Thousands of people took to the streets of St. Paul to protest about Planned Parenthood on Saturday.
To clarify: One set of folks holding signs and chanting was protesting against Planned Parenthood, saying the vilified chain of clinics should no longer receive any federal funding. These people numbered "a couple of hundred," according to the Associated Press, and as many as 400, the Star Tribune reports. That small crowd says Congress should block Medicaid and any federal grants to Planned Parenthood because providing abortions accounts for some 3 percent of its work.
They were utterly outnumbered by a counter-protest in favor of Planned Parenthood, a neatly aligned demonstration that drew from the massive Women's March in St. Paul a few weekends ago. On Saturday, that side numbered well into four-digit figures, as high as 6,000, according to a St. Paul Police Department estimate.
It's in these types of situations that TV stations love to rush to the helo-pad and get the chopper up and buzzing above the crowd -- or crowds, in this case. From that vantage point, they're really the only ones who can take it all in.
Most of the images Fox 9 used to cover Saturday's rallies showed close-ups of believers on other side, often contrasted with their opposite numbers in the same frame. Then one image depicts an overhead view of both sets of protesters.
And... whoa! From this angle, it looks like the two sides are even!
(Wait 'til Sean Spicer hears about this! You tell 'em Sean! FAKE NEWS!)
As noticed by a Planned Parenthood supporter, Fox's ... let's say "interesting" photo crop catches a point when the pro-life protesters were still confined inside their small area, while the pro-choice folks were marching in the opposite direction. This Fox shot shows the tail end of them.
Here's another look at the same scene a little earlier, courtesy of WCCO's video, from the reverse angle.
(Uh, Sean? Sean what's happening with this photo? Maybe once we remove all the "illegal" protesters, the numbers will look better! Some of these criminals are registered to protest in two states!)
Yet another, wider angle from KARE 11 shows a slightly less compact pro-Planned Parenthood crowd stretching on and on for several blocks. The pro-lifers are, appropriately, obscured by the foreground structure on the far right.
(Sean? They're multiplying! But that can't be. We were told they don't procreate. Wait, wait, I got it, now it makes sense. They are WITCHES!)
To its credit, Fox at least acknowledges in the text of its online story that the "vast majority" of people there were supporting Planned Parenthood.
"[Misleading, cropped to cut out nearly all of the people] Aerial shots show the crowd of pink carrying signs," writes Fox [with help from City Pages].
Contacted Sunday with questions about the choice of image to accompany its protest story, Fox 9 did not respond.
Their report is somehow still more honest than KSTP, the local ABC affiliate, which neither depicted the crowd sizes, nor hinted that one was 15 times the size of the other:
"Hundreds of protesters on opposite sides of the abortion debate held competing rallies Saturday at Planned Parenthood's regional St. Paul headquarters."
Uh huh. And on one of those sides, the "hundreds" were joined by additional hundreds, and eventually it added up to so many hundreds it no longer made sense to count them in hundreds. See us after class, KSTP, and we'll explain how it works.
Mathematical accuracy matters in this fact-challenged era, as does pictorial honesty. Give the real numbers and an unvarnished view of the scene.
Let your reader or viewer deny what they're seeing, turn up their collar to hide from the truth's chill wind. Some still will. But you owe them a chance to know what's right.
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