Young Conservatives Embrace TikTok Targeting Fellow Gen Z Voters | NBC News NOW

Channel: NBC News
Published: 10/27/2020

Young conservatives are using TikTok to target voters their age. Some of their messages are highly-partisan, strategic and coordinated. NBC News’ Antonia Hylton met with conservative influencers who are pumping out pro-Trump and anti-Biden messaging. Be sure to read our latest breaking news updat

Good morning this past weekend, 24 of today's america's influencers packed into one airbnb and got ready to march through washington dc, though they only formed in april. Their followings are growing rapidly and the goal is to have the kind of influence through tick tock that students for trump or turning point usa have had for years on twitter and instagram. What'S up everyone so super important ...
vent. I want everyone to know about. They'Ve been invited to co-sponsor this weekend's event with freedom, tour, usa, a self-described, grassroots patriotic movement. Liam rafizida is one of the founders he's only 20 years old. We wake up at 8 a. m and we have a ton of stuff to get done and i probably don't go to bed until 2am in the morning. I'M on phone calls with influencers all day, long helping them. I'M always at my desk doing work. How were you able to fund this whole weekend from the apparel from what we sell? We sell all types of patriotic apparel, we sell trump stuff, we sell today's america branded stuff and that's how we get the funding to do things like this. What'S up, what was it dude? Is it a speed bump big ass feet around 11 a.

m? On saturday, today, as america's members carpooled over to the washington monument to prepare for the march one more time, one more time take three: they wasted no time in making tick. Tocks right and then like i commented like, should we go next, someone said the white [ music, ], [ applause, ] house, [ music, ], nbc news, correspondent, antonia hilton, joins us now, antonia very happy to see that their tick tock and their rollerblading coordination is way Better uh than their driving over speed, bumps uh, but tell us more about this group today is america. So today is america is fully a company. It started in april, but it's now an llc chairman president, and about 150 plus influencers who, across their multiple accounts, are able to reach millions and millions of young people on tick tock and their goal is to spread conservative values, beliefs and in these next couple days, To push for the re-election of president trump, but really i think the long game here is that they want to become part of the broader conservative media ecosystem. Conservatives have had a foothold on spaces like youtube and twitter and instagram for a long time. But today is america is really the first company to take a stab at building that sort of presence on tick tock in a formal way, so they seem very organized they've got merchandise uh. You say you know they're they're a company here, but do we have any sense of just how effective they have been in encouraging gen z voters to support trump? So we don't yet know about there being a massive tick-tock effect on this upcoming election. But there are now numerous researchers who are studying the fast growth of political discussion on tick tock and i actually spent time speaking with kevin munger. Who is a professor and researcher at penn state who spends his time actually combing through and downloading. Thousands and thousands of these videos to study it and what you find when you talk to these creators one-on-one is they'll. Tell you i'm not really sure i mean many of them are between the ages of like 15 and 20.

So they're not really sure. What'S about to happen with this election, but they'll tell you that they are getting in active debates with other young people on the app every day that their dms are flooded with young people. Asking them questions about their stance on abortion, interested in their perspective on trade and that they're having those conversations day-to-day, and they personally believe that some of those conversations are going to lead to some of these young people coming out and voting. But they don't really know yet, and all of this remains to be studied, because this growth has happened over the last couple months, so so quickly, it's really impressive to see young people so politically engaged antonia. Thank you so much. Thank you from the slam dunks to the seemingly impossible. The nba knows how to put on a show now focusing all that talent to get out the vote with 20 stadiums and arenas across the country turned polling places. Some of the most accessible sites aimed at pushing turnout in minority communities, including the staples center, where the nba champions play and superstar lebron james to know the staple center is going to be a polling site for for voting is unbelievable and it's something that we need. Trying to get um, you know all 30 franchises and all 30 nba arenas to open up. Also in la the forum, once the venue of choice for music greats soon to be home to the clippers, the team inspired to transform it into one of the city's largest voting sites, the clippers and the forums say they're all about creating a great voting experience from The voting lines to the parking even providing hand sanitizer the county is responsible for the actual voting 126 machines in this arena. But it's in battleground states where basketball could have the biggest impact join us as we swarm the polls like north carolina where the hornets arena the spectrum centers now open for early voting. It was nice, it was quick, it was fast, it was efficient.

I felt safe because they kept us apart from each other, a hive of activity backed by owners, michael jordan and fred whitfield. This could make a real impact there in north carolina. Well, we hope it will we're charlotte's team, we're a community team we're a community asset. We feel like we have an obligation to reach out throughout every community of charlotte do everything we can to make this an easy process for everyone for whitfield. This is deeply personal. He was at the spectrum center with his 89 year old mother to vote. He says janelle whitfield wasn't able to vote until the voting rights act of 1965. She was 34 and hasn't missed a vote since my mom is 89 years old and so she's not had the right to vote throughout her whole entire life and so she's very proud of the fact that when she was allowed to vote and given the right to Vote as an african-american woman that she's not missed one election cycle to cast her vote and and i'd, encourage everyone of every race to to certainly get out exercise that essential right and have their voice be heard. The movement brokered in a historic deal led by the biggest names in basketball after teams, walked off the court in protest of the wisconsin police shooting of jacob blake in arizona where minority voters could help swing. The state phoenix suns player cameron johnson says the push is his response to decades of social injustice. You hear a lot or in the past, you've heard a lot of you know the shut up and dribble stay in your lane.

You get paid millions of dollars to play a game. What do you have to complain about and to that i just say like that, does not remove us from from our people when it comes to opening up the voting centers when it comes to nba players becoming more involved. This is literally the way that that our country has given us to to change our future for nba players and owners. That means continuing this full court press well beyond election 2020. dueling rallies in west michigan this weekend and both sides were heavily armed. A conservative group. The american patriot council supporting president trump with a freedom march justice for black lives, staging a counter protest. Both groups said they feared for their safety. Both groups blamed the other for stirring divisiveness. Both groups brought guns, nbc news. Now, correspondent dasha burns was there. We are once again divided at election time, and i think this could be one of the worst elections in the last hundred years.

This is about freedom and that's that's what this is about. This is simply about freedom for all, that's a trump rally: it's not patriots! Those people are supporting donald trump; it has nothing to do with patriotism. For a long time. There was quite a few people who did not want to stand up. They were afraid of what the blm, the antifa and the people who are not what trump would do. Every event that these people have shown at during the summer, they've brought arms, so they weren't there to engage or talk, and they racially intimidated us in june and july and uh. Today we caught wind of their event and we decided that it was our time to exercise our second amendment right and to make sure that we have a safe space for our people. Um, i'm wearing my body armor today, because i've had threats in my life, so um, i just don't feel comfortable coming out the gatherings like this unprotected we're fighting for equality. That is not division. It'S going to be what it's going to be. I mean i obviously i want trump to win, i'm a trump supporter, but if biden wins biden wins i mean it's going to the country is going to continue to go. I mean it's not the end of the world.

Dasha joins us now from grand rapids michigan. It is a place. She has been a whole lot over the past year for our county to county series. Dasha. Thankfully, you've reported that, in spite of all of the guns, there was no violence there, this weekend uh, but these hyper-charged rallies really just highlight how polarized this area is ahead of the election. This is a county and a state that both candidates are trying very hard to win. What did you take away from this weekend? There hey allison, that's right, thankfully, no violence, this scene that you just saw unfold, happened in allendale. It'S just uh next door about a 20-minute drive from grand rapids and just to paint how surreal the scene was in between these two dueling rallies uh. With with armed individuals on both sides, there was a family at the park playing pickleball, so michigan just has a whole lot going on right now and i think uh. What we saw over the weekend was how the the deep division is really manifesting on the ground. Here in this area that is so politically important and where tensions and stakes are incredibly high, look both of these groups were ideological opposites. On one side, you had a lot of trump support.

You had some militia members. On the other side, you had racial justice activists who brought security in the form of an anti-fascist organization that came with their own rifles as well, and both sides told me that they were nervous about what what might happen they were concerned for their safety. There was also a sentiment of feeling silenced in both groups that we talked to individuals who wanted to stand up against that and said that they brought weapons so that they could safely do so, could safely exercise their rights, allison tasha. What else are voters they're concerned about on the right end on the left, as we head into this last week before the election? What issues are they talking to you about? Well, of course, election day was not far from anyone's mind and it was interesting both concerned about election day on the right. There was more concern about protecting the vote on the left, more concern about protecting the voters. So at the american patriots council rally, there were folks looking to recruit poll watchers and challengers at the justice for black lives rally. People were signing up volunteers to be told, buddies, to take volunteers, to take voters to the polls who were nervous about intimidation to have someone there with them. I want you to take a listen to what we heard from each from each group. Allison watch i'm concerned that his followers are going to if he, if he's showing even a hesitation of winning they're going to they're going to respond with violence. We are concerned about voter intimidation, especially in michigan polling places, are supposed to be um you're supposed to be safe at a polling place. Are you guys, interested in watching or challenging? Is that something that you're something i already do? I did it in 2018 and i'll be doing it this year. So and it's just it's nothing against anybody.

It'S just. I want to guarantee the integrity of the election and it's not like. Oh, i think, they're going to cheat as much as it is. I just want to make sure that every vote is counted and allison michigan, of course, is an open carry state, but recently state officials banned open carry at the polls. However, there have been lawsuits challenging that order and there are sheriffs in the state who say that they will not enforce that van allison dasha impressed to see that, in spite of the tensions, in spite of the concerns in spite of the weapons this weekend, people managed To express themselves and it didn't, get violent and it didn't get nasty uh it gives. It gives us some hope here that maybe we can get past some of this divisiveness dasha in grand rapids. Thank you.

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