Pictures Tell the Story: NBC Overhyped Anti-Trump Protest As 'Hundreds'

September 16th, 2015 10:09 AM

The number of protesters present at GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump's speech yesterday on board the USS Iowa is in dispute. Those who are claiming that there were "hundreds" of protesters are, from all appearances, greatly exaggerating their numbers.

The Associated Press has been known in the past to overestimate leftist protesters' turnout at such events. AP reporter Steve Peoples was shown to have vastly underestimated the number of supporters at Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan's speech in Oxford three years ago. Despite the clear potential for bias-driven error, Peoples reported that "Dozens of protesters gathered in the parking lot adjacent to the battleship." Several photos taken at the scene support the AP's estimate. NBC News, on the other hand, somehow turned it into a "few hundred."

Here is a photo which appears to support the AP's estimate of "dozens" (HT Fire Andrea Mitchell):


Other photos supporting the "dozens" estimate are here and here. I didn't find any photos showing a "few hundred" (i.e., at least 300) protesters. That didn't stop NBC's Ali Vitali, in a report carried at NBC News and, from making that claim in an openly hostile report (bolds are mine):

Aboard USS Iowa, Trump Takes Fire

Aboard a mighty and powerful battleship, Trump's message lacked both might and power.

Speaking here, aboard the decommissioned USS Iowa one night before the second GOP debate, the frontrunner's typically lengthy, rambling, and crowd-exciting address lasted a mere 15 or so minutes and seemed to lack his usual, and much-adored, flair.

Trump did hit his usual talking points: immigration, deficits with China and Japan, as well as thanks the host for his endorsement from the "Veterans For A Strong America" group who invited him to speak on the ship.

... But this speech had a new — and presumably unwanted — twist: the loud, raucous chorus of protesters let in from the street, chanting against Trump and his immigration policies.

The few hundred protesters brought signs and voices that carried their chants along the cool wind of the port and up to the deck of the crowded ship above. Almost all of the 850 attendees could clearly hear the "dump Trump" jeers below deck. Standing on the deck facing the Vincent Thomas Bridge, those aboard the ship could hear protesters in one ear and Trump in the other.

... Each time the crowd of supporters cheered, the protesters bellowed back to match them. His usual applause lines that made the American Airlines Arena in Dallas erupt in cheers and "U-S-A!" chants were met with smaller applause and hollers.

Even after the speech ended, the crowd lacked its usual post-event glow.

Somehow, the AP's Peoples, who would seem to be inclined based on his journalistic track record to gleefully jump on such things, did not report any of what Vitali claims to have seen and heard.

KTLA Channel 5 in Los Angeles also claimed in its text coverage that "hundreds" protested Trump's speech. The video at KTLA's report has no footage supporting that estimate — one segment appears to show maybe 70 or 80 protesters — and the reporter in the video never made such a claim.

Cross-posted at