CNN‘s Brian Stelter interviewed Mary Jo Laupp, the originator of a video that encouraged people to reserve tickets to the Trump campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Saturday, and then not show up.
According to Stelter, that video was shared thousands of times and viewed hundreds of thousands of times. Laupp, who identifies herself on Twitter as a wife, mother, and musician, said during her interview with Stelter that prior to her viral clip, she would typically only get a few hundred views on her TikTok uploads.
As the anchor pointed out, President Donald Trump’s rally was not badly attended, but the lower-than-expected turn out is news “because it matters to him.”
Stelter played a clip of the president saying that there weren’t empty seats at his rallies and went on to say that they expected the same result on Saturday in Tulsa. Stelter wasn’t shy about calling the president a liar, saying, “there are usually empty seats at his events.”
However, the most recent, and possibly most controversial rally, had an inordinate number of unfilled seats, which was curious because of the incredible online ticket reservation numbers.
According to Laupp, she never intended to go viral with her video which encouraged her followers to reserve tickets to the rally and then not attend.
The video did go viral, however, and people from around the world, including some international stars, promoted it. That attention is believed to be the primary reason there were a significant number of unfilled seats at the rally.
President Trump's Tulsa rally may have been trolled in a stunt organized by TikTok users, who encouraged people to go to Trump's website, register to attend the event — and not attend. Mary Jo Laupp, a 51-year-old grandmother living in Iowa, appears to have played a central role. pic.twitter.com/9BZMnxSzh0
— Reliable Sources (@ReliableSources) June 21, 2020
Fox News reported that the anticipation of a massive turn out, plus huge demand for tickets, caused some locals to not pursue attending.
“I tried all week to get tickets to the Trump Rally and couldn’t get the campaign to respond to my applications. I lived within minutes of Tulsa,” Jackie York of Okemah, Oklahoma told Fox News.
“When they started showing evening news clips showing people camping outside for rally, I decided not to fight the ‘hundreds of thousands’ of people I assumed would be fighting to go in. We had no tickets. My pastor also wanted to go, but couldn’t get tickets online. We are sad today to have missed [the] opportunity.”
The Tulsa Fire Department reportedly told The Hill that they estimated around 6,200 people attended the event held at the Bank Of America Center in Tulsa. That venue’s capacity is about 19,000, and the department’s public information officer indicated that the tally was taken by a fire marshal at around 7:30 p.m.
However, a Trump campaign official’s account contradicted that, saying that about 12,000 people went through the metal detectors set up at the rally.
The president’s campaign also reportedly scrapped the plan to speak to the overflow crowd outside of the event, simply because there was none, according to an earlier report.