Desperate to paint their cause in epic colors, the tea baggers released this image of their protest over the weekend. Pretty impressive. Look how they swamp the national mall, like neurons in the pathways of a brain. Well, a brain possessed by someone other than a tea bagger, anyway.
PolitiFact.com (“a project of the St. Petersburg Times to help you find the truth in American politics. Reporters and editors from the Times fact-check statements by members of Congress, the White House, lobbyists and interest groups and rate them on our Truth-O-Meter…”) ran down the facts about this photo, and about the baggers’ claims of multitude:
We spoke with Pete Piringer, public affairs officer for the D.C. Fire and Emergency Department, who said that the local government no longer provides official crowd estimates because they can become politicized. That said, on the morning of Sept. 12, Piringer unofficially told one reporter that he thought between 60,000 and 75,000 people had shown up.
So, not quite a couple of million. And the photo?
“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 photo showed the crowd sprawling far beyond that to the Washington Monument, which is bordered by 15th and and 17th Streets.
There’s another big problem with the photograph: it doesn’t include the National Museum of the American Indian, a building located at the corner of Fourth St. and Independence Ave. 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.
Also worth noting are the cranes in front of the Natural History Museum (the second building from the lower left of the National Mall). According to Randall Kremer, the museum’s director of public affairs, “The last time cranes were in front was in the 1990s when the IMAX theater was being built.”
That makes the picture at least a decade old.
That means the trumpeted count, and the picture, are about as accurate as most information offered up by these people. And lying is apparently very much a right-wing value. Like greed and intolerance.