UPDATE: The Trump campaign has issued a denial that pranksters held down Tulsa rally attendance.
“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,” campaign manager Brad Parscale said in a statement.
Parscale said registrations for the Tulsa rally were vetted and “we constantly weed out bogus numbers, as we did with tens of thousands at the Tulsa rally.”
“These phony ticket requests never factor into our thinking,” he said. He also accused the media of creating a climate of fear that held down the numbers.
“For the media to now celebrate the fear that they helped create is disgusting, but typical. And it makes us wonder why we bother credentialing media for events when they don’t do their full jobs as professionals,” he said in the statement.
EARLIER: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted her support Saturday night for an online prank that some claimed derailed President Donald Trump’s Tulsa, Oklahoma campaign rally.
Social media posters claimed that they requested tickets for the Tulsa rally as a way to gobble up all of the available seats at the Saturday Bank of Oklahoma arena rally. Their efforts appeared to bear fruit, as there were a noticeable number of empty seats in the 19,000-capacity arena where President Trump spoke.
But other observers blamed intense media warnings about large gatherings amid the pandemic, a Tulsa curfew threat (later lifted) that might have stopped travelers, and the threat of violence from counter-protesters as reasons attendance was down. They argued that the reservations requested are merely a data-gathering tool and that no rally seating is reserved or checked.
Still, some believed that the reservations flooding tactic worked. AOC tweeted to a Trump supporter that President Trump was “ROCKED by teens on TikTok who flooded the Trump campaign” with fake reservations. She hailed “K-Pop allies,” saying: “We see and appreciate your contributions in the fight for justice, too.”
She concluded with a “shout-out to Zoomers. Y’all make me so proud.”
Large numbers of TikTok users and K-Pop fans have been politically active lately, doxxing perceived enemies and otherwise swarming to various causes. They apparently did make a large number of Tulsa rally attendance requests – the Trump campaign bragged that more than a million requests were received for Tulsa tickets – and many of the tricksters posted their confirmations online, celebrating their apparent success after the rally.
CNN claimed the faux ticket request movement was launched by Mary Jo Laupp, a 51-year-old teacher from Iowa, who had worked on Pete Buttigieg’s campaign. But Erin Perrine, principle deputy communications director for the Trump campaign, told CNN last week it was no big concern.
“Leftists do this all the time,” she said. “They think if they sign up for tickets that will leave empty seats. Not the case at all. Always way more ticket requests than seats available at a rally. All they are doing is giving us access to their contact information.”
Social media users have tried similar disruptions before, according to reports. In 2019, Twitter users sent the hashtag #EmptySeatMAGATour to the top of Twitter’s trending topics feed, according to The Hill. The hashtag is still in use.
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