Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Fwd: Corporate Media Downplays Washington Anti-War Rally


Wayne Madsen � Wayne Madsen Report January 28, 2007

Corporate media and DC law enforcement collude once again in shaving
anti-war march numbers. On a postcard perfect weather day in
Washington, in excess of 150,000 people gathered on the Washington
Mall, west of the US Capitol, to hear members of Congress and
Hollywood celebrities call for the Bush administration to withdraw
U.S. troops from Iraq. However, as with past anti-war demonstrations
in Washington, the corporate media, largely influenced by New York-
and Los Angeles-based special interests, downplayed the number of

Associated Press reporters Calvin Woodward and Larry Margasak wrote
an article that described "tens of thousands" of demonstrators.
Editors around the world penned headlines for the same article that
read "thousands" demonstrated in Washington. The three words
� "tens of thousands" � were echoed in newspapers from
Melbourne, Australia to Vancouver, Canada and Vienna, Austria to
London. Broadcasters, including the British Broadcasting Corporation
(BBC), Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), and Australian
Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), used "tens of thousands" in their
news reports.

This editor noted that although the National Park Service once again
used snow fences to block off access to grassy areas on the
Washington Mall, thus forcing many demonstrators off on side streets
and thus skewing an accurate count (the Washington Mall can hold one
million people), the numbers of demonstrators were in excess of
150,000 and possibly over 200,000. "Tens of thousands" is therefore a
misleading description of the actual numbers.

In the press area, this editor noted a conversation between two
mainstream media reporters who, even before many demonstrators had
arrived at the Mall, were already using "tens of thousands" to
describe the numbers. It was clear from the conversation that the
major media had been issued a number of pre-conceived editorial
points: use "tens of thousands," ignore rally organizer numbers --
one speaker predicted 400,000 marchers, and point to the marchers as
largely consisting of "fringe groups."

After having covered two past massive anti-war demonstrations in
Washington, this editor can state unequivocally that the demographics
of the crowd had altered from past marches. The participants were
largely white, middle and upper class, and from a cross section of
professions. Men and woman, young, middle-aged, and seniors, African-
American, Asian-American, Hispanic, and white Southerners and
Midwesterners, they hailed from affluent suburbs of Boston, New York,
Philadelphia, Chicago, and Cleveland, among other cities, and rural
areas. Many came in buses from small towns in Iowa, Michigan,
Kentucky, Connecticut, South Carolina, and New Jersey. In fact, the
crowd more resembled those which are found at annual Independence Day
celebrations on the Mall than those seen at past anti-war

The few "fringe groups" present, such as Revolutionary Communists,
were minutiae compared to the major unions, church groups, and
veterans organizations that participated.

On January 18, 2003, the editor wrote the following about an anti-war
march in Washington: "A large banner hanging on the side of the East
Building of the National Gallery of Art could not have been more
appropriate for the January 18 anti-war protest on the Mall in
Washington, DC. Promoting an art display inside the museum, the
banner read: 'Deceptions and Illusions.' It could have easily applied
to the deception foisted on the public by the Washington Metropolitan
Police Department and the corporate news media.

The Park Police cleverly fenced off a large portion of the Mall
closest to the Washington Monument, forcing large numbers of
protestors on to Jefferson and Madison Drives. If one were to count
the numbers solely on the grassy area of the Mall it would appear
that 30,000 or, as the news media is now reporting, 'tens of
thousands,' were present. However, if the count were to include those
forced on to the periphery of the Mall, the number was well over

The New York Times has become the chief perpetrator of low balling
anti-Bush protestor numbers. A photo caption on its web site
stated, 'thousands of protestors' took part in the January 18
protest. A similar anti-war protest held in Washington last October
26 was estimated at between 100,000 and 200,000. It was the largest
anti-war protest since the Vietnam War, but the Times reported the
number of protestors as being in the 'thousands.'

However, an April 15, 2002, pro-Israel rally at the US Capitol, was
reported by the Times to be 100,000. In reality, the numbers were
merely in the low thousands. The 'Old Grey Lady' later admitted it
had erroneously reported the inflated number due to a 'coordination'
problem with one of its desks. Five days later, a pro-Palestinian
rally was held on the White House Ellipse. Organizers claim the crowd
was 100,000 but Washington police chief Charles Ramsey put the
numbers at between 35,000 and 50,000. Once again, the Times reported
the numbers to be in the 'tens of thousands.''

This is not just shoddy journalism but willful disinformation being
perpetrated by corporate newspapers that want to curry favor with the
White House, Congress, and the Pentagon. In fact, the January 18
protest was larger than those held in October and April last year.
That would obviously put the January 18 numbers well over 100,000.
But the failure to accurately report the numbers is not entirely the
fault of the news media. In the past, the media was permitted to use
their news and traffic helicopters to more accurately gauge crowd
numbers. But in the wake of September 11, the only helicopters now
permitted over Washington are those belonging to the police. They
count the numbers, divide and subtract, and then feed the phony
figures to a sycophantic media."

It is clear that the White House spin doctors and their facilitators
� "New York money people" as Gen. Wesley Clark accurately
describes them � long ago decided that "tens of thousands"
and "thousands" would be used to describe anti-war and anti-Bush
rallies in Washington. The media continues to stick to those numbers
even when confronted with facts.

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