Empty skies over MyPillow Guy: Mike Lindell's "Frank Speech" rally glorifies glitchy Jumbotron Trump

Lindell's surreal pro-MAGA event kicked off with him waiting for a sign that everything would go according to plan

Published June 14, 2021 4:20PM (EDT)

Mike Lindell (Patrick McMullan/Getty Images)
Mike Lindell (Patrick McMullan/Getty Images)

Trump ally and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell's pro-MAGA "Frank Speech" rally in New Richmond, Wisconsin, got off to a rocky start last weekend, but ended on its highest possible note with a glitchy yet well-received keynote appearance via video feed from former President Donald Trump.

Lindell's rally faced an array of challenges, starting with its modest audience. The crowd eventually grew to a few thousand, but ultimately fell short of the bedding mogul's prediction of 30,000-plus Trump supporters from all over the country convening in Wisconsin. (Liberals may have raised Lindell's expectations by reserving an exorbitant number of tickets online with no plans to attend.)

Political rallies tend to attract attention-seeking performers even off-stage, and Frank Speech events are no exception. One such interloper who stole the pre-show was none other than a mini-Mike Lindell — what appeared to be a child dressed up as the real-life TrumpWorld character. The two Mikes eventually met, to the crowd's delight.

From the massive stage, Lindell kicked things off with the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by the announcement of a surprise flyover. The jets Lindell expected, however, did not materialize on cue. Their absence grew more awkward as the wait dragged on.

And yet Lindell held out hope. "A surprise in the sky here in about a minute — 30 seconds," he said, checking his watch. "You can't time it ... Can they see them? Are they here?" Lindell asked the people on stage with him. Confusion set in; phone calls were made. The planes eventually appeared hours later, well into the event's programming. (Lindell didn't return a request for comment on how he thought the rally went.)

From the stage, Lindell also expressed frustration with Fox News, as the conservative network did not attend or broadcast his rally, even though Trump was scheduled to speak. "Where is Fox News?" Lindell asked. The ardently pro-Trump crowd also chanted "Where is Fox?" at one point during the day's festivities.

"This is part of our cancel culture, and our free speech being suppressed, when you got Fox who's supposed to be conservative or whatever," Lindell fumed. ("Hannity" deals for MyPillow merch, however, still abound on the bedding company's website.)

Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk, Newsmax hosts Diamond and Silk (Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson), and right wing author Dinesh D'Souza all made on-stage appearances ahead of Trump. Kirk, notably one of the more mainstream conservatives to speak at the rally, took the opportunity to plug his own custom MyPillow promo code, of which he presumably he gets a cut, immediately upon stepping up to the microphone.

After the TrumpWorld undercard appearances came the main event. The former president spoke to the fading group of supporters (remote, via large-screen video feed)  for approximately 15 minutes, slinging baseless allegations of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election and riffs on President Joe Biden's approach to addressing immigration at the southern border.

"All Biden had to do — all he had to do was leave it alone," Trump stated at one point. "So we went from the most successful, the safest border in the history of our country — think of that — to the worst and most dangerous border."

At times, the Trump video feed would freeze. A/V glitches are nothing new for Lindell, whose team has a long history of struggling with technology.

After Trump spoke, most attendees booked it for the exit, leaving Lindell still on stage ranting about his election "documentaries" (which lack any proof of voter fraud) and the "censorship" of conservatives.

The Wisconsin rally marks the second such gathering the pillow maven has organized, following a South Dakota event in mid-May that featured the Proud Boys, Joe Piscopo, and enthusiastic promotion of an investment scheme. It remains unclear what the purpose of these rallies will morph into when August fails to reinstall Trump in the White House, a far-fetched conspiracy theory Lindell has touted as inevitable.

By Zachary Petrizzo

Zachary Petrizzo was an investigative reporter at Salon. Follow him on Twitter @ZTPetrizzo.

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Commentary Donald Trump Frank Speech Maga Mike Lindell Mypillow