Tuesday, November 18, 2008

OK - I'm calling Bullsh** On The Washington Post!

Earlier this week, the Washington Post's media critic, Howard Kurtz, made the observation that the so-called "Mainstream Media" is falling all over itself to fawn over the Obama administration. I can find no better evidence of that than in Kurtz' own newspaper this morning, where the Post is warning that as many as four million people could fill the Mall and environs for Inauguration Day on January 20th.

I have no doubt whatsoever that President Obama's swearing-in will smash all previous inauguration records, but the premise that it will draw a crowd of that size is logistically impossible - and the Post knows it.

The largest crowd in recent history occured during the Million Man March - pictured above - and that crowd fell well short of a million, despite any political assertions made otherwise. When the US Park Police set the figure at closer to 400,000, march organizers threatened to sue, and Congress ordered Park Police to no longer provide crowd estimates for events.

But let's set aside political motivations, and ask logistical questions instead.

  • How will four million people get to the Mall? The busiest day in Metro history carried 850,000 thousand passengers - and most of those were round-trips, so that accounts for about 450,000 people. Can you tell me how Metro is going to increase its passenger load by a factor of 8 or 9?

  • They will park buses at RFK Stadium, and some people will walk from there. If they had a thousand buses - an extraordinary number - and they each had 50 people on board, that is still only 50,000 people. A pittance when you're trying to get four million people on the Mall.

  • Where will four million people eat and sleep? There are 90,000 hotel rooms in the area. Even with four people to a room, you need to find basement floors for millions of more houseguests to sleep in. And when those four million get to the mall, where will they go to the bathroom? Are there even enough porta-johns in the DC area to accomodate four million people?

  • This event is in January - Where will these four million people be when it rains or snows?

Look, I get the excitement that the Obama inauguration will bring, but there's just no way, short of having people camp out for days in ideal weather, that even half that many people are going to be on the Mall or on Pennsylvania Avenue on January 20th. The government is doing its job by preparing as much as it can for huge crowds, but the Washington Post is NOT doing its job by not calling B.S. on those kinds of crowd estimates... So I'm calling B.S. on the Post!

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