Former QAnon supporter explains why she believed radical conspiracies

Ashley Vanderbilt tells "The View" how she came to believe baseless radical conspiracy theories, how it affected her life and why she’s speaking out now.
6:46 | 02/15/21

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Transcript for Former QAnon supporter explains why she believed radical conspiracies
Welcome back. Qanon is a fringe conspiracy theory that started with claims that there are -- is a global child sex trafficking ring in our government and in Hollywood, but what's equally alarming is, you know, it's being followed by millions of people every day. Everyday Americans like south Carolina mom Ashley Vanderbilt who's sharing what made her believe and eventually reject qanon. Welcome, Ashley. Welcome to "The view." Hi. Thank you for having me. Now you've said that you started reading qanon conspiracy theories a few months before Biden was elected. Where did you first start to see these messages, and what made you decide to investigate them? Well, I was unintentionally getting conspiracy theories. I didn't know that it was qanon. I didn't know any of that, but it started on tiktok. I have been a lifelong Republican. My family, you know, told me growing up, we're Republicans. They're great people. They're wonderful people, and so I was never one that was into politics anyways, and I just always voted red. I wanted to be like my family, and that's as much as I ever thought into it. Obviously when the election campaign started, I started liking on tiktok more trump things, and so I guess the algorithm must have changed it to where I was seeing obviously more pro-trump videos, and then it led into conspiracy things, and they started talking about, like, the child rings, and that grabbed my attention since I'm a mom. That's where it started. Yeah. Yeah, it's interesting. It's interesting. I could see where you could become a trump supporter, but you say that you were brainwashed into believing that Hollywood people -- there was a ring of pedophiles and -- including Oprah Winfrey and Tom Hanks who would, you know, kidnap these kids and then drink their blood. I mean, you must have watched Tom Hanks in the movies. I'm sure you've seen Oprah on television. What made you believe such crazy nonsense? I know it sounds crazy, and so let me try to think of how I would explain this. So when you start getting information from these groups -- again, I had no idea in the first place that it was qanon. It starts with something small. So child trafficking is real. Sex trafficking is real. It's a real problem. So when I got just a little bit of information that, you know, the government is doing bad things with these children, it wasn't starting off, like, these celebrities are drinking these kids' blood, and I was, like, yep. I'm going to believe that. It didn't start that way. It was really small, and, you know, it piques your interest because as a mom, I want to protect my kid. I want to know everything, and so I started diving in deeper. I started asking people that I trusted about this information. They would send me more information, and it snowballed. It just built bigger and bigger, and so eventually you get that huge, crazy theory, and you believe it, but it didn't start that way. Now Ashley, you have a 4-year-old daughter. How did your time as a qanon supporter affect your relationship with her? I think that it made me emotionally unavailable to a point with her, and I'm going to try not to cry. I mean, she was always taken care of, you know, I would pick her up from school, and I would bring her home and make her dinner. Bath her, put her to bed, but we didn't play that much. I wasn't cuddling with her and giving her I think the emotional attention that she needed because I was too wrapped up worrying about everything. I stayed glued to my phone in these telegram chats and watching these Facebook videos and I just had so much going on that I couldn't -- I feel like I couldn't be there for her the way that she needed me to be. Well, Ashley, you're clearly emotional about this, and, you know, you did believe these conspiracy theories for many months, but you say that when Biden was inaugurated, you started to see the truth, and I want to tell you that I think it's brave that you are sharing this story because I think we need to understand how people get radicalized and how to stop it from happening. Thank you. Leading into inauguration day, it had been going around in the groups that there would be a blackout. Electricity might not work. There would be an emergency broadcasting alarm go off, and so I prepared. I went and got groceries, and filled my car up with gas, and I just waited for days for that alarm to go off, and it never so come inauguration day, I really didn't think it was going to happen. I didn't sleep that night, and I stayed glued to my phone. I kept watching the TV, watching the inauguration, and when I saw kamala Harris get sworn in, I was, like, okay. They're cutting it really close, and then when president Biden was getting sworn in, I mean, I just started to have tears and I was, like, I'm waiting. I'm waiting for the TV to turn off. I'm waiting to hear this alarm, and it didn't happen, and I was devastated after that. I was scared to death. I thought, so my wst fears and my worst nightmare is coming true, and we're seeing the funeral of the country. Nobody's safe. We're all going to die. I need to take my kid out of school because they're going to take her, and there was just -- there was so much anxiety and fear. It's hard to -- it's hard to explain that. And then you realized that

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