PolitiFact called bullshit:
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.Even the Freepers are now admitting that the photo was taken at a different event--they claim it was the “Promise Keepers” rally in the late ‘90s.
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.)
Wonkette has another idea:
HILARITY: Would-be teabaggers and and other easily duped dingbats are proudly emailing each other wonderful pictures of a million teabaggers crowding the National Mall, but these pictures are actually from the Million Man March of 1997, an event attended by, ahem, colored people.
Not only did the Million Man March actually attract a million people, it was led by wingnuts’ second-most-hated negro person, Louis Farrakhan, a real black Muslim.
Oh, my. Now that would be funny! Last spring right wing nut jobs like Debbie Schlussel tried to claim Obama had both organized and marched in the Million Man March. Which would be hilarious if it were true because apparently he did a lot better job of it than all the tea baggers with their Koch Industries money funneled through FreedomWorks.
Anyway, it really shouldn’t be too hard to figure out where this picture comes from, since the web has given us access to comprehensive photo archives going back a decade or more. Whether it’s the Promise Keepers rally in 1997, which drew 700,000 or the 1995 Million Man March which drew 850,000, it shouldn’t be too hard for someone to dig through the archive and find out.
My money is on Promise Keeper’s only because I’ve been Googling around and seen this photo on other Promise Keepers-related websites. But my heart’s with the Million Man March just for the schadenfreude.