On Thursday, YouTube cracked down on the right-wing fringe QAnon conspiracy theory, kicking dozens of channels off the platform.
Among those ousted in the purge was one that Utah 4th District GOP nominee Burgess Owens appeared on and later said he was unaware was linked to QAnon: the Patriots' Soapbox.
In May, Owens was a guest on the Patriots' Soapbox YouTube channel which, until Thursday, was one of the most prominent QAnon outlets on the platform. It featured a round-the-clock discussion of QAnon, as well as live programming.
YouTube announced Thursday that it was changing its regulations about hate speech to prohibit “conspiracy theories that have been used to justify real-world violence.” QAnon has been listed as a potential domestic terror threat by the FBI. There have been several incidents involving followers of QAnon, including an armed standoff at the Hoover Dam in 2018 and a man who killed an alleged mob boss in 2019.
The crackdown also applies to the related “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory that falsely claims a group of political elites are running a child sex trafficking ring from the basement of a Washington, D.C., pizza restaurant.
Owens has struggled to explain his continued intersection with the QAnon conspiracy theory. Following his appearance on Patriots' Soapbox, he claimed to not know what QAnon was, nor did he have any knowledge of what the theory was about. Then, last month he appeared as a guest on another obscure program that has openly promoted QAnon. During both appearances, Owens did not discuss QAnon but did ask for campaign donations from listeners and viewers.
The Republican’s fundraising efforts have paid off, as a new campaign disclosure filed Thursday shows.
During this week’s one and only 4th District debate, Owens dismissed a question about whether he’s embracing the QAnon theory, saying it’s “as silly as it comes.” But, Democrat Ben McAdams attacked Owens for a “pattern of bad judgment” for his frequent guest appearances on these questionable outlets.
“You appeared on a QAnon show once and said you didn’t know what it was and you would have to Google it. A few months later, you went on another QAnon show and again, you said tonight you’re not sure what it is,” pressed McAdams. “At what point are you responsible for the decisions you make?”
In response, Owens claimed that the programs he appeared on were not aligned with QAnon.
“The show that he’s talking about was a show that was not a QAnon show. It was someone who called in,” he said before pivoting away from the subject.
QAnon is a conspiracy theory that has taken hold among the political far-right in America. Followers believe a cabal of liberal and political elites are involved in a worldwide satanic child pedophile ring and that President Donald Trump is leading a secret campaign to bring the whole thing down.