PolitiFact | "Tea party" photo shows huge crowd â at different event Over the weekend, conservatives enthusiastically passed around a photo they said showed a huge crowd protesting President Barack Obama's policies during the "tea party" demonstration on Sept. 12, 2009. With headlines that said the rally organized by the conservative group FreedomWorks drew as many as 2 million people, the photo showed a sea of protesters that stretched more than a mile from the Capitol to the Washington Monument. Conservative blog postings and Facebook updates said the media was unfairly reporting much smaller numbers. The meme went viral on Twitter, and pictures of huge crowds were posted widely on conservative blogs. .... We spoke with Pete Piringer, public affairs officer for the D.C. Fire and Emergency Department, who said that the local government no longer provides official crowd estimates because they can become politicized. That said, on the morning of Sept. 12, Piringer unofficially told one reporter that he thought between 60,000 and 75,000 people had shown up. "It was in no way an official estimate," he said. We asked Piringer whether there were enough protesters to fill the National Mall, as depicted in the photograph. "It was an impressive crowd," he said. But after marching down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol the crowd "only filled the Capitol grounds, maybe up to Third Street," he said. Yet the photo showed the crowd sprawling far beyond that to the Washington Monument, which is bordered by 15th and and 17th Streets. There's another big problem with the photograph: it doesn't include the National Museum of the American Indian, a building located at the corner of Fourth St. and Independence Ave. that opened on Sept. 14, 2004. (Looking at the photograph, the building should be in the upper right hand corner of the National Mall, next to the Air and Space Museum.) That means the picture was taken before the museum opened exactly five years ago. So clearly the photo doesn't show the "tea party" crowd from the Sept. 12 protest. Also worth noting are the cranes in front of the Natural History Museum (the second building from the lower left of the National Mall). According to Randall Kremer, the museum's director of public affairs, "The last time cranes were in front was in the 1990s when the IMAX theater was being built." That makes the picture at least a decade old. (We'll update this item if we find out when exactly it was taken.) The conservative bloggers who originally posted the picture have backed down. Say Anything updated its original post to say that the picture was "of the wrong rally." An accurate photo "clearly shows that [the rally] didnt take place on the mall nearly as extensively as the image I mistakenly posted does." Power Line took the picture down all together. We decided to still rate it on the Truth-O-Meter because so many people saw the photo on Facebook or other sites over the weekend and probably were unaware it was not from the Saturday protest. It may be a real photograph, but it does not depict the much smaller crowd that showed up for the protest. We rate it Pants on Fire!