In the midst of an election season, when political protesters are regularly out in full force at Trump and Clinton campaign rallies (and often behaving badly) it takes something extra special for a protest to make headlines. That’s why last night’s protest, which unfolded during the TV show, Dancing with the Stars, did. The protesters weren’t denouncing Trump’s plans to build a wall between Mexico and the U.S., or Clinton’s dissembling about her private email server. No, these guys are incensed about. . . Ryan Lochte?
— Good Morning America (@GMA) September 13, 2016
Yes, the scandalized Olympian, who is a contestant on this season’s Dancing with the Stars was looking dapper in a white suit while dancing with his partner Cheryl Burke, only to find himself the target of some audience hostility. While the show’s host interviewed Lochte on air after his performance, two men who had been posing as audience members walked on stage wearing anti-Lochte T-shirts and started shouting, “Liar!” Security personnel quickly took the men down on stage and hustled them away; they were later arrested for trespassing. But other protesters, who remained in their seats, continued to disrupt the show with taunts aimed at Lochte.
It’s unclear why these protestors felt compelled to risk arrest to share their feelings about Lochte with the world (a world that, for the most part, likely shares those feelings). Perhaps it pained them to see a truth-hedging Olympian celebrated as a star so soon after the debacle in Rio? Maybe they felt that the ten-month suspension from swimming that Lochte recently received was too lenient? Perhaps, like some of the judges, they were simply annoyed by his lackluster foxtrot?
Whatever the reason, the protest garnered a lot of online attention, even if it is unlikely to have influenced Lochte. Asked by reporters for his reaction, “Mr. Lochte said he felt “a little hurt” following the incident. “So many feelings are going through my head right now,” he said.
Hopefully one of those feelings is regret that he behaved so abominably in Rio in the first place.