Demand Protest Paying Protestors to Disrupt Trump Inauguration-Fiction! 

Summary of eRumor:

A group called Demand Protest has taken out ads seeking paid protestors to disrupt President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration.

The Truth:

Ads taken out by Demand Protest seeking paid protestors to disrupt Trump’s inauguration were a publicity stunt — not a real attempt to recruit paid protestors.

The controversy started in mid-January 2017. That’s when Demand Protest, a San Francisco-based group identifying itself as the “largest grassroots support organization in the United States,” posted ads for paid protestors on Backpage.com sites in 20 states.

The ads promised paid protestors who were “already politically motivated” a $2,500 monthly retainer in addition to a $50 hourly retainer to protest a minimum of six events per year:

Demand Protest ad for paid protestors
A Demand Protest ad for paid protestors has been widely circulated.

Our first stop in investing rumors that Demand Protest paying protestors to disrupt Trump’s inauguration was the group’s website, DemandProtest.com. The domain was purchased in December 2016, according to online records. It’s very fishy that “the largest grassroots support organization in the United States” didn’t have a website just one month before viral ads for paid protestors put it on the map.

And because Demand Protest ads for paid protestors claimed the company was based in San Francisco, our next stop was the California Secretary of State’s online Business Search Database. “Demand Protest” is not listed as a registered business in the state, and it doesn’t appear to have an office address. Again, it’s very implausible that “the largest grassroots support organization in the United States” isn’t registered to do business in its home state.

Given those two details, it’s safe to assume that Demand Protest is not, as it claims, a massive grassroots support organization.

Motives behind the Demand Protest ads for paid protestors seemed to come to light when a group rep identifying himself as “Dom Tullipso” appeared on Fox News Channel’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight” on January 17, 2017. The exchange began with Carlson calling Demand Protest and its ads for paid protestors “a sham”:

“This is a sham, your company isn’t real, your website is fake, the claims you have made are lies, this is a hoax. Let me start at the beginning, however, with your name, Dom Tullipso, which is not your real name. It’s a fake name, we ran you through law enforcement-level background checks and that name does not exist. So let’s start out with the truth. Tell me what your real name is.”

After an exchange in which Tullipso refused to provide ID or his real name, he responded to Carlson’s questions about why he was perpetuating the hoax by seemingly indicating that it was an attempt to demonstrate how easily manipulated news agencies are:

“Basically, there’s no way that a legitimate news agency would have somebody on that didn’t really know what they were saying, or was just talking out of their behinds. There’s a certain amount of vetting that goes on behind every news organization, so I would assume that I wouldn’t be given airtime on a national stage unless I was legitimate … It’s pretty darn easy these days to just say whatever the heck you want on national TV and have it pass off as truth. I don’t know, it’s pretty incredible to me how easy it was to get the coverage we got.”

Given all that, it’s safe to assume that claims about Demand Protest hiring protestors to disrupt the Trump inauguration are false — and that Demand Protest is a fictitious organization.

A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:

Collected on: 01/18/2017
A Backpage.com ad posted by Demand Protest seeks paid protestors to disrupt Donald Trump’s inauguration.