Poli Savvy: How did an insect steal part of the spotlight

A fly that landed on Vice President’s Mike Pence’s head during Vice Presidential debates makes headlines

The hurricane of news erupting less than a month ahead of the U.S. presidential elections can leave anyone with a serious case of whiplash.

Some of the news circulating before and after the 2020 United States Vice Presidential debate: President Trump delayed an economic relief bill to help Americans until after the election; new revelations that former Attorney General Jeff Sessions requested that children be taken away from migrant families at the border in 2018; President Trump refused to participate in a virtual town hall to debate Biden; Trump changed his mind and requests an in-person debate…

But even with the incessant stream of must-read news flooding news feeds and timelines everywhere, this is what everyone seems to be talking about: a fly resting on Mike Pence’s head for two minutes during the Vice Presidential debate.

“The fly” was trending on Twitter before the debate had even finished, with hundreds of thousands of mentions and dozens of Twitter accounts created attempting to impersonate the insect. Etsy shops now sell Pence’s fly apparel, and Biden’s campaign issued a quickly sold-out “Truth over flies” fly swatter.

Why all the focus on such a small matter, compared to all the other much more serious matters that are being published?

During the debate, many more important news-worthy moments happened. For example, Pence discussed the Trump administration’s take on several hot topics, including the Rose Garden ceremony for Amy Coney Barrett.

According to Pence, “It was an outdoor event, which all of our scientists regularly routinely advise.”

This comes after Trump and 22 members of his administration tested positive for the virus following the meeting, described as a “super-spreader” White House event. Attendees did not wear masks nor social distance, and pictures show they also gathered indoors.

In the current climate, a situation like this just becomes a needle in a polluted haystack of controversies. There’s too much to keep up with. To focus on the fly isn’t about getting immune to corruption, or about having a short attention span.

It’s more about being fed up. It is a way to showcase the perfect visual for how some feel about the administration without having to air out all the grievances on a list.

Maybe that’s how the fly got so big.

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