The Discerning Texan
All that is necessary for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing.
-- Edmund Burke
-- Edmund Burke
Friday, July 25, 2008
Did I say "200,000"??? Or: "Honey, I Shrunk the Berlin Turnout"
Remember the so-called "Million man march"? Well, suddenly the size of the Obama crowd in Berlin being reported by the "news" outlets has shrunk tenfold:
"Obama Addresses 200,000 in Berlin" -- thus ran the AP headline the day after Barack Obama's much-hyped speech in front of Berlin's Siegessäule or "Victory Column." This 200,000 figure has quickly become the standard estimate of the crowd for Obama's speech in both the American and the German media: so standard indeed that it is for the most part not even treated as an estimate.
The estimates given by German public television ZDF actually during the event, however, were as little as one-tenth of that number. ZDF began its special "Obama in Berlin" coverage [German video] at 6:45 p.m. Central European Time: only 15 minutes before the candidate's speech was scheduled to start. At the time, ZDF reporter Susanne Gelhard was out and about on the so-called "Fan Mile" between the Victory Column and the Brandenburg Gate. "The expectations were highly varied," she said in her live report, "from a few thousand up to a million. Those were the estimates. But, now, several tens of thousands have turned out." Barely five minutes before the speech was supposed to start, ZDF Berlin studio chief Peter Frey added, "We do estimate that 20,000 [literally, "a couple of ten thousand"] people have turned out." Frey's tone, like that of Gelhard, reflected the gap between the relatively modest number cited and the lofty predications that had preceded the event. Moreover, while the ZDF live images showed that the "Fan Mile" was indeed populated from one end to the other, they also appeared to reveal patches of thinness and pedestrian traffic flowing easily on the half of the boulevard closer to the Brandenburg Gate (i.e. furthest from the "Victory Column").