Who Ya Gonna Believe? The Associated Press or Your Lyin’ Eyes?










JRL/2011/ 22/7

AP reported Saturday’s demonstrations in Moscow as follows.

For the anti-Putin (”For Clean Elections”) demonstration in Bolotnaya Square: “The protest — which drew 120,000 people, according to organizers”.

The pro-Putin (“Anti Orange”) demonstration at Poklonnaya Gora: “A separate rally in Moscow in support of Putin drew no more than 20,000 people. Most of them were teachers, municipal workers, employees of state-owned companies or trade union activists, who had come with co-workers on buses provided by their employers.”

However, thanks to the New Media, we no longer have to swallow what the Associated Press says. Here are photos of the pro-Putin demonstration and here are films. Poklonnaya Gora is a very large space and, as this photo shows, it was full (the distance from where the photo was taken to the buildings in the background is about 700 metres). Here is a space calculator with which, dear readers, you are invited to play, comparing the photograph and your estimate of how tightly packed the crowd is. (When the program loads, hit the button that says НАЧАТЬ and move the tabs at the top around to fit what you estimate the photo to show). You will have no problem getting more than 100,000 and perhaps as many as 150,000. A far distance from AP’s “no more than 20,000”. And also consider how many buses it would take to bus them in. If 50,000 were bussed in, that would be more than 1000 buses which would amount to a tightly-packed line of buses 10 kilometres long or about the distance from Poklonnaya Gora to the Kremlin walls and back again. Surely someone would have noticed!

By the way, note the little high narrow church to the right: that is St George’s Church in Poklonnaya Gora. If you see it on TV purporting to be the anti-Putin demo – as apparently has happened at least once – you’ll know you’re being manipulated.

Here are two photo sets of the anti-Putin demos and a space calculator for that. For contrast, here is an overhead photo of Saturday’s demonstration and one of December’s demonstration in the same place. Large to be sure, “tens of thousands” certainly, but not nearly the same number as before and nowhere near the 120,000 that AP happily quoted the organisers (not, usually, an unbiased source) as claiming.

For your amusement, dear readers, here is AP’s statement of values: “For more than a century and a half, men and women of The Associated Press have had the privilege of bringing truth to the world.”

But, the truth is that the pro-Putin demo pulled more people than the anti-Putin demo.

Here is a very partial list of media outlets that repeated AP’s version: Globe and Mail (Canada); Daily Mail, Guardian (UK); NY Daily News, Fox, ABC, NPR, Time, Salon (USA); Hurriyet (Turkey); Drogheda (Ireland); India Times (India). And so on. A Google search on “‘Putin drew no more than 20,000 people’ Moscow” returns over 7000 hits. A lot of news outlets apparently agree AP brings “truth to the world”.

But not in this case. It’s time to ask yourself why you pay for your newspaper subscription.

One can understand why many Russians think that there is a “media war” on against them.