Updated: 9/12 Attendance Issues Addressed

September 13, 2009

Final Update: It's now clear that someone circulated an image that was not from 9/12, labeling it as such. The reality as it stands regarding any legitimate count might be best summed up here. Whatever it was, it was huge. What are completely relevant in this post are the details around the crowd estimates at the inauguration of Barack Obama. Despite incredible national focus and a desire to establish a fully definitive, non-controversial final count, that was never achieved. At various times projections and reports of the actual crowd for that event ranged from 4 – 5 million to 800 thousand.

Update 4: A relevant bit but I won't claim it as definitive. Stacy was there when I got to DC. I took a cab for the last leg and had to be dropped-off blocks up. The mark we are looking at seems to be Constitution Ave from the Google aerial view of the area. It does seem to me the crowd did go that far up toward the monument. Unfortunately, I can't use that as absolute proof. I wasn't thinking in these terms at the time, or I would have noted it with a photo. I am fairly comfortable standing by my conclusion given the metric image (that 9/12 was equivalent to LBJ's event), though the image I use now is said to be from Promise Keepers. I'm adding my personal observations on the ground, of course. But I can't put those forth as absolute proof. I simply wasn't making the type of mental note of the end of the crowd to do that. But I did personally walk up past it just off to the side from that precise direction, as I've said.

Update 3: Also see the bottom image here posted by Darleen Glick at PW.

Update 2: I'm thinking the image came via email from another blogger. Looking into that. But I would also refer you to the image here of 9/12.

Update: Just got back and some are suggesting the base image is for the Promise Keepers event. Two things: If so, than someone is playing games, as it was circulating as 9/12. I realize that doesn't make it so and am checking into it. But another important caveat. I was at the event and came well after it started. I walked up through that area, only off the side. It is why I took the image I did here. It seemed to me that the crowd easily went back that far. However, not being an aerial shot, I can't suggest that my image is proof. I'll be looking into it immediately. Thanks.

This post should go a long way to silencing the liberal critics on the 9/12 attendance issue. It won't, as logic is irrelevant. But read it all and you be the judge.

To be candid up front, it would take one final bit of analysis from this below to fully resolve any 9/12 attendance disputes. The spacing of the people makes a difference. Also, please keep these other issues below in mind. Pay attention liberals, as if that would help. Damned school systems you and the unions have run down.

For the Left blasting the Michelle Malkin's and others on the Right, including me – get over it. The attendance at Obama's inaugural was initially projected to be from 4 – 5 million. It never came close.

Officials are casting doubt on an early projection that 4 million to 5 million people could jam downtown Washington on Inauguration Day, saying it is more likely that the crowd will be about half that size.

Two point five million? Yeah, right.

After that laugh-er, the initial announcement indicated 2 million people, … only it wasn't. Gee, I guess liberals don't do any better than conservatives in these situations, huh? But you wouldn't know that by the sound of the morons now.

The crowd at President Barack Obama’s inauguration topped 2 million — at least that figure was being reported Tuesday morning ….

But, but, b b b but …. it went down some more. Let's try 1.8 million.

About 1.8 million came to the city for the day’s inaugural events, according Leslie Kershaw, a spokeswoman for Washington, DC Mayor Adrian Fenty. That estimate — 50 percent higher than the previous record — came from local and federal agencies in the Joint Operations Command Center, which was responsible for managing the crowd.

However, one important agency has been banned from weighing in, … because we know from the (ha ha) Million Man Madness March fiasco, such numbers are always racist, you see.

The National Park Service, which was banned by Congress from releasing crowd estimates after controversy over its count of participants in the Million Man March in 1995, said it would not challenge the 1.8 million figure, according to the Washington Post.

But let's not stop there … let's get our full court boogie racist press on:

… but it seems to have been steadily shrinking.

As a rule, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is reluctant to give crowd estimates, unless the turnout is a meaningful part of the story.  The official Post-Dispatch policy is pretty simple: “Estimates always must be attributed to someone. If there is a dispute, both claims should be given.” That’s it. No definition of who “someone” is or what qualifies “someone” to estimate a crowd.

The Post-Dispatch’s lead story today put the crowd at “more than 1 million,” without attributing that figure. That breach of policy seemed permissible, since the “more than 1 million” phrase was being used widely and pretty much by all media.

 In the commemorative Extra Edition the Post-Dispatch published Tuesday afternoon,  the lead story stated: “A momentous crowd, estimated to be as high as 2 million people…..” Again, no source was given for the estimate. By evening, as this morning’s editions were being edited, we chose to use the more conservative “more than 1 million.”

Hold on, as it seems we're still not done yet.

“More than 1 million spectators convened on the National Mall to watch Barack Obama take the oath of office Tuesday, but it was unclear if the crowd surpassed the record thought to have been set at Lyndon B. Johnson’s 1965 inauguration.

“Though early estimates ranged as high as 2 million people, satellite images of Obama’s swearing-in suggested the crowd was probably about half that, said Clark McPhail, who has been analyzing crowds on the National Mall since the 1960s. ‘It was sparser than I thought,’ said McPhail, a professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Illinois. ‘There were lots of open spaces.’”


“On Tuesday morning, the Washington Post initially cited security sources who put the crowd at 1.8 million.

“The Associated Press, which did its own analysis, estimated “more than 1 million.”

“The National Park Service has not done official estimates in more than a decade, complying with a congressional order to stop after a controversy over how many people attended the Million Man March in 1995. Estimates then varied from 400,000 to more than 1 million.

Back to here, again:

An item linked from the Romenesko media newsletter quotes an Arizona State University professor as saying the crowd didn’t even reach a million:

“An ASU journalism professor using satellite images calculated that 800,000 people attended President Barack Obama’s inauguration ceremony.

“Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication professor Stephen Doig calculated the official inauguration crowd estimate after analyzing a GeoEye-1 satellite image shot at 11:19 a.m. from a height of 423 miles. GeoEye-1 is a military-controlled satellite.

“Doig said the image was taken 40 minutes before Obama’s swearing-in, but adjusted his estimation to include people who were still coming in before the swearing-in.

“‘The space-based image is fascinating because all the low-level shots make you think the crowd is much larger,’ Doig said. ‘You see the very dense clots of people in front of the Jumbotrons but then the wide open spaces elsewhere.’”

As it stands today, the generally accepted figure for Obama is a million plus.

Now, if you want to accept any of these numbers, say LBJ's for instance, then if the animated GIF below doesn't display correctly, click on it for the full image. One would be hard pressed to distinguish between the claim of 1.2 million for LBJ and the same for 9/12.

Bottom line? It looks to me as if about as many people  who showed up to welcome Obama into the WH a mere 8 or so months ago showed up yesterday in a mood to throw him out. I would say American citizens, but one can never assume citizenship is involved when it comes to Obama voters. Let's just hope he qualifies as such!! heh!

The bottom layer is the 9/12 crowd. You'll see the metric chart fade in on top of it as it cycles through before starting over again. Click to enlarge.


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  1. w3bgrrl says:

    Oh how I love animated gifs!

  2. Charlie Martin says:

    Dan, can you tell me where you came up with the base GIF? That looks like it might be the one of uncertain provenance that may be from the Promise Keepers meeting some months ago.

  3. x11b1p says:

    great post, i wonder if maddow, cooper, metthews, olberman, etc, etc, etc, realize that more “teabaggers” showed up in dc on 912 than liberals that watch any of their shows on any given night.

  4. Peach says:

    The left is tring so hard to pretend this wasn’t a big as it was and I laughing my ass off reading their pathetic, desperate attempts.
    Eric Boehlert / Media Matters for America:
    UPDATED: Malkin’s 2 million protester claim; it’s like the blind leading the blind30 minutes ago
    Eric Boehlert beclowns Media Matter devoting so may pixels trying to dispel something that is supposedly no big deal. Get Eric a pacifier.

  5. Stirner says:

    I think Charles Martin is correct that the base image is incorrect.
    Note the presence of the TV monitors set up along the mall. Were those present yesterday? I have seen few pictures from yesterday that feature those types of monitors.

  6. Miklo says:


  7. K says:

    I watched MSNBC rather late, after the event. Their field reporter quite reluctantly conceded the crowd was probably over 10,000. But only after the reporter in the studio insisted that it must be.
    He also told us the protesters were upset about Congress and both the GOP and Democrats.
    Within a year the MSM will be telling us that the event was a protest against Bush and Cheney and in support of ObamaCare. We will learn that angry mob attacked the White House but Obama, being a kind man, didn’t have them gunned down like the mad dogs they were. And our ‘historians’ will be writing it that way.
    This morning the MSM have agreed that racism lurked behind the protests; the absence of evidence proves that the racism was well hidden. But trained journalists and professionals can detect it. Amateurs are clueless about such matters.

  8. kim says:

    Charlie’s right. Yesterday’s crowd wasn’t much on the mall, but rather the Capitol grounds and Pennsylvania Avenue. It’s going to be tough to estimate, even from aerial photos, but the dynamism of all the bodies moving on Pennsylvania Avenue is both impressive and symbolic.
    That picture, Dan, is of the Promise Keeper’s gathering.

  9. Ric Locke says:

    What’s interesting to me is this: The MSM is hemorrhaging viewership and readership, and their profits and stock prices are in the tank.
    Now — something over a million people went home from the DC TEA Party and turned on ABCBSNNBC or picked up the paper, to learn that… they weren’t there, or if they were, they were there for some reason dreamed up by the “reporter” and faithfully read by the talking head. And once again in some cases, for the first time in others, they will conclude that the “reporters” and talking heads are either lying through their teeth or can’t count to twenty with their shoes on. In either case, it means that that particular source of “news” is undependable, and money shouldn’t be wasted on it. Viewership and readership will go down.
    The “reporters” and editors and researchers and fact-checkers will repair to a bar, where they will sit around drinking cheap beer and commiserate with one another over the lousy state of the business, what with all the layoffs and losses and consolidations and and and
    And they never connect the dots!
    It’s a wonder, it is.

  10. Dr. K says:

    I prefer the accurate, but perhaps scientifically precise phrase:
    “A metric boatload”.
    Who’s to argue? There were a bunch of people.

  11. joshlbetts says:

    I was there and based on seeing 100,000 people at OSU games, the crowd was of an order of magnitude greater, probably 2.5 million.
    The crowd extended up to the capital steps, it was overcast, and there was a sea of Gadsden flags.

  12. Mark Turner says:

    Unless you have an aerial shot of the entire Capital area/national mall, it is difficult from any given vantage point in the crowd; you can’t see the whole picture. If I was in the midst of the crowd, I might give an answer like “tens of thousands” as well. The “official” numbers are likely to be downplayed publically to try to marginalize the opposition and minimize the embarrassment to Obama, but behind the scenes I am sure they know quite accurately how big the crowd was and what they were about. It will be their (politicians in Washington, that is) actions in coming weeks, not their words, which will demonstrate how well they “get it”.
    I also find it a bit odd that the police and fire departments were obviously taken off guard by the size of the crowd…I am guessing that their “official” estimates of 50-70,000 etc. were what they were expecting, not what actually happened. At the Woodstock music festival in 1969, organizers were “expecting” less than 50,000 paid ticket holders; instead, there were over 500,000 attendees — many of which merely walked in off the street for free and there was little security to stop them.

  13. Ed Driscoll says:

    9/12 Attendance Issues Addressed

    As of now, Id say Dan Riehl has the definitive take on the number of attendees in DC yesterday, placing them into perspective with the number at President Obamas inauguration in January:
    Bottom line? It looks to me as if about as many peo…

  14. Ann says:

    Sorry, but there is no way the bottom image is of 912.
    There were tents set up on 9/12 for the National Black Family Reunion festival. The tents can be seen in lots of the images facing away from the Capitol.
    And, as was said before, the 9/12 event was right in front of the Capitol steps, not on the Mall–for which they did not have a permit. Your image has the exact opposite: no one on the lawn of the Capitol, the stage set up on the east end of the Mall, and people going back to the Washington Monument.
    It simply can not be from 9/12.
    And…I have been in Washington for days (flew in for the rally from Los Angeles). The black family festival tents went up Thursday night, and were still up and in use today (Sunday).

  15. Dan Riehl says:

    I’ll look into the image issue. It was absolutely identified as the 9/12 event and was circulating as such. Now, if someone was doing a black op with it? I have no idea. But I’ll do what I can to find out.

  16. WPE says:

    I have no idea how many people were at the rally, but that picture has nothing to do with it. Anyone claiming it’s a picture of the rally is a liar.
    It’s from the Promise Keepers March – you can find it on Free Republic

  17. philwynk says:

    If the base picture really is from Promise Keepers, that says something pretty remarkable too.
    There was zero reporting on the Promise Keepers event, but the fact that PK draws as many people as the O’s inaugural makes PK to be a much more potent force than anybody bothers to mention in public, no?

  18. newton says:

    The numbers don’t matter. It’s the point being made.
    Remember that there are millions more like me, who would have loved to be there to “stick it to The Man”, but have families, jobs, and other responsibilities, not to mention other rallies across the country.

  19. Ann says:

    Here’s an image from the Capitol down the Mall, and posted at the FreedomWorks website blog (Blog address: http://www.freedomworks.org/blog/bstein80/hundreds-of-thousands-of-patriots-march-on-dc). The Black Family Reunion tents are clearly visible in the distance. The base image you used does not have these tents. I don’t know if you allow images in comments, so here’s a link:

  20. Ann says:

    I took this picture Thursday night. They were still working on putting up all the tents for the Family Reunion. They are still there today (Sunday):

  21. cindi says:

    WASHINGTON — As President Barack Obama flew to Minnesota on Saturday to rally support for his health care plan, a sea of protesters filled the west lawn of the Capitol and spilled onto the National Mall on Saturday in the largest rally against Obama since he took office, a culmination of a summer-long season of protests that began with opposition to the health care overhaul and grew into a broader dissatisfaction with government. http://www.statesman.com/news/content/news/stories/nation/2009/09/13/0913health.html
    Reported, the crowd did spill onto the National Mall

  22. Look, I was there, and there were indeed crowded conditions all the way back to the Washington Monument. Mall permit, or no…we occupied it!

  23. Locke says:

    Let’s face it, the crowd thing was a whopper. Time to move on.

  24. Ken says:

    LGF once used layers to prove a point and helped bring MSM into accountability. Were is he now?

  25. Rich K says:

    Boy the contrarians here are sure working overtime to bore us all silly trying to make a point about some dumb number. As the old saying goes: “A picture is worth a thousand words”
    And most all of those folks came of their own accord on their own time and on their own dime. Best part is I know that many many contacts and permanent connections were made that will make the movement grow like a stinging weed on the backs of the lib folk who have to be paid to make the same noise. HA HA HA

  26. rk says:

    i know we are supposed to be having fun with this…but powerline just posted the promise keepers photo…so i don’t think that’s very funny
    can we please not compare ourselves w/other marches???? DC and its evirons are all lib….they just have to stop by the march on the way to shop for groceries. Please….DC’s meto area has 5.3M people.
    Now seriously, I believe that’s called home field advantage. Tons of non-liberals objecting to big government showing up in the throbbing, bleading heart of DC is a big story.
    And not to mention the tons and tons of people that have gone to teaparties and townhall
    we have witnessed an outpouring of people since April 15th (or earlier)…it is so “unorganized” that there is no accurate way to tell how many events that there have been….and not just on July 4th, but continuously…every week.
    there is a huge story there, and much to be proud of.

  27. mark l. says:

    some skepticism on the photo.
    it would require not only aerial photography, but post 9/11, I don’t think you can buzz the capital in a civilian plane without permission at the highest levels.

  28. Stirner says:

    Few on the right would argue that the turnout was surprisingly large. The time-lapse march on Pennsy Ave. should be rather chilling for anyone on the left who wants to dismiss the numbers that participated in 9/12.
    However, that doesn’t change the fact that the base photo in your animation is not correct. Hey, you got hung out to dry by a source which did not prove to be 100% reliable. It happens. Given all the misinformation put out there by Big Media, I would hope that the alternative media sources on the right would try to remain scrupulously accurate.

  29. Dan Riehl says:

    Stirner – hard to see what your issue is given my clear and honest updates.

  30. Stirner says:

    Only that the sketchy animated GIF tends to undercut the excellence/accuracy of the rest of your post. The updates have a whiff of the “animated gif…fake but accurate” about it.
    Which is probably TRUE, in this case – but you are typically such a straight shooter, so I hold you to a higher standard.
    For the wavering Obama supporter, the small dubious element can give them an out to believing that the 9/12 march was a bona-fide grassroots groundswell. Ideally, these sorts of wrap-up posts should be air-tight and give them no quarter for escaping their erroneous assumptions.

  31. Max Power says:

    50,000 impotent redneck pigs gather to watch Glenn Beck cry, and your tiny dick gets a semi hard-on? Great stuff!!!!

  32. Tom Lacerte says:

    The numbers don’t matter..I was in Denver at a huge 9-12 rally on the steps of the Colorado State Capital. Like Obama, who went to Minnesota to avoid seeing the crowd..CO Governor Ritter went to Grand Junction, CO. Chicken..bok,bok..Chicken

  33. JS says:

    I walked the streets of SanFran during the NO BLOOD FOR OIL protest against invading IRAQ — not because I was protesting the govt’s action, but because I wanted to see first-hand the gathering political show. Still, I’m sure some idiot in the sky wanted to count my head as a protestor.
    I wish I could count the number of people who show up to a vote as all votes for my candidate — does anyone understand the sheer irrationality of all this? Some showed up indifferent, some showed up opposed, some showed up to show support. Only lunatics think the three groups showed up in different colored hats to be polled.

  34. Will Taylor says:

    Crowd-counting is always subjective. What matters is, who noticed? Only tonight did I learn of this apparent tempest in a teapot, and I haven’t been living in a vacuum; I just missed a few brief hours of the news cycle while I went about attending to real life. So, whatever you folks are arguing apparently relates more to rhetoric and hyperbole than to fact. Ever heard the word, “moot”? Perhaps, “irrelevant” may be more appropriate. “Red herring” looks better and better as I continue to ponder this odd impasse. As in, “When you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, then baffle them with BS”. The point to take home is that no massing of the citizenry has recently affected the thinking or the daily routine of the White House or the Congress.

  35. nysteeb says:

    Doesn’t matter how many people showed up. What matters is how many votes Obama won last Novemeber. You people were losers then and by not giving Obama the time or support to fix the Bush/Cheney mess you are losers today.

  36. Dan Riehl says:

    Man, the lib astro turfers are out in full force. lol They must be ascared.

  37. Bernie says:

    My family and I were at the rally in Washington and were forced to leave early by the sure force of numbers. We didn’t know it then but we were lucky enough to get inside the Capital Court Yard. We spoke with the security police at noon tine and they told me that at that time they estimated about 1.2 Million and that there were more still coming. By 2pm one of the speakers said that they were backed up so far they blocked off the freeway and shutdown that part of DC.
    Any news paper, station, etc. where you get your news that plays this down, when it was one of DC largest demonstrations of all times, probably didn’t tell you 2 months ago about Vanjones and all the other radicals the president has placed as czars/advisors. They are the same media that will show the signs that were distasteful, but were way less than 1% of the thousands signs being held that day. Please join me and my family in writing letters to these media outlets telling them why you are canceling their news papers and stop watching their stations.
    That’s real power, which is why journalism is dead and the ratings of these biased news organizations are sinking fast!
    Note: The healthcare (HC) debate shouldn’t focus just on what we do not like about the democratic views/versions, but have answers for the real problems; high cost of premiums and preexisting conditions. The high cost of premiums has some real easy fixes and should be able to be written in a few pages not 1100; (1) do not allow any taxing of health care. I live in NY and our State Government says there looking for ways to lower HC, but taxes it 20%, that cost just gets handed down to the consumer, it always does. (2) Real tort reform, the money these doctors spend in malpractice insurance is ridicules’, sure they need to be able to be sued for wrong doing, but there needs to be caps and away to stop the frivolous law suits (My understanding is that Doctors win 90% of the time). (3) Create real competition, by allowing us to by a plan that fits our needs as consumers across state line. That’s access to more the 1300 HC insurance companies, that’s real competition. The government option is not competition; they’re not going to pay the taxes, they’re going to be run on taxes. They don’t have to show a profit, and the Presidents idea that you’re going to run a HC system with the savings of corruption from another government HC system-Medicaid is ridiculous.
    That is the whole problem with Washington it is corrupt and needs term limits to stop the special interest groups from gaining close relationships with our politicians on either side.

  38. Ned Flanders says:

    BaHAA!! HA! HA! Nice try, PROMISE KEEPERS aerial photo, NICE TRY! Gee this looks like a huge crowd, too bad it’s from a couple years ago and a different event. Duh, duh, duh.
    Oh, and we WILL use it to show you are lying conservatroll bastards.
    This is what a crowd in the 500,000 to 1.5 million range looks like. Not too hard to find comparisons, guys. Teabaggers, get a life.

  39. Ned Flanders says:

    You wuz fooled:
    Here’s what a real crowd approaching 1.5 to 2 million looks like:

  40. Ned Flanders says:

    Get a clue you wishful thinking dimwits!
    Not hard to find numerous crowd density comparisons to your BS claims about TeaBagging Imbeciles Convention:

  41. Drafter says:

    I wonder if there are public records available where one could calculate the square ft. area of the open areas. I image there are plats of this land on record. One could then overlay the photos of events and estimate areas. This would be better than guessing I suppose.

  42. Ned Flanders says:

    Look with your eyes at the density of the crowds. It ain’t that hard, folks.
    1.5-2 million IN TEHRAN
    1.5-2 million for 9/12? Get real! You’re a bunch of obstructionist pinheads who hate America! That’s right, you worship corporations and despise everything by and for the People and you hate the government instead of participating constructively. Go start your own nation of Glenbeckistan!

  43. typical sad republicans tea baggers what the hell is wrong with you people have your not got enough of these lieing conservative, who by the way are rich people with a lot of money getting good radio and t.v. ratings thanks to idiot fools like your supporting this people.For eight years where have your been george bush has taken this country to hell and your expect president obama, and notice I said president to bring us back to heaven in eight months come on give me a break, by the way come home we still love your ,still plenty of time left.

  44. tanarg says:

    The sky was overcast all day on Saturday, wasn’t it? That picture, then, cannot be of the Sept. 12, 2009 march. This is the only place I’ve seen it, too. I don’t think it’s really from Saturday. It would be all over the Internet if it were authentic.

  45. CDavis says:

    Wow….are you liberal rejects really trying to make us think that We the People, are less in number than you are? Why on God’s green earth, would you want someone, like Obama, dictating what you can and cannot do with your body, health and life? GEt real and wake up! We are taking this country back from you people. BTW….to Michael Blnadshaw, the libs in Congress and the White House are just as rich as the conservatives. In fact, which I know you don’t know what those are, out of the top 50 richest people in Congress, 26 are Dems and the top one is Kerry from MA. So, put that in your pipe and smoke it, which I am sure you do anyway.

  46. WPE says:

    Nah, just saying if you want to base your crowd estimates on a picture, you might want to use one that’s, you know, actually of the event.
    As Dan’s into to this post says: “This post should go a long way to silencing the liberal critics on the 9/12 attendance issue. It won’t, as logic is irrelevant. But read it all and you be the judge.”
    Since it’s using a fake picture, I judge it total BS.

  47. Aakash says:

    Please check out Grover Norquist’s reflections on the D.C. 9/12 rallies.
    A special THANKS to those who helped organize these events – whether in D.C., here in Illinois, or elsewhere throughout our great nation!!

  48. Jackpot says:

    Pretty embarrassing.

  49. The Memphis TEA Party says:

    I was there and this was not the march of 9/12. The crowd is not shown on the North and South lawns of the Capitol as I was standing there! Also, there was no sun, no shadows as indicated. We really don’t need pretend analysis. The MSM does that well enough.
    Sorry – but this is just not real.
    The Memphis TEA Party

  50. Greg says:

    > It won’t, as logic is irrelevant.
    …as you have clearly demonstrated with this inane (and inaccurate) posting.

  51. Stephen Hill says:

    You “metric” is meaningless: Lyndon Baines Johnson was NOT sworn in on the west portico of the Capitol Building. In fact, there was no National Mall as we know it today when LBJ was sworn-in. Had any of your pictures been taken in 1964 of that same area, YOU WOULD HAVE SEEN A NAVY ARMORY smack-dab in the middle.