Matthew Dowd, who is currently running for Lt. Gov. of Texas, posted this tweet today blaming the media for not giving enough attention to the Women’s March.
When you spend more time covering Captain Kirk going into space on a billionaires rocket for mere seconds than you do the women’s March on the freedom to decide/choice, well you are doing something wrong and it is one reason we are in the situation we are in here in America.
— Matthew Dowd (@matthewjdowd) October 13, 2021
In case you missed it, the 5th annual Women’s March aka the Rally for Abortion Justice was held on Saturday October 2nd, which was 11 days ago. If did generate a lot of local and national media coverage but I was curious how big the crowds were this year and, strangely, few of the stories I read mentioned any specifics. The main march in Washington DC was set up to accommodate 10,000 people. Another 60,000 people were expected to attend 650 other rallies taking place around the country. Did they get those numbers? According to the executive director of the Women’s March, they surpassed them.
All 50 states.
Anti-abortion lawmakers, take note. We're coming together and declaring: no one is coming after our reproductive freedom. #RallyForAbortionJustice
— Rachel O’Leary Carmona (@RachCarmona) October 2, 2021
But it’s not clear where this number (120,000) came from. It’s also not uncommon for organizers to inflate the number of people involved in events they planned. In 2017, the DC March was estimated to have as many as 470,000 people. Nationally, the number of people who participated was estimated to be several million. This year the plan was for 10,000 in DCbut the New York Post reported organizers actually estimated the crowd size at 5,000. That may have come from this tweet which NPR also referenced.
The #RallyForAbortionJustice is officially starting NOW.
Join us, over 120 partners, and more than 5,000 people in D.C. — along with a number of special guests and performances.
Watch LIVE here: https://t.co/jiRcHBha3v
— Women's March (@womensmarch) October 2, 2021
It’s hard to tell if even that number is optimistic. This is one of the view overhead views of the crowd I’ve seen. It’s a few thousand people but I’m not sure it’s 5,000.
The Washington DC Women’s March is well underway on Freedom Plaza. They’ll be marching down Pennsylvania Ave towards the Supreme Court. pic.twitter.com/zogbdMbiWp
— Gary Grumbach (@GaryGrumbach) October 2, 2021
The crowd may have been larger in Austin, Texas which is really the focus of this protest this year. Estimates there said “several thousand” people turned out. You many notice this photo was posted in response to a more widely circulated photo that showed a lot more people. That photo apparently was from the 2017 march, not the one this month.
— K. Whatley (@cateady53) October 6, 2021
Something similar happened in LA where organizers planned for a crowd of 20,000. The LA Times vaguely reported there were “thousands” who attended. One sign that the turnout wasn’t that impressive is that someone posted a photo that claimed to show the massive LA crowd.
This was taken today in
— MJ Cannon #RuleofLaw (@mj_ruleoflaw) October 2, 2021
Except it wasn’t true. As this USAToday fact-check makes clear, the photo was actually from the much larger 2017 march.
In Philadelphia, the estimate was about 1,000 people but some of these associated rallies were pretty small. In Oklahoma City 500 people RSVP’d but I don’t think they got that turnout.
— Payton May (@paytonnmay) October 2, 2021
Here’s the gathering in Long Beach.
A few hundred people have gathered to take part in a national movement for reproductive rights in response to recent anti-abortion laws in Texas and Mississippi. pic.twitter.com/2qaRw0nEGA
— Hunter Lee (@huntslee) October 2, 2021
Here’s the one in San Pedro:
Proud to stand with women everywhere because we don’t want to go back to the 1950s. Abortion is health care. Health care is a human right. pic.twitter.com/huO5eU5a97
— Nanette D. Barragán (@RepBarragan) October 2, 2021
So, I’m not saying there weren’t thousands of people protesting at the 5th annual women’s march but I think the claim of 120,000 is wildly exaggerated. Even the initial claim of 70,000 is probably too high.
What’s most curious about this is how disinterested the media seems to be in pinning down the actual numbers. Remember back in 2017 the massive crowd was all you heard about. Now that the numbers are perhaps 2-3% of what they were then, it seems the media doesn’t want to talk about the numbers anymore. Getting back to Matthew Dowd’s tweet, maybe the reason “Captain Kirk” gets more attention is because he has more fans.