Over the past few years, the Banter has intermittently covered internet troll HA Goodman, a case study in what happens on the political fringes in America.
Goodman originally wrote hundreds of articles claiming Hillary Clinton would be indicted. Since then, he has evolved (or devolved) into a Trump supporter who still has a spotty track record at making predictions (spending this last year insisting Democrats would lose the House, for example).
The contortions Goodman has taken in his political positions come less from ideology and likely more about money. To earn his keep as an "independent journalist," he traffics in the pro-Trump corners of the internet, where crazies seem to keep him afloat financially through their donations (these are made visible in the comments section of his YouTube Superchats.)
Lately, however, Goodman has found himself in a bind because he has told his crazy supporters he does not believe in the conspiracies peddled by QAnon. For the uninitiated, these are the conspiracy theorists who believe military officials are posting clues on 8chan about Donald Trump and Robert Mueller working with the military to bring down the Deep State. They are apparently doing this by exposing the secret cabal of pedophiles in the Democratic Party that includes Hillary Clinton, John Podesta, and Tom Hanks.
I never thought I'd type these words, but for once, HA Goodman is right: QAnon is completely insane. But now that Goodman's audience consists almost entirely of crazies, his anti-QAnon stance has lost him 500 subscribers. To prove to his QAnon-believing fans that it's all a sham, he decided to do the worst thing he could: debate a QAnon believer.
In other words, HA Goodman had to find someone even crazier than he is.
The Great Debate
Goodman is already a bad-faith debater, having lost several contests on his YouTube channel (including one to broke neo-Nazi Richard Spencer). He gets tripped up on minutiae, hectors his opponents, and cannot ever answer a question directly. He managed to get Jordan Sather, a QAnon devotee, to debate him, and proceeded to lose the debate in spectacular style.
In a depressing 80-minute conversation that increasingly grew to resemble the "I know you are but what am I?" argument from Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, Goodman tried, over and over again to get Sather to admit that he was not certain that QAnon was real. "That's what the evidence shows," Sather kept saying. Goodman must have asked his question more than 50 times in the debate, but Sather, who argues in even worse faith than Goodman, repeatedly avoided giving straight answers, hijacking the debate with his twisted logic.
Sather repeatedly insisted that 60,000 sealed indictments were ready to be sprung on the conspiracy's victims. Whenever Goodman asked if the indictments existed, he replied, "How do you know there's not for certain?" Donald Rumsfeld would have been proud of this contortion, which resembled his famous statement, "Absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence," after no WMDs were found in Iraq.
Eventually, Goodman lost his cool, screaming at Sather that he was "one thousand billion billion trillion trillion billion billion percent certain this is not happening." A little while later, Sather abruptly ended the debate, refusing to answer Goodman's final questions. It was a complete failure, and Goodman, of course, thought he nailed it:
The Anti-Intellectual Dark Web
Goodman, who has cultivated crazy followers with his bogus conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton's emails and Donald Trump's greatness, may have finally realized just how crazy they all are since they believe perhaps the most bonkers conspiracy theory of all time. The question now is, will he preserve what little intellectual sanity he has left and continue to reject QAnon? Or, faced with losing more YouTube followers, will he embrace the conspiracy and pretend he never said otherwise? Whatever the results are, they are proof that these fringe internet crazies always end up eating their own.