Followers of QAnon, the pro-Trump conspiracy theory, have spent weeks anticipating that Wednesday would be the “Great Awakening” — a day, long foretold in QAnon prophecy, when top Democrats would be arrested for running a global sex trafficking ring and President Trump would seize a second term in office.
But as President Biden took office and Mr. Trump landed in Florida, with no mass arrests in sight, some believers struggled to harmonize the falsehoods with the inauguration on their TVs.
Some QAnon believers tried to rejigger their theories to accommodate a transfer of power to Mr. Biden. Several large QAnon groups discussed on Wednesday the possibility that they had been wrong about Mr. Biden, and that the incoming president was actually part of Mr. Trump’s effort to take down the global cabal.
“The more I think about it, I do think it’s very possible that Biden will be the one who pulls the trigger,” one account wrote in a QAnon channel on the messaging app Telegram.
Others expressed anger with QAnon influencers who had told believers to expect a dramatic culmination on Inauguration Day.
“A lot of YouTube journalists have just lost one hell of a lot of credibility,” wrote a commenter in one QAnon chat room.
Still others attempted to shift the goal posts, and simply told their fellow “anons” to hang on and wait for future, unspecified developments.
“Don’t worry about what happens at 12 p.m.,” wrote one QAnon influencer. “Watch what happens after that.”
And some appeared to realize that they’d been duped.
“It’s over,” one QAnon chat room participant wrote, just after Mr. Biden’s swearing-in.
“Wake up,” another wrote. “We’ve been had.”
Followers hoping for guidance from “Q,” the pseudonymous message board user whose posts power the movement, were bound to be disappointed. The account has been silent for weeks, and had not posted Wednesday.
Ron Watkins, a major QAnon booster whom some have suspected of being “Q” himself, posted a note of resignation on his Telegram channel on Wednesday afternoon.
“We have a new president sworn in and it is our responsibility as citizens to respect the Constitution,” he wrote. “As we enter into the next administration please remember all the friends and happy memories we made together over the past few years.”