In 2016, things got weird. Even for a job like that. I thought the whole Donald Trump thing was just going to peter out. Then it just kept on not petering out. Cable news anchors couldn’t hide their smirks when they talked about him. But of all the people who initially thought his candidacy was a joke, I’m the one without a real excuse to have missed it. Because I got to see it play out in comment threads.
Even in the early days of the campaign, cultural conservatives, fiscal conservatives, the weirdos who talked only about chemtrails — they all had one thing in common. They wanted a president who would stick it to the liberals. They didn’t care that supporting him would mean changing their positions on any number of issues.
All they knew was that he drove the liberals crazy. He was just like all of the anonymous internet commenters. He justified their existence, and they justified his. And they all rallied around him. The campaign was seemingly born out of, and supported by, comment sections. Our job became tougher. As a news blog, we were covering stories featuring a man running for president saying things that I would have deleted his account for had he been just another troll on the site. But he wasn’t just another troll.