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Monday, January 29, 2007


Tony Snow and the press

Apparently Tony Snow reads the press about as much as his boss (or at least, pretends to). In today's press briefing, he claimed about Saturday's march, "it's pretty clear from the press accounts that nobody attached six figures to the number who appeared."

Really? The Los Angeles Times said "About 100,000 antiwar protesters from around the country converged Saturday on the National Mall." The New York Times wrote "Police officials declined to provide crowd estimates, but Hany Khalil, a spokesman for United for Peace and Justice, said the protesters numbered about 400,000." The Washington Post didn't quote a number, but just said "The crowd, while exuberant, seemed significantly smaller than the half-million people organizers said were present," which still would put it in the six figure range. The only source I could find which even suggested that fewer than 100,000 people showed up was the Boston Globe (which I think was based on a wire service story), which reported that "official estimates of the size the crowd were not available, but police said informally that fewer than 100,000 demonstrators showed up" (a rather curious formulation, to be sure, and curiously anonymous; who said this, some cop standing on a corner?).

Does Tony Snow really not read the newspapers? No, but he's probably not an out-an-out liar either, at least on this point. That's because all of the news sources cited, and all of the TV coverage I saw, began by saying that "thousands" or "tens of thousands" of people turned out, which is the kind of reporting that sticks in someone's mind even when reading a more precise figure. I'd venture to guess that a poll of readers of the papers I cited above would all say that fewer than 100,000 people showed up, having had their thoughts on the subject formed by reading the headline and/or the opening sentences of the articles they read.

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