Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Best Guess

Crowd estimates at the tea-party festival in Washington, D.C. last weekend ran from “tens of thousands” by outside observers to “2 million” as reported and repeated by several conservative bloggers, including Michelle Malkin. It’s tough to pin down the truth, but those folks who have an interest in making it look like everybody in the western world showed up went to some lengths to exaggerate the count, even to the point of posting an aerial photo of the rally to prove their point. PolitiFact dug into the facts.

It appears that the photo was actually taken in 1997 at a rally for Promise Keepers, a group for Christian men. According to the group’s Web site, nearly 1 million people attended the event. Photos of the Oct. 4, 1997, event that were posted on various Web sites in 2003, 2008 and earlier this year show either the same picture or a similar photo that has identical tents and what appear to be TV screens in the same locations.

Conservative bloggers who originally posted the picture have backed down.

FreedomWorks, the lobbying group that promoted the rally, has now revised their estimate to 600,000 to 800,000, which Eric Kleefeld at TPM reports is still about ten times larger than estimates by authorities and other people who have attended rallies in the past and probably have a good handle on how many people it takes to fill up the Mall.

Even if it was 70,000, that’s a respectable number of people to turn out for anything. Puffing up the numbers and posting out-dated photos doesn’t add to the credibility of the righties, which, based on what we heard come out of the mouths of some demonstrators, isn’t on really solid ground to begin with.