Million-person tea party goes unnoticed

Would you believe me if I told you more than 1 million people, some say even near 2 million, people marched on Washington, D.C., this past Saturday?

Glancing at the front pages of The New York Times, The Washington Post, MSNBC, CNN and Fox News on Sunday, you would not.

Thankfully for the integrity of The New York Times, you would enjoy a wonderful story about Federer, a professional tennis player, and you’d hear claims about U.S. military contractors shooting in the midst of Iraqi city streets without regard for civilian lives. The latter story is listed directly next to an in-depth investigative argument regarding a rousing pep talk made to the Jets.

Hard hitting news all, but what may be worse is what little coverage the massive rally did receive was misleading at best. The Washington Post’s coverage was limited to a short-lived image on their home page of a crowd in front of the Capitol Dome, which was later replaced with a small-sized font saying “Tens of Thousands Protest Obama Initiatives and Government Spending.” On CNN the story “Thousands mourn Cuban revolutionary” was carried more highly, and a Texas paper, the Austin American Statesman, went with the headline “Thousands rally with or against Obama.”

Remember when I asked you if you’d believe me if I said more than 1 million people were in Washington, D.C.? NewsBusters went so far as to compare the Post’s coverage of the Saturday rally to a 2006 rally advocating looser immigration enforcement and pro-amnesty policies. Everything from the number of articles written to the number of photos portrayed the million-plus crowd this weekend was dwarfed in numbers.

Before an accusation of impropriety or bias on my part comes forward, my crowd count comes from the “Daily Mail,” a newspaper in the United Kingdom. In any group that large, there are individuals with ideologies of their own to push amid the crowd, left or right. Despite these relative few, the million protesters this past weekend were mostly everyday Americans from all across the country, having made the trip to make sure their voices were heard.

Unfortunately for them, the television, print and online media apparently found the movements and thoughts of celebrities more important to the well-being of the Union. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said it best, “I am sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and you disagree with this administration you’re not patriotic. We should stand up and say, ‘We are Americans and we have a right to debate and disagree with any administration!’” Many disagree. Many are trying to debate. The question now is, when and where?