Yesterday, as I sat inside the executive bunker at Weekly World Headquarters live-tweeting Donald Trump’s speech at the OC Fairground’s Pacific Amphitheater and fighting untold numbers of pathetic fanboys in the process, I laughed out loud when Drumpf announced 31,000 attended his rally, with thousands more shut out. I howled as his supporters ran with the number, everyone suddenly experts at crowd-counting mechanisms for the fairgrounds. And even after the Orange County Sheriff’s Department—hardly a bastion of liberalism or a friend of the media—told reporters that an estimated 3,000 people were left outside the speech, and that about 8,000 people actually went inside the Pacific Amphitheater to witness our own local Nuremberg Rally, the Trumpistas crowed about 31,000, 31k, thirty-one thousand! What did Hitler say about repeating a lie enough until it becomes truth? Or was it Lenin? Or Goebells? Marx?
Anyhoo: Trump is full of shit, and his seal squad only proved it. But you don’t have to believe this leftist; take it from the paper I edit, which has been covering concerts at the Fairgrounds and the Pacific Ampitheatre for oh, only the past 21 years, and knows the whole history of the venue.
Let’s start with Trump’s tweet that set the Big Lie into effect:
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 29, 2016
Trumpistas quickly went online and insisted to everyone and anyone that the Amphitheater actual capacity is 18,000 people instead of the 8,500 or whatever OCSD went with at the time. Here’s the problem, though: the Amphitheater’s full capacity hasn’t been used since the 1990s. When it reopened in 2003 after being shut down for years, it reopened with its capacity at 8,500. I asked former Weekly music editor Rich Kane, born and raised in OC and attending concerts since the 1980s, if he remembered the Ampitheater ever going the 18,000 route after its reopening, and he said no.
And even in the case the Pacific Amphitheater has hosted 18,000 people for an event since 2003, it wasn’t last night. The proof is in Trump’s expertly cropped photo in his tweet. See that patch of grass in upper-left corner? That’s where SRO people would stand back in the Amphitheater’s 18K days, a swath of lawn that wraps around the seats—and it was emptier last night than Trump’s rhetoric.
Then there’s this: average daily attendance for the OC Fair is usually between 40,000 and 50,000 spread over 150 acres. Are we expected to believe that more than 60 percent of that number somehow magically squeezed into one tiny-ass amphitheater?
Besides, if Trump’s people truly expected a yuuuuge crowd as opposed to just a big one, they would’ve booked other OC venues with far-larger capacities. He could’ve used Irvine Meadows, with a capacity of about 16,000, or the Honda Center (18,336) now that the Anaheim Ducks have no use for it after flaming out in the first round anew. Or, if Trump is really all he makes himself out to be, why didn’t he go for Mile Square Park, where Reagan kicked off his 1984 reelection to the tune of 50,000 attendees and at least 15,000 turned away?
No, Trump knew what he was doing. The Amphitheater is classic enough in its layout but small enough to provide a perfect optical illusion of getting a bigger crowd than what actually showed. Unprecedented crowds? It looked no different than a Weird Al Yankovic concert or Orange Coast College graduation—and I should know about the latter, given I graduated from there and gave a speech there a couple of years ago upon my acceptance to the OCC Hall of Fame.
You know what presidential candidate did attract an overflow crowd of more than 18,000 people to the Pacific Amphitheater, with thousands of people waiting outside to get in? That would’ve been Bill Clinton in 1992. But Trump couldn’t be bothered to state that little fact last night—or any facts, for that matter.