CPACing with the Enemy (with Amanda Moore)
From November 2020 until September of last year, she infiltrated MAGA, attending events and hanging out with fascists. Then she was found out. This is what she learned.
In the Before Times, Amanda Moore owned a small business—a company that booked models for live events—and did some bartending on the side. When the pandemic came, both of those income sources dried up. So in the fall of 2020, she decided to do what any red-blooded champion of democracy would do: infiltrate MAGA.
She was uncannily well qualified to do this. She lived in Washington, where the largest and most significant events took place, so she knew the terrain better than the out-of-towners. She was both curious and easy to talk to. Having grown up in an Evangelical household and attended Christian schools, she had a keen understanding of the MAGA mentality. And she was a young, attractive blonde—as she tells me on today’s PREVAIL podcast, she looked like a Nazi. Her main infiltration technique involved setting up shop at the bar and waiting for the more charming fascists to buy her drinks. Because CPAC is not exactly Surf City with the male-to-female ratio—it’s mostly just Jan and Dean—her let-the-white-nationalists-come-to-me strategy was quite effective.
Like the photojournalist Sandi Bachom, Moore attended the MAGA rallies in Washington in November and December 2020, as well as January 6. But their experiences were very different. Bachom was outwardly part of the press corps, and was therefore treated with suspicion if not outright hostility by many (but not all) of the people she was documenting. Moore, on the other hand, operating undercover, was welcomed by the fascists with open arms.
One of the common misconceptions about the Trump movement is that all the people are the same. In fact, there is a sort of MAGA taxonomy. The Proud Boys, for example—a group Moore had next to no contact with—were looked down upon by the self-styled brains of the operation. “This is how one of the fascists that I hung out with put it,” she tells me. “He was like, ‘The Proud Boys, they’re the outdoor people. You know, they’re supposed to sacrifice their bones and bodies to protect us. And we are the indoor people, and we write the laws. And they’re embarrassing, and you can’t bring them inside.’”
The fascists were also well aware that the Q adherents were nutters—they knew, Moore says, that the election wasn’t stolen—but they recognized that they needed QAnon to achieve their larger aims. She saw an obvious distinction between the two groups. “You could walk into an event with these guys,” she says, “you know, the white nationalist guys I was hanging out with, and you could drop a couple of slurs. And it would be great. They would love it. If you walk into a QAnon event and do that, people are going to be extremely offended. . . . But if you just say the dog whistles circling those slurs, they’re going to be like, ‘Yeah, that does sound correct. Yes, I do believe the Jews did that. Yes, I do.’”
Generally, she says, the fascists are more adaptable to polite society. They can plausibly present as non-Nazis. They can talk about things other than Great Replacement Theory. They have girlfriends. That’s not the case with Q. “The QAnon people are so wrapped up in conspiracies that it’s impossible to have a conversation with them about anything else,” she says. “If [you’ve] lost anybody to QAnon, then you know that.”
To me, the sad irony of the Q phenomenon is that the whole purpose of the thing is to Save The Children and Expose The Pedophiles (like Edgar Maddison Welch, the guy who shot up Comet Ping Pong, most of them are sincere in this motivation), and yet they somehow regard Donald Trump—bosom chum of quite a few legit pedos and the guy who routinely burst into the dressing room at Miss Teen USA events—as their white knight. The cognitive dissonance is off the charts. Moore recalls talking to a Q woman, who was earnest and well-meaning, but also incapable of putting two and two together. “She was all upset, and she was saying, ‘You know, I just wish we could do something about, you know, all these pedophiles in Hollywood. They’re everywhere!’ And then she said, ‘Did you get a ticket to see Matt Gaetz talk later tonight?’” Gaetz, of course, is the sleazy Congressman from Florida who (allegedly) lobbied Trump for a pardon for (allegedly) having sex with a 17-year-old. Twitter knows him fondly as “Rapey McForehead.”
So you have these far-right groups with plenty of overlap on the “Hateful Asshole” Venn diagram, but which generally did their own thing. Then, on January 6, all of them—Q, Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, and so on—came together. (Everything that treasons must converge.) It was Sedition Woodstock, the only event big enough to include one and all. And it was therefore a signature moment for everyone who attended, whether or not they stormed the Capitol afterward, and regardless of sub-group affiliation. As Moore put it, “Everyone said it was one of the best days of their life.”
It was, appropriately, the Q people who figured it out. On September 27, 2021, a few weeks before a big event she was planning to attend, the message went out on the Q channels that Moore was a double agent. Her cover was blown. The Q folks dutifully spread the word, warning the larger community about her. She protested that it was all untrue, but in vain. The fascists, on the other hand, simply blocked her number and moved on as if she never existed. This is entirely consistent with the fascist mindset, which disdains weakness: toss aside anything that doesn’t advance the agenda. But I like to think that the humiliation of having been fooled for so long was too much for them to bear.
LISTEN TO THE PODCAST
S4 E4: CPACing with the Enemy (with Amanda Moore)
Amanda Moore spent almost a year infiltrating the MAGA movement. Working undercover, she attended numerous events, including the November and December DC rallies and January 6. She was finally caught in September 2021. She joins Greg Olear and tells her remarkable story. Plus: Les Deplorables.
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Photo credit: Amanda Moore. A collage of photos from her MAGA infiltration.
Chump said as much when he complained that the 1-6 mob looked cheap, poor and low class.
Thanks for sharing Amanda Moore's story, Greg. I particularly liked how she parceled out MAGA into subgroups. Best of luck to her as she pursues future endeavors.
BTW, I do not have a YouTube account but tapped the "Subscribe" button. I think it worked as I am able to now register the "Thumbs Up" feature!
BTW #2, after I listened to the Preface and 1st chapter, and became enamored with the voice of Anna K, I'm tempted to secure the audio version of "Empress..." My bad for forgetting her name, but from the beginning, she had me delighted to be along on her journey, and ready to root for her at every paragraph.
P.S. Love my precious Aspron Trachy!
P.S. #2 If I acquire the audio version, do I need to get Kindle or something equivalent? Apple automatically comes up for me, with no other choices.