Just How Big Was The Stewart-Colbert Rally?

October 30, 2010 2:13 p.m.

No one seems to be sure exactly how many people packed the National Mall today for the Rally To Restore Sanity And/Or Fear, but there’s one thing everyone can agree on: sanity and/or fear are extremely popular.

MTV’s spokesperson told the Washington City Paper‘s Mike Madden that 250,000 people came out to see Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert take the stage Saturday, while Viacom (the parent company of MTV and Comedy Central, home to Stewart’s and Colbert’s show) told the New York Times‘ Brian Stelter that “well over 200,000” were in attendance.

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Sanity Restored: Photos From The Stewart/Colbert Rally]

At the rally itself, Mythbusters hosts Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage said they counted about 150,000.

But The Hill‘s Vicki Needham dug into the data and found anecdotal evidence to suggest a crowd size closer to Viacom’s number than the from the Mythbusters dudes.“More than 350,000 had ridden Metro [DC’s public transportation system] before 3 p.m.,” Needham reported, “a number typical for an entire Saturday.”

To be sure, even the smaller estimates show an extremely large crowd for a DC event, even one in this year of tea party rallies packing the Mall and the Capitol lawn. I have been to many a tea party rally, from the big ones to the small ones, and jammed in the crowd at Stewart’s rally as I was today I can say there was an amazingly big turnout.

By way of comparison, the crowd was definitely closer in size to that of the first 9/12 rally — which, of course, famously had no final crowd tally — than to the second 9/12 rally.

Stewart poked fun at the idea of crowd estimates, even as us media types scrambled to put them together. Joke’s on me guess. Or on you for reading this whole story. Whichever, here’s Stewart mocking us both:


CBS News commissioned the same group to analyze the crowd size at the Stewart-Colbert rally it used to estimate the crowd at Glenn Beck’s August rally.

The CBS numbers: Beck drew 87,000 people to his rally, Stewart and Colbert drew 215,000.

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