Summary: The weak link in the American political regime is obvious from our history, but we refuse to see it. When we are ready, then America will be on the path to reform.
Try this thought experiment: what if Ronald Reagan or George Bush Sr. abandonded Mary Jo Kopechne at Chappaquiddick in 1969? Would his subsequent political career been possible? Would Feminists ever have forgiven him? Would the New York Times ever have written an article about him without mentioning Chappaquiddick?
Liberals prefer not to think about the obvious. Corruption is often invisible to its owner.
Let’s examine another example. Why do our leaders lie to us? Perhaps because we want them to do so. Lies are often more fun than truth. As in stories about the Washington DC Tea Party. Fed by lies, many of the tea party faithful believe that millions attended. The actual total was probably under 100 thousand; perhaps only half that. This post traces the origin of this useful bit of propaganda.
As an example, let’s examine “Tea Party March on DC Draws Somewhere between 2 million and 60,000 People. Go figure.“, Nick Gillespie, Reason Online, 13 September 2009 — Excerpt:
Press accounts are pegging the crowd at somewhere between (get this) 60,000 (ABC News) and and “in excess of 75,000″ (local officials) 1.2 million (local police agency estimates) and 2 million people (ABC News again, Fox News, The Daily Mail, and various other outlets).
I confess to having no way of checking or even evaluating these stats, but from my view of the proceedings (and having attended various events over the years), my sense is that 60,000 is way low and 2 million a stretch by a huge factor. Crowd counts are notoriously difficult and always pumped up or down for various reasons.
That said, the three takeaways I had from the event comport with Welch’s from yesterday’s post: First, the crowd was truly huge. …
This is well-written agitprop, like so much written about the Tea Parties. In fact the posts cited by Gillespie provide no evidence that the DC rally was more than 75 thousand or so. He gives no source for the 1.2 million estimate.
- “Tea Party Protesters March on Washington“, ABC News, 12 September 2009 — “approximately 60,000 to 70,000 people flooded Pennsylvania Ave, according to the Washington DC Fire Department.”
- “Protesters March on Washington“, Wall Street Journal, 14 September 2009 — “A spokesman for D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services estimated the crowd at “in excess of 75,000″ people.”
Other journalists report the same numbers, such as “Thousands Rally in Capital to Protest Big Government“, New York Times, 13 September 2009 — “The demonstrators numbered well into the tens of thousands, though the police declined to estimate the size of the crowd.”
Here are the two links Gillespie gives for the “2 million estimate people” estimate”:
(1) “As many as 2 million protesters attend 9/12 Washington, D.C. Tea Party Rally“, Darren Pope, syndicated columnist, 13 September 2009 — Excerpt:
According to individual reports on the internet late Saturday The National Park Service had reportedly estimated around 1.2 million people attended the rally. There is no mention of the rally on the Park Service website and I have been unable to confirm that they have released any official estimate.
Some websites citing the 1.2 million number have claimed to be quoting Park Service employees, but I can find no direct quotes from anyone connected to the Park Service that can be confirmed at this time. Phone calls to the NPS went unanswered on Sunday.
There were also several reports Saturday saying that ABC and Fox News had reported that the crowd was estimated to be as high as 2 million. ABC News is now saying they never reported that number. According to ABC they were misquoted by a rally speaker. At this time there is no report on the Fox News website that includes an estimated attendance figure.
No support there for the 2 million number.
(2) “A million march to US Capitol to protest against ‘Obama the socialist’“, Daily Mail, 14 September 2009 — “As many as one million people flooded into Washington for a massive rally organised by conservatives claiming that President Obama is driving America towards socialism.” No source is given for this number. The photograph gives a more accurate caption: “Tens of thousands of people converged on Capitol Hill on Saturday to protest against government spending.”
Neither gives much support for the 2 million number, esp since well-sourced numbers are under 5% of the 2 million number. He also also cites Fox News as a source, which repeated the story that ABC News gave the 2 million number. ABC News denies it: “ABC News Was Misquoted on Crowd Size“, ABC News, 13 September 2009 — Excerpt:
Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks, the group that organized the event, said on stage at the rally Saturday that ABC News was reporting that 1 million to 1.5 million people were in attendance. At no time did ABC News, or its affiliates, report a number anywhere near as large. ABCNews.com reported an approximate figure of 60,000 to 70,000 protesters, attributed to the Washington, D.C., fire department. In its reports, ABC News Radio described the crowd as “tens of thousands.”
From Matt Kibbe’s statement (for which he apologized) came the “2 million” number which spread as wildfire — ratifying the Tea Party supporters’ self-image as the vanguard of a mass movement. Using this as their launching point, inflated estimates circulate around the Internet. They believe not because the number is plausible, but because they want to believe.
Perhaps when we’re ready for the truth — both Left and Right — we’ll be ready for better leaders. Then we can build a better America.
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To read other articles about these things, see the FM reference page on the right side menu bar. Of esp interest are:
Posts about America’s broken observation-orientation-decision-action loop (OODA loop):
- News from the Front: America’s military has mastered 4GW!, 2 September 2007
- The two tracks of discussion about the Iraq War, never intersecting, 10 November 2007
- Another cycle down the Defense Death Spiral, 30 January 2008
- Quote of the day: this is America’s geopolitical strategy in action, 26 February 2008
- What do blogs do for America?, 26 February 2008
- Everything written about the economic crisis overlooks its true nature, 24 February 2009
- The housing crisis allows America to look in the mirror. What do we see?, 8 March 2009
- The magic of the mainstream media changes even the plainest words into face powder, 24 April 2009
- The media – a broken component of America’s machinery to observe and understand the world, 2 June 2009
- We’re ignorant about the world because we rely on our media for information, 3 June 2009
- The decay of our government, visible for all to see, 3 June 2009
- A great, brief analysis of problem with America’s society – a model to follow when looking at other problems, 4 June 2009
- Does America have clear vision? Here’s an “eye chart” for our minds., 15 June 2009
- A new news media emerges for our new world, unseen and unexpected, 9 July 2009