Live from Music Row Friday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Tennessee Star Senior Reporter Laura Baigert to the newsmakers line.
During the second hour, Baigert described the scene in Tulsa, Oklahoma where President Trump plans to hold his first post-coronavirus rally at the BOK. She noted that there was an air of camaraderie among the people waiting in line hanging their Trump and American flags.
Leahy: Our intrepid senior reporter Laura Baigert is on the job on her way to Tulsa to cover tomorrow night’s rally. President Trump. Laura, how far have you made it so far?
Baigert: We made it all the way.
Leahy: You made it all the way to Tulsa? You must have arrived very late last night.
Baigert: We did and we did just so we could give you the report this morning so that you could hear what was going on on the ground. We drove past ground zero last night and saw about 60 people out there who have been there, some since last Friday.
Leahy: We have a report from Breitbart News that the mayor of Tulsa has issued a 10 pm curfew for Tulsa because they are worried that some violent groups are going to cause trouble. Have you seen any action by the police there to enforce that curfew?
Baigert: No. The police really seem to have no intention of enforcing that curfew on these folks. Folks did get moved yesterday. Actually they weren’t supposed to get moved till this morning. They were in the parking lot of the arena and were told this morning that they would have to move further away.
And the law enforcement secured off a larger area and when they did that they blocked everybody in. So they can’t get their cars out. Some people were afraid of losing their coveted space in line so they all decided to peacefully move yesterday and gave the law enforcement no trouble whatsoever. And they had no plan of taking these people out of their spots that they had been reserving for days now. So far no trouble.
There was one homeless person that gave one person a little bit of grief. But obviously it was someone with mental illness. Not rioters and protesters and all of that. But at the hotel, we did hear that Black Lives Matter folks are here. So everybody needs to be on guard and keep an eye out for what’s going on and be aware of their surroundings certainly.
Leahy: So you’ve heard that some Black lives Matter protesters are there but you haven’t seen any evidence of it?
Baigert: No. There was evidence from the activities over the last couple of weeks and the lovely art deco side of the building right near the one block that these 60 or so people were camped out there is paper hand-drawn signs hanging in the windows. Like Black Lives Matter and you are a racist and all kinds of things like that obviously geared towards the attendees of President Trump’s rally.
Leahy: Now what time will this rally be held tomorrow night?
Baigert: 7:00 pm central.
Leahy: As far as you know, is it still going to be held inside at the 19,000 seat capacity BOK Center in Tulsa?
Baigert: Yes as far as we know it has not been moved to accommodate a million people who are signed up for it. (Chuckles)
Leahy: Is it a million people that have signed up?
Baigert: Yes. That’s what the campaign is saying. It’s over a million people.
Leahy: Do you anticipate that everybody is going to be required to wear a mask? Have they said anything about that or not?
Baigert: What they’ve said is that the campaign will make masks and hand sanitizer available for everyone but it was not going to be a requirement.
Leahy: OK. Are they taking temperatures of people coming in?
Baigert: They are taking temperatures. Yes.
Leahy: And so if you have a temperature they’ll say thanks but no thanks?
Baigert: I guess. Even with our press credentials, they have not made it clear what temperature that is. Since we have to have a temperature to be alive I’m not sure what temperature would be the one that would disqualify you from getting in the building.
Leahy: So you have successfully secured your press credentials. That’s great! I know we applied for them.
Baigert: Yes. Very late last evening we got the email saying we are permitted into the building.
Leahy: Wow. That’s outstanding. Good work. We’re going to be reporting your reports here at the TennesseeStar.com throughout the day. And if you file today, and as soon as you file it with all of the wonderful pictures you usually have. Nobody else here in Middle Tennessee or in Tennessee has somebody live on the ground. So, leading the way in news and education Laura Baigert with the Tennessee Star. Really good.
Baigert: Yes. It’s quite a sight to see these folks out here. Some of them have canopies up. It’s a very festive atmosphere. Trump and the American flags hanging all around. A lot of camaraderie between these folks that have been here for days. Yesterday it was in the 90s and it will be that way again today.
It takes quite a commitment to be out here with virtually no services. We talked to several people last night and they said people were very kind to them. Some people from Tennessee brought them donuts yesterday morning. Someone ordered about a dozen pizzas and had that delivered to them. People have dropped off water.
It’s been very interesting. Actually someone who checked us in at the hotel that they were disappointed that they saw so many people coming from out of town but native folks from Tulsa and the surrounding area won’t even be able to get into the event.
Leahy: What’s your take on the mix of the people getting in there? The crowds will be huge. Of the crowd that will line up, what’s your guess on how many will be from the Tulsa, Oklahoma area? And how many will be from out of state?
Baigert: Well, I think a majority will probably be from Oklahoma if we are gauging it by the folks who we talked to last evening. There was someone from Wisconsin who had just driven in that morning. Somebody from San Diego who flew in yesterday. And somebody else from Boston who drove in. A native from Tulsa, but came back for the rally.
Leahy: Now, when you get your press credentials I know the attendees are required to sign a waiver that says that if you get COVID-19 that you won’t hold the campaign liable. Have they made that requirement for the press as well?
Baigert: I didn’t see that in any of the pre-event information. But it was quite lengthy so I’m not sure I digested everything that would be required of us. I did not see anything about a waiver.
Leahy: So, how do you feel because I asked you if you would be willing to go there. And you thought about it and you said, absolutely. Now there is some risk I suppose with getting COVID-19 in a crowd like that. What is your attitude towards that issue of a health risk that you might be exposed to there?
Baigert: I am not really concerned about it. I think like many, it’s very interesting to see that it seems along even political lines that people are seeing the data and evaluating the data for what it is and not listening to the hype. In fact we were asking some folks last night and one of the gentlemen in line was saying that before the George Floyd incident the media was reporting 88 percent of their time on the coronavirus. Until the George Floyd incident, it dropped to 18 and now it’s back up to 82 percent now that this rally is happening.
Leahy: Oh, it’s all about coronavirus! Got to stop that.
Baigert: The virus is more deadly now. Right. (Chuckles)
Leahy: I don’t know if you saw this, but apparently a bunch of Democrats filed a lawsuit trying to stop the rally. Did you see that?
Baigert: Right. Yes. I saw that the first judge at least denied that. I think they were appealing but I didn’t hear about the second step now.
Leahy: I don’t see how they could deny that right. It’s right there in the constitution. The right to peacefully assemble.
Baigert: Even with the masks and all that, I think people need to use their own judgment. I don’t know what to tell people. It’s just like if you don’t want to jump out of an airplane. If you want to consume alcohol. Do drugs. That’s what this country is about. You get to make your own decisions.
Baigert: Yes. Freedom.
Leahy: So tomorrow, the rally is at 7 pm. What is your plan of attack? When are you going to be going in to go through the media? It takes a long time to get through security. When will you arrive? There is a special door there for the media, right?
Baigert: Right. There is a special entrance. You have to have all of your documents checked and all of that. I think that opens at 2 pm. If you have a lot of equipment and you are a television or something along those lines you have to go today and bring in all of your large equipment and drop pit off there. If you don’t have it in you won’t’ be able to bring it in Saturday.
Leahy: The good news is you don’t have that large equipment. Laura Baigert, thanks so much. We’ll be looking forward to your stories from today and tomorrow.
Listen to the full second hour here:
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