TikTok-gate is a bad sign for Trump

Hello, everyone! Welcome to the new edition of Insider Today. Insider columnist Anthony Fisher joins us with thoughts today on Trump’s rally disaster. Please sign up here.


“She’s a very straight, serious person, and totally incorruptible and honest.” — a former colleague describing Audrey Strauss. She will be the acting US attorney in Manhattan after Attorney General Bill Barr botched his weekend attempt to force out Strauss’ predecessor Geoffrey Berman and replace him with an ally.


A supporter alone in the top sections of seating before President Donald Trump arrived for his rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday.
A supporter alone in the top sections of seating before President Donald Trump arrived for his rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday.

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

  • Tulsa rally blame game. The campaign blames TikTokers and the media. Jared and Ivanka “are pissed” at the campaign manager. Trump’s mad at everyone.

  • Administration is preparing for a viral second wave. The first one is still surging, especially in the South and West, but top White House officials acknowledge a second one is coming. Meanwhile, South Korea is facing its second wave.

  • NASCAR faces a defining moment after a noose was found in Bubba Wallace’s stall. He’s the lone top-level Black driver, and his activism caused NASCAR to finally ban Confederate flags in the stands. NASCAR is promising a full investigation of the “heinous act.”


Trump on the South Lawn of the White House on June 21 as he returns from the rally in Tulsa.
Trump on the South Lawn of the White House on June 21 as he returns from the rally in Tulsa.

Associated Press

Presidential elections are won by the side that’s having fun. Is Trump having fun? 

No, gleeful gangs of TikTok fans and K-pop stans didn’t ruin President Donald Trump’s Tulsa, Oklahoma, rally. He ruined it all by himself, by scheduling a huge indoor gathering at a time when his poll numbers are slouching and when Americans — especially older Americans, who are his most loyal supporters — correctly fear catching COVID-19 at a superspreader event. 

The young troublemakers probably helped inflate the campaign’s expectations for the rally, which made its minor league baseball game attendance all the more humiliating.

What’s important about the TikTok hanky-panky is how much fun the kids had doing it. They reveled in the chance to mess with the Trump campaign. This is fantastic news for Joe Biden and Democrats.

One of the iron laws of politics is: Whoever is having fun is winning. 

This is especially true of presidential campaigns, where the exuberant side has won at least since the early ’70s (there are a couple of elections, notably 1988 and 2000, where there was no exuberant side): Ronald Reagan’s boisterous young insurgents in 1980; the “Morning in America” triumphalists of 1984; the sax-playing, pain-feeling Clinton-mania of 1992; the yes-we-can Obama stadium tour in 2008; the rowdy, Hillary-despising Trump rallies of 2016. (Fun can be malicious!) When one side is having a great time, they are on the way to victory. 

Fun is not the same as voter enthusiasm, though they’re o
bviously in the same family. Fun is more correctly understood as the parent of voter enthusiasm. The public sees a candidate’s high-spirited supporters and hears about their signs, chants, and pranks, and it’s infectious. The glee of the hardcore supporters tells the broader public they should be enthusiastic about the candidate. 

As TikTok-gate suggests, Trump generates a vast amount of anger and mischief in his opponents, and the more fun they can have embarrassing the president and getting under his skin, the better off Biden will be.  

This election is curious in that the zest is purely negative. Biden doesn’t generate any cheer on his own behalf. His supporters just loathe Trump. In fact, the more Biden campaigns actively, the more likely he is to fire up Trump supporters and get them having fun. He should keep a low profile and not distract from the Democratic merrymakers bent on mocking and needling Trump.  — DP

The simple explanation for the small crowd: People are worried about the virus

Critics of the president are certainly entitled to enjoy a ritual dunking on the Trump campaign’s sparsely attended Tulsa rally over the weekend. But they’d be wise to not make too much of it. 

The too-big-to-fill-an-arena post-pandemic victory rally that Trump hoped for in Tulsa was a bust by any metric, but it doesn’t necessarily mean Trump has lost his base. Nor does it mean much of anything for his chances of reelection. 

It could mean that people — even in deep red states like Oklahoma — are still concerned about the coronavirus pandemic, and going to a massive indoor political rally for an incumbent president just isn’t worth the risk. 

New COVID-19 cases have surged in Oklahoma in June. In Tulsa County, there hadn’t been a day with more than 45 new cases until June 8, when there were 65. They have since skyrocketed, with the rates of new cases rising daily, hitting 143 on June 20.

The Trump campaign bragged about over 1 million RSVPs for the Tulsa rally, which as Plotz noted, may have been partially the work of those TikTok trolls. But such a huge number may have also had the unintended effect of scaring some Trump supporters away from the event. 

After all, the event was taking place just as the reality of the coronavirus was hitting Oklahomans on their own turf, and the idea of being crammed into Secret Service-monitored pens with tens of thousands of potential disease carriers may have struck even the most ardent Trump supporters as an unappealing way to spend a Saturday night. — Anthony Fisher

If you’re enjoying this story, sign up now for the Insider Today newsletter to receive more of these insights from Henry Blodget and David Plotz

Apple announced it would re-close some stores.
Apple announced it would re-close some stores.

(Photo by James D. Morgan/Getty Images)

The economy won’t fully recover until we get the coronavirus under control

A month ago, people deluded themselves into thinking that the big problem with the economy was government-imposed lockdowns. 

Actually, the big problem was the coronavirus — the lockdowns just exacerbated the impact.

Now, because America’s leaders have given up on doing anything about the coronavirus, cases are surging again — and hampering the economic recovery as they do.

Apple announced it would re-close some stores. MLB is shutting down all training camps after a coronavirus outbreak in the Phillies camp. Restaurants in Southern California are closing after positive tests. As Fisher and Plotz note, people don’t even want to go to Trump rallies anymore!

The economy won’t fully recover until we get the coronavirus under control. — HB

The US pandemic negligence is also isolating us from the world, and that’s tragic. 

A pilot gets his temperature checked at a sanitary checkpoint on May 18.
A pilot gets his temperature checked at a sanitary checkpoint on May 18.

Daniel Becerril/REUTERS

And neither will our relationship to the rest of the world. The US appears willing to accept COVID-19 as an endemic disease, with 40,000 new cases a day for the indefinite future. In contrast, the rest of the world (except Brazil) is acting to stamp the disease out. 

This difference cuts the US off from the rest of the world. No one wants to visit a country with rampant viral transmission. And other countries won’t accept travelers from the US because we might be disease carriers. Foreign students won’t come; US students won’t go abroad. The rest of the world will slowly knit back together, but until there’s a vaccine, we’re going to be on the outside. 

Of course we can still import phones and export music and soybeans, but the things that have made us essential to the world — our ability to attract the best people and ideas from elsewhere, and then share our best everywhere — is halted for now and will be diminished for a long time. Thanks to our inept pandemic response, we’re about to learn the real cost of isolationism. — DP

But that’s what Trump wants anyway, right?

Plotz, Trump wants America to be iso
lated from the rest of the world! He hates globalism, remember? For Trump and his supporters, the US being cut off from the rest of the world is a feature, not a bug. If other countries refuse to let Americans in, we have to do our business and make our products at home. If we’re forever a disease-ridden hot zone, no one will want to come here anymore — so no more immigration! No more travel to “s—hole” countries! Etc. It sounds like a Trumpian dream. — HB


Government stimulus actually did save millions from poverty. The pandemic economic collapse has not harmed poor Americans as much as was feared. Extra unemployment benefits and $1,200 stimulus checks prevented 12 million Americans from sinking into poverty this spring, according to a Columbia University study. As the temporary relief winds down, economists anticipate spikes in poverty, hunger, and homelessness. 


Arctic Ice
Arctic Ice

Ian Joughin

The Arctic is hotter than it’s ever been. On Saturday, temperatures topped 100 degrees in a Russian town above Arctic Circle, the first time that’s ever happened. COVID-19 and the economic crisis have distracted from the global climate catastrophe that’s still coming for us. And it looks like the pandemic may be a climate crisis too. Cases seem to be spiking in places in the South and West that are so hot that you have to huddle in the air-conditioned indoors. But cases aren’t rising fast in places where temperatures have been moderate enough for people to go outside. — DP


crossfit toxic culture 2x1 copy
crossfit toxic culture 2×1 copy

Samantha Lee/ Business Insider; Ruobing Su/ Business Insider;

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Why CrossFit imploded. The CEO is gone after he belittled the George Floyd protests, and gyms are running away from the brand. Insider goes inside the company’s toxic frat-bro culture.


dragonfly yacht
dragonfly yacht

Sergey Brin sends ex-military staff into disaster zones on his superyacht. The Daily Beast reported that the Google founder has a supersecret charity that’s helped out after hurricanes, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions, and is now doing COVID-19 testing.


Prince Harry and Meghan Markle with Luke Vincent on October 17, 2018, in Dubbo, Australia.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle with Luke Vincent on October 17, 2018, in Dubbo, Australia.

Phil Noble – Pool/Getty Images

Trump says his niece Mary can’t publish her tell-all memoir because she signed an NDA. Not just any NDA, he says, but a “very powerful” one. His threat does not seem likely to deter her. 

38 bulldog puppies found dead on a charter plane from Ukraine to Canada. There were 500 puppies on the plane, many of the survivors are in terrible condition.

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