Brian Stelter of CNN interviewed Mary Jo Laupp, who calls herself “TikTok Grandma” and is credited for organizing the TikTok campaign for fake mass sign ups to Trump’s Tulsa rally.
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) June 21, 2020
Per WashingtonExaminer, Laupp’s video was viewed more than 2 million times and has so far received over 700,000 “likes.” It’s hard to know precisely how many times the video was shared, given that it could be downloaded and disseminated on other platforms. Fans of Korean pop music distributed the video on Twitter.
In the video, after explaining to viewers that Trump was holding a rally in Tulsa on June 19, Laupp said, “If you don’t know why that’s a big deal, I want you to Google two phrases: Juneteenth and Black Wall Street.”
Juneteenth is the day people commemorate the ending of slavery in the United States, and with protests around the country highlighting racial injustices, the celebration was especially meaningful this year. Many have proposed that Juneteenth become a national paid-holiday.
The phrase “Black Wall Street” refers to the Greenwood district of Tulsa, Oklahoma, which used to be home to one of the most prosperous black communities in the country. After a black man in the area was accused of sexually assaulting a white woman, riots quickly broke out. The area was burned to the ground.
The Trump campaign initially scheduled the rally to take place on June 19 but pushed it back a day amid criticism.
The Tulsa Fire Department claims that only about 6,200 people attended the rally. The venue where it was held has a total capacity of just over 19,000. Earlier in the week, Trump and his campaign bragged about how more than 1 million people registered to attend the event. Shortly before the start of the rally, the campaign scrapped a speech to an overflow crowd outside of the venue.
The Trump campaign denied that it had been duped by a social media campaign and blamed the coronavirus and protesters for scaring away people bringing their families and children to the rally.
“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. Reporters who wrote gleefully about TikTok and K-Pop fans — without contacting the campaign for comment — behaved unprofessionally and were willing dupes to the charade. Registering for a rally means you’ve RSVPed with a cell phone number and we constantly weed out bogus numbers, as we did with tens of thousands at the Tulsa rally, in calculating our possible attendee pool,” Trump’s reelection campaign manager Brad Parscale wrote in a statement.
In the video that launched the effort, Laupp told viewers she had to give her phone number to the campaign, lamenting how she would likely begin receiving text messages from them. She reminded her audience that all they had to do to avoid the texts was to send back the message “stop.”