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Heard about the big D.C. rally Saturday? Probably not.

A new liberal umbrella group, One Nation Working Together, is planning a massive rally in Washington, but so far word of the event is only dribbling out. Are organizers on the same page?

By Staff writer / September 28, 2010

Latino leaders from Arlington County, Va., speak during a news conference in Washington on Sept. 7 to discuss the One Nation Working Together rally, which will be held Oct. 2, to call for good quality jobs, economic justice, and immigrant rights.

Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

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It's bad enough when you throw a party and nobody comes. Well, what if you hold a rally, plenty of people come, but nobody – meaning, in this case, the national media – pays attention?

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That scenario seems to be playing out right now as what is possibly the mother of this midterm election’s Washington rallies slips into town under what Harry Potter fans might call an invisibility cloak.

A group called One Nation Working Together, which bills itself as "a nationwide liberal organization dedicated to networking progressives together for true hope and change," has been planning its big event for Oct. 2 since May. It has some 500 national organizations on its affiliated roster and has buses and caravans of folks from all over the country set to arrive for the noontime, four-hour rally – not to mention sister events in eight cities and dozens of house parties.

Yet, punch in "Washington rally" for a Google search and all you hear about is the upcoming Stephen Colbert/Jon Stewart event on Oct. 30 – or lingering deconstructions of the Aug. 28 Glenn Beck gathering on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. A single-page, A13 mention in The New York Times and a smattering of other national press – mere days before the march – round out the underwhelming national media nod.

So what gives? Is this just a case of bad party-planning chops or something deeper?

For starters, points out Gordon Coonfield, associate professor of communications at Villanova University in Pennsylvania, the two, high-profile rallies had the benefit of supportive national media outlets to stoke interest. Fox News provided Glenn Beck with a national megaphone, while Comedy Central fans get a nightly stoking from both Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s shows.

It’s a shame, he says, “when the good, old-fashioned community and grassroots organizing behind an event like the Oct. 2 rally takes a back seat to such personality-driven media events.”

But the wan national profile of Saturday’s event also speaks to differences between liberal and conservatives, says longtime political observer Jim Goyjer, vice president of the public relations firm Carl Terzian Associates.

“The problem with the Democrats and with the progressives is that they are never on the same page,” he says.

He says that he has been listening to progressive radio talk-show host Thom Hartmann talk about an event he’s covering in Washington this weekend without hearing any mention of the larger, One Nation movement.

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