After the inauguration, they have added another small thing. He must have had a small crowd, too. A bizarre pissing contest has emerged around a number that is completely irrelevant, as this video correctly says. It's plausible that both sides of this partisan pissing contest are pushing the truth in their preferred direction but it still seems to me that the anti-Trump side is pushing the truth away from itself much more vigorously.
2017 left, 2009 right, the AP picture that turns out to be highly problematic, as we will discuss. Note that there are shining white places in the 2017 picture because the grass was protected by a white tarp for the first time.
I wouldn't care about the crowd size if it were up to me (Trump's power to change things will matter – and his results are what Americans and others will be able to judge) and I don't think that anything is impossible. In fact, my first blog post about the inauguration stated without much ado that Trump has had a somewhat smaller crowd than Obama in 2009. It was just written at some places and I automatically assumed that the approximate crowd size should be considered a hard fact, given the fact that roughly a million people were there, dozens of TV stations filmed it, and hundreds of millions watched the ceremony, not to mention all the satellites that should be monitoring the place.
Well, I was probably too careless. Certain people are eager to lie even about these seemingly objective facts.
First, let me mention that the historical crowd sizes are being listed as 0.8; 0.25; 0.3; 0.4; 1.8; and 1.0 between 1993 and 2013 (but maybe we should be careful even about these numbers) so Obama's first inauguration was a record. Donald Trump has estimated the crowd size as between 1.0 and 1.5 million – so he didn't even originally claim to have beaten the 2009 crowd size.
Various left-wing media were promoting an alternative figure starting from 250,000 and emphasizing this lower end. You may see "not so subtle" distortions of the claims and estimates in most of these left-wing media. For example, PolitiFact is often mentioned as the source of their most reliable figures. But PolitiFact said the estimate was 250,000-600,000. This interval is routinely described as 250,000 in lots of those media.
In the same way, Trump's own original estimate of the size of the huge crowd was 1.0-1.5 million. But when the Trump critics try to attack Trump, they simplify this interval as "1.5 million" in order to implicitly and sometimes explicitly claim that Trump has overstated the crowd size by a factor of 6 even though the coefficient of 1.5 is just as compatible with their own sources.
The two photographs of the two crowds, in 2009 and 2017, were promoted by the Associated Press and they're often used as the "debate is over". Except that these photographs aren't accompanied by any of the clearly essential data – whether the photographs were taken at the corresponding moments of the day.
This problem is highlighted by the CNN's own Gigapixel photograph of the crowd last Friday. It's a picture you may drag and move and magnify by the mouse wheel or the corresponding tablet gestures. Well, it seems totally viable that the crowd looks smaller than the crowd in 2009 but the crowd was huge and one can't be really sure which crowd was larger because the National Mall (park between the Capital and the Washington Monument, the vertical stick, in D.C.) wasn't far from full last Friday and I wouldn't want this crowd to trample me down.
The Australian newspapers have helpfully reprinted a picture showing the discrepancy between the "sad for Trump" photos and the CNN's Gigapixel photograph:
Some people saw a serious problem with the coverage in the mainstream leftist media. Click to zoom in.
It seems that the CNN Gigapixel image shows lots of people at the place that the AP 2017 photograph claims to be white "at the moment of maximum attendance". So Houston, we have a problem. It seems that the picture was chosen to show the back of the crowd as "more empty" than it could have been. Maybe the AP photo does show the crowd of the maximum size – but this moment didn't necessarily coincide with the "moment with the smallest clearly white area". And yes, the AP 2017 photo looks fuzzier than the 2009 photo – strange negative progress in the photographic technology. It's totally plausible that the picture was deliberately smoothed out in order for the white tarp color (which wasn't there in 2009) to spread and hide individual people at places of low density. Donald Trump has found impressive, sharper pictures that show the National Mall as almost full. He hangs the picture at his places – they seem to convey a different message.
It's hard to be any certain about the truth. Yesterday, Breitbart has published an analysis of the potential sources – and their uncertainty – that looks far more detailed and honest than anything I've seen in the leftist media.
My personal estimate is somewhere in the middle – perhaps those 600,000 people were looking at the ceremony during the peak. But even though I tend to think that it wasn't the largest crowd in the history, it seems very clear that the Trump critics are distorting the reality more than the Trump administration does. I see substantial evidence that the Trump critics have been
- picking a photo that wasn't the most flattering
- less certainly, transforming the picture's sharpness and colors
- mindlessly spreading this photo as the final answer to all questions without asking the obvious questions such as "when" because they "know" that all Trump critics must always be right
- distorting (inflating) Trump's claims about the crowd size
- distorting (reducing) the estimates from their own sources
- instinctively intimidating and insulting everyone who could disagree or even those who could have doubts about their "Trump = falsehoods, we = truth" equations
First, do they care? Well, they surely do given the fact that they have started to repeatedly talk about this otherwise irrelevant crowd size. But almost everywhere, they write that they don't care!
Let me choose Matt Strassler as my primary example of both manifestations of the dishonesty. In his latest article about the crowd size, Strassler writes that he doesn't honestly care one bit about the crowd size. That's rather odd given the fact that on his blog that contains almost no politics, he has already posted two blog posts about the crowd size. By this counting, the crowd size represents, from his point of view, a majority of the important political questions in America if not the world.
He has used the two AP pictures as the ultimate proof that someone is selling lies as the alternative facts. Does he actually claim to claim that he has shown that Trump and his folks are lying? On Strassler's blog and his Twitter account, we get highly inconsistent answers to this question, too.
Under the first Strassler's article about the crowd size, Martin T. Iverson said that he was disappointed by Strassler because he neglected to check the timing of the photos, his work was sloppy, and he was apparently controlled by his emotions. Strassler answered:
...I asked a simple question: “which [photo] has more people in it”, and made a joke about the answer depending on your facts. If you saw an implication in it that the photographs are sufficient evidence to prove anything about an inauguration, that was in *your* reading, not in *my* writing. I made no such claim.Again, when talking to a doubtful reader, Strassler said that he has never made the claim that he knows which side is right and which side is lying. Obviously, if he admitted that he had made that claim, that would amount to saying – at least according to Iverson who obviously understands how subtle these questions may be – that he is willing to make far-reaching claims without the hard work and checks i.e. that the quality standards of Strassler's investigative journalism are very poor, indeed.
However, when he talks to people who don't have the critical thinking of Martin T. Iverson, like his Twitter followers, he says something totally different and it's a fact for him that the AP photo has shown the peak crowd and it's a "fact" that his side is right. Maybe when his sentences are interpreted literally, they don't explicitly say that Trump's claims are lies; but it's surely how most readers read these sentences and Strassler must know that. So he is deliberately manipulating them and chooses different interpretations of the same sentences according to his counter-party. (Climate alarmists are doing these things all the time. They make a claim that everyone unavoidably reads as a far-reaching claim about the coming man-made climate catastrophes etc. but when someone objects and shows the data proving that the claim is false, they suddenly switch and pretend that they only asserted a modest proposition, e.g. that the climate is changing. It's a specific template of a propaganda trick.) He's reacted to the CNN Gigapixel once: Strassler says that there are only tens of thousands of people seen on that photograph. I don't think so. It contains a majority of the attendants which means hundreds of thousands even according to the low estimates of the crowd size.
At the end, it's spectacularly obvious why Strassler and similar Trump haters write so many rants about the crowd size. It's one of their latest desperate attempts to delegitimize the Trump presidency and insult Trump supporters. Needless to say, it's just pathetically lame. Trump has won the votes of most voters in most U.S. states and the presidency. Even if the crowd size mattered, he had more people attending than any Bush during any inauguration, or Bill Clinton during the second inauguration, and probably (almost?) all inaugurations before the 1990s. Trump's crowd was surely a respectable one – and almost certainly his largest one, despite the previous 70 years in which he was very visible. But the crowd sizes don't have any legal consequences and can't be used to delegitimize the president.
I think it is of absolutely no importance how many people went to Trump’s inauguration...What really matters aren't the "technical" distortions that leftist demagogues like Strassler emit. What matters – and what is the main driving force behind these diatribes – are the insulting additions in between the lines.
First, Obama’s inauguration was extraordinarily historic. For a nation with our horrific past — with most of our dark-skinned citizens brought to this continent to serve as property and suffer under slavery for generations — it was a huge step to finally elect an African-American president.
Hear we read that Strassler doesn't care but he clearly implicitly says that Obama's crowd should have been larger because Obama's inauguration was "extraordinarily historic". Can't you see the clear contradiction? He starts by saying that he doesn't really know but continues with a theory that implies that it's obvious that Obama's crowd must have been the larger one (by far?).
Sorry but to write this – and not to write that Trump's election was extraordinarily historic – is just nothing else than dishonest partisan (and perhaps racist) propaganda. Blacks have been liberated for more than 150 years and they have been fully legally equal with the whites in the U.S. for more than 50 years, too.
So the damn skin color just hasn't mattered for a very long time, for a non-racist American, it doesn't matter today, either, and simply cannot be enough to make a winner of any elections historic, let alone "extraordinarily historic", especially if he's just half-black. Someone's being the first non-white guy is a similar curiosity as his being the first president whose surname has 4 letters. (Do you know? What is it? Madonna doesn't have it, Bush has a short one, Schwarzenegger has a long one, and the Pope has one but doesn't use it. It's the surname.) Otherwise equally good (and politically similar) black and white politicians are equally historic when they're elected; this is what the equality of races really means. Only a person who doesn't consider the races equal may view the skin color as something decisive for the degree to which an election is historic. If Strassler thinks in this way, he is racist in the same sense in which the German leaders were racists 80 years ago.
And by the way, in 2008, people like Strassler were saying that they weren't voting for Obama mostly simply because he was (half-)black, i.e. that Obama's victory was a result of top-level "affirmative action" (i.e. reverse racism). Now, in 2017, Strassler pretty much explicitly admits that the likes of him were always lying. Obama's victory was affirmative action, after all. It's mainly his skin color that has made his inauguration historic, Strassler admits – not his special character, skills, or program let alone the achievements of his two terms that came after the 2009 inauguration. And yes, I beg to differ: If someone is hired or elected because of affirmative action instead of the merits, it makes the hiring or election less real and less historic, not more so.
Also, it's a matter of common sense that Trump's election was almost certainly much more historic than Obama's victory. Obama was just another politically correct president, a product of his environment, a slave of the media-legal-military establishment etc. like basically numerous and almost all politicians before him, just another politician who plays the games that the environment wants him to play. When it comes to the real principles powering America, despite the differences in the rhetoric, Obama didn't represent a substantial change from George W. Bush – this fact may be interpreted as good news or bad news, depending on the context and the speaker. Trump is different. Trump's election is a true revolution. However, it's a revolution that has taken place according to the standard protocols, too.
If Trump's crowd were smaller than Obama's crowd, one of the reasons is that most Trump supporters have their daily job while it's easier for the average Obama supporter to travel whenever they want.
And by the way, in less than a week in the office, Trump has already done a comparable amount of work – let's generously count the absolute values – that Obama did during his 8 years in Trump's office. Trump wants to make America great again. Well, it's a slogan but he will try to make it real. The undoing of most of the Obama's reforms is among the first steps in Trump's plan and this plan could take a few months. In the absolute value, Obama's years are gonna be equivalent to Trump's months. Many of Trump's campaign promises were already "signed". Trump is also promising the wall to be there within months etc. We will see. The deconstruction of Obamacare has started and today, Trump should sign memos to defund the U.S. involvement in the Paris Agreement.
In his first TV interview after the inauguration, Donald Trump found it important to say that he won't allow to insult his supporters. I think it's right. To call the hundreds of thousands or perhaps more than one million of the fans who came to D.C. a small crowd is a malicious insult and the U.S. president should react appropriately. It's equally unacceptable for someone to compare the peaceful and polite inauguration crowd representing a majority of the American voters to the mostly stupid and obscene people attending the women's marches and similar embarrassing events.
I hope that Trump will have enough power to tame the breathtaking arrogance combined with dishonesty – and the assumption about their absolutely unjustifiable yet frequently boasted monopoly on the truth – of the people in the leftist media and people like Matt Strassler.
Matt and others, Trump's election has pretty much demonstrated that most Americans are able to see through your cheap and arrogant tricks and they despise you for your constant claims that you have the monopoly on truth even though the facts clearly show something entirely different. They show that your manipulation with the truth is much more deceitful and problematic and your work with the details is much lousier than the corresponding work done by the people who aren't fanatical arrogant leftists like you. You are simply not among the good ones when it comes to the analysis of political issues and it's already 12:05 for you to stop pretending that you are good at politics. Have you still failed to learn the lesson? How much more time do you need to learn it? Do you need to be punished for the lies that you are actively spreading? And would it be enough to change your attitude?
A Kosian update
Minutes ago, I received an e-mail with new articles at Daily Kos. The most important political article of today's Daily Kos mailing is an article saying that Donald Trump's photo of the inauguration that he hanged somewhere in the White House has a hilarious error. So I expected something far-reaching, opened the Daily Kos web page, and do you know what it says? A caption on a photograph says "January 21st" instead of "January 20th". A one-character typo on a picture hanging somewhere is the most important event since the invention of the wheel. It's just unbelievable how pathetically painful these people are willing to look in the eyes of the sensible among us when they are deciding to defend the indefensible.
The article about the typo is decorated with lots of bonus "information" in between the lines. Donald Trump is "insecure" and "January 21st" should be represented as a march by some obscene women. Sorry, comrades, but "January 21st" is primarily the day after the inauguration day. Your comrade Scott Aaronson was at least able to guarantee – after he stopped his scheduled castration – the birth of his daughter on January 20th so he may pretend that her birthday party was the most important event that took place on that day.