Former Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has a new gig as the spokesperson for rapper Travis Scott, whose Astroworld Festival concert in Houston last Friday was the scene of a crowd surge that killed nine people and that officials declared a “mass casualty” incident.
Appearing on the “CBS Mornings” show Friday, Rawlings-Blake said it was “ludicrous” to believe that Scott could have stopped the concert. Only the executive producer and concert producer had the authority to stop the concert under the 59-page operations plan, she said.
“He was not responsible for this, but he wants to be responsible for the solution,” Rawlings-Blake said. “And I’m here to make sure that we can connect the dots, and to make sure … that there’s a lesson out of this tragedy and something like this doesn’t happen again.”
Rawlings-Blake said the tragedy was the result of “so much chaos, so much breakdown in the communication,” and that Scott “had no idea what was going on until well later, hours and hours later.”
She added that Scott stopped multiple times during the concert to try to understand what was going on.
“He saw that something was amiss,” she said. “He couldn’t tell what it was. But he was so concerned about his fans, he stopped. The videos show he stopped multiple times to try to get a sense of what was going on. And just like those police officers that were standing in front of the stage, he could not tell what was going on.”
Rawlings-Blake confirmed reports that Scott and his team went to a Dave & Buster’s restaurant after the concert, but she said they did so to “regroup” and “figure out what was going on.”
Eight concert-goers died at the event, and a ninth person died days later in a hospital from injuries she suffered during the crowd rush.
Rawlings-Blake said Scott has reached out to all the victims’ families, and that she has reached out to the family of the ninth victim.
“He has not stopped grieving for these families,” Rawlings-Blake said. “He knows that he is who he is because of his fans. His love for his fans is so deep. I was struck when I was speaking to him how deeply he was hurting because of what happened to the people he loves and in the city that he loves.”
Former Fox 45 meteorologist Emily Gracey posted a photo on Twitter of a television screen that showed Rawlings-Blake speaking on the “CBS Mornings” show about becoming Scott’s spokesperson.
Someone got a new job! #SRB pic.twitter.com/29YsCUpFtS
— Emily Gracey (@GraceyWeather) November 12, 2021
Twitter user Brian Robinson compared Rawlings-Blake’s consulting firm, SRB & Associates, to the political crisis management firm run by the character Olivia Pope on the television show “Scandal.”
Apparently she’s got her own “Olivia Pope and Associates” https://t.co/x5juyO9xkh
— Brian Robinson, Ph.D (@MrBrianRobinson) November 12, 2021
Adding Scott as a client is the latest addition to Rawlings-Blake’s resume.
A City Council president, she first rose to the top spot in Baltimore politics in February 2010 when then-mayor Sheila Dixon resigned after a conviction of embezzlement. Rawlings-Blake was elected mayor in 2011.
Rawlings-Blake was mayor during the 2015 death of Freddie Gray in police custody and the subsequent protests. She drew criticism for calling some protesters “thugs” for damaging property, and later apologized.
Rawlings-Blake announced in September 2015 that she had decided not to run for re-election, and her one term as mayor came to an end in December 2016. After leaving City Hall, Rawlings-Blake launched a consulting firm, SRB & Associates.
In 2017, she joined an advisory board for the homestay property rental company Airbnb.
Rawlings-Blake in 2020 endorsed former New York City mayor and businessman Mike Bloomberg for president, and became the national political co-chair for Bloomberg’s presidential campaign.
Now, she seeks to steer Scott out of the Astroworld tragedy.
Scott said he will cover the funeral expenses of those who died as a result of the concert surge.
But parts of the rapper’s response to the incident have received backlash.
Scott partnered with the online therapy company BetterHelp to offer one free month of therapy for people who were impacted by the festival incident. Critics called the move “exploitative” and a “sponsored disaster.”
Scott also initially listed the incorrect phone number for what was meant to be the hotline for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. The correct number is 800-950-6264, but Scott posted a phone number with a few different digits, BuzzFeed News reported.
The phone number was later corrected, BuzzFeed News reported, after they reached out to BetterHelp and Scott’s team.