The X22 Report
The most prolific QAnon show has some big-name supporters. Its brand of paranoia is worth worrying about.
America is facing a unique and existential threat. A deep state, with its seat of power in Europe, has infiltrated the United States at every level. Puppet strings control men of real power, while shadowy censors determine what is printed in the media. It pumps in violent criminals to attack and intimidate native-born citizens.
This fifth column has but a single mission, argues an anonymous truth-sayer: “The subjection of our country to the Pope.”
The Sons of the Sires, a 1855 manifesto in support of The American Party, came at a time of particular paranoia in American politics. It was a fear of the other so powerful that it propelled this fledgling party to become the first real challenge to the emerging two-party state in decades.
“Shall not the friends of order, of purity, of virtue, of humanity and religion, unite to silence these impudent foreigners?” the author, listed only as “an American,” wrote. “Ay, if we should refuse to do so, the very soil hallowed by the blood of our noble sires would cry out against us.”
An anonymous campaign tract might seem odd. But not for the American Party. Its members and supporters swore themselves to subtlety. Should a non-member ask about their politics, they were instructed to offer the same three word reply: “I know nothing.” It earned them the name the Know Nothings, a name they would adopt shortly after the publication of this essay.
The Know Nothing movement was chided as an xenophobic, nativist, and paranoid — and it was. It had a habit, one critic wrote, "of doing violence…to truth.” Their most ardent supporters were New York City street gangs like the Bowery Boys, who worked to suppress the political power of the city’s Irish Catholics and bitterly fought the deep pocket Democratic political machine of Tammany Hall.1
The Sons of the Sires was written to reject that criticism and paint the movement as a responsible and morally just response to this European fifth column.
At their height, the Know Nothings came a close third in the 1854 midterm election, even electing one of their own as Speaker of the House of Representatives, and secured more than 20% of the vote when they ran ex-president Millard Filmore two years later.
The Know Nothings’ paranoid leanings ultimately took a backseat to the more pressing slavery question. Time ultimately placated the fears of Catholic infiltration and, well, yadda yadda yadda John F. Kennedy.
This week, on a very special Bug-eyed and Shameless, we talk about a more modern paranoia: The X22 Report, the most paranoid online newscast you’ve probably never heard of.
It is the modern answer to The Sons of the Sires: A Space Ghost Coast to Coast-esque online news show, warning of a deep state plot to destroy America. It has also attracted a bevy of Republicans, a slew of former White House officials, a sitting Congresswoman, and a lesser Trump scion.
This is the story of the X22 Report.
If anyone asks if you read Bug-eyed and Shameless, respond: “I know nothing…but I hear it’s only $6 a month.”
“You know,” Marjorie Taylor Greene began, preparing to deliver one of the most chronically un-self-aware sentences ever uttered in American history, “ever since I entered Congress in January of 2021, the media has basically created a character of me that doesn't exist.”
Taylor Greene made this terminally aloof statement just after being introduced on the X22 Report, arguably the most popular and consistent regular news show by and for QAnon supporters.
Like all interviews on the X22 Report, most of the video is a static image of a low-rent TV studio. Taylor Greene’s face appears on a big screen slightly off to the right. “Dave,” our faithful host, exists only as an unmoving black silhouette.
Taylor Greene was on the X22 Report Spotlight — a version of the regular X22 Report, and considerably longer than the simple X22 Report News Brief — to hawk her new book, MTG. And, perhaps more than that, to stump for the January 6 insurrectionists.
The interview is, by and large, bog standard for Taylor Greene. But prompted to talk about the January 6 “hostages” being held in prison — for, you know, breaking into the capital, leading an insurrection, assaulting police officers — the Congresswoman goes off.
Nancy Pelosi, I believe she caused it that day. I believe she allowed it to happen. And I believe she had a purpose and intention in doing that. And that was to stop our objection against Joe Biden's electoral college votes that I worked very hard on, along with Matt Gaetz and many others. We were very prepared that day, and I think the Democrats were terrified of it. And then we've got provocateurs, we know. We aren't sure exactly who they are, whether they're they’re contractors, or federal agents or part of law enforcement, we don't know, maybe they're from a foreign country. Maybe they're a foreign group, we don't exactly know, but we are pretty sure they were in there, because there's so much evidence. And a lot of fingers are pointing at the FBI. We need subpoena power on that. And so I've called on Speaker Johnson to form this committee. Don't just release videos for people. Form a committee. Because Americans are sick and tired of no one ever been held accountable.
In summary: The delusional effort by a small number of representatives to reject the results of the 2020 election, which were always inconsequential and doomed to fail, was actually a threat to the deep state — so they used undercover operatives or foreign terrorists to incite a group of otherwise-peaceful Trump supporters to storm the Capitol. And even then, despite all the video evidence, they were actually totally peaceful, as other video evidence will show. Perfect.
But this dispatch isn’t about the nonsense that Taylor Greene was spewing. It’s about where she was spewing it, and where she was spewing it.
The X22 Report has received preciously little mainstream news attention. But its footprint online is pretty substantial. It has:
715,000 subscribers on Rumble
576,000 followers on Twitter2
244,000 followers on Truth Social
240,000 followers on Telegram
200,000 subscribers on Bitchute
145,000 followers on Gab
It is available on Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon’s Fire TV. It has a premium tier, running $3.99/month. It does affiliate marketing with supplement stores and prepper equipment retailers.
The X22 Report represents one of the ideological pillars for a post-Q QAnon. Without their namesake leader issuing his irregular and inscrutable drops, the movement has needed influencers to step into the breach and give the movement purpose: They have names like Praying Medic and RedPill78.
Some of these influencers came from the wellness community, exploiting conspiratorial fears about the COVID-19 vaccine to amass followings of crystal-worshippers and ivermectin-users. Others have obsessed over geopolitics, passing off Russian propaganda as brave truth-telling about the real state of the world. Still others have tried to break into more mainstream MAGA politics.
The X22 Report does it all, and more, while remaining slavishly dedicated to QAnon dogma. And, in the process, it has become — by my estimate — the largest of the QAnon broadcasters. “Dave” and his faux newscasts explain how the “plandemic” was concocted to rig the 2020 election and keep the deep state in power. He tells listeners that war is coming, and Donald Trump is their own hope for survival and safety. He reads Q ‘proofs’ during his livestreams and maintains a Q drop archive on his website.
But, like most authors who hide behind a nom de plume, the shadowy figure behind the X22 Report is much, much less impressive than his legion of followers may believe. But his anonymity has lent him an extraordinary amount of influence.
The author of The Sons of the Sires, “an American,” was Lutheran minister Frederick Rinehart Anspach. He was, despite his polemic, a rather unremarkable guy. He would go on to become editor of The Lutheran Observer and would, later on, die.
“Dave,” voice of the X22 Report, is equally unremarkable. Historical website registration records reveal his full name: David Marc Fishman.
“Lets get something straight,” Fishman wrote on his website OpinionEye in 2006. “I am a jerk. I am obnoxious. I am lazy. And I don’t care, because I am FILTHY RICH. I am much too important to even be sitting here writing this right now. So I'll keep it short. I make several million dollars every year on the internet, doing almost nothing.”
Fishman had discovered the secret to online riches: Affiliate marketing and search engine optimization. He hawked jewellery and software online, while cramming his website full of so many stolen and plagiarized articles that Google kept rewarding him with traffic. I realize this sounds like a scam: And that’s because it was.
Through a number of websites, mostly set up in 2006, Fishman promised that he could make you stinking rich just through the power of internet.
It was all, of course, nonsense. Despite his claims of riches, Fishman’s operation seems to have been mostly a failure. With his wife, he registered a few online retail businesses — one marketing party supplies for kids’ parties, another selling ugly charm bracelets — but they were all deregistered with a couple of years. Far from reclining in his mansion, he was working in IT security in New York.
In 2008, in the midst of the economic crisis, Fishman was laid off from his corporate job. Per his own accounting, that’s when he began “prepping” — stocking up for the coming endtimes.
“I have tried talking to friends and relatives about what was going on but every time I talked about the government, FED and the economic collapse they looked at me like I was crazy,” he wrote some years later. So he came up with a career pivot. “I decided to start a website and broadcast to the world what was going on. I didn’t really think that anyone would really listen to what I was saying when I started it was just a way to get the word out and get it off my chest.”
Employing many of the same tactics he had come up with through his scammy online marketing business, Fishman began penning Infowars-style warnings of what was to come, padded with copy lifted from other, more successful, websites. And it got very antisemitic.
Fishman registered the X22 Report website and recorded his first podcast in 2013 — as, simply, “Dave.” On his show, he warned his listeners (or lack thereof, at the time) that three things were about to come to pass: A massive cyber attack, a mass shooting event, and then total economic collapse. He mostly cribbed his kooky predictions from Mike Rivero, a prolific conspiracy theorist in his own right who ran whatreallyhappened.com, a clearing house for, amongst many other things, holocaust denialism.
On his new paranoia hub, Fishman compiled intelligence reports, prepping guides, and economic indicators which pointed to calamity. He listed “potential false flags” in a running sidebar on the homepage, and set up a forum for fellow awakened individuals to talk about the impending troubles.
Fishman’s allure grew. He began hosting a daily radio show on the network of Jeff Rense, a fellow conspiracy theorist who promoted panicked warnings of Ebola being a biological weapon and who pumped out reams of holocaust denial bullshit.
He even employed some of his old scammy tactics to pump his brand: At one point registering the domain levitrafromcanada.men, pretending to hawk cheap erectile dysfunction drugs in order to point people to his conspiracy theory clubhouse.
And day after day, month after month, year after year: Fishman warned that financial collapse was coming. Another forever war was around the corner. Yet another false flag terror attack was about to happen. Whatever actual news, however late or loosely-connected to his precognition, was hoisted up as proof.
To this end, the X22 Report was fitting neatly into an emerging movement of delusional news aggregators, largely relied on others’ fantastical reporting. He liberally shared content from ZeroHedge, the uber-popular blog run by the mysterious Tyler Durden (actually Daniel Ivandjiiski, a former investment banker). He borrowed from RT and PressTV, Moscow’s and Iran’s respective international propaganda arms. He sought out blogs about extraterrestrials, essays from preppers who foresaw the end of the world, doom-saying financial analysts, and arcane writings about the evil plan of the Catholic church. Fishman even set up his own answer to the Drudge Report: NewzSentinal. (Yes, the word ‘news’ is spelled with a Z throughout the site.)
To briefly sum up this emergent ideology: Central banks are all bad, Russia is good, terror attacks are all staged by the government, the deep state secretly controls everything, a New World Order is plotting global domination, Muslim immigration threatens to overrun the West, and the Pope is a power-mad autocrat desperate to assert domain over the entire world. It is all just a modern take on the Know Nothings.
Fishman never appeared terribly excited about Donald Trump. He pointed to son-in-law Jared Kushner and tech billionaire Peter Thiel as evidence that the “central bankers” were well-positioned in Trump’s orbit, and that no matter what the iconoclast wanted to do, they would stop him before he could destabilize the system too much. In fact, Fishman warned, the central bankers were likely to use Trump as an excuse to pull down the entire system. After, at this point, more than three years of predicting total economic collapse: Fishman was sure that this was it. He suggested that the fall of 2017 would finally be gametime. The endtimes.
While the Know Nothings had a political machine, a plan, a purpose: Fishman, like so many of his ilk, was a fatalist. Nothing, he expected, could stop the coming collapse. All you can do is amass water purification tablets and start building the underground bunker.
They had no plan.
Then came Q.
In early 2018, Fishman uploaded a mammoth post, not only compiling hundreds of the earliest Q posts, but “decoding” them for his followers. Fishman took inscrutable sentence fragments and translated them into his preferred brand of fiscal collapse fanfic.
When Q asks “how do you defuse a bomb?” Fishman interprets: “QAnon suggests the real point is not simply to prosecute and convict Hillary, Soros, Obama and their co-conspirators, but to address the systemic issues that allowed them to plan globalist NWO treason.”
It’s here that Fishman, and many like him, finds a purpose.
It’s March 31, 2020, and Eduardo Moreno is driving his locomotive down the Californian coast. That was pretty normal for the train engineer.
But a cop, riding his motorcycle through the coastal part of Los Angeles, noticed something that wasn’t normal. The train was approaching the end of its track: And it wasn’t slowing down. The officer watched as the train barrelled towards a concrete barrier: It jumps the tracks and smashed right into into it before crashing through a steel barrier and a chain-link fence, then sliding across a parking lot, a gravel lot, before hitting a second chain-link fence and stopping.
A little more than 100 meters ahead was the U.S.N.S Mercy, a Navy hospital ship which was docked in Los Angeles to handle overflow from the city’s hospitals, as they faced the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Moderno leapt out of the train and the officer gave chase. Once arrested, Moreno opted not to remain silent.
“You only get this chance once,” he said. “The whole world is watching. I had to. People don't know what's going on here. Now they will. At night, they turn off the lights and don't let anyone in. I'm going to expose this to the world. When was the last time you went to Dodgers' stadium? We might not be able to go again."
His concerns about Dodgers’ stadium aside, Moreno believed that COVID-19 was a pretext for the government to finally enact the totalitarian New World Order it had plotted for so long. It was all for attention. He thought it would “wake people up.”
The naval ship, Moreno was convinced, was there to bring aboard “opened-minded” people and “get rid of them.” Where did he get this idea?
“These ships are coming to L.A. and New York,” Fishman said on the X22 Report just a few days earlier. “What happens if these aren't for coronavirus patients? What happens if the ships or for something else?”
In Fishman’s telling, the ships were designed to house deep state prisoners, bound for Guantanamo Bay. Because Trump was in the process of arresting the cabal for their treason, and was using COVID-19 as cover. Moreno just riffed on that theory.
A year later, on January 6, 2021, William Merry led his 21-year-old niece through the throngs of insurrectionists and overwhelmed capitol police officers, all the way into Nancy Pelosi’s office. He picked up a piece of a shattered doorplate which had been ripped from the entryway to the Speaker’s suite and handed it to his niece as a trophy.
In the fallout of the insurrection, as the rioters were either identified or turned themselves in, Merry was indignant. He sent his niece an episode of the X22 Report: “I am not turning myself in…this video is mind-blowing.”
In the days before January 6, Fishman had been amping up his supporters: Telling them both that the machinations happening in Washington were a massive part of the plan to reinstate Donald Trump as president, but also that, without resistance, it could be the deep state’s opportunity to stage a false flag attack and destroy democracy for good. “We are the storm. And we're coming to DC,” he said on January 5. After the riots broke out a day later, Fishman was unperturbed. “I do believe this is all part of the plan,” he said. The violence wasn’t fake or staged, it was brave and justified.
Sure, he continued, the patriots could follow the rule of law and the constitution. But, failing that, there’s another option. “We're heading into a period of time where things are going to get very, very chaotic.” The pandemonium at the capitol, he said, was all cover: Trump was getting ready to invoke the Insurrection Act and remove the deep state for good.
Why would you turn yourself into the deep state when their days are numbered?
With Q as a guiding light, Fishman turned the X22 Report into a foghorn for the MAGA movement. Any skepticism of partisan politics was gone. (Or, at least, gone from his show: Voting records say Fishman is not a registered Republican.) Now, Trump’s enemies are his enemies. “There are many deep state actors that are working with China, the central bank is working with China,” he said on a recent show. “They’re all involved.”
Like Q himself, the X22 Report has predicted financial collapse, world war, and Trump’s second coming hundreds — if not thousands — of times over the past decade, with its soothsaying never once coming to fruition.
And yet, people keep listening. In the process, Fishman has undoubtedly radicalized some of his followers to violence, and kept legions more committed to the QAnon delusion.
In the process, the Republican Party has rushed to meet the X22 Report. Fishman’s paranoid preppercast has become a safe space for Republicans to visit. It is the prime venue to warn of the fifth column threatening America.
Kari Lake, who ran as the Republican nominee for governor in Arizona and who is now running in the state’s senate primary, appeared on the X22 Report this summer to warn that an unspecific “they” are pouring over the border and spreading fentanyl to “kill off a young generation of people.” Peter Navarro, the ex-Trump trade official, appeared on the show to claim that Anthony Fauci worked with Beijing to create COVID-19.
Kash Patel, who served as a senior Trump official and who sat on the National Security Council, has appeared on Fishman’s show five times in the past year. On one episode, Patel explained that their movement needs to convince the American people that the Biden White House has been corrupted by a “quid pro quo” with the Chinese Communist Party. To do that, Patel explained, the goal has to be “to get our people, and mainstream America, listening to your show, rather than CNN.”
In another interview, Fishman argues that the real insurrection was the theft of the 2020 election. “It looks like they had this coordinated effort to overthrow the United States government,” Fishman says. “And if the fake news knew, if the FBI was involved in censoring: Isn’t this treason?”
Patel agreed. “The way you have outlined it, it is certainly appropriate to define it as such,” he said. “But, I think, you are giving too much or being too nice to the mainstream media.”
Patel is being touted for a high-level national security job, should Trump be re-elected.
Fishman has even welcomed Eric Trump on the show. The scion joined the X22 Report for nearly an hour to tout his father’s re-election bid, alongside Clay Clark, organizer of the QAnon Reawaken America tour. On the show, Trump explained that the Bidens had been bought off by China, Romania, Ukraine, and who knows who else.
Most recently, Fishman welcomed his first sitting Member of Congress onto the X22 Report to raise the spectre that the January 6 insurrection may have, in fact, been conducted by shadowy foreign agents.
And so the X22 Report is neither new nor novel. It was the passion project of an out-of-work IT worker, designed to speak to those feared the coming collapse. Fishman gave voice to a sneaking suspicion that an entire class of American society, buttressed by untrustworthy foreigners, were co-opted, bought-off, and ill-intentioned. Because it is easier to imagine that the millions of people who make up America’s institutions are in league, wittingly or not, with far-off schemers and plotters than it is to accept that they are, more often than not, just trying their best. And it is easier to assume that someone just out of sight is siphoning off America’s treasure than it is to accept that our system of economics and governance is simply imperfect, and that it leaves people behind.
Before we called this QAnon or MAGA, it was the Know Nothings. Even before that, it was the Anti-Masonic Party. There have been many inbetween, and it is a sentiment that has found fans the world-over.
At some point, people will realize that people like David Marc Fishman have no powers of foresight. No solutions or ideas.
All he has is a cool pseudonym.
That’s it for this week’s (late) dispatch.
Expect a regular dispatch on Friday before I pivot towards some end-of-the-year content.
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Until next time.
The Bowery Boys were led by William Poole, a.k.a. Bill the Butcher. His story is the loose basis for Daniel Day-Lewis’ character in Gangs of New York. The more you know!
The main X-22 Report was suspended from Twitter after January 6, 2021. A new account, created this June, has just 14,000 followers thus far.