After K-pop fans and Tiktok users claimed responsibility for Donald Trump’s low turnout at his campaign rally, the President of the United States and his team scramble to reclaim his image.
In his first rally in months on Saturday (21 June), held at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, what predominantly took over the news was not the content of his speech, but the lack of attendance in the arena. The upper stands were visibly empty, with plenty of seats unused, as well as vastly empty spaces in front of the stage. Trump’s camp earlier announced that one million tickets were requested, but in the end only about 6,200 people turned up inside the center, which holds a 19,000 capacity.
K-pop fans and TikTok users across the USA had claimed credit for this ‘movement’ by forming an alliance to thwart the rally by registering seats and not showing up for the rally. The “Zoomers”, made up of Generation Z users on social media, would post their ‘counter-campaign’ on Twitter and Tiktok that other users would pass on, and then each delete their post within one to two days to avoid detection of this plan.
Apparently this brainchild was created by 51-year-old teacher Mary Jo Laupp on TikTok, whose video garnered over 700,000 likes by late Saturday. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said in a tweet that she “appreciated (K-pop allies) contributions in the fight for justice.”
Now Trump’s camp is left to orchestrate the damage control in the aftermath of this organized sabotage.
Erin Perrine, principal deputy communications director for the Trump campaign, told CNN last week that the turnout was “not a big concern” and that they actually had knowledge of the plot prior. “These leftists do this all the time but all they have done was give us access to their contact information.”
Trump campaign adviser Mercedes Schlapp said in a televised interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday that protesters who blocked the doors and pathways were to blame for the dismal turnout. She claimed that the physical turnout on Saturday were “people who wanted to be physically present with the president”, and that the numbers do not account for the actual quantity of people who were interested in Trump’s rally, because 5.3 million people watched at home instead.
Her comments were a follow-up to campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh’s statement issued on Saturday. He asserted that “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.”
Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale echoed Murtaugh’s statement, blaming the media for “a week of apocalyptic media coverage which encouraged radical protesters and bombarded Americans with dire warnings against attending a Trump rally.” However, he insisted that these protestors were still “unable to prevent President Trump from reaching the people because it was (streamed) across all of the campaign’s digital media channels.”
In response to these statements from Sclapp and Trump’s campaign team, Wallace implored them not to “filibuster (because) it makes you guys look silly when you deny the reality of what happened.”
There are murmurs speculated however, that Donald Trump is already looking for a scapegoat to hold account for this humiliating rally, and Parscale seems to be the one who would step down and take the blame.
“Parscale committed a cascade of errors, from overhyping expected turnout to blaming the half-filled arena on protesters. Trump was so furious when he saw how thin the crowd was that he threatened to not go onstage. Sources said that Parscale, reading the tea leaves, is planning to step down. ‘He knows he can’t survive,’ one source told me,” Gabriel Sherman from Vanity Fair reported.