NBC Caught Promoting Wildly Inaccurate Number of Protesters at 'March for Our Lives'


Even the correction was wrong.

It’s no secret that the mainstream media has invested considerable time, energy and what little remains of their credibility in attacking every aspect of the Donald Trump presidency, but NBC took matters to yet another new low with its reporting on the weekend’s hypocritical “March for Our Lives” demonstration in the nation’s capital.

And it presents a perfect picture of the anti-Trump media in 2018.

In a triumph of mathematical impossibility, NBC News first reported in a Twitter post Saturday that the number of march participants who were registering to vote had reached a staggering 800,000.

The network then issued a corrective post, explaining that the 800,000 number was the total number of those participating in the Washington march — not merely those registering to vote. But that number was off by a good margin, too.

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The truth is, no one knows for sure exactly how many people were on the National Mall on Saturday, but a solid estimate comes from a northern Virginia firm called Digital Design & Imaging Services, which used aerial photos to put the crowd size at about 200,000, according to CBS News.

Crowd size is always controversial at demonstrations like Saturday’s, but the real lesson here is that NBC had to know its numbers were wrong — both times it published them.

First of all, to get 800,000 new American voters into an event like the “March of Our Lives” demonstration would be virtually impossible. According to a Politico report from 2016, the United States had 200 million registered voters in the October before Trump’s election.

So, in a population of about 320 million, roughly two out of three Americans overall are already registered to vote. (Not all do, of course.) Considering that the kind of people who turn out for protests in Washington are already politically engaged, the idea that almost a million previously apathetic Americans showed up in the nation’s capital would have meant the actual crowd size would have been at least in the 3 million range.

It’s absurd on its face, and anyone giving the matter a second’s thought would know it.

OK, so NBC is staffed by innumerate morons? It’s possible, of course. But the network then “corrected” its number with this Twitter posting.

Note the phrasing.

Do you believe NBC deliberately lied about the size of the crowd at the rally?

The correction states the crowd size “is estimated at 800,000,” but NBC doesn’t bother to say it was an estimate from the march organizers. Anyone with even a passing knowledge of Washington protests knows that organizers routinely inflate their participation.

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For a professional news organization to take a number like that at face value from organizers, then pass it off as some sort of official count isn’t just sloppy reporting, that’s deliberate ambiguity that amounts to deceit.

There is no official crowd estimate from the National Park Service. It hasn’t released one since 1995, when it found National of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan’s “Million Man March” didn’t live up to its billing by about half. Congress banned the park service from using public money for crowd estimates in 1996, according to a January 2017 article in The Washington Post about the dispute over the size of the crowd at Trump’s inauguration.

NBC was the worst offender in this case, but it’s just one part of the overall “March for Our Lives” distortion that was commonplace in the mainstream media. For instance, it was billed as an event organized by and for school children. A New York Times story headlined “In Gun Control Marches, Students Led but Adults Provided Key Resources” is almost comical in trying to build up the students’ leadership. (Toddlers “lead” trips to the candy aisle the same way the students “led” the march.)

But more than 90 percent of those who attended were over 18, University of Maryland sociologist Dana Fisher told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” according to The Daily Caller.

So, in sum, the “March for Our Lives” demonstration was much smaller than hyped and did not include the marchers the media pretended it was for. About the only true reporting on the demonstration from the mainstream media was that it took place on March 24.

But the main thing for NBC and its allies was that it was a chance to make the Trump administration look bad.

And that made the coverage a perfect picture of the American media in 2018.

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Joe has spent more than 30 years as a reporter, copy editor and metro desk editor in newsrooms in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Florida. He's been with Liftable Media since 2015.
Joe has spent more than 30 years as a reporter, copy editor and metro editor in newsrooms in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Florida. He's been with Liftable Media since 2015. Largely a product of Catholic schools, who discovered Ayn Rand in college, Joe is a lifelong newspaperman who learned enough about the trade to be skeptical of every word ever written. He was also lucky enough to have a job that didn't need a printing press to do it.