What it’s like reporting at a Trump rally

Christina Basken, Columnist (News Editor)

This was my first time reporting at a presidential event. To put it simply, what an experience.

I attended a press conference at the Green Bay Labor Temple at 10 a.m. that day. I met a radio station reporter there whose first words to me were, “Have you reported at a Trump event before?” I said “no,” and she proceeded to tell me to watch out.

Like most journalists, I went to the press conference and the MAGA Rally with the mindset that I would deliver a fair and balanced report of the event. To me, this meant interviewing both males and females, interviewing both Democrats and Republicans and interviewing both supporters and non-supporters of Trump.

My plan for interviewing individuals was to stay neutral, and quite frankly, to kill them with kindness. It’s no secret that the president has bashed the media. In the back of my mind, I knew that people would be hesitant to talk to me, but I never expected it to be as bad as it was.

I left the press conference at 11:30 p.m. and felt confident that I had gotten interviews from male and female Democrats and that I heard them on why they didn’t support Trump. I took notes and recorded what Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay, and Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes had to say.

It was time for me to head to the Resch Center and interview some people on the other side, those who supported Trump.

I walked up and down the gated line of people waiting to see the president speak. I approached each individual with the same introduction and questions: “Hello, my name is Christina. I am here with the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh newspaper, The Advance-Titan. I am asking people why they came today to support their president and what makes them so passionate about supporting their president. What specific things has Trump said or done that makes you support him?”

The second individual that I interviewed cut me off right after I said UWO. “Oh, the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh,” he said. “I bet all your professors are a bunch of idiotic, satanic liberals and you’re probably just another one of those satanic bitches from the media.”

Truthfully, I debated on walking away right then and there, but I decided not to. What did I do? I killed him with kindness and skipped right over his comment and kindly asked him why he was here supporting Trump.

After that, the rest of my interviews went over pretty smoothly, and I truly believe that was due to my positive attitude.

Press check-in was at 3 p.m. and honestly, it was pretty cool. The Secret Service checked me in and handed me my press credentials that said “White House Press Pool.” You better believe I’m keeping those credentials for life!

I am grateful I had the opportunity to report on a presidential event. That being said, there were some scary moments. The press was located on the floor of the arena, with our own stage so we could get high enough above the crowd to shoot video and photos. There was no missing us.

President Trump didn’t take the stage until 7 p.m. Social media personalities Diamond and Silk, U.S. Congressmen Mike Gallagher and Sean Duffy, both R-Wis., and Donald Trump Jr. hyped up the crowd before Trump finally walked down the runway.

Every single speaker who took the stage, including President Trump, took the opportunity to bash the media.

The crowd was so hyped up that they all turned around to look us in the face and flip us off, while chanting things like “fake news,” “CNN sucks” or “fuck the media.”
One individual even looked right at me and gave me the thumbs up while booing.

I was saddened by their responses because I know there will always be someone in every single industry who won’t do the right or ethical thing and won’t perform their duties in a professional manner. You hear about it all too often: dirty cops, dirty lawyers, etc. But it is sad when that entire industry takes the heat for it.

Whether they are college journalists or professional journalists, every journalist that I have met has had nothing but good intentions.

At UWO, journalism professors teach their students to tell the truth, report their stories in a fair and balanced manner and to give proper sourcing to everything.

Regardless of these negative experiences, I do not regret reporting at the MAGA Rally. It was an experience that I will never forget and one that will help me to become a better journalist. If anything, all those negative comments toward the media makes me only want to do the best possible job I can do and prove them wrong.

I could not be more proud of the individuals standing around me in the press section. No one made a face, no one shook their head. We all stood there and took the bashing like professionals.