Moral Low Ground

US Government

Call Trump’s ‘Alternative Facts’ What They Really Are — Lies

Guess which one is Trump’s…

The Trump administration dedicated its very first press briefing to addressing what the new president apparently felt was the most pressing issue of the day. It wasn’t fighting ISIS, uplifting the American worker or even repealing Obamacare.

Instead, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer spent the entire no-questions-allowed briefing slogging through a sophomoric swamp of spurious “mine’s-bigger-than-yours” claims about the size of the crowd attending President Donald Trump’s inauguration.

Trump boasted his inauguration would have an “unbelievable, perhaps record-setting turnout,” but history had other plans. While 1.8 million people were estimated to have attended Obama’s historic inauguration in 2009, federal and local agencies said between 700,000 and 900,000 people showed up for Trump’s swearing-in. That’s also less than the estimated 1 million people who attended Obama’s second inauguration. According to figures shared by the Metro Washington subway system, 193,000 trips had been taken by 11am on the day of Donald Trump’s big day, compared with 513,000 during the same period when Barack Obama took office eight years ago.

In contrast, between 3.1 million and 4.6 million people are estimated to have attended Saturday’s Women’s March protests in all 50 states, with hundreds of thousands more marching on every continent on Earth — including Antarctica.

Photos of both inaugurations clearly showed Trump drew far less attendees than Obama. However, as he has already proved time and again, Trump has trouble telling truth from fantasy. He also infamously suffers from size insecurity issues. Put those two glaring character flaws together and you’ve got the surreal spectacle of Spicer slinging shade at reporters for telling the truth — and it gets worse than that.

“This was the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration, period,” said Spicer. “These attempts to lessen the enthusiasm of the inauguration are shameful and wrong.” However, the facts disagree. In addition to the aforementioned figures, Nielsen ratings show Trump’s inauguration drew 31 million television viewers, far more than watched Obama’s second swearing-in. But among all presidential inaugurations, Trump’s ranks fifth in US TV viewership, after Ronald Reagan (1981), Barack Obama (2009), Jimmy Carter (1977) and Richard Nixon (1973). This is even more remarkable when considering there were 112 million fewer people alive in the United States in 1973 than there are today, 105 million fewer in 1977, 95 million fewer in 1981 and 19 million fewer in 2009.

These facts did not stop Team Trump from doubling- and tripling-down on its lies, with senior Trump aide Kellyanne Conway re-branding demonstrably false statements as “alternative facts.” During a Sunday interview on NBC Meet the Press, host Chuck Todd pressed Conway on the administration’s continuing “falsehoods.”

“Don’t be so overly dramatic about it, Chuck,” Conway retorted. “They’re saying it’s a falsehood and our press secretary, Sean Spicer, gave alternative facts to that.”

“Wait a minute,” Todd interrupted. “Alternative facts! Four of the five facts that he uttered were just not true. Alternative facts are not facts, they’re falsehoods.”

Undaunted, Spicer refused to apologize for lying to the world during his first press briefing. “I believe that we have to be honest with the American people, but I think sometimes we can disagree with the facts,” he said on Monday.

Trump can disagree with facts, but that does not make them any less true. And for all its purported “liberal bias,” the corporate mainstream media has been loath to use the L-word when the president or one of his officials lets loose lie after lie. As accustomed to Trump’s lies as we all have become, the media does a great disservice when it sugar-coats said lies as “challenged” or “questionable” statements, or even “falsehoods.” What are media outlets afraid of? A lie is a lie and should be called one, especially when Trump attempts an Orwellian re-branding of his whoppers as “alternative facts” that in fact have little or no basis in fact at all.

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