Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
July 20, 2016

Republican Convention ’16 — A Distortion Field

Chang_Lee_RNC Day 1

After watching, listening and astutely looking at the first two days of the GOP convention, I couldn’t find a more fitting image than the one above.

Given the weakness of the speakers and the poverty of argument. (I agree with Andrew Sullivan that it’s all about feelings, mostly hard or irrational ones.)

Given the O’Reilly call in during the Benghazi testimonial….

Given the disconnect between the scarce and barely tolerated-establishment pols and the rank amateurs….

Given the weird scheduling and the Melania FUBAR and the chants to lock up Hillary and the medley of mock trial, Lucifer and avocados….

Given all that and pages of footnotes more, what I realize I’m witnessing (and being subjected to) is a distortion field. Or, a political party convention in a fun house mirror.

In all the strangeness, other photographers have been wrestling with the same disorientation. I’ve got a lot more pix in the hopper (which you can see more of on our Twitter and Instagram feeds). Below, however, I’ve sampled several based on that stage set that makes you think you’re trapped in Trump’s maze. Or, that the Donald (or, is it Alfred Hitchcock?) has been beamed down from an alien planet (though others saw Monday’s grand entrance inspired by Beyoncé, or Wrestlemania).  Then, there’s what looks like a compact case with Melania (channeling Michelle Obama) opposite balloons. Beyond the arena, we have a guy taking a selfie in front of a ring of Old Glories while a woman from Code Pink flashes a “victory” sign in what otherwise seems like a makeshift dressing room. Then, we have anarchist pedestrians and a human Hillary prison smokestack.

Like I said, the only way to make sense of Trump’s GOP takeover and the hijacking of the nominating ritual is in terms of distortion. What’s real is surreal.

Donald Trump, RNC. Cleveland, OH #rncincle #nytassignment @nytimes #election2016 #politics #nytrnc

Donald J. Trump exited the stage after introducing his wife, Melania. Damon Winter/The New York Times

Party lines. @somophoto #RNC #GettyImagesNews

#Repost via @cnn. ・・・ Donald Trump enters the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, to Queen's "We Are The Champions." Adam Rose/CNN #gopconvention #rncincle #donaldtrump

#Republican #presidential #candidate #Donald #Trump arrives on stage during the Republican National #Convention. #GOP. photo: Evan Vucci

Photo: Damon Winter/New York Times. Looking up at hundreds of red, white and blue balloons, @damonwinter captured a Jumbotron while Melania Trump spoke on the first night of the #Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Her husband, @realdonaldtrump, appeared in silhouette and walked onto the stage to Queen’s “We Are The Champions” before introducing the night’s featured speaker. Ms. #Trump praised him as an “amazing leader” who “thinks big” and will never give up. If she were to serve as first lady, she said, she would help “people in our country who need it the most.” She also said she would focus on women and children; in particular, making sure that children get the education they deserve. “It is kindness, love and compassion for each other that will bring us together and keep us together,” she said.

Guy takes a selfie with anti-Trump protester as other try to cover her with American flags at the RNC billclarkphotos

Anarchists march throughout downtown #Cleveland in an almost cat and mouse like fashion with police, ducking into alleyways and confronting the officers with questions of "Why can't we walk on the sidewalk." Hilary Swift/Instagram. On assignment with NY Times.

Vaping for Trump in downtown Cleveland during Republican National Convention. photo: David Butow.

(photo 1: Chang W. Lee – @nytchangster/Instagram on assignment for The New York Times. caption: Texas delegates passed by a riser for press which is covered with mirror during the first day of Republican National Convention in Cleveland, OH. @realdonaldtrump tweeted he will introduce his wife Melania later tonight as she is scheduled to speak tonight at RNC. photo 2: Eric Thayer. ericthayer/Instagram. caption: Donald Trump, RNC. Cleveland, OH  @ericthayer; photo 3: Damon Winter/The New York Times. caption: Donald J. Trump exited the stage after introducing his wife, Melania photo 4: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images. caption: Party lines @somophoto photo 5: Adam Rose/@cnn. caption: Donald Trump enters the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, to Queen’s “We Are The Champions.” photo 6: Evan Vucci. caption: Trump arrives on stage during the Republican National Convention.  photo 7: Damon Winter/New York Times. caption: Looking up at hundreds of red, white and blue balloons,@damonwinter captured a Jumbotron while Melania Trump spoke on the first night of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Her husband, @realdonaldtrump, appeared in silhouette and walked onto the stage to Queen’s “We Are The Champions” before introducing the night’s featured speaker. Ms. Trump praised him as an “amazing leader” who “thinks big” and will never give up. If she were to serve as first lady, she said, she would help “people in our country who need it the most.” She also said she would focus on women and children; in particular, making sure that children get the education they deserve. “It is kindness, love and compassion for each other that will bring us together and keep us together,” she said. photo 8: billclarkphotos/Instagram. caption: Quicken Loans Arena, 19/07/2016. Guy takes a selfie with anti-Trump protester as other try to cover her with American flags at the RNC. photo 9: Hilary Swift – hlswift/Instagram on assignment for NY Times. caption: Anarchists march throughout downtown Cleveland in an almost cat and mouse like fashion with police, ducking into alleyways and confronting the officers with questions of “Why can’t we walk on the sidewalk.”  photo 10: David Butow – davidbutow/Instagram. caption: Vaping for Trump in downtown.)

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