“Go home! We don’t want you here!”
The sneer comes from a scruffy individual in his early 20s sporting a short-sleeved blue flannel shirt and a press lanyard from a site called WonkCrush.ed.
“We don’t need another person writing this article.”
His immediate disdain for me strikes a familiar chord here at the press tent outside the Pensacola Bay Center. The Trump rally is jam-packed with jaded writers from all corners of the Internet — PolitiWord, MindLeashUntruthed, The Honeydew, VERY BEST TEACHER SHARES, the Paypal Blog — each hoping to wring some traffic out of yet another “inside Trump rallies” article.
Desperation is a common theme here. For many writers, paid opportunities simply don’t exist anymore, and on some level, their collective, swelling frustration is understandable.
“I already have a thumbnail picked out,” one writer declares, showing me a screenshot on his phone of Trump mid-speech with his eyes slightly closed, possibly while saying something goofy. “Just need some racist quotes and this baby’s GTG.” The image is a bit blurry and will end up costing him clicks, but I know better than to rile these people.
“Trump just has such huge BALLS” yells another man to my right, filming an on-location character bit with his sketch group. He’s clad in a SHILLARY SHNEVER T-shirt showing a crude pic of Hillary in an old timey jailbird outfit holding a serial number that says EMAILS and chained to a metal ball that says BENGHAZI with a cap that also says EMAILS. The entire event is full of similarly boorish, vulgar T-shirts — a far cry from those excellent T-shirts you see all the time.
At this point I realize I should probably throw in a tactile detail. I look around perceptively and notice a hot dog cart with a yellow and blue umbrella. It says either SCHILLMAN’S or SKILLMAN’S or something, but the details don’t matter to these people; rally goers line up, undeterred by such vagaries and motivated probably by the bad parts of religion, eager to scarf down their ready-made hot dogs and bottles of lukewarm water.
“I’m working the ‘we don’t trust journalists’ angle,” another attendee offers unprovoked, showing me her outline so far. “But if I snag some F-words I might lead with that.” The vulgarity of the crowd is indeed striking; they’re likely sick of the constant condescension they receive from every writer but me.
More yelling and more chants erupt in pockets throughout the growing crowd. I initially came here to write a story about people yelling at Trump rallies, but this? This was not at all what I expected.
“Sorry, I don’t have you on the list?”
I’m snapped out of my ruminations. These thunderous words from the organizer at the press tent flawlessly underscore an evening of burgeoning divisiveness. I explain to her that I haven’t called ahead for credentials, but that I just plan on quietly standing with the press corps, jotting down ridiculous things I see and maybe firing off some incredulous low-quality pics on Twitter. I even show her my awesome shareable article title with swear words in it (our site can do that), but she remains predictably unconcerned.
I’ve been deported from the Trump rally. The irony is so thick, I’ll probably make it the Facebook share description.
“Lock her up!”
“She’s a Satan Woman!”
These are three things people are conceivably shouting inside the arena, I imagine, as I stride poetically away from the now-filtering-in crowd.
On my way out, I stop for a hot dog. I bite into the mustardy flesh, hungry for instant gratification but knowing, deep down, that there’s nothing of substance to this meal. I finish the last bite, stride past the rows of metal crowd control barriers, and head off towards a third taut metaphor.