President Barack Obama is having trouble drawing large crowds on the campaign trail. At the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, his campaign was forced to move his acceptance speech from the 74,000-seat Bank of America Stadium to the 20,000 Time Warner Cable Arena, citing weather as the excuse. But the media are always eager to help–for example, putting 18,000 people inside a 5,000-seat arena at an Obama event in Milwaukee on Saturday.
The contradiction was first noted by battlegroundwatch.com. Local media, including the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, reported that Obama had addressed “supporters who filled the 5,000-seat BMO Harris Pavilion, along with thousands more who sat in bleachers and stood on the pavement beyond the protection of the roof, even as wind and rain lashed down in the latter moments of the near 30-minute speech.”
The pavilion was not “filled”–a local reporter for Patch.com filmed empty seats in the bleachers at the side of the arena (see above). Nevertheless, the Journal-Sentinal played it safe, putting attendance at roughly 5,000-plus, a small but respectable turnout.
That’s not how national media covered it. Darren Samuelsohn of Politico reported that the president addressed “a crowd the Obama campaign estimated at 18,000 in a city park overlooking Lake Michigan” in an attempt to “lock up” Wisconsin.
Laura Meckler of the Wall Street Journal–whose news section, according to UCLA professor Tim Groseclose, is the most liberal of any major mainstream outlet–repeated the campaign’s 18,000 claim without even revealing the source of the official-sounding estimate.
Both outlets described the location of the rally as a “park,” without revealing the name of the arena itself, which would have given the game away.
The images provided by news wires are predominantly close-up shots such as the one above, showing Obama surrounded by a small circle of supporters. Only Getty Images has a wider shot, similar to images at the left-wing message board Democratic Underground that show the inside of the arena. That’s a full-ish arena, but nowhere near 18,000 people.
There seem to be no images at all of the 13,000 people who supposedly made up the difference outside the BMO Harris Pavilion.
Meanwhile, the nation is being told that Obama drew a massive crowd–nearly the size of the crowd at his acceptance speech in Charlotte–in a crucial swing state six weeks before the election is over.
If Obama were really doing so well, why would the media have to resort to such distortions?
And why would he be in Wisconsin in the first place?