Some among Trump's White House South Lawn audience were paid to be there

Some among Trump's White House South Lawn audience were paid to be there
Photo via Screengrab.

Donald Trump has always been a game show kind of guy, so it's maybe not a surprise that his first public rally after his hospitalization for COVID-19 symptoms turned into a game show itself, of sorts.

Do you like prizes, kids? Do like prizes enough to listen to Donald Trump talk? Do you like prizes enough to risk your life during a deadly pandemic to listen to Donald Trump talk? Well then, you are in luck! Because conservative weirdo Candace Owens is handing out free travel and lodging to anyone willing to put on an oversized blue T-shirt and risk pandemic death on the White House's South Lawn.

Yeah, that's right. Donald Trump's White House rally on Saturday, the one that was absolutely not a campaign event, the one that featured Trump addressing an adoring teal-shirted and mostly maskless crowd wedged shoulder to shoulder, the scene right out of Evita 2: Mar-a-Lago Boogaloo, the ol' balcony Mussolini routine—an unknown number of those folks were paid to be there. ABC News reports that Owens' fake grassroots "BLEXIT" group offered to cover travel and lodging expenses for a "limited" number of people who showed up and were willing to wear the light blue T-shirts. Owens' group was already organizing a separate fake grassroots Washington, D.C., event on the same day; the White House crowd was gathered from there.

What seems to have happened, reading between the lines, is that Donald Trump was going absolutely stir-crazy and wanted to get back out on the campaign trail, contagious or not contagious, and like the previous "drive once around the hospital while unnecessarily exposing my Secret Service agents to my deadly illness," this was the hurried compromise offered to him by his staff and doctors. Bring an audience to him so that he would stay in the building a few more days rather than taking his coronavirus-infected, pneumonia-having self on a road trip.

Don't worry, though: It wasn't a campaign event. Just an event specifically for far-right voters, ones specifically gathered to encourage Black Americans to vote for Trump and Trump's allies, to hear a Donald Trump speech about "law and order," by which he means crushing the Black Lives Matter demands for police reform, with guest expenses paid by one of Trump's more visible and conspiracy-adjacent allies out of whatever slush fund first birthed the idea for their Washington, D.C. rally to begin with—one that Owens explicitly called an "anti-Black Lives Matter event," just in case people weren't clear about what the agenda was.

Eh. At this point it would be more surprising if some stunt Trump pulled wasn't a fake-ass reality show moment. The South Lawn just recovered from the totally nonpartisan (checks notes) Republican National Convention; now it's going to need repair again. It's you and me that will be paying for those repairs this time, by the way. Because all involved are insistent that this was a presidenting speech, not a campaign speech.

We do, however, have our answer. Yes, there are people willing to risk COVID-19 to see Typhoid Hitler lie to them in person, and especially so if somebody else is paying their bills. Seeing it on television is one thing, but if you go in person you can always hope that the man's spittle will land directly on you, infecting you with Dear Leader's own, um, pandemic superpowers.

Whatever. You do you, Trump supporters. Preferably over there—as far away as possible. The American version of the worldwide pandemic is slowly morphing into a partisan disease, a disease spreading most aggressively among Trump-supporting states and communities while Dear Leader rants about everything being a hoax and ... sigh. Whatever.

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