If you happened to watch President Trump’s rally in Tulsa, OK on Saturday night, you may have noticed that not all of the seats inside the BOK Center were occupied. There were many seats available in the upper tier and even some empty seats in the main seating area.
The Associated Press’ Jonathan Lemire wrote, “President Donald Trump launched his comeback rally Saturday by defining the upcoming election as a stark choice between national heritage and left-wing radicalism. But his intended show of political force amid a pandemic featured thousands of empty seats and new coronavirus cases on his own campaign staff.”
NEW: President Trump ignored health warnings and pressed ahead with a rally amid a pandemic, but what was meant to be a show of defiant political force was instead met with thousands of empty seats and new coronavirus cases on his own campaign staff https://t.co/reD0Bts7O2
— Jonathan Lemire (@JonLemire) June 21, 2020
The New York Times ran a story entitled “Trump Rally Fizzles as Attendance Falls Short of Campaign’s Expectations.” Its lede was even less charitable. It read, “President Trump’s attempt to revive his re-election bid sputtered badly as he traveled to Tulsa for his first mass rally in months but found a small crowd and delivered a disjointed speech.”
The article said the President failed to address the multiple crises facing the nation” or the scandals that have been “battering him in Washington.” It cited “the weakness of Mr. Trump’s drawing power and political skills.”
And, all of this, of course, raises “new questions about his electoral prospects for a second term at a time when his poll numbers were already falling.”
We all know that President Trump has never had a problem filling a rally venue.
However, when the Trump campaign announced last week that over one million tickets requests for the Tulsa rally had been made, the left pounced on it. Were all of these legitimate?
They claimed that many of the requests were made by anti-Trump activists, including teens on TikTok, to make the campaign believe they would have a packed arena. They’d hoped the President would be speaking to a nearly empty arena.
CNN reported that an Iowa woman, Mary Jo Laupp, posted a video on TikTok last week, encouraging people to participate in the alleged scam. She wrote: “All of those of us that want to see this 19,000 seat auditorium barely filled or completely empty go reserve tickets now and leave him standing alone there on the stage.”
According to the New York Times, thousands of similar messages appeared on TikTok and other social media platforms.
YouTuber Elijah Daniel, 26, told the Times, “It spread mostly through Alt TikTok — we kept it on the quiet side where people do pranks and a lot of activism. K-pop Twitter and Alt TikTok have a good alliance where they spread information amongst each other very quickly. They all know the algorithms and how they can boost videos to get where they want.”
AOC couldn’t resist jumping into the fray, tweeting that the Trump campaign had been fooled “by teens on TikTok who flooded the Trump campaign w/ fake ticket reservations & tricked you into believing a million people wanted your white supremacist open mic enough to pack an arena during COVID…Shout out to Zoomers. Y’all make me so proud.”
Actually you just got ROCKED by teens on TikTok who flooded the Trump campaign w/ fake ticket reservations & tricked you into believing a million people wanted your white supremacist open mic enough to pack an arena during COVID
Shout out to Zoomers. Y’all make me so proud. ☺️ https://t.co/jGrp5bSZ9T
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 21, 2020
Anti-Trumper Steve Schmidt, former campaign manager for John McCain, echoed AOC’s message. “My 16-year-old daughter and her friends in Park City, Utah, have hundreds of tickets. You have been rolled by America’s teens. @realDonaldTrump you have been failed by your team. You have been deserted by your faithful. No one likes to root for the losing team.”
This very well may have been a factor in the lower than expected turnout. But, when you consider they received 175,000 requests for a late January rally in freezing cold Wildwood, NJ, one million for Trump’s first rally in over three months, a very turbulent three months, is not out of the realm of possibility.
PolitiFact declared that this scenario “doesn’t seem likely.”
Could anti-Trump protesters really buy up enough tickets to leave Tulsa’s BOK Center mostly empty? It doesn’t seem likely.
Okay, so why were there empty seats inside the venue if demand had been so high?
Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale tweeted last night:
Radical protestors, fueled by a week of apocalyptic media coverage, interfered with @realDonaldTrump supporters at the rally.
They even blocked access to the metal detectors, preventing people from entering.
Thanks to the 1,000s who made it anyway!
Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh told the Washington Times, “Sadly, protesters interfered with supporters, even blocking access to the metal detectors, which prevented people from entering the rally. Radical protesters, coupled with a relentless onslaught from the media, attempted to frighten off the president’s supporters. We are proud of the thousands who stuck it out.”
Newson6, a Tulsa, OK media outlet reported an hour before the rally began that two groups of protestors “have now joined together near 6th and Denver to protest President Trump’s campaign rally. These groups marched through areas of downtown to a barricade set to block entry to BOK Center area.” A video of the scene can be viewed here.
The Star Tribune reported:
President Donald Trump’s supporters faced off with protesters shouting “Black Lives Matter” Saturday in Tulsa as the president took the stage for his first campaign rally in months amid public health concerns about the coronavirus and fears that the event could lead to violence in the wake of killings of Black people by police.
Hundreds of demonstrators flooded the city’s downtown streets and blocked traffic at times, but police reported just a handful of arrests. Many of the marchers chanted, and some occasionally got into shouting matches with Trump supporters, who outnumbered them and yelled, “All lives matter.”
The protesters blocked traffic in at least one intersection. Some Black leaders in Tulsa had said they were worried the visit could lead to violence. It came amid protests over racial injustice and policing across the U.S. and in a city that has a long history of racial tension. Officials had said they expected some 100,000 people downtown.
There was also an undercurrent of tension near the entrance to the secured area, where Trump supporters and opponents squared off.
However, much as it kills me to say it, there are no media reports that confirm Parscale’s version of the story. There were plenty of protestors in the area, but I haven’t found any reports of protestors actually blocking Trump supporters from gaining entry into the arena. Obviously, the mainstream media wouldn’t cover it even if it had happened. It’s possible that the fear of violence may have kept some supporters at home.
There were reports of clashes between Trump supporters and protestors when the rally was over.
Total chaos outside Trump rally in Tulsa. Protesters gave taken over Boulder Ave
Police and National Guard are allowing this to continue pic.twitter.com/geEzMtvTAg
— Jack Posobiec (@JackPosobiec) June 21, 2020
Whatever the reason for the lower than expected turnout, one thing is for sure. The media is determined to undermine President Trump’s chances in November just as they did in 2016. In fact, they are desperate to do so.
If you’ve forgotten how relentlessly the media attacked candidate Trump in 2016, here’s a reminder from White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications and Director of Social Media Dan Scavino.
— Dan Scavino (@DanScavino) June 16, 2020