On Sunday, New York Times labor-beat reporter Steven Greenhouse attended the left-wing “One Nation” rally for “Liberal Groups rally in Washington, Offering a Challenge to the Tea Party.” Unusually, Greenhouse led off with a specific (and rather generous) crowd estimate of “tens of thousands,” something the paper was unwilling to do for larger rallies held in D.C. by the Tea Party and talk show host Glenn Beck. (Kate Zernike and Carl Hulse referred to the crowd at Beck's rally as "enormous" at the top of an August 29 story.)
The Associated Press wasn’t as impressed as Greenhouse with the "One Nation" crowd size, finding only “Thousands of people” and admitting: “While the Beck rally stretched well down the National Mall, Saturday's event was shaping up to be far smaller, with sparse groups lingering around the reflecting pool and other monuments.”
Reason.com has comparison photos that, with some caveats, show a vastly larger crowd for Beck’s August 28 rally than for the “One Nation” rally on Saturday.
Here’s Greenhouse’s snappy lead:
Tens of thousands of union members, environmentalists and peace activists rallied at the Lincoln Memorial on Saturday, seeking to carry on the message of jobs and justice that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. trumpeted at a rally at the same site 47 years ago.
More than 300 groups organized Saturday’s march on Washington to build momentum for progressive causes like increased job-creation programs and to mobilize liberal voters to flock to the polls next month.
The rally’s sponsors, including the N.A.A.C.P., the A.F.L.-C.I.O., the Sierra Club and the National Council of La Raza, said they also hoped to demonstrate that they, not the Tea Party, represented the nation’s majority.
As the spirited crowd spread out along both sides of the reflecting pool, demonstrators shouted “Yes, we can” and carried signs saying, “We March for Hope not Hate,” and “N.A.A.C.P. Says Tell the Senate More (Good) Jobs Now.”
Other signs were more vitriolic, as NB's Noel Sheppard pointed out, but the Times ignored them, unlike the way it treated the occasional objectionable sign at a Tea Party rally.
The rally was held on a clear, cloudless day, with American flags atop the Lincoln Memorial’s stairs and a sea of yellow, red, blue and purple T-shirts stretching out below, worn by members of various civil rights, peace and union groups.
Greenhouse at least quoted a suitable critic, Fox News host Glenn Beck, whose apolitical rally on August 28, “Restoring Honor,” drew hundreds of thousands.
Significant areas of the National Mall that had been filled during Mr. Beck’s rally were empty. In a broadcast on Thursday, Mr. Beck criticized the liberals’ march, saying his supporters paid their own way to drive to Washington, while labor unions chartered hundreds of buses to ferry demonstrators to Saturday’s rally.
In broadcasts last week, Mr. Beck mocked the liberals’ march, saying that his supporters paid their own way to drive to Washington, while labor unions chartered hundreds of buses to ferry demonstrators to Saturday’s rally.
But Greenhouse also allowed the “One Nation” organizer, NAACP President Ben Jealous, to respond to Beck’s criticism.
In deriding the march, Mr. Beck in recent days said it included Marxist, Communist and revolutionary groups. Among the organizations endorsing the march were the Communist Party USA, the United Church of Christ, Jewish Funds for Justice, the National Urban League, the National Baptist Convention, People for the American Way and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
“This is a big tent,” Mr. Jealous said. “Anyone who wants to stand up to create jobs and defend the jobs of teachers, police officers, nurses, firefighters -- I say come on and join us.”
He said the rally’s sponsors welcomed groups that endorsed its goals, including a higher minimum wage, immigration reform, improved public education and an end to the wave of home foreclosures. But that, he said, did not mean rally organizers agreed with all the policies of every group that endorsed the rally.
Would the Tea Party get a pass like this from the Times if a Neo-Nazi group haddescended on a their rally?