Within minutes of a report that bombs were sent to Barack Obama and Bill and Hillary Clinton, a narrative began shaping on some Trump-supporting corners of the internet — from QAnon supporters to Reddit’s The_Donald — that it was all a hoax perpetrated by Democrats in order to gain an edge in the upcoming midterm elections.
Early on Wednesday, reports indicated that explosive devices were mailed to Barack Obama and the New York home of Bill and Hillary Clinton. As the Independent reported, none of them reached their targets as Secret Service was able to intercept both devices.
“The packages were immediately identified during routine mail screening procedures as potential explosive devices and were appropriately handled as such. The protectees did not receive the packages nor were they at risk of receiving them,” the Secret Service said in a statement.
But the incidents caused an immediate stir among some Trump-supporting areas of the internet, with near-consensus that the bombs were a so-called “false flag” attack perpetrated by Democratic allies to elicit sympathy in advance of the midterm elections. Reddit’s The_Donald, billed as the biggest Trump-supporting site on the internet, was flooded with posts declaring the attacks a “hoax,” especially as it came just days after a bomb was found delivered to the home of Democratic mega-donor George Soros. Soros is a frequent target of Donald Trump and of right-leaning pundits.
Other Trump supporters parroted the idea that the bombing was a hoax. Many on Twitter reacted to the reports with skepticism, claiming that Democrats were faking the incidents.
These "Suspicious Package" stories are false flags, carefully planned for the midterms— Jacob Wohl (@JacobAWohl) October 24, 2018
The claims were nearly identical to those made after a bomb was sent to Soros earlier in the week. As the Huffington Post noted, there was a large pushback from followers of QAnon — the anonymous poster claiming to be highly connected to the White House who has made a series of conspiratorial claims. One of QAnon’s most prominent claims involves the notion that Hillary Clinton and Obama had been secretly arrested and brought to Guantanamo Bay for detention.
Many QAnon supporters took to Twitter — and the image-sharing sites 4chan and 8chan — to disseminate theories that Soros himself may have been responsible for the bomb.
New York Times is reporting that a bomb squad detonated an explosive device found near the Westchester County home of George Soros.— Travis View (@travis_view) October 23, 2018
The QAnon crew responded with calls for calm and an investigation into... jk, they're calling it a "False Flag." pic.twitter.com/5eE6eqjM1h
Many of those same accounts were active on Wednesday in calling the bombs sent to Bill and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama a hoax. Police have not said if they have a suspect or motive for the bombs — and have not said if they are connected to similar devices sent to the White House and CNN’s New York offices at the same time.