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Monday, March 19, 2007


Stop the War March in San Francisco

I've posted local TV coverage of the San Francisco march, which was pretty good (the TV coverage; the march was excellent), on YouTube. Here's the coverage from two channels, 7 and 5 (ABC and CBS):

And the coverage from Ch. 2 and 3 (FOX and NBC).

As good as the TV coverage here, print coverage was absolutely scurrilous. It started with the New York Times coverage of the March on the Pentagon, which talks about how the march was smaller than the one on Jan. 27. It was. What the Times "neglects" to mention is that the Northeast experienced a major storm, with more than 2000 flights cancelled across the nation. At least 67 buses headed for the march were cancelled due to the weather. Just a minor detail that the Times, centered in snowbound New York, "forgot" to mention while belittling the march.

Ah, but the San Francisco Chronicle did them one better. March organizers claim 40,000 attended, and one of the news channels above describes it as "the largest march in San Franciso since the war started" (I'd have to search my memory banks, but that's probably true). The march, which was very dense, took 50 minutes to pass the money collectors. And with those facts in hand, the Chronicle makes the beyond ludicrous claim that there were 3,000 people in attendance! Not only that, they claim a speaker told the crowd it was 3,000 strong, which is an absolute lie! Of course it's true that when the very first speaker spoke at the starting rally, and when the very last speaker spoke at the ending rally, smaller numbers of people were present, as people arrived and trickled away. But when the march walked down Market Street through the center of San Francisco, there were an order of magnitude more people present.

The article also claims that "protest organizers told police to expect 3,000 to 5,000 marchers," which is also an absolute lie. I know the organizers, and I know they were predicting 30,000 people; they would hardly apply for a permit for 3,000. Indeed, if that few people had been expected, they would have applied for a permit for a smaller venue, because 3,000 people at Justin Herman Plaza (where the march started) and the Civic Center Plaza (where it ended) looks tiny, and very bad; there are other venues in San Francisco far more appropriate (and where some previous events have been held) if you're expecting 3,000 people.

Here's an email link for the editor (Phil Bronstein) if you want to give him a piece of your mind.

We're all used to the media undercounting by factors of two or three, and of using generic descriptions like "thousands" when there were really tens or even hundreds of thousands. But providing a specific estimate which is off by an order of magnitude is completely beyond the pale. But right now, the media as part of the ruling class of the United States, wants very much to funnel people into "respectable" channels like supporting "antiwar" candidates like Obama or Clinton, and not into independent channels like the antiwar movement. Anything but that.

Update: AP echoes the ludicrous "3,000" estimate for San Francisco, and even though I wasn't in New York, I feel confident that their estimate of "well over 1,000" in New York is equally ludicrous. Unless you're very generous with what you mean by "well over."

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