(Via Instapundit) OK, quick background: Barack Obama made a speech in Milwaukee, Wisconsin a few days ago. Reports for that speech uncritically repeated a wildly inflated crowd size: 18,000+ in a venue that seats 5,000 (local reporting suggests to me that a crowd estimate of 8 to 9 thousand would have been a good deal more accurate*). It turns out that the sole source for the inflated number was probably none other than Milwaukee mayor (and two-time WI-GOV loser) Tom Barrett: he apparently told an Obama staffer what the crowd size was, who then told the person writing up the WH pool report, and then it got reported uncritically as fact by lazy – or, sure, busy – reporters all over the country.
The reason why I bring this up? It’s because – contrary what you might think, or have been told – it is not actually always true that all you need to control the public perception of a movement or cause is to control how the Media reports on it**. If that were true, then the Tea Party would never have gotten off of the ground, and the Occupy Wall Street movement would have. And if you’re believing your own agitprop… well. Things have a way of sneaking up on people who make that particular error.
*This post here shows some of the inherent difficulties entailed in trying to assess crowd size from a distance. One reason why I’m not going with the 5,000 number; it seems reasonable that there was a spillover crowd. But if there had been 18K the photo record would have backed that up.
**Mind you, everybody in this business probably has a vested interest in promoting the illusion otherwise: after all, it’s such a great excuse for why somebody lost…