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September 06, 2008

Legacy Media Underreports Crowds at McCain/Palin Appearances

The Anchoress has come roaring out of her online retreat with wall-to-wall political coverage. I think the Palin pick in particular re-energized her. Now she's talking about the Daily Kos Media's attempts to sway this election:

This might seem like small potatoes, but it comes down - again - to the press reporting one way for one candidate ("a crowd of 75,000" comes out for Obama, but no mention of the free concert that went with his appearance) and another way (“more than 1000″ people come out for McCain in Cedarberg, WI - but people who were there say more like 12,000) for another.

It is true that 12,000 is "more than 1,000."

One paper reported the crowd to be "hundreds." But you can’t find that page, anymore.

At some point, media bias becomes so pervasive that it ends up helping Republicans. People are more likely to take the time to refute obvious or outrageous truths than they are the typical, low-level bias we have come to expect from the media. First of all, because it's easier. But also because it becomes more important to do. So word-of-mouth and alternative media get a boost.

That's certainly been my experience this past week and the experience we've had here at the HQ recently. There are a lot of people out there looking for accurate information about the presidential campaigns. And I'm not just hearing the usual recycled nightly news digest from friends or at parties. I'm hearing the things that aren't being reported in the legacy media.

For example, I was floored yesterday at a lunch when somebody countered the WaPo's lie that Palin slashed funding for teen pregnancy centers. To my knowledge, the WaPo hasn't retracted or corrected that story, but this person knew the truth anyway and confidently straightened out some other folks at the table.

I suppose I shouldn't let it surprise me given the boost in our own stats and for readership in the blogosphere in general, but I'm always happy to find out that people are learning to inform themselves.

More: Wait, who really cares about how many people show up for these things? Well, actually, we all care. The "mine is bigger than yours" impulse is pretty basic. More than that, it all becomes part of the narrative.

Obama was happy to be portrayed at center stage, the matinee idol. The media was pleased to share just how popular he is. Until, the McCain campaign turned that on its head with the Celebrity ad.

On the flip side, they'd like to show that McCain is old, tired, and disliked. One way of doing that is showing that he can't draw a crowd. That had some truth a few weeks ago. Now you and I know that just isn't true post-Palin. But it's probably going to take a few days for the revised DKM stylebook to be printed and passed around.

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posted by Gabriel Malor at 02:54 PM

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