A week after the embarrassingly small "Mother of All Rallies," Donald Trump fans have another massive public failure on their hands.
Less than a week after being humiliated by the laughably low turnout at last weekend’s supposed “Mother of All Rallies,” Donald Trump is again facing embarrassment as yet another event organized by his supporters implodes in spectacular fashion.
The four-day long event, which organizers are calling “Free Speech Week,” was scheduled to start Sunday, September 24, on the campus of UC Berkeley. Sponsored by The Berkeley Patriot, an online student publication, and disgraced ex-Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos, the event was hyped as a veritable who’s who of far-right extremists and pro-Trump activists, including Steve Bannon, Ann Coulter, Pamela Geller, Mike Cernovich, Erik Prince, and Monica Crowley, among others.
“UC Berkeley free speech week will be this movement’s Woodstock,” Yiannopoulos said of the event while speaking to a group of Trump supporters in May.
According to multiple reports, “Free Speech Week” has now been downsized to a Saturday press conference in San Francisco, where Yiannopoulos is expected to call off the event and blame UC Berkeley for his own failure.
The apparent cancellation comes after organizers missed three deadlines and failed to file the necessary paperwork to reserve rooms for the event. On top of that, Yiannopoulos, who was responsible for inviting the speakers, apparently failed to tell some of them that the event was even happening.
Shortly after the speaker’s list was announced earlier this month, several people on the list — including pseudo-academic Charles Murray, right-wing commentator Heather MacDonald, Blackwater founder Erik Prince, and former Google employee James Damore — said they had never been invited in the first place.
Other guests soon began to back out of the event, and as of September 15, only three of the 25 people listed as speakers had actually been confirmed by the university.
While Yiannapoulos is still pretending that “Free Speech Week” is happening, others are calling his bluff. Lucian Wintrich, a correspondent for the right-wing website Gateway Pundit who was involved in planning the event, dropped out earlier this week and confirmed the event’s cancellation on Twitter Thursday night.
— Lucian B. Wintrich (@lucianwintrich) September 22, 2017
“When I was first invited to Free Speech Week I saw it as an incredible opportunity,” Wintrich said Thursday in an interview with Mediaite. “But then it was made clear to me this week that this event definitely wasn’t happening, and I had to drop out — I saw no reason to lie to the public and mislead people into thinking it was happening.”
According to Mediaite, Yiannopoulos knew as early as last week that the event was imploding. But instead of coming clean, he continued to mislead the media, the university, and those planning to attend by claiming it was still happening.
When he finally does announce the event’s cancellation, Yiannopoulos is expected to blame UC Berkeley, as he did in a statement earlier this week in which he accused the university of using “bureaucratic maneuvers and strategic media leaks to disrupt the event and dissuade headline speakers from attending.”
UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof called those accusations “absurd.” He’s not the only one: even people involved in the planning of “Free Speech Week” are blaming Yiannopoulos for the event’s failure.
This wouldn’t be the first time right-wing agitators have orchestrated a controversy over free speech to gin up sympathy. Yiannopoulos pulled a similar bait-and-switch in May, just a month after Ann Coulter did the same.
Now, with just two days to go before it’s slated to start, “Free Speech Week” is set to go down as another low-energy embarrassment for the far right. Sad!