By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Gay-activist numbers match tea-party protesters

Last month, a crowd that the Washington fire department estimated at somewhere between 60,000 and 70,000 turned out to protest against President Obama. (You may recall that Michelle Malkin passed along the fiction that 2 million people had showed up, and was forced to backtrack.)

By Washington standards, it was a decent turnout, but nothing remarkable. To judge by much of the coverage, though, you would have thought we were witnessing the final collapse of the Obama administration. Fox News covered it like a sporting event, with the tea-party protesters cast as the home team, and the self-loathing mainstream media struggled to follow suit.

Yesterday, a crowd at least that big marched in Washington on behalf of gay and lesbian rights. There has been no reported official estimate, but the New York Times reports that “tens of thousands” marched. So does the Washington Post. The organizers, Equality Across America, have reportedly placed the crowd at 150,000.

Yes, the gay activists got coverage. But even now, the march barely rates a mention on the home pages of, and How much do you think we’re going to hear about it in the days and weeks ahead?

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  1. Dan,

    I agree with you about the mainstream media’s reaction to the stridency of the right wing. I heard you make similar comment on this week’s BTP.

    Over the past week I’ve been engaged in on line and published debates in my local paper about the Sept 12 protest…a local Republican activist wrote in the Fall River paper that the rally was a family friendly event, ignoring the posters that degraded Pres. Obama and the late Senator Kennedy.

    I called her on it and got hammered in online comments.

    I’d be interested in your comments about what’s going on. Why are they getting almost a free pass? Is it fear of being labeled the liberal media?

    • Dan Kennedy

      Mike: I think that’s exactly what’s going on — fear of being labeled “liberal” by right-wing activists. I’ve written about this a number of times over the years, most recently here.

  2. Steve Stein

    “How much do you think we’re going to hear about it in the days and weeks ahead?”

    Here’s your answer.

  3. Local Editor

    In the case of the Tea Party rallies, I don’t think MSNBC is afraid of liberal bias. Rather, showing lots of angry ultraconservatives riles up there core audience as much as it inspires Fox’s core audience. In both cases, it’s good TV.
    Don’t be too surprised if MSNBC gives prominent coverage tonight of the gay rights march while questioning the lack of coverage on other networks.

    • Dan Kennedy

      Local Editor: You may be right about what MSNBC does tonight. By the way, is not closely tied to the cable channel — different ownership set-up, very complicated.

  4. lkcape

    Is there a parallel to be drawn between the MSM’s lack of coverage of the recent revelation of Acorn’s inappropriate activities and the lack of coverage of this controversial group?

  5. charles pierce

    Crowd counts are the bane of everyone’s existence. The only rule of thumb — and even it isn’t the greatest one in the world — is to ignore completely the ones coming from the organizers and/or the opposition, and stick to the cops and the park police and, if they seem off, your own eyes.

  6. Wrong Again

    Sorry. Official numbers were 1.5-1.7M

    There were only a few hundred gays there, I was there.

  7. Local Editor

    A quick Google search of the words “Acorn Video” reveals articles from such mainstream sources as the NY Times, Boston Globe, CNN, CBS and many smaller media. The story was covered, maybe not how you like, but it was covered.

  8. Mark

    I don’t know what coverage you were watching of the tea parties Dan… but I don’t think it was the same stuff I was seeing.

    It may have been covered more, but the coverage on most networks and in most publications was vicious and agenda-driven.

    The stories about the gay rights march in the Washington Post (front page) and the New York Times were about as glowing as it gets.

    It seems pretty obvious that the intense coverage of the tea parties wasn’t a good thing. If the media is going to focus only the worst elements of a certain event, it’s almost better if it didn’t get covered at all.

  9. lkcape

    Local Editor: Even Clark Hoyt, the Times Ombudsman, says that the Times dropped the ball, and fairly badly. Late to the party doesn’t cut it for a political reporting staff that is supposed to be on top of developments.

    The comment was about a parallel, and the implication that there are levels of bias in the failure to report…by all sides.

    In your zeal to zing, you revealed your inability to discern.

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