Let's just say there were a million people protesting the NYC mosque

Blog ››› ››› BEN DIMIERO

What is it with conservatives and crowd estimates?

Perhaps the funniest/most illuminating example of the way the right wing noise machine functions came after the 9/12 protests, when the estimated crowd of less than 100,000 was turned into anywhere between a few hundred thousand and two million, depending on who you asked (and when you asked them).

Among the sources conservatives cited to inflate the crowd size were a non-existent ABC News report claiming "2 million" people, a repurposed quote about Obama's inauguration sourced to an imaginary person to label the crowd "the largest event held in Washington, D.C., ever," and a supposed "University of Indiana" "study" that was written by an undergrad whose methodology included subtracting "a hundred thousand or two" people for "old people being distracted by statues."

Like clockwork, another conservative-organized protest has spawned more comical crowd estimates, this time courtesy of Pam Geller. Geller, who once cited someone who "claims to have overheard DC police discussing crowd numbers" in order to estimate there were over 2 million people at the 9/12 protest, put up a post last night discussing the crowds at the protest of the supposed "911 Mega Mosque" in New York City.

It isn't a good sign for the reliability of your numbers when you throw out three conflicting estimates in the same post. In the headline, Geller cites the crowd as "Upwards of Eight Thousand." In the post itself, she says that she and Robert Spencer "were expecting 500," but they were pleased when "close to 5,000 showed up." She also says "some estimates ranged as high as 10,000." Which estimates? Well, she doesn't tell us, probably because had she linked to an actual news outlet's estimate, it would have ruined her fantasy.

In an article headlined "1,000 protest planned Islamic center, mosque near Ground Zero," New York Daily News says "more than 1,000" people protested. In an article headlined "Hundred oppose mosque at site near Ground Zero," Newsday put the number at "more than 350 demonstrators."

Granted, Geller's estimate of "upwards of eight thousand" is "more than 350," so maybe she is on to something here. It must be expertise like this that led CNN to host Geller to discuss the proposed Muslim center this weekend.

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Pamela Geller
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