Saturday, September 12, 2009

It reads better in an English paper

Note: this post has evolved a little from its original topic so we lay out the sequence for clarity: On DC Tea Party "9/12" Eve, conservative bloggers rubbish 2 million crowd prediction as liberal mindgames. But then lazy editors at Daily Mail (UK) use the 2 million estimate in a wire service compilation report; the Mail story is sent to National Review and Glenn Reynolds as a "why is this only in the British media" talking point, and it becomes an actual crowd estimate. Read on.

National Review Online's Mark Hemingway --

But [tea party] crowd estimates aside, I'm almost incredulous at that Daily Mail report. It's a fairly straight report, and it's fair! What American media outlet would print this:

"Richard Brigle, 57, a Vietnam War veteran and former Teamster, came from Michigan. He said health care needs to be reformed - but not according to President Barack Obama's plan."

Much as with the tea party crowd numbers, one can conservatively estimate that hundreds of American media outlets will print it. It's just the standard AP wire service report picked up by many papers, including the Daily Mail.

For some reason, the Corner people spend a lot of time reading the Daily Mail, or at least reading links that someone sends them from it.

Incidentally, Mark Steyn falls for the trick that he had just been warning us about, lazy foreign newspaper reporting based on unverified American sources. So he presents the Daily Mail's preposterous 2 million attendance figure ("You may be underestimating the numbers ... That's some astroturf") despite warnings from his own side that the 2 million estimate was just liberal prophylactic hype.

And Glenn Reynolds --

and this is priceless: “Many protesters said they paid their own way to the event – an ethic they believe should be applied to the government.” Why is the British press more honest in its reporting on this stuff than the American press?

That sentence comes straight from the AP. So they're all using the same Daily Mail cut-and-paste without checking it against any other source. That FreedomWorks news link service is pretty bad!

UPDATE: This 2 million thing is a media recycling classic. It's sourced to a memo from a US House of Representatives Democratic staffer, but he only presented it as the upper range of predictions that he had seen on the web. In advance of the event, conservatives were warning that the 2 million was hype. But then the Daily Mail sub-editors ("Mail Foreign Service") sitting in London included it in their story, and because Freedom Works (or other organizers) then sent around the Mail link to sympathetic bloggers, they're all now citing it as the actual number --

[Glenn Reynolds] HEADLINE: Up to two million march to US Capitol to protest against Obama’s spending in ‘tea-party’ demonstration.

So maybe I was wrong to be so skeptical. But cut it in half and it’s still a huge number.

Isn't that the same indifference to zeroes that they complain about when it's concerning deficits?

FINAL UPDATE: The first claim of 2 million was from Michelle Malkin. That was the first instance of someone finding yesterday's junk and thinking it was new stuff.

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