President Trump was reportedly seething with anger Sunday over his embarrassing #MAGA rally flop in Tulsa, Oklahoma, as aides blamed the poor turnout on leftists and the media.
NBC News reported that Trump is “furious” over the “underwhelming” turnout for the rally, where he spoke to a half-empty arena.
Trump campaign chief Brad Parscale lashed out at the media for what he called alarmist reporting about the potential dangers of attending the rally.
Parscale, whose job could be in jeopardy after the humiliating failure, suggested that the campaign might bar some news outlets from covering future rallies.
“It makes us wonder why we bother credentialing media for events when they don’t do their full jobs as professionals,” Parscale said.
Mercedes Schlapp, a campaign communications aide, sought to claim that the disastrous rally was actually a huge success because millions supposedly watched on the campaign’s digital channels.
“Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace wasn’t buying that assertion and accused her of trying to run out the clock on their interview by rattling on about the supposed shortcomings of Democratic rival Joe Biden.
“It’s silly to deny the reality” of the empty seats in Tulsa, Wallace chided Schlapp on “Fox News Sunday.”
Trump himself had personally guaranteed a packed house at the rally in deep-red Oklahoma. The campaign expected 19,000 people to fill the BOK Arena and arranged for an outdoor space to accommodate an “overflow” crowd of tens of thousands more.
They had to scrap the outdoor event altogether and there were vast swathes of empty seats inside the arena.
Trump also stumbled repeatedly during the speech itself, most notably when he called for less testing for coronavirus.
White House economic adviser Peter Navarro asserted that Trump was joking in an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union,” although Trump also claimed in his speech that unnamed critics were testing “10-year-old with the sniffles” in an effort to drive up coronavirus numbers.
“Come on, It was a light moment … a tongue in cheek thing,” Navarro claimed.
Public health experts say Trump has bungled the coronavirus response by allowing states to reopen too quickly and by failing to implement a national testing strategy.
Despite Navarro’s claim, Trump has repeatedly called testing for coronavirus a “double-edged sword” and suggests his critics are cheerleading the pandemic to make him look bad.
Trump himself was uncharacteristically silent about the rally flop Sunday.
NBC reported he was particularly critical of campaign aides’ decision to reveal that six staffers, including two Secret Service agents, tested positive for coronavirus on the morning of the Tulsa rally, apparently believing that the news may have kept some supporters away.
There is no indication Trump plans to scrap an upcoming rally set for Tuesday at a church in Phoenix. The state is grappling with the nation’s worst COVID-19 outbreak.