It’s fair to say Donald Trump did not have a great weekend.
After claiming a million people had requested tickets for his much-vaunted election rally in Tulsa on Saturday night, it must have been crushing to walk out into a 19,000 seat arena with just 6,200 people in it.
In fact, the president himself appeared to confirm his dejected mood when returning to the White House after the event, a walk so lacking in enthusiasm it sparked a meme.
In the aftermath of the rally flopping, the White House came out swinging and attempted to pin blame for the poor attendance onto everyone but the president.
During an interview with “Fox News Sunday,” Trump’s campaign adviser Mercedes Schlapp blamed protesters for the underwhelming attendance, saying they “absolutely” prevented people from traveling to the rally.
This line had already been touted by Trump campaign spokesperson Tim Murtaugh and manager Brad Parscale despite there being no evidence of it happening.
Host Chris Wallace was having none of Schlapp’s claim and highlighted the fact that overflow events for 40,000 people at a nearby convention centre were cancelled.
“You guys were so far off that you had planned an outdoor rally and there wasn’t an overflow crowd,” Wallace said. “Protesters did not stop people from coming to that rally. The fact is that people didn’t show up.”
Undeterred by reality, the White House also tried to blame the media for pointing out that holding an indoor rally in the midst of global pandemic might not be a great idea.
The campaign later emphasised claims that millions of viewers watched Trump “across all of the campaign’s digital media channels”.
In a statement, it added: “The media, which encouraged protesters and bombarded Americans for more than a week with dire warnings against attending a Trump rally, are still unable to prevent President Trump from reaching the people.”
Trump had said last Monday his campaign was expecting a “record-setting crowd” at the rally.
“We’ve never had an empty seat, and we certainly won’t in Oklahoma,” he added.