What? VIP QAnon 'Washington Insider' Man Just Some Rando Dude From Italy? Nooo.
Back in March, at the very beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, popular QAnon "citizen journalist" Greg Rubini started pushing the narrative that the novel coronavirus was created by the Deep State, in cahoots with Dr. Anthony Fauci, for the purposes of ruining the Trump economy. It was not the first absurd theory he had imagineered and put forth as the truth. The claim, among others, was picked up by OAN "journalist," granddaughter of fake psychic Allene "I've got the answers, call now" Cunningham, and author of one million non-existent young adult detective novels for girls who who hate feminism, Chanel Rion.
Rion, at the time, described Rubini as "a citizen investigator and monitored source amongst a certain set in the DC intelligence community."
Later, in May, Rion would pick up another of his claims — one that the Obama administration had enlisted foreign intelligence to spy on the Trump campaign — and, during a press briefing, ask Kayleigh McEneny, "So to what extent was [former CIA director] John Brennan involved with that?"
At least part of the reason Rion may have thought that this was a true thing and not just something some random guy made up, other than the fact that she is very stupid, is not just because Greg Rubini has 130k followers on Twitter, or because his book The Spy Operations on Trump has made it to #3 on Amazon's bestseller list in the "Intelligence and Espionage" category. Likely, it is also because he has claimed to be in supersecret contact with all kinds of Washington insiders and even wrote a whole book revealing all of the secrets that his "sources" — whom he will not reveal, and some whose identities he claims to not even know himself — told him. Supposedly. Probably he just made them up.
It will surely come as a shock to you that Greg Rubini, whose real name is Greg Palusa, is not actually any kind of Washington insider with connections all over and that he is not even an American (which makes his many "We the people" tweets a tad hilarious), but rather he is some dude from Italy who was once a groupie for a Pink Floyd cover band. (Weirdly enough, the QAnon shit seems to be rising in popularity in Italy since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Someday when I have enough energy to parse through social media in a language I am only about half-fluent in, I'll have to do a thing.)
This incident set off investigations into Rion's past by outlets like the Daily Mail, which "exclusively" revealed stunning truths about her past that were reported here on Wonkette back in January of 2018 and by me, on Twitter, in February of that same year.
Now a Buzzfeed investigation into Rubini/Palusa's past reveals that his entire life has been just a massive series of lies and delusions of grandeur.
Palusa, it turns out, is from Triesta, a seaport in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of northeast Italy, although his last known area of residence was in Tuscany. Right now he claims to be a "Strategy Advisor at /classified/," but has also worked in design:
An artist from Trieste told BuzzFeed News that he had ended a business partnership relating to several collaborative creative and design projects with Palusa more than a decade ago. The artist said he had not been in contact with Palusa for at least 10 years.
"He started to have delusions of greatness, claimed to ask millions of dollars from companies, boasted about having assignments with companies with which he had had no relationship," said the artist, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
He also said Palusa became more difficult to deal with over time, eventually forcing him to hire a lawyer to end their partnership. "I never wanted to deal with this person again," he said, "because of his growing megalomania that can seriously endanger those who work honestly."
And he's worked as a sound engineer, primarily for Pink Noise, a Pink Floyd cover band he used to follow around until they had a falling out:
Carmelo J., a member of the band, said they fell out of touch after Palusa began offering the [band] unsolicited feedback about its work.
"Greg Palusa liked us very much as a band, he followed us for a bit," Carmelo J. told BuzzFeed News in a Facebook message. "Then he disappeared (I don't remember why, probably some small squabble) and we have no more news of him."
Asked if he could recall what the argument was about, Carmelo J. replied: "I just remember that at a certain point his stylistic 'advice' about us became 'critical,' expressed even in an inelegant way."
He's now mostly claiming to be some kind of expert in marketing. He briefly worked with a publishing company called Uno Editori, which alleges he scammed it out of thousands of euros.
Palusa has also used "Greg Rubini" as an alias in the past, according to a Facebook post in March 2016 from an Italian book publisher that specializes in books about spirituality, ancient astronauts, and religious history. In the post, the publisher claimed a WordPress blog authored by "Gregorio Palusa aka Greg Rubini on social media" had defamed the publisher by pushing false and "delirious" information, that Palusa had stolen thousands of euros from the company, and had wasted a year of its time after pretending to represent a nonexistent marketing company.
All of the other companies he claims to have worked with say they have never heard of him:
Many of the companies that Palusa listed on his Blogger profile as having worked with told BuzzFeed News they had never heard of him. He claims to have worked with London marketing agency AKQA, Angels Costumes, Ferrari, Apple, and music label EMI.
The managing director of AKQA, who's been there for 13 years, told BuzzFeed News that Palusa's name did not appear in any records and he didn't recognize him. Angels Costumes of London said the same. A spokesperson for Apple said the company has never employed Palusa and had no record of working with Vertygo Team. EMI did not respond to requests for comment.
Ferrari declined to comment, but Palusa's claim that he had worked for the company made its way into a 2011 lawsuit filed by the Ford Motor Company against Ferrari. In the suit, filed in Michigan, Ford alleged that Ferrari had infringed on Ford's F-150 trademark. Ford's complaint described Palusa's company, Vertygo Team, as "Ferrari's outside marketing consultant" and quoted from an article he published on his website about Ferrari's marketing strategy. The suit was dismissed less than a month later after the parties came to a settlement.
It seems that Rubini/Palusa has spent his entire life wanting to be thought an "expert" without ever having to actually do anything about it, wanting to be able to pull stuff out of his ass and have people believe those things are true. It is a character trait shared by many in the QAnon ... lifestyle.
The thing you have to understand about the wider QAnon community is that it is basically a very long improv scene enacted by people who are not funny (at least on purpose). There's a lot of "Yes, and" going on. Some random person says a thing — it actually does not matter if they claim to have the fancy credentials Rubini claimed to have had or not — and it immediately becomes true for at least a large percentage of them. They can literally just make up a thing out of thin air, claim that something "symbolizes" a celebrity's great love of eating babies, claim that the tents in Central Park are filled with mole children and no one will question them. Not really.
I am not kidding. I could make up the absolute most ridiculous thing I could imagine, and I could go into one of their forums and say it's true, and, as long as it fit into their worldview, within a week it would become canon. This is especially true with "symbolism." You can say anything means anything. Sadly, this does not work with things that are factually correct and real.
There is a huge amount of power in this and it's extremely attractive to people who feel they haven't been listened to, heeded or respected in the way they feel they should be. It's attractive to narcissists who believe they were meant for something bigger in this world than what they ended up with. People who were supposed to be "special." People, one assumes, like Greg Rubini. They like calling themselves "citizen journalists" and "citizen investigators" and "researchers" as if they are all doing something far more important than playing make-believe online.
If you look at Greg Rubini's Twitter, he hasn't changed a damn thing or even responded to the Buzzfeed investigation of his past. He's not going to bother doing that, either, because he knows that it doesn't matter to the people who follow him, because they have all agreed to a certain suspension of disbelief. Even if they do stumble upon it, it is much easier for those people to believe that Buzzfeed — a liberal media outlet — just made up a bunch of mean stuff about Rubini because he is too close to "the truth."
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. In addition to her work at Wonkette, she also has a biweekly column at Dame. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse