How Many People?
Monday, September 14, 2009 at 9:06 am
So, how many people showed up at the 9/12 taxpayer march on Washington? One signal of the confusion over crowd counts came from the stage. Speakers alternately thanked a crowd that numbered in the “tens of thousands” and the “hundreds of thousands.” The source of that confusion, however, seemed to come from Twitter. The plugged-in Tea Party protesters who watched their progress on the insta-blogging service found anonymous and semi-anonymous people claiming that their numbers were nearing 2 million. At one point, Matt Kibbe of FreedomWorks got on stage and told the crowds that ABC News was reporting those high numbers.
Kibbe has walked that number back, crediting the mistake to misinformation on Twitter, and that leaves ABC’s estimate of 60,000 to 70,000 protesters as the one that most media are using. Some conservatives are arguing for a bigger number; Robert Stacy McCain, in a post linked by Michelle Malkin, argues that “a people-meter at the intersection of Constitution Avenue and 11th Street” counted 450,000 people, and that some people made it late to the event due to traffic problems, so the media is undercounting it.
This dispute won’t end soon, as any veterans of anti-war protests could tell conservatives; it’s tough to get accurate crowd counts and tough to believe that something that felt massive was not, in fact, historically large. This was the largest march on Washington by conservatives in anyone’s memory. But Washington was home to one of the largest public gatherings of the decade just nine months ago, when 1.8 million people filled the mall from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial for President Obama’s inauguration, and that has given future protesters a barometer for their success. The reports of “2 million people” on the mall this weekend were always ludicrous.
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