It has been, to put it lightly, a bad few years for journalism. Public trust was shattered after the surprising results of the 2016 election, leading to a lot of self-reflection on the part of journalists. How did we mess up so badly? Was it the fact that we harped on a non-story, pushed entirely by a bad-faith Republican media machine? No, we decided; it was the fact that we weren’t in touch with Trump voters. What do they really mean when they say, “Journalists are the enemy of the people?” It’s truly a mystery. Luckily, I drove from my coastal elite bubble to a diner in America’s heartland to hear things straight from the Trump’s supporters’ mouths.
After all, the only way to stop people from wanting to bash your face in for writing something they disagree with is to sit down across a platter of some bacon and eggs and just talk.
The concerns of Trump’s supporters are valid, and they deserve to be heard. All opinions, after all, are equally valid—whether that opinion is “I have a journalism degree and spend my entire day trying to get the facts” or “I pipe The Daily Caller directly into my prefrontal cortex and that’s just as good as facts, you [pick a slur, any slur].”
I came to this diner, The No Safe Space Café, to get a taste of the Real America. This America exists outside the liberal echo chambers, somewhere with real diversity of thought: The opinions of straight, white, Christian men.
“George Soros commands an army of transgender Jewish robots, who have infiltrated our society and aim to make all our kids gluten-free,” says Paul, 54, a white, middle-class, salt-of-the-earth, blue-collar financial analyst and property developer making $329,000 a year.
I say that surely, he means this metaphorically. Surely, he’s expressing some sort of discontentment with the fact that the middle of the country feels left behind as the industry and agriculture sectors have—
“No, no.” Paul shakes his head. “The control center George Soros uses for these robots is in Berkeley, California. Someday we’re going to find it, and then you will all get what’s coming to you. And by ‘all get what’s coming to you,’ I mean violence.”
I thank him for agreeing to sit down and talk with me.
“Enjoy the ability to trash-talk our president while you still can, scum,” he says, shaking my hand.
Disagreements are what make us American. You believe journalists should be thrown in jail for saying things you don’t like? Totally fine, but I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree there. Even though I’m a smart and sensible person, for some reason I believe that Trump supporters are going to say something new and insightful in the next 8,000-word profile, or at the very least they’ll see themselves represented in print and stop wanting to take a baseball bat to our faces. Fingers crossed this will be the article that accomplishes all that!
I continue through the diner, discussing the issues with Trump supporters as they thoughtfully throw sugar packets, straws, and crumpled-up napkins at me. As they prepare to pummel me with their fists, I type out a genius lede to the article:
In a time when division and political change is racking the country, one group stands firmly behind Trump—the people who like him.
I get back into my car, proud of myself about how fair I’m being, blood oozing from my ears. I pull up my GPS. It’s time to go ice skating with the subject of my next profile—a white supremacist who, like, actually kinda loves ice skating? Isn’t that quirky and fun?
Yes, America. It’s all so, so quirky and fun.