New York: January 28:
This past weekend anti-war march was big, say the organizers and I have no reason to doubt them.
They made this claim: Washington, D.C. -- In a massive showing of public opposition to the Iraq war, 500,000 people filled the streets around the Capitol today, completely surrounding the building. Participants converged on the National Mall from all over the country to voice their support for an end to the conflict in Iraq.
Three hundred buses rolled in early this morning, coming from more than 40 states and including at least 20 buses filled by New York City trade unions. United For Peace & Justice, the march coordinator, called this one of the the largest and most diverse demonstrations since the war began.
According to UFPJ National Coordinator and veteran peace and justice leader Leslie Cagan, This is a decisive moment in the history of this country and of our peace movement. In November, the people of this nation voted for peace. We are here today, all ages, from all walks of life, to hold our elected officials to the mandate of the people. Add in protests in the rest of the country and it was even bigger.
But is that the picture most of America received? I didn't see any report Saturday night on the front page of the Sunday NY Times online but by the morning in the print edition, the Times wrote:"Tens of thousands of protesters converged on the National Mall on Saturday to oppose President Bush's plan for a troop increase in Iraq in what organizers hoped would be one of the largest shows of antiwar sentiment in the nation's capital since the war began." The story was carried as headline at the bottom of the page, not prominent positioning. No Photo. A story about tennis got bigger play.This was not the coverage "organizers hoped" for. Actually the organizers said it WAS the largest show of force since the war began with 500,000. The Time only acknowledged "tens of thousands." Does this matter?
It doesn't if the numbers game doesn't matter, and sadly it does in country where perception trumps reality. Years, ago the National Park Service which initially always underreported crowd sizes and then began having aerial photos taken that were analyzed by experts using grids, decided not to provide police estimates which were routinely reported. Perhaps that's why the march did its own count
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