I was preparing a careful list of the right wing "estimates" of the size of their grand Glenn Beck rally on Saturday, when I realized that it would be the most boring post in the history of the internet.
Let me remind you that the only count of the crowd that I have seen that was based on an actual scientific analysis of aerial photos was done by CBS news, and reached a figure of 87,000 attendees. Beck had confidently predicted over 300,000, and is claiming himself that the crowd could have been as large as 650,000.
Now, I don't believe that this consistent gross overestimating of the size of their rallies is an accident, or due to too much enthusiasm. I want to repeat a story, which I have told before, about about how we do things in the movie business.
Suppose we are going to film a scene that takes place at a baseball game. The stadium holds, say, 30 or 40,000 people. Do we fill the stadium up with fans in every seat? No, of course not. We get a couple thousand people, and move them around so they are in the shot wherever the camera is pointed. That's obviously a lot cheaper than filling the stadium, and to the person watching, it appears the same.
Well, that is pretty much what is going on with these rallies. Anyone who knows about Dick Armey's group, or who has heard about the recent New Yorker article about the Koch Brothers is well aware that these teabag rallies are not spontaneous events- they are created and promoted by people with a lot of money, in an effort to manipulate public opinion. Just like a film crew making a movie, they don't want to spend money on any more "extras" than they have to. It's cheaper to pay to get 80,000 people to Washington and just claim that a half million or a million showed up than it is to actually get that many people there. And if there is one thing people like the Koch brothers are it's cheap- at least when they are not spending the money on themselves.
So there you go. Very few people can tell how many attendees there are at one of these demonstrations, and so conservatives are able to create the illusion of a huge national movement out of a bunch of pathetic rallies that really demonstrate far more weakness than strength. But as long as they have the compliant mainstream media on their side, who's going to know, except the few people who actually care about the truth, and are therefore long past buying into Republican lies anyway?