The New Yorker's dubious Tea Party profile

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

There are many things wrong with Ben McGrath's Tea Party valentine in this week's New Yorker, which goes out of its way to whitewash the divisiveness and hate that fuels much of the movement. (Instead, "Inclusiveness was the point" of the movement, McGrath stresses.)

But this part is really inexcusable, as the New Yorker plays dumb about the crowd estimates for last September's rally in Washington, D.C. [emphasis added]:

Politics is ultimately a numbers game, and the natural excitement surrounding 9.12 drove crowd estimates upward, from an early lowball figure of sixty thousand, reported by ABC News, into the hundreds of thousands and across the million mark, eventually nearing two million--an upper limit of some significance, because 1.8 million was the figure commonly reported in mainstream or "state-run" media outlets as the attendance at President Obama's Inauguration. "There are more of us than there are of them, and we know the truth," one of the Kentucky organizers, who had carpooled to D.C. with a couple of co-workers from an auto-parts warehouse, told me. The fact that the mainstream media generally declined to acknowledge the parallel, regarding the marchers as a loud and motley long tail of disaffection, and not a silent majority, only hardened their resolve.

Are you kidding me? According to the New Yorker, the "mainstream media" declined to acknowledge that 1.8 million people showed up at the Tea Party rally? Might that be because 1.8 million people didn't show up and that number was pure fantasy, whipped up by the likes of Michelle Malkin and Glenn Beck. Or, to put it another way, the press didn't report the 1.8 million number because it was off the mark by 1.7 million.

Faced with one of the Tea Party's truly monumental falsehoods (1.8 million marched on Washington!), the New Yorker, rather that highlighting the fictional streak that runs through the movement, instead treats the 1.8 million number as legit and seems to scold the "mainstream media" for not reporting the number. A number the Tea Party folks made up, which the New Yorker never makes clear.

UPDATED: Notice how ABC News reported the "lowball" figure of 60,000, according to the magazine. But that makes no sense because that 60,000 crowd estimate came from Washington, D.C.'s fire department. Meaning, it wasn't a "lowball" estimate. It was the official estimate. The other, larger numbers were simply fabricated.

The New Yorker leaves that part out, though.

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