A May 20 NewsBusters post by Robert Knight fowards one of the more absurd ideas of the election season: that the 70,000-plus attending a speech by Barack Obama in Portand didn't go to see him but, instead, the Portland-based band the Decemberists, which played before Obama's speech.
Knight declared the Decemberists "actual rock stars," pointing out that the band "has drawn rave reviews from Rolling Stone magazine." (This may be the first instance of an MRC employee referencing Rolling Stone in a non-derogatory manner.) Knight added that "Indie rock Web sites were abuzz with news of the impending concert"; somehow, we can't imagine Knight trolling said websites for the latest news about the Decemberists. Knight concluded by sniffing:
There's nothing wrong with a candidate using celebrity power to draw a crowd, but the media have a responsibility to report their presence. By ignoring the free concert, the Times and other outlets made it appear that 75,000 people were drawn only by Sen. Obama's considerable charisma.
This makes sense only if you, like Knight, know nothing about indie rock in general or the Decemberists in particular.
According to Billboard, the Decemberists' most recent album, "The Crane Wife," sold 151,000 copies in its first two months of release -- healthy numbers for a indie band but not exactly a sign of mass appeal. Billboard goes on to note that the band was "gearing up for a spring trek that will hit 1,500- to 3,000-capacity venues across the United States." A previous tour, Billboard wrote, drew 32,000 people over 18 shows.
That's a sign that the band would in all likelihood not be able to fill a 70,000-seat venue by itself anywhere -- even in Portland. They may be popular in Portland, but not that popular. Knight is just desperately trying to denigrate Obama's popularity.
As a measure of pop-culture cluelessness, Knight ranks slightly below Accuracy in Media's attempt to portray Rufus Wainwright as a "mainstream" artist in order to claim that the music industry was shoving gay musicians down the public's throat.