Is News Media Avoiding Showing Trump’s Large Crowds?

Above: Trump’s rally last week in Estero, Florida at Germain arena with 8,500 seats. Courtesy: David Martosko

The following is a news media analysis. It was first published Sept. 25, 2016

Donald Trump has long complained that the news media refuses to show the size of his crowds. (Note: After interviewing him in Florida, we showed the crowd today on Full Measure.) Three questions are at issue: 1. Is the news media treating him differently? 2. How do Trump’s crowds compare to other candidates? 3. Does size matter?



1. Is the news media treating Trump differently? Yes. Trump is correct that the news media doesn’t often show his packed audiences. Neither do they remark much about the size of Hillary Clinton’s crowd. Is this because his audiences are large and hers are small?

A quick check shows the news media didn’t hesitate to publish glowing stories on Democrat Bernie Sanders’ crowds. The Washington Post called Sanders’ crowds “eye-popping.” (Trump’s biggest crowds outweigh the ones mentioned as extraordinary in the Sanders article.) Oddly enough, in this August article, the Post noted Trump’s crowds without showing a single photograph of any of them.

Looking at the 2008 election, the news media frequently showed photos of then-Senator Obama’s audiences, which dwarfed those of his Republican candidate, John McCain. There were entire stories about the phenomenon.

“In crowd size, Obama has the edge,” reported the Wall Street Journal, noting that Obama “claimed the Democratic nomination before 17,000 people…with thousands more outside unable to get in,” and ‘That same night, John McCain spoke to about 600 supporters.”

CNN, The New York Times and Politico were among those that gushed about Obama’s huge crowds.

Of course, part of the reason could be because Obama was an historic candidate: the first black nominee, and his crowds were remarkable. For a reminder, check out the incredible photo at this New York Daily News link which reported a crowd of 65,000 in Portland, Oregon, with more left outside the gates. This article says Obama had 100,000 people gathered in Denver.

2. How do Trump’s crowds compare to others? In short, less than Obama’s massive 2008 crowds and, generally, more than Clinton’s and McCain’s. During the primary, Trump’s campaign routinely moved his rallies when the demand for tickets overwhelmed smaller venues. For example, a planned rally in Alabama at a Civic Center for 2,000 was moved at the last minute to a stadium twenty times bigger, where it’s estimated 20,000 turned out, half filling the venue.

When I interviewed Trump in Florida last week, he packed the Germain arena, which holds 8,500. Hillary’s speech around the same time at Temple University drew a group estimated at around 250. Many news articles seem to avoid using perspective photos that show Clinton’s entire crowd, and instead choose views that fill the camera shot with people. For example, if you relied on news reports, you might be convinced that Clinton’s Temple University audience was large. The New York Times used a photo shooting up at Clinton, showing people in a balcony as if there could be a giant crowd. A second photo made it appear as though there could be a large group of students in attendance, with a caption that read, “Mrs. Clinton spoke to a room filled with students at Temple University.” The Times avoided referencing the size of Clinton’s audience. I was unable to find a New York Times article referencing Trump’s Estero speech (pictured below). A local news station showed video inside and outside the Trump appearance, showing an overflow crowd.


Trump’s audience in Estero, Florida last week.

3. Does size matter? Maybe. This is a tricky question. Much has been written on how much audience size reflects on a candidate’s true popularity. One thing I would note is that Clinton has been making infrequent public appearances, and that her audiences are small, in part, by design. Her events appear to be set for modest venues, without a major effort put forth to attract a big crowd. Surely if an outreach had been made, more than 250 people would have come to see her at Temple University. It’s unclear why she would choose to appear before intimate groups in modest settings, but one should not conclude it’s because nobody else would attend.

The news media’s tendency during this particular campaign to avoid showing wide shots of either candidate’s audiences tends to work to Clinton’s advantage, since Trump’s enthusiastic, larger crowds would contrast with Clinton’s smaller groups.


Trump supporters at Estero, Florida appearance last week.



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17 Responses to “Is News Media Avoiding Showing Trump’s Large Crowds?”

  1. Patrick Quinn
    September 25, 2016 at 6:42 pm #

    Once again Sheryl..Spot on

  2. Patrick Quinn
    September 25, 2016 at 6:44 pm #

    I typed ShAryl but auto correct changes it to Sheryl

  3. ALEX
    September 25, 2016 at 9:57 pm #

    With the traditional media all but dead, I don’t think it matters, but it wouldn’t hurt him to report on this…

    The fact you pointed out the local stations is the key. They sign up people to vote at the events. He does interviews with local tv,radio and newspapers. He has mastered social media. It becomes a well orchestrated machine limited only by his stamina and that is not in question…

    Obama was absolutely enabled by the media, so what Trump is doing IS historic in magnitude.

  4. jeffery tartt
    September 25, 2016 at 11:01 pm #

    We the People are not as ignorant as the Liberal Media would like to think. They too will fall victim to their own corruption.

  5. Barb Zerfoss
    September 26, 2016 at 12:04 am #

    Because George Soros runs those media publications. Politico used to be conservative, now controlled by Soros owned business. He runs 47 media companies. Very dangerous man.

  6. Meryl Dorey
    September 26, 2016 at 4:46 am #

    Brilliant analysis! Once people finally realise how mainstream media is lying to them and decide to only read, view and listen to the honest alternatives (like your own writing), the outrage will be impossible for even MSM to suppress!

  7. Paul from Texas
    September 26, 2016 at 11:57 am #

    Of course the mainstream news media is biased against Trump, including Fox News.

    There two sources for accurate news these days: Sharyl Attkisson and Wikileaks.

  8. Eidur Gudjohnsen
    September 26, 2016 at 10:13 pm #

    Thanks, this website is really valuable

  9. Gary Scott
    September 30, 2016 at 8:04 am #

    Mark Twain once said, “When you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember what you said.”

    The journalistic creed is unfortunately, culturally on the wane in our great country….

    The Journalist’s Creed

    The Journalist’s Creed was written by the first dean of the Missouri School of Journalism, Walter Williams. One century later, his declaration remains one of the clearest statements of the principles, values and standards of journalists throughout the world. The plaque bearing the creed is located on the main stairway to the second floor of Neff Hall.

    I believe in the profession of journalism.

    I believe that the public journal is a public trust; that all connected with it are, to the full measure of their responsibility, trustees for the public; that acceptance of a lesser service than the public service is betrayal of this trust.

    I believe that clear thinking and clear statement, accuracy and fairness are fundamental to good journalism.

    I believe that a journalist should write only what he holds in his heart to be true.

    I believe that suppression of the news, for any consideration other than the welfare of society, is indefensible.

    I believe that no one should write as a journalist what he would not say as a gentleman; that bribery by one’s own pocketbook is as much to be avoided as bribery by the pocketbook of another; that individual responsibility may not be escaped by pleading another’s instructions or another’s dividends.

    I believe that advertising, news and editorial columns should alike serve the best interests of readers; that a single standard of helpful truth and cleanness should prevail for all; that the supreme test of good journalism is the measure of its public service.

    I believe that the journalism which succeeds best — and best deserves success — fears God and honors Man; is stoutly independent, unmoved by pride of opinion or greed of power, constructive, tolerant but never careless, self-controlled, patient, always respectful of its readers but always unafraid, is quickly indignant at injustice; is unswayed by the appeal of privilege or the clamor of the mob; seeks to give every man a chance and, as far as law and honest wage and recognition of human brotherhood can make it so, an equal chance; is profoundly patriotic while sincerely promoting international good will and cementing world-comradeship; is a journalism of humanity, of and for today’s world.

  10. Mike Scott
    October 2, 2016 at 11:46 am #

    Does size matter?

    If your running as a populist, which Donald is, I would assume so.


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