It seems odd to me that in general the mainstream news media seems so reluctant to report a substantial number for those in attendance at Glenn Beck’s rally dedicated to the care and feeding of racial code words.
To my mind, how many people attended would be the most important news about the rally because it would be a measure of the strength of the Tea-and-values movement that Beck and Palin want to spearhead. And yet the mainstream news media approached ascertaining this fact with the same investigative skills with which they investigated Bush II’s claim that Sadam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
As this small review will show, most of the mainstream media ran away from talking about numbers, burying it near the end of the story and then just taking the claims of other sources without either questioning or backing those claims:
- I can’t find the link, but Associated Press did the most-widely disseminated version, which puts “thousands” in its headline and first line, and then buries the organizer’s claim of 500,000 near the end of the story, as if the numbers in attendance were one of the least important parts of the story.
- Los Angeles Times puts “thousands” in its headline and first line, and then buries the organizer’s claim of 500,000 near the end of the story.
- New York Times’s headline has no mention of numbers nor is there any until near the very end of the story, at which point it says, “Washington officials do not make crowd estimates, but NBC News estimated the turnout at 300,000, while Mr. Beck offered a range of 300,000 to 650,000. By any measure it was a large turnout.
- Washington Post: I don’t have a link, but the Post followed the line of calling it “thousands” in the headline and first paragraph and then burying the numbers until the end. The Post did run a story about the ahead-of-time prediction of a think tank hack paid by the ultra-rightist Koch brothers, along with his completely scurrilous statement that it would exceed the total to watch Martin Luther King deliver his “I have a dream” speech.
- Many regional newspapers like the Harrisburg Patriot-News did a local follower story, interviewing people at the rally who came from the area; these stories never mentioned total numbers.
Some media finally saw today that the discrepancy in estimates was a story; all of these supported Glenn Beck’s number:
- Daily News led the way by listing all the estimates except for the one by CBS, the only one in which the estimator told us how the number was derived, AKA the lowest estimate (see below). While finding no room for the low number, the Daily News was able to print Minnesota Representative Michelle’s Bachman’s truly deranged estimate of one million people.
- Some one writing for Yahoo! started with the Beck estimate and then spent a good part of the article condemning the CBS low estimate without giving a reason why. Even a movie review site chimed in to defend the high estimates.
Funny that no mainstream media focused on the CBS estimate of 87,000 in attendance except to refute it. And yet, the CBS estimate was the only one backed by a scientifically-proven methodology, a methodology, by the way, similar to what some civil engineers sometimes use when estimating people or vehicles.
Let’s let CBS talk for itself:
“An estimated 87,000 people attended a rally organized by talk-radio host and Fox News commentator Glenn Beck Saturday in Washington, according to a crowd estimate commissioned by CBS News.
The company AirPhotosLive.com based the attendance on aerial pictures it took over the rally, which stretched from in front of the Lincoln Memorial along the Reflecting Pool to the Washington Monument. Beck and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin spoke at the rally.
Beck, who predicted that at least 100,000 people would show up, opened his comments with a joke: “I have just gotten word from the media that there is over 1,000 people here today.”
AirPhotosLive.com gave its estimate a margin of error of 9,000; meaning between 78,000 and 96,000 people attended the rally. The photos used to make the estimate were taken at noon Saturday, which is when the company estimated was the rally’s high point.”
The best way that the mainstream news media can ignore or discount the scientifically-based 87,000 estimate as the closest to the actual number of attendees is to ignore the issue of numbers attending in covering the story. The mere fact that only 87,000 attended shows how relatively unimportant the Beck-Palin voters really are. The comparison of Beck’s estimate of a half a million to the probably total of fewer than 100,000 demonstrates once again how willing Beck is to lie or stretch the truth to make his points. The mainstream news media purposely looked in the other direction from the real news story to protect the radical right from exposure to these painful facts.
It’s not the first time that the mainstream news media has seemed to act in concert to magnify the importance of the Tea party and “values” movements. My conclusion: they and their owners want to keep pushing the country to the right.