Iowa was again the subject of a Daily Show segment most residents of the state would consider to be embarrassing. But while Iowans are used to being portrayed as folksy and a bit out of touch during caucus season, the piece aired Monday night showed a more cringey and conspiratorial slice of Iowa.
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah correspondent Jordan Klepper returned to Des Moines to interview people gathered for the Trump rally on Oct. 9, which featured Gov. Kim Reynolds, Reps. Ashley Hinson and Mariannette Miller-Meeks, and Sen. Chuck Grassley, the latter accepting Trump’s endorsement onstage.
Klepper began his “Fingers the Pulse” segment by noting it was the first Trump rally he’d attended since Jan. 6, 2021, “a day no one will every forget, unless you’re a Republican member of Congress.”
“I headed to my favorite Iowa state capital, where the crowd was ready to proclaim Trump won and Trump won and Trump won and rides a tank,” Klepper narrated over footage of the many election fraud-related banners on display outside of the Iowa State Fairgrounds, where former President Donald Trump would speak later that night. “And even though Trump won, they’re hoping he runs again.”
“Hey, no better place to announce [Trump’s 2024] candidacy than here in the Hawkeye state,” said a man in a red, white and blue suit.
None of the Trump supporters Klepper interviewed, man-on-the-street style, are named, and not all disclose whether they’re from Iowa; the rally did attract some out-of-state visitors. But Little Village recognized the man in the suit as Marc Korver of Washington, Iowa, a regular presence at pre-caucus rallies for 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, always clad in his star-spangled outfit. In a profile of Korver published by the Gazette on Nov. 26, 2019, Korver said he’d recently decided to “take a more active approach” to politics by getting out to events, but didn’t yet know who he was supporting in the 2020 election.
Korver told the Gazette he’d gotten all the 2020 presidential candidates except then-President Trump and then-presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris to autograph individual baseballs for his collection. Two years later, Korver was holding a baseball in a plastic case during his Daily Show interview — likely ready to try for a Trump autograph again. Trump, however, didn’t mix with the crowd or sign items, although his Save America PAC has been spamming followers with the offer of a chance to win the “First Ever Signed Trump Football” in exchange for a donation.
The thoroughly debunked notion that election fraud carried Biden to victory over Trump was accepted fact among the supporters Klepper featured.
A pair of interviewees — a man wearing a T-shirt depicting Trump with his middle fingers up saying “One for Biden, One for Harris,” and a woman whose shirt showed an image of Mount Rushmore with Trump’s face added — told Klepper former Vice President Mike Pence would be “afraid to show up here today” because he “was a coward, he didn’t do the right thing,” apparently referencing the false notion that Pence could have prevented the certification of the electoral college votes on Jan. 6.
“I mean, obviously this administration is doing all it can to pit each other against each other,” the woman said. The man with the middle-finger shirt added, “They’ve been trying to divide us.”
“It’s like this administration is giving the middle finger to half the country,” Klepper said, to the couple’s approval.
“It doesn’t matter what your opinions are, we can still be civil to each other,” the woman said, still apparently failing to detect the irony.
In his narration, Klepper joked about the many Confederate flags on display in Iowa, a Union-aligned state during the Civil War, as well as a homemade sign advertising “Womens Pee Funnels” on sale for $15. The comedian also found the concerns over the border crisis expressed by two men holding a Trump 2024 flag strange considering Iowa isn’t near any international border.
“We are not a cult,” a young blonde woman wearing a Make American Great Again hat, “Trump Won” shirt and American flag overalls told Klepper, referring to Trump supporters. “We are a group of Americans that love our country and want it back.”
Klepper asked her if there were any “old hits” she was hoping to hear from Trump later.
“Oh, gosh, I feel like whatever he spews out of his mouth I just love,” she said.
“It doesn’t matter what he says?”
“But this isn’t a cult,” Klepper deadpans.
“No, I don’t think so.”
“Maybe the most surprising moment of the rally,” Klepper said in his narration, midway through the six-minute segment, “was when I ran into an old friend I never thought I’d see again.” The camera cuts to him standing in front of a bus with a “Q Sent Me” billboard mounted above it. “Q’s back! And there’s Q shit everywhere!”
Indeed, if not for the presence of signs with contemporary references like “CRT is Racism,” images from the Oct. 9 rally tailgate could have been pulled from a 2020 Trump campaign event, or even the Jan. 6 Stop the Steal rally.
QAnon — the shifting, lurching, internet-born rightwing conspiracy theory movement that began with fringe concepts like Pizzagate and broadened over the last four years to encompass conspiracy theories about everything from anti-Semitic medieval blood libel to flat earth to “white replacement” (now a go-to Tucker Carlson talking point) to JFK Jr. faking his own death to, most dangerously, COVID-19, vaccines and election fraud.
Since the disappearance and potential unmasking of Q — the anonymous, self-proclaimed government insider at the center of many Trump-related conspiracy theories — and the social media crackdown on QAnon content after Jan. 6, the ungainly blob that is still referred to as QAnon has evolved past the need to invoke Q at all, now that “QAnon” has become somewhat synonymous with wild, sometimes violent conspiracy theorists.
But that didn’t stop Des Moines rallygoers from whipping out classic QAnon symbols: “Trust the Plan” flags, “Q sent me” banners and “WWG1WGA” (“Where we go one, we go all”) car decals, to name a few. There was even a woman directing traffic in a QAnon shirt, Klepper observed.
“Wasn’t Q’s whole thing that Trump would be reinstated as president?” Klepper asked a self-described Q supporter.
“He’s never left,” the man replies. “There’s no doubt my mind, a hundred and fifty-thousand percent.” Trump has continued to run the government and the military, he went on. So Klepper asked if Trump, then, is to blame for the messy withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“No,” the man said, getting flustered. “It’s way beyond my…” and he trails off.
All five Iowans arrested on charges stemming from the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection were public Trump supporters, one also a confirmed QAnon fanatic. But asked by Klepper who should be held responsible for the insurrection, the woman in the overalls lists “antifa,” “the corrupt FBI,” “RINOs” (Republicans in name only, a favorite Trump phrase) and “the deep state.”
Another man in a Q hat told Klepper that Jacob Chansley, the horned, shirtless insurrectionist known even before Jan. 6 as the QAnon Shaman, isn’t a real Trump supporter. In fact, the man claims, Chansley appeared in a video of Afghan people chasing down a U.S. Air Force plane filmed during the Afghanistan withdrawal.
“I think he’s in jail right now,” Klepper replied skeptically.
“No, that’s what they tell you.”
“Are we gonna find pictures of the horn guy in, like, the background of old Civil War photos or paintings of the Revolutionary War?”
“I’m just telling you the picture looks just like him.”
Watch the full segment: