SCRAPSMETAL, Ohio—After 3 months, it’s crystal clear that citizens of ultra-liberal enclaves like New York City have not warmed to President Donald Trump.
But in this hardscrabble, blue-collar, Trump-supporting town, a different consensus is emerging.
“We are absolutely sick and tired of talking to reporters about the Donald Trump presidency,” said Scrapsmetal resident and Trump voter Mitch Krantz, 53, at a diner that this reporter has frequented 64 times since Inauguration Day. “I can’t even get the mail without being barked at by some bearded Georgetown lanyard boy, begging me for my opinion on Sean Spicer’s press conference etiquette.”
That seemed to be the unanimous opinion in this town of aluminum foil farmers, tractor repairmen and professional interview granters to the New York Times: While ratings of Trump’s performance were mixed, everyone agreed that their town’s cafes and Walmarts had been overrun by jet-lagged reporters thrusting steno pads and voice recorders into their faces.
“Please go home,” Krantz said. ” I am begging you, leave us be.”
Scrapsmetal is but one of many towns that defined the 2016 election. In 2012, 52% voters here voted for Barack Obama; in 2016, 103% of voters chose Donald Trump, many of them writing him in for offices he wasn’t even running for.
One of these voters was Donna Wright, a 63-year-old hairdresser who has lived in Scrapsmetal her whole life. When I first met Donna in January, she was cautiously optimistic about Trump’s ability to shake up Washington; today, she is cowering behind a row of shopping carts, praying she is not spotted by Major Garrett’s film crew.
“The other night I got up from bed to wash my face in the sink, and hiding in my shower stall was Frank Luntz, asking if I thought Trump should stop tweeting,” said Wright, who added that she doesn’t answer the phone anymore for fear that it might be a Politico reporter pleading with her to give a letter grade to Trump’s first 100 days.
“I just want peace, and quiet, and to never hear the phrase ‘Ma’am, are you familiar with our coverage at Axios?’ ever again,” she said later, peering through her blinds at the correspondent from Vice News Tonight who had pitched a yurt on her front lawn.
Since Election Day, more than 200 news outlets have sent reporters to Scrapsmetal in order to “get out of the liberal bubble” and “talk to real Americans.”
That has changed this lunchpail town: On a recent Sunday afternoon, I headed to the Scrapsmetal Bowling Alley, only to find 6 former classmates from Northwestern and my old boss at Reuters; later, on Main Street, I recognized 19 people from The Hill’s 50 Most Beautiful People in Washington.
This is a downtown that used to be flush with lunch counters and department stores; now, those buildings have been converted into a squatter community for employees of The Daily Beast who couldn’t get a reservation at the Red Roof Inn.
To be fair, though, Scrapsmetal has gotten used to seismic changes over the years. Whereas the number one industry here used to be coal smelting, now it is hotel lodging for Wall Street Journal correspondents. In 1973, the most common job per capita was ironworker; today, it is National Affairs Reporter (NY).
But not everyone dislikes the influx of journalists.
“I’m having a blast,” said Cambridge Brody, 23, an audio producer for the NPR podcast Going Native. “Last night I taught the bartender at The Tractor Pull how to mix an authentic Sazerac. It was jolly fun, and just so gritty and real.”
Whether Scrapsmetal residents will continue to support Trump, or the swarms of journalists begging them for a quote about Jared Kushner’s role in the White House, remains to be seen. In fact, several Scrapsmetallians I talked to were considering a change of scenery.
“I hear good things about Brooklyn, especially if you go out far enough in Bed-Stuy,” Krantz reflected, talking to me and 39 other reporters who had cornered him in the dumpster area behind a car wash. “Plus the market is pretty soft, what with every New York politics reporter living out of a Comfort Inn in rural Michigan.”
Others, meanwhile, were showing initial signs of regret.
“If I had known it was going to be like this, with Trump as president,” sighed Donna Wright, shooing away a team of CNN producers with her broomstick, “I would have voted for Hillary.”
Jason O. Gilbert is a comedy writer living in Brooklyn.