So how many people were there, really, at the Gathering of Eagles demonstration? We don’t know, but here’s the final word on that ‘National Park Service’ figure of 30,000 pro-war demonstrators, now ubiquitous on the Web and in the right-leaning media.
Michelle Malkin wrote on Saturday that the figure came directly from the Gathering of Eagles:
***Update: Kit at Gathering of Eagles reports on the National Park Service estimate of the GoE turnout: 30,000 strong. The silent majority no more.***
Then at some point, the attribution changed:
Here’s what the Gathering of Eagles site now says — that text, as well, has been changed* since Sunday evening, when it only read, ‘the first unofficial estimate’ (emphasis ours):
2) the first unofficial NPS estimate of the Eagle turn-out today:
That figure may be adjusted upward as more figure are tallied during the week.
Now here’s what the National Park Service has to say about it:
Dear Mr. [...]:
I am the spokesperson for the National Park Service in Washington, D.C. I never issued any statement of any kind about anything related to this past weekend’s events, let alone anything about crowd size. In fact, I was never asked that question by anyone.
Anyone who gives any crowd size number or figure for this past weekend is making the figure up and does not have any authorization whatsoever to attribute those figures to the National Park Service. Since I never issued any such statement nor was ever the question raised in the first place, it is impossible to attribute any figures to the National Park Service for this past weekend’s events.
Lastly, Congress prohibits the National Park Service from giving or providing any crowd estimate for any permitted event on the National Mall.
I hope this is of help and clarification for you.
Communications & Tourism Officer
National Park Service
National Capital Region
1100 Ohio Drive, SW
Washington, D.C. 20242
Looks like someone has some ‘splaining to do.
One more thing: Below is the attendance petition circulated widely on the Internet by the Gathering of Eagles organizers, in order to gauge the number of demonstrators:
To: All Interested Parties
We, the undersigned, pledge to attend the March 17th Gathering of Eagles in Washington, D.C. We intend to stand guard at our nation’s sacred memorials to honor the memory of our troops who died in service of our great country. We promise to recognize and reflect on the sacrifice of our fallen heroes.
Please sign here only IF you WILL be in attendance at the Vietnam War Memorial on March 17th. We are trying to obtain an accurate total so we know how many to expect. There is another petition at: http://www.petitiononline.com/GOE317/petition.html – please sign there if you will be with us IN SPIRIT.
Our troops, current and prior, are true heroes and we will honor each and every one of them by standing side by side, heads held high, defending the sanctity of our nation’s monuments to veterans. Our sacred pledge is that our actions will honor those heroes and that we will respect their service and their sacrifice.
I WILL be at the Gathering of Eagles on March 17th in Washington, DC.
One would have to say that 1,826 doesn’t seem very close at all to the figure the right-wing noisemakers have been cheering about.
Then again, another petition for people who pledged to ‘be there in spirit’ has 4155 signatures, so maybe there was also a big pro-war demonstration in Second Life or something.
* The Gathering of Eagles site has changed again, and once again reads ‘the first unofficial estimate,’ leaving out the part about the National Park Service.
We were fooled for a second, thinking we’d made a mistake. But we’ve been copying and pasting that passage directly from their page each time, here and at FDL, and each time it says something different.
Rather than try to figure out what’s going on over there, with all the changing-things-back-and-forth, we’re content to advance an alternative hypothesis: If they never claimed such a thing, then Malkin must have invented the story about the National Park Service and falsely attributed it to a Kit, and then a Heidi, at Gathering of Eagles.
Perhaps they’d like to figure that out amongst themselves. Malkin doesn’t give in easily to being the one left holding the bag.