Donald Trump is reportedly furious over the low turnout at his much-hyped rally in Tulsa on Saturday while his campaign blasted claims that teens on TikTok and K-pop fans trolled the president by ordering tickets to the event without ever intending to actually be there.
In a statement, the Trump campaign blamed the ‘fake news media’ for ‘warning people away from the rally’ over COVID-19 and protests against racial injustice around the country.
‘Leftists and online trolls doing a victory lap, thinking they somehow impacted rally attendance, don´t know what they’re talking about or how our rallies work,’ Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale wrote.
‘Reporters who wrote gleefully about TikTok and K-Pop fans – without contacting the campaign for comment – behaved unprofessionally and were willing dupes to the charade.’
President Trump’s campaign denies claims that teens on social media and K-pop fans reserved the bulk of tickets for the rally in Tulsa on Saturday. The upper section of the BOK Center is partially empty during the event (above)
President Trump (left) was reportedly ‘furious’ at the ‘underwhelming’ crowd size in Tulsa on Saturday, though it appears that campaign manager Brad Parscale’s (right) job is safe for now
The president on Sunday was seen returning to the White House after playing golf at Trump National Golf Club in Virginia earlier in the day
Tim Murtaugh, the communications director for the Trump campaign, tweeted on Sunday: ‘Trolls thinking they hacked rally tix don’t know how this works.
‘Lame trick tried many times. We weed out bogus RSVPs with fake phone#s.
‘All rallies are general admission. Real factor was media-stoked fear.
‘Most media didn’t bother to ask us anyway.’
On Sunday, a senior adviser to the Trump campaign was grilled on Fox News by host Chris Wallace, who said ‘you guys look silly’ by ‘denying the reality of what happened’ in Tulsa.
‘[Trump] talks about how he can fill an arena, and he didn’t fill an arena last night,’ the Fox News Sunday host told Schlapp.
‘You guys were so far off that you had planned an outdoor rally and there wasn’t an overflow crowd.
‘Protesters did not stop people from coming to that rally.
‘The fact is, people did not show up.’
In response, Schlapp tried to change the subject to Trump’s opponent in November, Democrat Joe Biden.
‘Joe Biden has been a failed politician that has done nothing but support failed institutions,’ Schlapp said.
‘This is in contrast with President Trump who has a strong record and is rebuilding this economy.’
Wallace then told Schlapp that she was ‘shifting to a campaign speech’ to avoid answering the question.
‘Mercedes, please don’t filibuster,’ Wallace said in the on-air exchange.
Fox News host Chris Wallace (left) grilled Mercedes Schlapp (right), an adviser to the Trump campaign, over claims that protesters prevented people from reaching the rally in Tulsa on Saturday
‘Frankly, it makes you guys look silly when you deny the reality of what happened.’
Schlapp maintained, however, that the combination of COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter protesters deterred people from the rally.
‘When it comes to understanding how the rallies work, it’s a first-come, first-served basis,’ Schlapp said.
She said it was ‘important to understand – and I had this with my own personal family who lives not far away from Tulsa, that they were concerned.
‘There were factors involved, like they were concerned about the protesters who were coming in.’
Trump looked fatigued as he returned to the White House early Sunday following the rally.
The president claimed ‘thugs’ blocked his supporters from filling the noticeably vacant seats at his speech.
Trump was seen stepping off Marine One onto the South Lawn of the White House early in the morning with his red tie undone – a rare sight for the president – and a red ‘Make America Great Again’ cap clutched in his hand.
In his Saturday night speech Trump praised the supporters who showed up saying, ‘Thank you warriors. Thank you.’
Saturday night marked Trump’s first rally since campaigning was sidelined by the coronavirus crisis and since Joe Biden became the presumptive Democratic nominee.
Polls show Biden leading Trump in their match up as voters give the president low marks for his handling of the pandemic and for his response to race relations after the death of George Floyd.
The rally in Tulsa was painted as the event that would reset the Trump campaign, bring the president back up in the polls, and let Trump enjoy the cheers of supporters – the kind of energy he craves and thrives off of.
But the BOK Center was marked by row after row of empty seats and a scheduled stop for the president for the outside overflow area had to be canceled after the expected crowds didn’t appear.
The Trump campaign’s chief spokesperson blamed ‘media-stoked fear’ for the poor attendance at the rally
‘There’s still space!’ the campaign texted supporters before Trump took the stage. After the rally was over the campaign argued that 4 million people watched it online, calling it an audience Biden ‘can only dream of.’
The president and his team had a variety of reasons for the lack of a crowd, including media reports on the rising number of coronavirus cases in Oklahoma and protesters outside of arena, claiming they blocked the security lines so people could not get inside.
‘I have been watching the fake news for weeks now. And everything is negative,’ Trump said in his remarks.
‘We had some very bad people outside. They were doing bad things. But I really do appreciate it,’ he told those who showed up.
‘You saw these thugs that came along,’ Trump complained of the peaceful demonstrators outside the BOK Center, many of whom wore ‘Black Lives Matters’ t-shirts.
In his nearly 1 hour and 41 minute speech, Trump railed against his rival ‘Sleepy Joe’ and claimed he was controlled by the ‘radical left.’ His speech painted a fearful picture of life in America under a President Joe Biden, where people wouldn’t be able to own a gun or go to church, and where mob rule would be a way of life.
His speech also contained the kind of political red meat his supporters like to hear: his support for a strong military, his criticism of protesters tearing down statues of Confederate Army officers, his demand that other nations stop ‘ripping off’ the United States, and his call for people who burn the American flag to serve one year in jail.
Parscale was ridiculed on social media on Saturday as Trump critics delighted in pointing out that at least one-third of the 19,000-seat BOK Center in Tulsa was empty.
Earlier this week, Parscale tweeted that more than a million people requested tickets for the rally through Trump’s campaign website.
Tulsa Fire Department spokesperson Andy Little said the city fire marshal’s office reported a crowd of just less than 6,200 in the arena.
City officials had expected a crowd of 100,000 people or more in downtown Tulsa, but that never materialized.
The president and vice president both canceled planned speeches that they were expecting to give to a large overflow crowd just outside of the arena.
After it became apparent that just a few dozen people had showed up, campaign organizers folded up the stage which was already outfitted with protective glass that Trump was supposed to have stood behind while giving his address.
The president’s daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, were said to have been ‘p****d’ at Parscale for ‘over promising on crowd size’
A top aide to Kushner, however, denied the report, saying it was false
Meanwhile, several news reports indicate that Trump and his top aides are angry over the sparsely attended rally.
The presidents’ daughter, Ivanka Trump, and her husband, Jared Kushner, who is also a top White House aide, are reportedly ‘p****d’ at Parscale for the low turnout, CNN is reporting.
The network quoted a campaign official as saying that Trump’s family is unhappy with Parscale for overestimating the number of people that were going to attend the rally.
‘Jared and Ivanka are p****d at Brad over promising on crowd size,’ the source said.
A top aide to Kushner, Avi Berkowitz, denied the story.
‘This is false,’ Berkowitz tweeted.
In late April it was reported that Trump threatened to sue Parscale during a furious phone call in the wake of his poll numbers plummeting and re-election chances diminishing.
CNN and The New York Times reported on the back-and-forth on April 29, noting that Parscale and Republican National Committee Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel had told the president to quit it with his daily coronavirus press briefings, as they were hurting him with swing-state voters.
On the call – one of a series of such calls with aides – Trump tore into Parscale for the cratering polls, shouting ‘I’m not f***ing losing to Joe Biden,’ during a conversation peppered with profanity, the Associated Press reported.
The campaign chief shot back, ‘I love you, too,’ according to The Times. Jared Kushner was also present for the expletive-filled confrontations.
The president himself was also ‘furious’ at the ‘underwhelming’ crowd in Tulsa, where a large turnout was expected for the first campaign event in three months, according to NBC News.
Even before the rally on Saturday, Trump was reportedly venting to his top aides about news that six members of his staff, among them at least two Secret Service agents, had tested positive for COVID-19.
The president was said to be upset that the information leaked to the press. He reportedly was angry that news stories about the positive cases were making headlines and marring coverage of the rally.
According to NBC News, while many blame Parscale for the low turnout at the rally, his job is safe for now.
Nonetheless, associates of the president were not impressed.
‘This was a major failure,’ an outside adviser to Trump told NBC News.
AOC joins hundreds of Twitter users claiming teens on TikTok and K-pop fans sabotaged Trump’s Tulsa rally and left seats empty by reserving thousands of tickets with no intention of showing up
TikTok users and K-pop fans claim they reserved hundreds of tickets for Trump’s Tulsa rally on Saturday night with no intention of attending.
Political strategist Steve Schmidt, an outspoken critic of Trump, tweeted on Saturday night: ‘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.’
He then added: ‘This is what happened tonight. I’m dead serious when I say this. The teens of America have struck a savage blow against @realDonaldTrump. All across America teens ordered tickets to this event. The fools on the campaign bragged about a million tickets. lol.’
US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez praised the Zoomers and K-pop allies involved in reserving tickets.
The Oklahoma rally was intended to be the largest indoor gathering in the world during the coronavirus pandemic that has killed almost 120,000 Americans, put 40 million more out of work and upended Trump’s reelection bid.
The arena is seen just seven minutes before the doors were scheduled to close on Saturday
There were many empty seats at Saturday’s rally. Trump’s campaign declared that it had received over a million ticket requests.
President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the BOK Center
Political strategist Steve Schmidt tweeted on Saturday night: ‘My 16 year old daughter and her friends in Park City Utah have hundreds of tickets. You have been rolled by America’s teens’
Brad Parscale, campaign manager for Trump’s 2020 campaign tweeted that ‘radical protestors… interfered with @realDonaldTrump supporters at the rally’. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, responded: ‘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’
The prank by TikTok users and K-pop fans came after the Trump campaign tweeted to ask the President’s supporters to register for the free tickets earlier this month.
The plan to sabotage the rally quickly went viral and videos telling viewers to reserve tickets and then not show up to began racking up millions of views.
Many of the videos were then deleted in an attempt to keep the plan a secret, although in one which is still live, a TikTok user says sarcastically: ‘Oh no, I signed up for a Trump rally and I can’t go, I’m sick.’
The plan then spread across multiple social media platforms.
Parscale tweeted on Saturday 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!’
Ocasio-Cortez responded: ‘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.’
She added: ‘KPop allies, we see and appreciate your contributions in the fight for justice too.’
Zoomer is a nickname for a member of Generation Z.
Roberto Quinlan tweeted on Saturday night: ‘So my teen daughter, who has Snapchat and TikTok accounts, walked in and said to me “So did it work? Did the teens get all the tickets to the Trump rally?” She’s known about this ALL WEEK and I just learned this an hour ago…’
He added: ‘There’s an element to this that is terrifying. I consume A LOT of political twitter and I had zero inkling that this was coming down the pipeline. ‘
MsDee replied to Schmidt: ‘My 18 yr old granddaughter and everyone she knows did the same :)’
PennyMoxie added: ‘My 15-year old and her friends in Denver also purchased an obscene amount of tickets. I knew teens were smarter than Trump, but I had no idea they could outwit his campaign staff.’
Political scientist Alyssa R. Williams wrote: ‘My 17 yr old daughter & friends did the same. I thought she was kidding me on how many teens were on board. Amazing!’
Teresa Moore replied: ‘It wasn’t just teenagers. I’m 60 and I’ve got 300 tickets. And I’m an Oklahoma Democrat.’
On Saturday, Trump tried to explain away the crowd size, blaming it on the media for declaring ‘don’t go, don’t come, don’t do anything’ while insisting there were protesters outside ‘doing bad things,’ though the small crowds of pre-rally demonstrators were largely peaceful.
‘We begin our campaign,’ Trump thundered. ‘The silent majority is stronger than ever before.’
But huge swaths of empty seats remained in the downtown arena before Trump was to take the stage. And that came on the heels of the campaign revealing that six staff members who were helping set up for the event had tested positive for the virus.
Campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh said that ‘quarantine procedures were immediately implemented,’ and that neither the affected staffers nor anyone who was in immediate contact with them would attend the event.
News of the infections came just a short time before Trump departed for Oklahoma, and the president raged to aides that it was made public, according to two White House and campaign officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly about private conversations.
In the minutes before the president arrived at the downtown arena, Trump supporters who signed up for tickets received a text urging them to show up, declaring, ‘There´s still space!’
City officials had expected a crowd of 100,000 people or more in downtown Tulsa.
Earlier this month, fans of K-pop flooded right-wing hashtags with posts about Korean pop music.
Hashtags for MAGA and Blue Lives Matter on Twitter and Instagram were co-opted by the music fans.
As a result of the effort, hashtags designed to promote conservative and sometimes outright racist content were almost entirely populated with memes and ‘fancams’ that depict K-pop groups and their members singing and performing.
The tactic showed similar success when K-pop fans, also known as K-pop stans, swarmed an app being pushed by the Dallas police that was designed to collect people’s videos of ‘llegal activity from the protests.’
Instead, the app was inundated with K-pop videos and was eventually taken down as a result.