NBC estimates some 300,000 people turned out for Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally on Saturday. Yet the Times made do with a front-page photo tease leading to a story by hostile reporter Kate Zernike on page15 of Sunday's paper, "At the Lincoln Memorial, a Call For Religious Rebirth." The text box read: "A conservative rally draws a large crowd to Washington."
The online and print versions differ somewhat, but in both Zernike managed to point out the "overwhelmingly white" crowd (as if whiteness is an automatic negative trait - if Zernike wants whiteness, she could go to a typical Ralph Nader rally). From the online version:
An enormous and impassioned crowd rallied at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial this weekend, summoned by Glenn Beck, a conservative broadcaster who called for a religious rebirth in America at the site where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech exactly 47 years earlier.
"Something that is beyond man is happening," Mr. Beck told the crowd, in what was part religious revival and part history lecture. "America today begins to turn back to God."
The rally organized by Mr. Beck, a Fox News broadcaster who has been sharply critical of President Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats, had been attacked as dishonoring the memory of Dr. King by being set on the anniversary of his speech. Despite Mr. Beck's protestations, his event and a much smaller and mainly black counter-rally seemed to underscore the country's racial and political fissures.
Critics have suggested that Mr. Beck was trying to energize conservatives for the midterm elections in November. Mainstream Republican leaders remain skittish about the group emerging on their right - and the influence it displayed in primary elections Tuesday - and had little to say about the Beck event.
The overwhelmingly white and largely middle-aged crowd Saturday was a mix of groups that have come together under the Tea Party umbrella. While Tea Party groups have said they want to focus on fiscal conservatism, not religion or social issues, the rally was overtly religious.
Zernike at least bowed to the obvious:
Washington officials do not make crowd estimates, but NBC News estimated the turnout at 300,000, while Mr. Beck offered a range of 300,000 to 650,000. By any measure it was a large turnout.
Yet the 1,096-word story on the huge "Restoring Honor" rally didn't even make the first page of the paper's National section, which instead featured two far more nationally relevant national news stories on some workers getting fired for using medical marijuana, and a story on a kid-ban at an Arizona retirement community.
In contrast, a march involving a grand-total of four students marching in support of amnesty for illegals garnered a 780-word story in the Times on January 2 of this year.
A counter-rally by the racially incendiary provocateur Al Sharpton was organized the same day in D.C., and Zernike flagged it deep into her story. It could have been described by a hostile reporter as being "overwhelmingly black," but was described in more appropriately benign terms instead:
Across town, several hundred people, most of them black, packed a football field at Dunbar High School to commemorate Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech.
"We come here because the dream has not been achieved," said the Rev. Al Sharpton, the civil rights activist. "We've had a lot of progress. But we have a long way to go."
Referring to Mr. Beck's event, he added, "They want to disgrace this day."
Takes one to know one, I guess.