Parscale said the reporters who shared the news had “behaved unprofessionally and were willing dupes to the charade.”
Trump’s campaign manager said the usual online RSVP process for rallies involves weeding out “bogus numbers, as we did with tens of thousands at the Tulsa rally, in calculating our possible attendee pool. These phony ticket requests never factor into our thinking.”
Trump tweeted on Monday that the campaign had received requests for “Almost One Million” tickets ahead of the rally. The number initially sparked questions, because the venue hosting the rally, BOK Center, has a 19,000-seat capacity.
Tulsa’s Fire Department confirmed on Sunday that the total number of attendees was less than 6,200.
Parscale said ongoing protests and fears about spreading Covid-19 had deterred people from attending the rally.
“The fact is that a week’s worth of the fake news media warning people away from the rally because of COVID and protesters, coupled with recent images of American cities on fire, had a real impact on people bringing their families and children to the rally,” Parscale said.
Oklahoma public health officials strongly warned against holding a rally with crowds in an indoor space as coronavirus cases continue to rise in the state. Ultimately, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled in favor of the rally taking place after dismissing a lawsuit that said social distancing and mask-wearing should be required. Neither masks nor social distancing, both of them recommended by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, could be seen prominently at the rally Saturday.
The rally was Trump’s first campaign event in months because of the coronavirus pandemic. The campaign has scheduled rallies in Florida, Arizona and North Carolina in the coming weeks.