On Saturday, June 20, President Trump addressed a crowd in Tulsa, Oklahoma that was significantly smaller than the 19,000 attendees he'd been promised. While his campaign manager blamed the poor attendance on the protests surrounding the event, it turns out all the empty seats at the president's big comeback rally may have actually been due to an unlikely culprit: Generation Z. On Twitter, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez thanked TikTok teens and K-Pop stans, who are claiming they reserved thousands of seats for the rally and then didn't show up.
Before Saturday, the Tulsa rally had already garnered its fair share of controversy due to its timing amid the coronavirus pandemic and the recent nationwide protests against police brutality. While the Trump administration weathered criticism over holding such a big rally amidst the pandemic and its announcement that attendees at the rally would not be required to wear masks, the president went ahead with his plans, even going so far as to seemingly threaten that any potential protesters would be met with violence if they attempted to interfere with the event.
However, the reality of Saturday's rally was very different than the thousands of attendees that he'd anticipated. According to numerous news sources and photos from the event, there were rows of empty seats. Per Forbes, the Tulsa Fire Department said there were less than 6,200 people in the stands. According to Business Insider, attendance was so poor that the president had to change his schedule around and cancel a speech he'd planned for all the anticipated crowds outside of the venue.
Despite reports to the contrary, Trump's campaign manager Brad Parscale claimed that protesters had frightened would-be attendees from going. He tweeted, "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." However, a few different groups are claiming responsibility for pranking President Trump by reserving tickets to the event and then not showing up.
One week earlier, an Iowa grandmother named Mary Jo Laupp posted a TikTok video telling people to reserve tickets and "leave him standing alone there on the stage." In addition, K-Pop fans, who previously flooded the hashtags #WhiteLivesMatter and #MAGA with nonsensical phrases, joined in.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took to Twitter to clap back at Parscale's claim by applauding their efforts.
"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 COVIDShout out to Zoomers," she wrote. "Y’all make me so proud."
Ocasio-Cortez also expressed her appreciation for the K-Pop superfans who helped make the TikTok trend go viral.
The Twitterverse also shouted out the Gen Z culprits with photos of the empty seats. On Sunday, the hashtags #TulsaFlop and #TikTokTeens were trending.
President Trump has yet to publicly acknowledge the poor attendance, instead tweeting, "The silent majority is stronger than ever before" following the rally. However, it wouldn't be surprising if the low attendance at the event shapes his campaign strategy going forward.