is a cult of personality that occasionally lacks a person, dedicated (most of the time) to the pronouncements of a pseudonymous blogger calling himself (assuming it’s a him at all) Q and spreading, in coded messages, what it or they claim is secret information about the nefarious activities of Democrats and movie stars (who eat babies to rejuvenate themselves) and the secret war by former President Donald Trump to bring them justice. Q’s gnomic tidbits and ambiguous prophecies are usually vague; there is a cottage industry of Q interpreters dedicated to promoting and, likely not coincidentally, profiting from the conspiracy. – NBC News

The main argument here seems to be “oh you didn’t do a hit-piece like we do” and “omg I can’t believe you gave these people a platform and chance to tell their side of the story” and didn’t simply smear them. “How dare you let people have a fair shake, why didn’t you just call them monsters, and only show them to smear them and call them bigots?”

The IndieWire review is even more ludicrous and biased in its absurd claims that this documentary is making us look like human beings and not evil dangerous conspiracy theorists. ‘Q: Into the Storm’ Review: HBO Gives Conspiracy Theorists a Puff Piece reads like it was written by an angry, whiny ex-girlfriend:

The most telling part of HBO’s ‘Q: Into the Storm’ comes in its second episode, when Ron Watkins, a conspiracy theorist and former 8chan administrator, explains why he agreed to be interviewed for the documentary: ‘It’s very important to get the word out that as the years go by, more and more people are attacking free speech online and we need to do all we can to defend it now.’

It’s a common right-wing talking point regarding social media platforms’ restrictions on bigotry, violent content, and conspiracy theories, and it’s a lie that ‘Q: Into the Storm’ does distressingly little to push back against. The documentary, which is directed by Cullen Hoback and executive produced by Adam McKay (‘Succession’), is billed as an investigation into the identity of the person(s) behind QAnon and its impact on American culture and politics but boasts a needlessly conspiratorial framing and offers little in the way of new information despite its six-hour runtime. At its best, ‘Q: Into the Storm’ is an aimless puff piece on some of the conspiracy theory’s most notorious promoters. At its worst, it’s an uncritical platform for QAnon adherents to promote their worldview and trivializes a conspiracy theory that has directly inspired several violent crimes.

For the uninitiated, QAnon, which gained traction in late 2017, alleges that a cabal of Satan-worshiping cannibals and pedophiles comprised of Hollywood liberals, Democratic politicians, and various government officials run a global child sex-trafficking ring and conspired against Donald Trump during the former president’s Oval Office tenure. QAnon releases ‘Q drops’ on 8chan, a website with ties to white nationalism, anti-Semitism, and several mass shootings, to relay its messages. The conspiracy theory became popular in right-wing media and has been promoted by a handful of Republican politicians, including U.S. Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar, as well as Trump himself. A mob boss was allegedly murdered by a QAnon believer in 2019 and a slew of the conspiracy theory’s followers participated in the storming of the U.S. Capitol in January.

There is ample opportunity for documentaries to constructively analyze QAnon: How did something so detached from reality gain such a large following? How can we help our friends and loved ones who have fallen victim to QAnon’s messaging? What kinds of policies and tactics could be enacted by social media and web hosting companies to ensure that such dangerous conspiracy theories do not gain traction on their platforms in the future? What will happen to QAnon following Trump’s defeat in the 2020 presidential election?

‘Q: Into the Storm’ is uninterested in seriously addressing any of those questions. While tangential references to the 2020 election and misinformation on the internet are scattered throughout the documentary, Hoback is almost singularly focused on uncovering QAnon’s identity. That said, the biggest issue with the documentary isn’t its aim — though there’s no indication that uncovering the forces behind QAnon will impede the conspiracy theory, its identity has long been a source of speculation — but rather Hoback’s reporting tactics and decision to dedicate so much time to the lives of the conspiracy theory’s key promoters. – 

The above “review” relies on outright lies and falsehoods as well as minimizations in its description of what Q is. As an example, the facts are that BLM and Antifa were “tied” to the deaths of over 40 people in riots this summer.  But left wing activists refuse to apply that same logic to themselves and their own side, reserving their skewed logic only for their political opponents.

As you can see, each of these reviews complains that regular people were allowed to speak for themselves rather than allowing the media to filter that information, speak for them and dehumanize them. After years of dedication and lots of resources towards stifling reality, the MSM are pros at distorting truth to the point of its obliteration, and so far the reviews available ably demonstrate the stunted prejudiced and false lens they all use.

Jim and Ron Watkins

It appears that one of the main gripes the media has with this documentary is the fact that Cullen Hoback dares to criticize and critique them. The NERVE!!!

IndieWire called this critique “ill-informed” because they and their ilk are the ones being criticized and it is well deserved. They complain that there are fart jokes and what they deem “racist” jokes. Humor is not allowed in the politically correct hall monitor “journalist” neo-stasi worldview. Humor BAD. Jokes BAD.

The Verge essentially complains about the same thing. These mainstream media outlets just echo each other’s narratives and talking points in circular reporting. HBO’s QAnon documentary is a megaphone for extremists — and it’s unbelievably boring.” They cannot help but defame people; they have gotten so used to being unaccountable and having so much power:

QAnon has become a nearly inescapable part of politics. The conspiracy is organized around an anonymous figure called Q, who was supposedly operating inside the Trump administration. Using anonymous online message boards, Q has sent a string of cryptic messages about a plan to mass-arrest Democratic politicians and celebrities, who are supposedly kidnapping and murdering huge numbers of children. (They are not.) Q has now spent three years promising imminent arrests, while the QAnon group has become a kind of super-conspiracy theory attracting people from across the world, built around cheering for mass executions and martial law.

On paper, then, unmasking the person (or people) behind Q sounds like a big deal. And that’s the goal of Q: Into the Storm, an HBO documentary series from director Cullen Hoback. Hoback tracked down some of the people who have supported and popularized QAnon, seeking what HBO calls the ‘mastermind’ behind the theory.

Unfortunately, Into the Storm isn’t a deconstruction of QAnon so much as a grimy mirror of it. The six-hour series tediously and obsessively charts an alleged inner circle of the movement, while glossing over the myriad reasons that Q’s messages appeal to people, as well as QAnon’s effect on believers and the people around them. It embodies all the ways that idealistic journalistic values — a devotion to humanizing subjects, a goal of exposing powerful wrongdoers, and a belief that exposing truth will set people free — fail in the face of extremist movements.

Earlier this month, a teaser trailer for Hoback’s series drew criticism from anti-disinformation researchers, who worried it could become a QAnon recruiting tool. The bad news is that Into the Storm breaks several best practices for reporting on extremism. The good news (I guess?) is that it’s almost so boring it’s unwatchable. Instead of a big-picture overview of QAnon or a meticulous argument for Q’s identity, the series focuses on a handful of feuding message board operators and YouTube (or ‘QTube’) influencers, documenting them with a combination of formal interviews and interminable slice-of-life scenes. Imagine Tiger King, but about forum trolls checking each other’s Twitter feeds.

Into the Storm is largely about the operators of 8chan (later relaunched as ‘8kun’), the anything-goes message board where ‘Q drops’ are posted. Hoback spent years visiting the Philippines to speak with 8chan’s creator Fredrick Brennan; its current owner Jim Watkins; and Watkins’ son Ron, the site’s former administrator. Brennan has publicly — and fairly believably — accused the Watkins family of being potentially behind Q, and Hoback got what appears to be unprecedented access to all of them. For people who study QAnon, gleaning new details from his interviews will be the show’s main draw.

But Into the Storm is too aimless to make that access compelling. After the first episode, it becomes mostly a documentary about 8chan in general, including a bitter feud between Brennan and the Watkins family fueled by 8chan’s role in several far-right mass shootings. While some of its subjects claim they’re apolitical, they’re enmeshed in right-wing politics, prone to supposedly ironic bigotry, and extremely cavalier about racist violence.

The series halfheartedly gestures at how these events tie into larger right-wing politics, including the Watkins’ interactions with QTubers. But huge chunks are devoted to Hoback just hanging out with the trio — covering their blow-by-blow interpersonal drama, lobbing softball questions about 8chan’s many controversies, and letting them pontificate about free speech and their favorite hobbies. The series could be hours shorter if it cut supposedly entertaining scenes like Jim Watkins making fart noises with his hands or explaining how to fill a fountain pen.

Into the Storm is seemingly trying to make QAnon’s best-known players look absurd. Taking that outcome for granted, Hoback barely bothers to rebut their statements or offer outside context, a tactic researchers have spent years discouraging. What some viewers might see as crassness or a bad argument, others could easily buy as charming foibles or a rhetorical triumph. And compared with extremism documentaries like Alt-Right: Age of Rage, Into the Storm barely acknowledges that there are forces taking QAnon seriously and trying to counter it — or at least providing support for the people it’s hurt. – The Verge

Again, this is the same argument the MSM all parrot, as though they have all received the same talking points. Perhaps they have. What is a so-called “anti-extremism” researcher; what real credentials do they have, other than being leftwing activists? Why do they never expose far Left extremists? Why do they smear with the epithet “extreme,” people who are not?  Where are they on BLM and Antifa, and the 40+ deaths that occurred during last summer’s riots and arson? What rhetoric do they apply to that topic?

The real reason the mainstream media hate this latest HBO documentary is because it dares to tell the truth. This is actually HBO at its best — being unbiased and offering an unflinching look behind the curtain at the people who dedicated years of their lives trying to do what they felt was a patriotic duty.

The main gripe of the critics among the MSM hacks is that Cullen Hoback didn’t portray things through the dehumanized, biased lens they have perpetuated for the past three years. They never seem to consider the damage they, as the media have caused.

When it comes to stoking racial violence, the media are very skilled and prolific practitioners. Operating with just a quick glance at an ambiguous graphic, the media rushed to create and stoke a cause celebre at the Lincoln Memorial a few yeas ago. The fallout has since been devastating for all. And the Covington kids story it just one example. The media constantly pits groups against one another for clicks and profits. Yet the MSM rarely pay the price for their rush to judgment, until Sandmann v. WaPo, CNN et al.

Yet the MSM would not dare permit the mirror to be held up to their faces. Self-reflection is not something they can tolerate, nor can they abide any challenge to their narrative control. “It’s too light hearted” is one complaint they all parrot, but what does that actually mean? Aren’t they really just complaining that it isn’t weaponized against a certain group?

Cullen Hoback is an incredible storyteller. He expertly weaves the narrative and ties all the disparate scenes and anecdotes together. He dedicated three years of his life to this taxing, often grueling project. As only an independent filmmaker can, he remained true to himself and the truth, creating an objective epic expose into what has been a pretty explosive topic for a few years now. His approach, tack and even presentation of the subject matter should be given wide publicity.

Fundamentally, the conclusion you can draw from the media’s hatred of this documentary is: that it is absolutely worth your time. It is raw, emotional at times and hilarious throughout but most of all, it’s real.

Funny scene

Me, laughing about Travis View

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