Team Trump was ecstatic.
“Just passed 800,000 tickets,” campaign manager Brad Parscale wrote on Twitter on June 14. “Biggest data haul and rally signup of all time by 10x. Saturday is going to be amazing!”
Saturday was, of course, the day of a campaign event by President Trump in Tulsa, Okla., his first since March 2.
There was just one problem — and Team Trump should’ve seen it from a mile away.
The city of Tulsa has just over 400,000 residents. The entire county has a population of slightly more than 650,000. If you group Tulsa with all the nearby cities and towns — Broken Arrow, Bartlesville, Owasso, Bixby, Jenks, Claremore, Sand Springs and Sapulpa — you still come up short of a million.
Yet Team Trump hyped and hyped, projecting a massive crowd — even setting up a followup speech by Mr. Trump to what was expected to be thousands of people unable to get into the BKO Center, which holds 19,000.
But on Saturday, fewer than 6,200 tickets of attendees were scanned, at least according to the city’s fire marshal, who keeps track of that sort of thing. There was a pathetic overflow crowd; Trump aides scrambled to cancel the president’s appearance for what would have been a few dozen folk milling about.
Donald Trump, the Internet’s Greatest Of All Time Troll, got trolled.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a socialist from New York, let Team Trump in on a secret that had been moving around the Internet for weeks. AOC gleefully reported that “teens on TikTok” reserved thousands of tickets — and then didn’t show up.
“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,” she wrote in response to a Twitter message by Mr. Parscale.
“Shout out to Zoomers. Y’all make me so proud,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said.
AOC also thanked fans and “stans” of South Korean pop music. “KPop allies, we see and appreciate your contributions in the fight for justice too,” the congresswoman wrote.
Mr. Trump was reportedly (if you can believe the mainstream media, and who can these days?) “shocked and furious.”
“The president, who had been warned aboard Air Force One that the crowds at the arena were smaller than expected, was stunned, and he yelled at aides backstage while looking at the endless rows of empty blue seats in the upper bowl of the stadium, according to four people familiar with what took place,” The New York Times wrote Monday.
Team Trump — and especially Mr. Parscale, who had unwittingly oversold the event — went on the offensive.
Mr. Parscale hit social media first, declaring that there were several reasons — other than Zoomers and Kpop fans — for the empty seats. “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,” he wrote on Twitter.
Others said fears of the coronavirus — which the MSM was in the process of rehyping (gotta get those ratings!) — was another factor for the no-shows.
Still other Trumpers sought to kill the messenger. Ken Farnaso, deputy press secretary for the Trump campaign, told Fox News that tickets are not scanned at Trump rallies. “Every rally is general admission — entry is on a first-come-first-served basis and prior registration is not required. There are no tickets to scan,” he said.
Trump 2020 communications director Tim Murtaugh offered his own count, nearly double the fire marshal’s number. “First, we know how many people went through the magnetometers that are set up by the Secret Service and it was 12,000 so the fire marshal is wrong.”
In the post-mortem, so-called news agencies read the tea leaves and came up with a slew of interpretations, the most hilarious of which was offered by the once-great Associated Press.
“Instead, his weekend rally in Oklahoma highlighted growing vulnerabilities and crystallized a divisive reelection message that largely ignores broad swaths of voters — independents, suburban women and people of color — who could play a crucial role in choosing Trump or Democratic challenger Joe Biden,” the AP said.
In a last-ditch effort, Team Trump touted the big numbers on TV and online. “The President’s speech was viewed by almost 20 million Americans, including a record-setting 7.7 million viewers on Fox News as well as almost 12 million viewers on the campaign’s streaming sites,” the campaign said.
And that’s great. But in the end, Trump The Master Troller got trolled by Zoomers and Kpoppers.
No amount of spin doctoring can change that.
• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @josephcurl.