The hilarious game of conservative telephone continues

Yesterday, Glenn Beck cited an unnamed university estimating the crowd size at the 9/12 protest as “1.7 million.” Considering Beck and other conservatives have so far relied on invented ABC reports, repurposed quotes about Obama's inauguration, and “I heard someone say,” we assumed Beck was just grasping at straws.

Turns out we were wrong. From his radio program this morning:

What “University of Indiana” study is Beck talking about? We have no clue. And clearly, neither does Beck. Here's Beck, appearing on Fox News' On the Record on Monday night:

BECK: I think that it doesn't matter if any newspaper published how many people were there. We had, where was it, University of Illinois, I think, did a -- you know, a spatial count and looked at the photos and said I think it was 1.7 million people there.

University Of Illinois, Indiana University, hey, what's the difference? There does appear to be a crowd-size expert at the University of Illinois named Clark McPhail, who was quoted extensively about the size of the crowd at Obama's inauguration, but a Nexis and Google search reveals that McPhail hasn't yet said anything about the 9/12 crowds. As we learned yesterday, the conservative media thinks it is totally reasonable to take quotes about the inauguration and apply them to the 9/12 march. However, over the last 48 hours, Beck has progressed from University of Illinois, to a complete memory wipe, to today referencing some purported Indiana University study twice. We'll try to keep up and have a look at what Beck might be talking about.

The closest thing to an Indiana University study appears to be this paper, “The Real Number of Protesters at the 9/12 Washington D.C. March,” by the esteemed Zac Moilanen. Who exactly is Zac Moilanen? Noted Statistician? Professor Emeritus of Political Science?

Close. According to his “Cadet Profile” as posted on the web page for the university's ROTC program, Moilanen is an undergrad majoring in East Asian Languages and Cultures. Um, OK. Maybe he is a crowd-size scholar? After all, according to Beck, he even did “the computer thing!”

If by “the computer thing,” Beck means this paper was written on one, then yes, that certainly appears to be the case. If he meant “advanced computer modeling,” then, uh, no. You can read the in-depth analysis yourself, but let me just take you to the exciting conclusion:


In all precise studies of crowds, it is important to subtract “a hundred thousand or two” for old people being distracted by statues, etc.

Some of the references cited in this bulletproof academic study: Michelle Malkin, WorldNetDaily, Google Maps, YouTube, an article titled “President Hussein's 2012 Resignation: A historical prediction” from Free Republic, and a message board on a website called “Godlike Productions.”

At this point, I'm starting to wonder if Beck is just throwing out red herrings to keep me occupied.

Charles Johnson, in response to conservatives repurposing a quote about the inauguration to claim it was about the 9/12 protests wrote: “This is so pathetic I don't know whether to laugh or cry.”

I think I'm ready for both.