Early in April, I noted that the organizers, sponsors and media enablers of the practice Tea Parties that took place in February had been busy fudging the attendance numbers I suggested that the chain of misrepresentation that I had detected might suggest one of the strategies that the organizers would adopt if the numbers for their April protests failed to reach the stratospheric heights they were predicting:
… this type of manufactured protest … lives and dies based on the quality of the press it generates, and it is easy to generate the type of press you like if you fudge the numbers.
Well, I don’t know about the St. Louis Tea Party, but it looks like the Atlanta Tea Party, which got lots of press as one of the most successful, with a widely reported crowd estimate of 15000, might not have been quite that large, maybe not even half that large. Jim Galloway of the AJC’s Political Insider blog analyzed the volume of space occupied by all the teabaggers who assembled at the Atlanta state Capitol on April 15, and concluded that:
… a conservative crowd estimate for the Atlanta tea party on April 15 is probably somewhere between 6,500 and 7,500.
I mean, they had Sean Hannity there! One of the top celebrities of the frothing-at-the-mouth-rabid-right punditry and they had to inflate their numbers?
Well, all I can say is plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. Or, put another way, once a liar, always a liar.
I do know about the St. Louis tea party, and there were reliable estimates of 7000 here, without any big name speakers. As for Atlanta, I have trouble figuring out the areas he’s talking about.
Here’s a google map of the area, and I see “Washington Street from Mitchell to MLK”, and guess from his dimensions that he’s only counting the four lane road and maybe sidewalks when he says the area is 61.5 ft wide. Google street view shows a fence on the non-capitol side of the road, but I don’t see what would have kept the crowd from spilling over onto the grounds of the capitol, which would of course add more space for people. And on the other side of the fence is a public park – was there anyone participating from there?
I can’t figure out Zone 2 : “Washington down Mitchell to Atlanta City Hall” – does he mean the roadway labeled “Capitol Square SW”? Does he mean the block of Mitchell leading away from the capitol?
Lastly, his number for the size of a person (4 square feet) might be debatable. Another attempt at estimating crowd size based on square feet of space for people used 2 square foot per person. Using this for Atlanta would of course double the result.