Right Wing Exaggerations of 9/12 Crowd Size Too Extreme Even for Fox News

Glenn Beck’s anti-Obama 9/12 march in Washington is over, but the fakery continues. During the event, an executive for Freedomworks, the DC-based lobbying firm headed by former GOP House leader Dick Armey that was hired to astroturf the event, took to the stage and, citing ABC News as his source, flatly lied about the crowd size, saying it was about 25 times the D.C. Fire Department’s estimates.

The crowd size of Saturday’s Tea Bagger march probably did beat a long-standing record, however. It was likely the biggest whites-only rally in the capitol since 1925, when 35,000 people marched in support of the Ku Klux Klan.

Then, in a move that is atypical of a “liberal media” outlet, ABC struck back:

Conservative activists … erroneously attributed reports on the size of the crowds to ABC News.

Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks, the group that organized the event, said on stage at the rally 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.”

Brendan Steinhauser, spokesman for FreedomWorks, said he did not know why Kibbe cited ABC News as a source.

As a result of Kibbe’s erroneous attribution, several bloggers and commenters repeated the misinformation.

It goes without saying — or at least ABC assumes so — that the “bloggers and commenters” repeating Kibbe’s lie were right-wingers. Their ring leader appears to have been Michelle Malkin, who was caught, as GOP Facebook blogger Sarah Palin would say, “makin’ stuff up“:

Malkin plucked out of thin air the bogus claim that ABC News reported the 9/12 protest crowd was 2 million strong. False. Nobody at ABC News ever made that claim, and no sane observer of the D.C. event today would claim with a straight face that somehow 2 million people overtook the nation’s capitol.

It’s pure fantasy.

But did that stop anybody on the right from repeating the hollow claim? Please. Did Newsbusters link to Malkin’s phony claim? Check. Wizbang. Check. Gay Patriot? Check. Examiner.com? Check. Right Pundits? Check.

…Malkin should have just claimed 12 million protesters showed up. Because every one of her willingly gullible followers would have linked to her anyway.

Surprisingly, however, Malkin’s lie proved to be more than Fox News, the leading right-wing propaganda outlet, felt it could get away with. Fox reported that “tens of thousands of protesters” attended the march.

But even if there were 100,000 Tea Baggers at the anti-Obama rally, that was still be less than half the 250,000 at the march where Martin Luther King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech and one-fifth the size of both the anti-Vietnam War march 1971 and the gay rights march in 1987. If there’d been 100,000 people at Beck’s march, it would still be dwarfed by the 1.8 million who attended the president’s inauguration in January.

But at 60,000 or so, the crowd size of Saturday’s Tea Bagger march probably did beat one long-standing record in the capitol, however. It was likely the biggest whites-only rally in the district since 1925, when 35,000 people marched in support of the Ku Klux Klan.

Comparison of Washington Crowd Sizes

By comparison, here are crowd sizes in Washington for previous marches as well as this year’s presidential inauguration:

Pro Ku Klux Klan march Aug. 8, 1925 35,000
Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” march Aug. 28, 1963 250,000
Anti-Vietnam War march Oct. 15, 1969 200,000
Anti-Vietnam War march Nov. 15, 1969 600,000
Anti-Vietnam War march April 21, 1971 500,000
Pro Gay Rights march Oct. 11, 1987 500,000
Million Man march Oct. 16, 1995 400,000
Inauguration of Pres. Obama Jan. 21, 2009 1,800,000
Glenn Beck’s anti-Obama 9/12 march Sept. 12, 2009 60,000