Bloggers claim photo shows millions at “tea party” protest

This photo was apparently taken in 1997 at a Promise Keepers rally.

I don’t understand the need to lie.  If the event was successful as far as those who were attending, why is it necessary to hype the numbers, use a photo from another event and ruin your credibility with such a silly lie.

The protest, in and of itself, should be enough without worrying about numbers.  The protest allowed people to vent and feel like part of the system that so often refuses to hear our voices. I don’t agree with what the protesters in this incident are protesting but I certainly support their right to protest.  What I don’t support is using a 10 year old photo from another event to make the crowd seem larger than it was.

I guess my question is why – why lie?
Bloggers claim photo shows millions at “tea party” protest

In the competitive world of Washington protests, crowd size is often a matter of dispute. Organizers usually boast of huge crowds, while police and the news media offer much smaller estimates.

So supporters of Saturday’s “tea party” protests against President Barack Obama were quick to highlight their big turnout. To bolster countless claims on blogs and Facebook, many posted a photograph that showed a gargantuan crowd sprawling from Capitol Hill down the National Mall to the Washington Monument.

But it turns out the photo is more than 10 years old, apparently taken during a 1997 Promise Keepers rally.


Pete Piringer, public affairs officer for the D.C. Fire and Emergency Department, said the local government no longer provides official crowd estimates because they can become politicized. But the day of the rally, Piringer unofficially told one reporter that he thought between 60,000 and 75,000 people had shown up.

“It was in no way an official estimate,” he said.

We asked Piringer whether there were enough protesters to fill the National Mall, as depicted in the photograph.

“It was an impressive crowd,” he said. But after marching down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol, the crowd “only filled the Capitol grounds, maybe up to Third Street,” he said.

Yet the photograph so widely posted showed the crowd sprawling all the way to the Washington Monument, which is bordered by 15th and and 17th Streets.

There’s another problem with the photograph: It doesn’t include the National Museum of the American Indian, a building located at the corner of Fourth Street and Independence Avenue that opened on Sept. 14, 2004. (Looking at the photograph, the building should be in the upper right hand corner of the National Mall, next to the Air and Space Museum.) That means the picture was taken before the museum opened exactly five years ago. So clearly the photo doesn’t show the “tea party” crowd from the Sept. 12 protest.


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8 Responses to Bloggers claim photo shows millions at “tea party” protest

  1. AliSilver says:

    Whatever blogger used that is really lazy. Here is a video time lapse. I have NO IDEA what amount of people it is, but it’s a lot. To me , in my eye,, I don’t know if I would SEE the difference in say 100k people or 900k people. So who knows!

    Sage Reply:

    I have no idea how many people there were either, but a number of bloggers and a number of message boards were using the photo. I think it’s sad that they were so determined to prove how big their numbers were.

  2. SactoDan says:

    There were estimates all over the map. A UK newspaper said 1-2 million, some media said 10′s of thousands. The WA DC Fire Department said somewhere between 60-75 thousand. Many of the old liberal media either ignored it altogether or diminished it as best they could.

    Just as with left leaning demonstrations, the organizers and attendee’s want the number inflated, and those who fear and disagree with the demonstrators will try to diminish the numbers.

    No matter how you slice it, a lot of people showed up and for every one person who showed up, there are thousands, maybe millions who couldn’t attend, but agree with the demonstrators.

    So you/they/whomever can try to diminish the numbers, or demonize the attendees for their beliefs, or paint them all with a statement with one blogger.

    That does not change the fact that lazy corrupt politicians in the government have awakened a large number of Americans in a way not seen before and they continue to ignore them at their peril.

    They should be fearing for their jobs.
    .-= SactoDan´s last undefined ..If you register your site for free at =-.

    Sage Reply:

    Wait a minute, bucko, I didn’t try to diminish the numbers at all. You need to re-read what I said. I’m about as good as estimating the size of a group as I am at estimating distance. Nor did I demonize the attendees for their beliefs, I merely said I disagree with them. My question was why post a fake photo and lie. It wasn’t just one blogger who used that photo, Sacto, Your knee jerk reaction is way off base.

  3. Wizcon says:

    I read the DC police put it at 60-70,000. You’d think you’d be able to see the difference in that and the 1.7 mil Beck is claiming. The most reported I’ve seen is 10′s of thousands. Which is also a big difference from 1.7 mil or even hundreds of thousands.
    I have a hard enough time driving in a city of 100,000 let alond eyeball and estimate a crowd. But I can say this,. For an angry crowd, they sure are optimistic.

  4. timesr says:

    This author who was at the event makes a good argument

    “Some on the right are claiming that more than 1 million people were at the event. In order for all those people to have space to stand, the Mall would have had to be packed from the Capitol down past 1st, 2nd and 3rd Streets and as far as 14th Street. In fact, as I noted in a post to Twitter that I wrote from the Mall, the crowd “all but end[ed] at 3rd Street.” There were some protesters scattered through the block from 3rd to 4th, but not many, and after that it was green space all the way beyond 7th Street, at which point the tents — which were for an unrelated event — took over.”

    Sage Reply:

    Thanks for posting that.

    I think those who lie about these things, regardless of which side of the fence they are on, need to realize we live in an age of technology and the Internet. Bogus claims are pretty easily revealed. There are satellite feeds that can be accessed showing any given area at any given time. Google Images makes it pretty easy to find photos like the one in the original post.

    It’s really unnecessary to hype the numbers in order……just numbers alone do not a successful protest make.

  5. SactoDan says:

    Bucko? Indeed…
    .-= SactoDan´s last blog ..sactodan: @WilliamTeach Tru abt Kennedy. LOL. =-.

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