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Law enforcement calls into question low news media crowd estimate for Trump's Georgia rally

Crowd estimate by Georgia Public Broadcasting reporter was less than a third of what local sheriff counted.

Published: March 29, 2022 6:27pm

Updated: March 29, 2022 10:48pm

A reporter for a taxpayer-funded news outlet who attended former President Trump's rally in Georgia on Saturday, and was widely cited by media outlets, grossly undercounted the number of attendees, according to law enforcement estimates.

Stephen Fowler, a reporter for Georgia Public Broadcasting, a local affiliate of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and National Public Radio, attended the rally in Commerce, Ga., for 2022 GOP candidates in the state and estimated that there were "no more than 5,000 people" in attendance.

"It's almost time for Trump to speak here in Georgia and there's probably no more than 5,000 people here, the smallest Trump rally I've ever covered here," Fowler tweeted. "Way less" than Trump's 2021 rally in Perry, Ga. "(Closer to 10k) and nowhere close to 2020's 20-30k+ #gapol."

Fowler did not respond to a request for comment.

Trump spokeswoman Liz Harrington responded Sunday on social media, tweeting, "FAKE NEWS! Massive crowd in Georgia last night, with estimates between 25,000 and 35,000 people. Fake news @stphnfwlr doesn't know what he's talking about!"

Later that day, Harrington tweeted out a statement from Trump that said: "We had a massive crowd last night in Georgia, but as usual, the Fake News Media absolutely refuses to show it. People are estimating 25,000 to 35,000 people, but our record so far is Texas with 87,000 people with 50,000 being turned away. This is really fun!"

However, according to the Banks County Sheriff's Office Facebook page, there were 17,000 attendees at the Saturday rally.

Video footage captured by Real America's Voice shows a large crowd at the moment the rally started.

Georgia Public Broadcasting receives money from federal and state taxpayers as well as private donors. A 2017 article in the Atlanta Constitution-Journal estimated GPB got a little more over 50 percent of its funding from taxpayers.

The story about the rally, titled "Trump's Republican revenge tour falters in Georgia," written by Fowler and Riley Bunch, at times reads more like an opinion piece.

The reporters wrote in their story, "Three separate counts of the [2022] election, including a full hand count risk-limiting audit, confirmed that President Joe Biden narrowly defeated Trump more than 500 days ago, but Georgia is a state that he has remained obsessed with seeking revenge on those who wronged him."

Toward the end, the story notes that there was a "crowd of around 5,000."

Newsweek, the U.K. Independent, Huffington Post, and Athens Banner-Herald cited Fowler in crowd estimates of the rally.

During the rally, Fowler also tweeted, "Now it's [GOP Rep.] Marjorie Taylor Greene. Here's today's Mad Libs: Jan. 6 wasn't an insurrection, Hunter Biden's laptop, Matt Gaetz, gain of function research, George Soros, lots of anti-trans stuff, 'Stacey Abrams is the Death Star.' Surprisingly, nothing pro-Putin/Russia."


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