On Saturday, President Obama spoke at a campaign rally in Wisconsin. As I noted on Sunday, contradicting a local Milwaukee Sentinel crowd size estimate of 5,000, Politico, the Wall Street Journal, and the Associated Press reported that 18,000 were on hand, with the AP further claiming that the event was “the largest yet of Obama’s reelection campaign.”
Charles Spiering at the Washington Examiner believes he has learned why the national press reported that the crowd was 18,000. It’s because Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett told them it was, and the press’s pool reporter took his word for it:
… where did national reporters get their numbers? Probably from the White House pool report, which reported that an Obama campaign official told the pooler that Democratic Mayor Tom Barrett said that the crowd was 18,000.
From the report:
Obama spoke to a large crowd in an amphitheater. O campaign official said Mayor Barrett said crowd was 18,000. Crowd was enthusiastic, even as rain started to come down and the wind picked up. POTUS wrapped up his remarks at about 5:47 p.m. Motorcade departed event site at 6 p.m. headed to airport.
The report was filed by David Nakamura of the Washington Post.
Curiously, Nakamaura’s September 22 report at WaPo doesn’t bring up the crowd’s size at all:
Obama did not mention Ryan during his remarks at a fundraiser or at an outdoor rally later in the afternoon. But he delivered another dig at Romney, who had been captured on a secretly recorded video released last week dismissing “47 percent” of Americans as being too reliant on government aid and not paying income taxes.
Two of the three reports cited on Saturday (Politico and AP) failed to note that they were relying on Barrett’s crowd estimation abilities, even though Nakamura clearly told them that the Democratic Mayor was his source. The Wall Street Journal, to its credit, has updated its report, which now reads that “The crowd was estimated at about 18,000 people, according to Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, a Democrat.”
The other two haven’t done updates, and I don’t expect that they will.
Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.