Trump’s Wildwood Mirage

Wildwood officials who were the source for the Associated Press’s reporting that former President Trump drew between 80,000 to 100,000 to a beach front weekend rally now say it was not the number on the beach at the rally per se, but rather it was the number of people “in our town.”

For the actual rally number “we defer to the Trump Campaign for the exact count on the beach,” the latest Wildwood statement asserts.

Lisa Fagan, the Wildwood press spokesperson AP originally cited as the source for the original crowd estimate was quoted as saying the eye-popping estimate was “based off her own observations on the scene Saturday, having seen ‘dozens’ of other events in the same space.”

Five days later, when asked to explain the wide variance between the AP reporting and the video that reveals a crowd in the few thousands, Fagan provided a statement from Mayor Troiano at odds with what the wire service initially attributed to Fagan.

“As a tourist town, we speak in tourism numbers,” Troiano wrote. “When we see that volume of people attending a beach event, we know that 80,000+ people are in our town. We see a quarter of a million visitors every weekend in the summer on our 1.89-mile boardwalk, not to mention our five-mile island, so we know what that volume looks like. They were watching and listening from the beach and boardwalk, in bars and restaurants, at hotels and second homes. People even lined up along the streets parade-style. We defer to the Trump Campaign for the exact count on the beach.”

Wildwood Mayor Ernie Troiano (R) told NJ Advance Media last week “the rally will be held between Schellenger and Spicer avenues, a stretch of beach between two amusement park piers” accommodating “a crowd size of between 30,000 and 40,000.”

Troiano is under indictment on state corruption charges that he, along with former Wildwood Mayor Pete Byron and City Commissioner Steve Mikulski, fraudulently obtained coverage in the State Health Benefits Program (SHBP) as full time employees. All three pleaded not guilty.

There’s a hearing scheduled in Troiano’s case on May 17.

I had cited the AP reporting on Trump’s rally size in my InsiderNJ story that was picked up by Salon.

Since I started writing for the Ramsey Mahwah Reporter at 17, over a half century ago, the AP has been the gold standard for news gathering.  Founded in 1846, AP has been “an independent news cooperative, whose members are U.S. newspapers and broadcasters, steadfast in our mission to inform the world,” according to its website.

Steve Peoples, AP’s chief political reporter, who was on the rally story byline, tweeted “Lisa Fagan, spokesperson for the city of Wildwood, told The Associated Press that she estimated the crowd represented between 80,000 and 100,000 attendees, based off her own observations on the scene Saturday, having seen ‘dozens’ of other events in the same space.”

On May 11 before the rally, People tweeted  “Trump’s team expects ‘tens of thousands’ of supporters to attend this afternoon’s Jersey Shore rally, which may be among the largest of his political career.”

People’s twitter account phrase is “the other side is not the enemy.”

But it just wasn’t the crowd size that AP used to  boost the former president’s narrative.  They gave his grievance about his having to endure criminal prosecution credence in their story headlined “Trump tells Jersey Shore crowd he’s being forced to endure ‘Biden show trial’ in hush money case.”

Then in the body of the story what the headline says is Trump’s view pops up in the ‘objective’ narrative.

“Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, drew what his team called a ‘mega crowd’ to a Saturday evening rally in the southern New Jersey resort town of Wildwood, 150 miles (241 kilometers) south of the New York City courthouse where he has been forced to spend most weekdays sitting silently through his felony hush money trial.

Sounds oppressive.

I wrote about AP’s media relations about the wide discrepancy between AP’s reporting on the crowd size and the actual video from the event. “The number is an estimate from an independent city official. The reporting notes this and is transparent about how Fagan arrived at the estimate,” AP’s media relations responded.

The AP wasn’t alone. “Sandwiched between the boardwalk and the Atlantic Ocean, Mr. Trump stood in front of tens of thousands of  people at a rally on the beach in Wildwood, N.J., where he largely repeated the same criticisms of President Biden that have characterized his stump speech in recent months,” the Times reported from a story datelined from the rally.

Of course, Trump cranked up his calliope  proclaiming to the audience he had drawn “a much bigger crowd than Bruce Springsteen. Right?”

CBS News proclaimed that Trump’s one day appearance at Wildwood had ushered “in an economic boom” in the Cape May county town.

“The story is a gift to the Trump campaign, and a peerless propaganda victory in an environment in which momentum and intensity are critical factors,” wrote anti-Trump Steve Schmidt, who advised Sen. John McCain. “The fantastical number is now ‘real.’ Speaker Mike Johnson tweeted about it too (as an aside, big numbers are a challenge for Johnson, who believes Earth is 6,000 years old and people and dinosaurs lived happily together). It has the double effect of intimidating Biden supporters, and simultaneously disaffecting them. How could it not? Immense rallies — even imagined ones — can have a profound psychological effect.”

By Monday, the New York Times was asserting Trump was leading President Biden “in five crucial battleground states, a new set of polls shows, as a yearning for change and discontent over the economy and the war in Gaza among young, Black and Hispanic voters threaten to unravel the president’s Democratic coalition.”

The Times continued. “The surveys by The New York Times, Siena College and The Philadelphia Inquirer found that Mr. Trump was ahead among registered voters in a head-to-head matchup against Mr. Biden in five of six key states: Michigan, Arizona, Nevada, Georgia and Pennsylvania. Mr. Biden led among registered voters in only one battleground state, Wisconsin.

Headed into the 2024 election, every American needs to up to the challenge of authenticating the news that they use to inform how they vote. After a generation of newspaper, cable and broadcast consolidation and layoffs news gathering has taken a major hit.

Truth and facts matter now more than ever.

We are in treacherous territory when the House of Representatives is controlled by a caucus that the overwhelming majority of whom broke their oath office voting NOT to certify the election of President Biden AFTER the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol at the instigation of former President Trump.

This same junta is now taking turns trying to subvert the rule of law by trying to delegitimize the ongoing New York State court proceedings in which former President Trump is a criminal defendant.

This is more like an ongoing insurrection and subversion of the rule of law rooted in twisting reality to validate Trump’s delusion that the 2020 election was stolen from him.

The essential question is how we know what we know because ‘the reliable sources’ we’ve always counted on historically appear to be buckling under as they cover this election as just another horse race.



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17 responses to “Trump’s Wildwood Mirage”

  1. When Hennelly attempts to downplay anything Republican-Conservative, you know it’s nothing but gaslighting. Hennelly tries to gaslight us by saying Trump’s Wildwood rally wasn’t near 100,000, but more near the realm of 20-30,000 people. I was there.
    There were more than 100,000 people there. There were at least 20,000 on the roads waiting to get in , that were waving at Trump’s parade of vehicles going to the beach. Then, Hennelly calls the Republican Party a “junta” because they wouldn’t vote to certify Biden as the President. How can they, when the facts show that Dominion Computer Voting Systems used by many states, has not been compromised when it was just found out that the Chinese built and tested these computer voting systems, and Chinese hackers were able to access the computer voting systems during the 2020 election. So, before Hennelly goes off on his usual Far Left rants, he needs to do his research and homework if anyone wants to take him seriously.

    Hennelly says: “Headed into the 2024 election, every American needs to up to the challenge of authenticating the news that they use to inform how they vote. After a generation of newspaper, cable and broadcast consolidation and layoffs news gathering has taken a major hit. Truth and facts matter now more than ever.”

    Americans ARE authenticating the news that they use to inform how they vote. And, it’s not coming from CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, PBS, NY Times, WAPO, MSLSD, etc. Even young people and minorities have turned away from these communist, elitist, “deep state” propaganda media frauds. And, that apparatchik propaganda media includes Hennelly. I have been reading Hennelly’s propaganda for a while. At first, I thought he was writing contentious pieces to get as many readers as possible. Now, I’m convinced Hennelly is part of the “useful idiot, apparatchik, propagandists” on the Far Left a/k/a Communist Deep-Stater. Again, Hennelly needs to do his research and investigation of facts if anyone wants to take him seriously. Otherwise, Hennelly is just another Left-Wing “apparatchik” propagandist yelling at windmills (like his Buddy, China Joe Biden, who seems to be yelling at invisible people).

  2. The number who passed through security is substantially less than 20,000. That is the gross number, not counting the number who decided to arrive early, leave to walk the boardwalk and come back a second time.
    The crowd was not remotely close to the 25k to 30k that pack that same beach for the Country music festival.

    2020 was more of Trump vibe in Wildwood TBH, with perhaps 8 to 10k on hand ( 7 k in convention center) There was no problem getting into town or getting into the beach last week – they let everyone in and most of the parade route was on the GS parkway.

  3. Jean Anta, get it through your head, you ignorant skank. Trump is not the president and never will be again. He’s a traitor, and anyone who supports him is a traitor. That includes you!

  4. Anyone who supports Biden : China, Iran Russia and the Hamas , are traitors. So take a hard look in the mirror and support the country you live in or move to one of those others! Biden could have taken care of the border problem long time ago but didn’t. Guess it’s ok with you what has happened with the illegals. Not to mention Biden antics . Biden could Have done something with the border long ago but did not. Out of spite and hate for his opponent he reversed almost everything. And you shouldn’t call people skanks. It speaks volumes of you.

  5. I think it’s very funny that Trump supporters are unable to actually address the real concerns around Biden’s presidency without resorting to their low effort screeching about “communists” and “far left”. It’s very telling that they don’t actually care about real issues and want to make up things to be scared about instead.

  6. “Thomas Jefferson” is nothing more than your garden variety ‘angry elderly white man’ who is selfish to the core and blinded by his very misguided rage against humanity. Why does he purposely believe his lying eyes about the Trump rally in Wildwood? He does so because his fascist, Rasputin-like sociopath pathetic hero Trump did the same thing at his one-and-done Innauguration: present his wholly delusional, widely hyper-inflated imaginary and very false def-assessments of his only Innauguration crowd size as a fact, when these ‘facts’ only exist in the willfully delusional minds of Trump and his most pathetic supporters. If Trump pulls this same crap about self-imagined election fraud again, without proof again, the full weight of our Justice System must hold him fully accountable for his criminal acts. Shame on you, “Thomas Jefferson” for squandering whatever intellect, common sense, and a heart, that God endowed you with.

  7. I was fishin yesterday on my 74th birthday a Vermillion. A long 2 days of thunderstorms, wind and rough water. We only took a smallie 15 ” and a 24″ Northern.
    I’ll tell you what I just read a dozen or so of Big Fish stories.
    What I know Walz is destroying Minnesota and allowing illegals to vote. You will not make the decisions as American Minnesotans, they will as illegals who should have no rights to be here!

  8. The crowd WAS tens of thousands! How many tens is hardly the point. This crowd was in blue NJ surrounded by blue Philly, blue NY and blue De. Were Biden to hold a rally in a phone booth in any of these areas I think we all know the crowd could be described as sparse! The Dims are whistling past the graveyard which is appropriate considering the corpse they’re running.

  9. Why not ask how many tickets (were reserved)?

    First, “According to Lisa Fagan the area has a capacity of 20k” here:

    Second, in the same aforementioned link: They discuss procuring tickets. Two per person. So, how many did they sell.

    Third, they discuss $54,000 in security fee here:

    So did the town get 5x that amount to COVER the EXTRA VISITORS, needs & demands of a crowd that size! Compared with what they were ‘expecting’?

  10. How interesting. According to Trump “in town” means “at Trump’s rally.” By the same logic “in Palm Beach” means “at Mar a Lago to see Trump.”

    I learn something new every day from MAGA fake news.

  11. “In town” means “at Trump’s rally.” How interesting. I guess the 9 million people in NYC are all there to support Trump at his trial, too.

    I learn something new every day from MAGA fake news.

  12. The truth always comes to light. There were 2-3 other events at the same time of the rally. Granted, I’m sure there was at least 8000-10,000 people there, but no way was there 100,000 people there. It’s the same thing as his inauguration crowd. That surely was not ” the biggest crowd in the history of inaugurations”. Again, the truth always comes to light.

  13. Thank you for calling out the shoddy reporting on the original estimated crowd size. From video it was thousands of people, not “tens of thousands.” — from Texas

  14. This communist columnist is nothing but a yes sir I’ll write what you tell me to write! I’m from Wikdwood born and raised and Cape May county is the last Red stronghold ! This hack of a writer is nothing more than a propaganda spewing jerk. This is the reason why we are so divided! If you don’t vote for Trump we are done this country as I knew it growing up is already almost gone and Trump is the only one who can save it if it’s not to late . They cheated and lied since 2016 and the only reason they didn’t “win “ then was they were so arrogant that year thinking they had it in the bag they didn’t cheat . People wake up they are not good for anyone but themselves and other countries! I pray to God this turn around and we all become one again before it’s to late so please if you wanna live in after country and drive your gas or electric or even fly out of the country again vote Trump and stop being so ignorant and out of touch with reality it’s that bad people I can’t say it enough !

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