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Aug 19 2019

It’s worse than you think.

So the Intertubz is a twitter after Steve King’s abysmally attended Town Hall Saturday.

As it turns out the Corporatist Media is vastly exaggerating the turn out, by like 100%.

These fractions are easy because the denominator, the statistical (yeah, had to take that too) universe of people who attended Steve King’s Town Hall is exactly 2.

And one of them was a footsore staffer.

The other? Here’s her story.

The Only Person Who Attended Steve King’s Forum
By Pat Rynard, Iowa Starting Line
August 18, 2019

It was early Saturday morning, and Jessica Birch didn’t feel like getting out of bed. Hungover and tired, the 21-year-old University of Northern Iowa student could easily have turned off her alarm.

But the night before, she saw a Facebook event for Congressman Steve King’s town hall forum in Grundy County come across her feed, and she felt a civic duty to attend. So, Birch forced herself out of bed and headed 17 miles down the road to the Grundy Center Community Center.

She arrived to peculiar scene: out of the over 12,000 people that live in Grundy County, Birch was the only one to show up to King’s forum.

“It was just odd, because I don’t know what the record was for the world’s smallest town hall is, but one person I think has to be it,” Birch told Starting Line in an interview this morning.

A photo of the near-empty room by a Reuters photographer quickly went viral Saturday afternoon, showing only two people in a room of mostly-empty chairs. However, as Birch explained, the other woman on the left in the photo was an intern for King. Birch, who lives in Dike, Iowa, was the only constituent of King’s not required to attend to show up.

“I was the only person who was not paid to be there,” she said.

When Birch arrived to the parking lot, it was just a few police cars there for security.

“I looked at them, they looked at me,” she said of the four to six police officers who were there as she walked in.

King’s staff opened the door for her as she arrived, and she wrote her name — the only one — on the sign-in sheet. A few staff and one photographer were the only other people on hand.

Birch had planned on just sitting in the back of the room. When King entered, he walked back to her to greet her, then she moved herself up to a closer row as he approached the podium.

“It was very awkward, it was a very weird thing,” Birch explained. “Part of me wanted to leave, but it would be rude to leave, and the Midwestern part of me couldn’t do that. I feel bad for him a bit. But then part of me was really, really angry because other Democrats didn’t show up. I kind of let stuff he said slide, on stuff like abortion and health care, because I don’t want to get in an argument with him. I already know you’re wrong. Let’s talk about things I actually care about.”

Once the hour-long forum was finished, King’s staff encouraged her to get a photo with the congressman.

“I politely declined, mostly because I plan to run for office and I don’t need a picture of Steve King and I shaking hands in the future,” she said.

On her way out the door, she jokingly apologized to the officers for having to get up early to provide security for someone as rowdy as herself.

“I don’t know if they found it funny; I did,” Birch said.

While she sent out a tweet during the event, Birch didn’t get much response and headed back home for the day.

“I ate breakfast pizza and then I went back to bed,” Birch explained. “I woke up at 4:00 and I pulled up my phone, and I have a dozen notifications.”

The photo of King’s Grundy Center town hall had been bouncing around Twitter for hours. Even Senator Amy Klobuchar had commented on it. While Birch herself wasn’t named anywhere, she said it was odd to see the back of her head and another photo of her face being shared by so many people.

“It was interesting, I don’t think I’ll ever have another experience like that again in my life,” she said.

Folks, that’s what activism looks like.