The Jury Talks Back

1/22/2017

Trump Advisor: Spicer’s Falsehoods Were Just “Alternative Facts”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 12:26 pm

Chuck Todd asked Trump spokespiehole Kellyanne Conway about Sean Spicer’s pack of falsehoods in yesterday’s press conference on the trivial (but important to Trump’s ego) issue of crowd size at the inauguration. Conway did her usual shtick of aggressive deflection combined with aggressive horseshit, but one moment stood out: Conway’s statement that Spicer was simply offering “alternative facts”:

CONWAY: I did answer your question.

TODD: No, you did not.

CONWAY: Yes I did.

TODD: You did not answer the question of why the President asked the White House Press Secretary to come out in front of the podium for the first time and utter a falsehood. Why did he do that? It undermines the credibility of the entire White House press office on Day One.

CONWAY: No, it doesn’t. Don’t be so overly dramatic about it, Chuck. What it — you’re saying it’s a falsehood, and they’re giving — Sean Spicer, our Press Secretary — gave alternative facts to that. But the point, really —

TODD: Wait a minute. Alternative facts? Alternative facts? Four of the five facts he uttered . . . the one thing he got right was Zeke Miller [about the MLK bust]. Four of the five facts he uttered were just not true. Look: alternative facts are not facts. They’re falsehoods.

Here is what Conway looked like immediately after making the “alternative facts” declaration.

Conway Realizes She Screwed Up 1
Haha, isn’t it funny when I say things like that?

Followed quickly by this:

Conway Realizes She Screwed Up 2
Hmmm. That one might actually stick. Crap.

I looked at these issues yesterday in a detailed and restrained post and laid out the facts. Spicer was flatly wrong, time and time again. I think this one is indeed going to stick, Kellyanne.

I’m going ahead and creating a new category called “Alternative Facts” to use if and when the Trump administration decides to baldly lie to the American people again.

Chuck Todd overall did a poor job in the interview, by the way . . . feeding into Conway’s narrative by mocking Spicer’s performance as “ridiculous” rather than calmly citing the facts that Spicer got wrong. Nevertheless, while it may not have been apparent to his viewers, Todd is exactly right that Spicer’s performance was indeed ridiculous and does indeed call the White House’s credibility into question.

By the way, Donald Trump offered some “alternative facts” of his own yesterday, as he told the intelligence community yesterday that the notion of a feud between him and the intelligence community was made up by the media.

So I can only say that I am with you 1000%. And the reason you’re my first stop is that as you know, I have a running war with the media. They are among the most dishonest human beings on our Earth. Right?

And they sort of made it sound like I had a feud with the Intelligence Community. And I just want to let you know, the reason you’re the number one stop is exactly the opposite. Exactly. And they understand that too.

There was laughter and applause after his statement that the media is dishonest. There was no applause following his dishonest claim that the media made up his feud with the IC. This is the same man who compared the IC to Nazis less than two weeks ago:

When you’re comparing the Intelligence Community to Nazis, it’s not the media making up a feud between you and the Intelligence Community.

Peter Wehner has an excellent op-ed in today’s New York Times. Here is a sample:

Because Republicans control Congress, they have the unique ability and the institutional responsibility to confront President Trump.

What this means is that Republican leaders in Congress need to be ready to call Mr. Trump on his abuses and excesses, now that he is actually in office. It is a variation of the Golden Rule, in this case treating others, including a Republican president, as they deserve to be treated. They need to ask themselves a simple, searching question: “If Barack Obama did this very thing, what would I be saying and doing now?” — and then say and do it.

In anticipating a Trump presidency, I wish my hopes exceeded my fears. But Donald Trump has given us many reasons to worry. A man with illiberal tendencies, a volatile personality and no internal checks is now president. This isn’t going to end well.

The quoted language applies to conservatives outside of government as well. But the reverse side of the coin applies to Big Media. They should be asking themselves: “If Barack Obama did this very thing, why didn’t I speak out then the way I am speaking out now?”

After the last eight years, with “if you like your plan you can keep it” and the rest, it is quite interesting to watch the media all of a sudden concerned with falsehoods emanating from the White House. When they fly into a frenzy over lies told by the Trump administration, as they inevitably will continue to do, we should all bear in mind how so many of them circled the wagons around Obama for eight solid years.

I was right here that entire time, vociferously calling out both the lies from the White House, and the press’s failure to report them. I will continue to call out the lies from the White House for the next four years, if and when they occur (and I confidently predict they will). It is nice to know that I will, all of a sudden, have a companion in that effort in the form of Big Media.

But I will remember the ones who failed to aid me in that effort over the last eight years — just as I remember the ones who fail to aid me in that effort in the years to come.

67 Comments »

  1. Welcome to everyone!

    Comment by Patterico — 1/22/2017 @ 1:21 pm

  2. I remain one who wishes Trump well and generally would like him to execute the agenda he evoked at his inauguration.

    HOWEVER, it is stuff like this, where some silly-ass MSM meme gets under their skin and they cannot help themselves but react (badly) that makes me fear this administration will fail.

    Why? Because their opponents will go out of their way to distract them with petty attacks, which they will react to with petty responses.

    At some point the public will lose the plot.

    “There you go again”, followed by a change of subject is a much better response. Reagan knew that humor and disdain for the idiocies of the press were far more effective that direct confrontation.

    Hopefully there are people around Trump who know this.

    Comment by Kevin M — 1/22/2017 @ 1:46 pm

  3. I agree with this post and with Patterico’s commitment to holding everyone accountable.

    Trump and the Republicans seem committed to draining the media swamp, but do they want to drain the political swamp? It’s asking a lot from people who like fame, power and comfort as much as they do.

    Comment by DRJ — 1/22/2017 @ 1:46 pm

  4. Kevin M,

    I would like to think that what you say is right, and it may be. But one point I made yesterday is that, while I know it’s wrong to lie, I’m less convinced it’s bad politics. Frankly, I’m just not an expert on what are good and bad political arguments.

    Comment by Patterico — 1/22/2017 @ 1:53 pm

  5. Which do people here think is more important — draining the media swamp or draining the political swamp?

    I think both are important but I put the political swamp as the bigger danger and the most difficult to drain. The media folks are only strong because they are bullies with a herd mentality. They can be divided and conquered. The politicians will be much harder to change.

    Comment by DRJ — 1/22/2017 @ 1:56 pm

  6. I can’t agree with “good” but it is very effective politics. The fact we are talking about President Trump proves it. People respond to what he says and how he says it.

    Comment by DRJ — 1/22/2017 @ 1:59 pm

  7. Which do people here think is more important — draining the media swamp or draining the political swamp?

    That is a very good question, DRJ.

    I think if I were to put up a poll, something like 80% of people would choose the media swamp.

    I’m not sure myself. Part of me says that if we could truly drain the media swamp, the political swamp would follow. What do you think about that argument?

    Comment by Patterico — 1/22/2017 @ 2:05 pm

  8. Interesting question, Sir. I agree that the political swamp is the more dangerous. I wonder if it could be changed with the current media?

    Comment by Machinist — 1/22/2017 @ 2:22 pm

  9. It’s not really lies that bother me, but easily-disprovable lies. Now, maybe I am giving the public too much credit (and after 8 years of Obama, maybe I should know better), but I have to think that if they say that day is night and the moon is made of green cheese, there will be some that will know it for a lie. Making a habit of this will cause a credibility gap, and once that happens there is no way back.

    Comment by Kevin M — 1/22/2017 @ 2:52 pm

  10. It’s not really lies that bother me, but easily-disprovable lies.

    I’m not sure I’m reading this comment correctly. Surely lies bother you too, even if they’re not easily disprovable? What am I missing? I ask that as a genuine question, not an aggressive one.

    Comment by Patterico — 1/22/2017 @ 2:55 pm

  11. It’s not really lies that bother me, but easily-disprovable lies. Now, maybe I am giving the public too much credit (and after 8 years of Obama, maybe I should know better), but I have to think that if they say that day is night and the moon is made of green cheese, there will be some that will know it for a lie. Making a habit of this will cause a credibility gap, and once that happens there is no way back.

    My best interpretation of this is that, putting the morality of telling falsehoods aside, there is an extra utilitarian problem with telling easily disprovable lies: that they decrease your credibility.

    I take you to be making a political point here rather than a moral one. Do I read it correctly? (I’m trying to.)

    Comment by Patterico — 1/22/2017 @ 3:18 pm

  12. To me, it’s so disheartening. When the Trump administration lies, everyone on social media goes insane.

    Of course, BHO lied plenty. And HRC lied quite a bit during her campaign.

    What I would admire is for the public to say, hey, lying to the public is wrong in all of these contexts, and we will only respect politicians who don’t do that kind of thing.

    I would like that very much.

    Instead, we get the implication that only Trump lies.

    When called on it, we get told its different when BHO or HRC does it, or a long time ago or because awful Republicans.

    Sigh.

    Heck, I watched the Left go nuts about plagiarism, until someone brought up Biden and Fareed Zakaria. Then grumble grumble grumble that…that’s different!

    On Twitter, a friend of mine, super Leftie, said she had a no tolerance rule about plagiarism from politicians. I privately asked her about Biden, and she became very angry with me.

    Difficult times.

    Comment by Simon Jester — 1/22/2017 @ 3:22 pm

  13. Both swamps need to be drained but I think it’s more important for the public good to drain the political swamp. The media is powerful but the internet is an alternate media now, so the traditional media is more easily marginalized and discredited (as Trump has shown).

    The media is more threatening to politicians than to the public, which is why that is the battle the GOP and Trump are focused on.

    Comment by DRJ — 1/22/2017 @ 3:28 pm

  14. BHO and HRC aren’t the president now.

    Trump is almost certainly about to give us a fantastic Supreme Court nominee (I expect it to be Pryor). There’s much to like there.

    But coming out of the gate lying about the crowds is so . . . Trump. It’s thin-skinned, it’s dishonest, and it takes the public for chumps. (Maybe with some justification.) Very disheartening, and the “he’s not President yet” counterargument no longer holds.

    Comment by Patterico — 1/22/2017 @ 3:28 pm

  15. On Twitter the other day, Crawford said her sources said it will be Neil Gorsuch. His mother was Reagan’s EPA head who was targeted by the Democrats.

    Comment by DRJ — 1/22/2017 @ 3:32 pm

  16. Patterico, I am not disagreeing with you. As I keep saying, I dislike a flexible yardstick.

    I don’t want ANY President to lie, particularly about little stuff. In some ways, I think that speaks more to character than big lies.

    I really, really didn’t want Trump to be the nominee. I really, really didn’t want him to be President. That’s 100% independent of what I think about HRC.

    But Trump is President. All we can do is call him on nonsense, and applaud when he does the right things.

    It’s all I have.

    I just detest hypocrisy. Always have.

    Comment by Simon Jester — 1/22/2017 @ 3:33 pm

  17. On Twitter the other day, Crawford said her sources said it will be Neil Gorsuch. His mother was Reagan’s EPA head who was targeted by the Democrats.

    Wow, DRJ. I had not heard of him before, but man do I like what I see in the linked article.

    Take heart, folks! Pretty soon Trump’s lies and B.S. are going to take second stage to the battle over the Supreme Court. I have always believed Trump would deliver us someone solid and I continue to believe that. We’ll all be able to join together on that, and take the battle to the left like we used to, together.

    Comment by Patterico — 1/22/2017 @ 3:35 pm

  18. Simon,

    It’s a good point, and I think we should use that to beat the media. If Trump & Co. could just tell the truth when they attacked the media, we’d all be applauding their combativeness.

    The problem is the immensely flawed, thin-skinned, and insecure man at the helm.

    Comment by Patterico — 1/22/2017 @ 3:38 pm

  19. Would the question be: If you drain the media swamp, would the political swamp naturally follow? Or, if you drain the political swamp, would the media naturally follow because there would be less to exploit? At some point, wouldn’t a tipping point be reached, and the media reporting, which is now advocacy journalism, be compelled by the majority of those which they are reporting?

    I’m curious if one begets the other.

    Comment by Dana — 1/22/2017 @ 3:39 pm

  20. If the lie is politically expedient for the nation, that’s one thing.

    But, that would be a lie that was not about something so incredibly trivial and embarrassing, like an attendance number, but something that involved matters of life or death.

    Ultimately, though, the media is to blame for arriving at this point. May the president’s team smarten up and may he back out and let others more savvy and articulate, do the heavy lifting. If, and when it is needed.

    Comment by Dana — 1/22/2017 @ 3:42 pm

  21. I still reflexively feel in my gut that if the media did not suck, politicians would be better.

    But the fact that DRJ disagrees is going to cause me to think long and hard about whether I am wrong.

    Comment by Patterico — 1/22/2017 @ 3:43 pm

  22. My overarching question upon reading this post is, why are they doing this?

    Obama and company could get away with lies (and often did) due to the MSM carrying their water for them and ignoring their falsehoods.

    Does the Trump team seriously think it has the same leeway? Obviously, they do not.

    So, why on earth did they dilute their own message (known as stepping on the message) this way? Usually, a lie has reason – but this is more of a shot to the foot; they’ve undermined themselves to no apparent gain.

    Speaking of the news in general, there are a lot of falsehoods and blatant spins out there. It’s not merely political or agenda driven (though most of it is). Sorting out reality from falsehood is hard for a reader, so I was delighted to see this article, by Popehat, that lays out a method to treat a news article like a warrant application in an effort to judge its worth.

    https://www.popehat.com/2017/01/19/how-to-read-news-like-a-search-warrant-application/

    BTW; thanks for this new venue, Patterico.

    Comment by Arizona CJ — 1/22/2017 @ 3:49 pm

  23. Obama and company could get away with lies (and often did) due to the MSM carrying their water for them and ignoring their falsehoods.

    Does the Trump team seriously think it has the same leeway? Obviously, they do not.

    I don’t know. Again: he is President. That suggests that his strategy in the election — which included the tactic of repeatedly stating falsehoods in an angry tone — had some success.

    So, not in terms of morality, but as raw politics, who am I to say they’re wrong to do it this way?

    But as a matter of morality it’s awful and I condemn it.

    Comment by Patterico — 1/22/2017 @ 3:56 pm

  24. BTW; thanks for this new venue, Patterico.

    The idea of using this site wasn’t mine. If the person who pointed out its availability wishes to out themselves as the one who suggested it, they can. I think it’s a great idea and so far it’s working out well, in my view.

    Comment by Patterico — 1/22/2017 @ 3:57 pm

  25. But you’re welcome!

    Comment by Patterico — 1/22/2017 @ 3:58 pm

  26. I am of very mixed feelings of this. On one hand, I don’t care. It is just another way to tell the media to sod off. But on the other, I wish every once in a while the Trump team would just change tactics and throw a turn to the high road. Perhaps they should have said ‘of course it was lower, good people are very scared by all the violence that Democrats are promising, why would they want to risk their lives?’ That would have thrown the ball back into their court forcing the topic of violence to be upfront, not crowd size. Sometime I love the bluster, it rankles the Dems sooo much. sometimes they just shoot themselves in the foot.

    Comment by Juddgement — 1/22/2017 @ 4:32 pm

  27. “I don’t know. Again: he is President. That suggests that his strategy in the election — which included the tactic of repeatedly stating falsehoods in an angry tone — had some success.

    So, not in terms of morality, but as raw politics, who am I to say they’re wrong to do it this way?

    But as a matter of morality it’s awful and I condemn it.”

    A bias of mine is I tend to look for motive first, as that often explains the why. I also majored, for a while, in Poly Sci, so I’m further biased by that: I tend to look at the raw politics first. I’m also rather cynical by nature.

    I do agree with you on the morality issue, though I’m more concerned with the impact on governance; Team Trump shooting itself in the foot is not something I consider helpful. Also, as a practical matter, what worked in the campaign may not work in office. It often didn’t work well in the campaign, either. For example, whatever else it may be, Trump’s decision to follow his superb “contract with the American Voter” unveiling with threats to sue his accusers is an absolute classic example of stepping on (heck, stomping it into the dust) his own message. That IMHO hurt, not helped, him.

    Time will tell, I suppose, what method they use going forward. Myself, I’m hoping for honesty.

    Comment by Arizona CJ — 1/22/2017 @ 4:58 pm

  28. As your friend Andrew would say, Pat, culture is upstream of politics. So, get reasonable accountability of the media and you will change the culture, resulting in a draining to some degree of the political swamp.

    Comment by Ed from SFV — 1/22/2017 @ 6:15 pm

  29. Patterico:

    I still reflexively feel in my gut that if the media did not suck, politicians would be better.

    I felt this way, too, until I saw that happened to Fox News with Trump. The media will always sell out. The cynic in me thinks it is because they have even fewer values than politicians, and that’s saying something.

    Politicians like Cruz and Lee make me think there is a desire to elect more principled leaders and, more important, that there are people willing to run the political guantlet to get elected. That wasn’t always true for conservatives, who typically prefer the business world to the political world.

    Or we can change the culture, including the education system, as Ed (and Breitbart) wisely suggest. But I’m old and don’t have 40 years to wait for that.

    Comment by DRJ — 1/22/2017 @ 7:04 pm

  30. Also, the Conway stills and captions are priceless. Well done.

    Comment by DRJ — 1/22/2017 @ 7:04 pm

  31. Lets roll a little grenade into the discussion and see what flies:

    Prediction: Donald Trump runs for re-election not as a Republican, and not as a Democrat, but as a member of the newly formed America First Party.

    Seriously — I have not idea what the name will be, but I think after the mid-terms, he will organize a new political party for the purpose of appearing on all 50 state ballots.

    I think both the GOP and Dem parties are staring a political schism in the face.

    Rather than battle the Freedom Caucus and small government conservatism in the GOP, Trump is going to take the rest of the party and marry them to his white working class populists who are the remnants of the now dead moderate wing of the Dem party. The Dem power structure is in the process of being overthrown by the Sanders/Warren socialist wing, which will join up with the Green Party .

    I predict the 2020 election will have 3 major party candidates running for Pres.

    Comment by shipwreckedcrew — 1/22/2017 @ 7:32 pm

  32. My take: Trump’s CIA speech and Spicer’s performance are two different categories.

    I am expecting a long and sustained campaign, with Bannon its chief engineer, aimed at discrediting the MSM, or at least creating the standing idea that any MSM criticism of Trump is simply Democratic partisanship. Spicer’s performance yesterday was part of that. Given there are plenty of things in the MSM which can be truthfully challenged, Spicer’s alternative facts were not merely wrong morally, but wrong strategically.

    Trump’s speech at the CIA gets a pass from me: a white lie that allows him disavow his previous abuse of the IC, without actually admitting his iwn faults in the matter. In the circumstances, that’s about the best we can expect from him. But note how his non-apology ties into the anti-MSM pattern.

    Comment by Kishnevi — 1/22/2017 @ 7:33 pm

  33. I hope so, swc.

    Comment by DRJ — 1/22/2017 @ 7:33 pm

  34. SWC…I expect the GOPe to loyally follow Trump unless he turns into a total disaster. Far more likely is the Freedom Caucus et al will actually exit and try to form a “True Conservative” party.

    Comment by Kishnevi — 1/22/2017 @ 7:38 pm

  35. Patterico,

    Yes lies bother me, in general, but all politicians lie so it does not help me in sorting them.

    Stupid, transparent and easily falsifiable lies indicate the politician is headed for disaster. This is mostly a problem when I would have them succeed. I like most everything about the Trump administration EXCEPT for the Trump guy and the inner circle of political animals.

    Comment by Kevin M — 1/22/2017 @ 7:45 pm

  36. DRJ –

    It was just a month ago that Crawford’s sources were telling her the “finalists” were Pryor, Hardiman, Sykes, Colloton, and Larsen.

    Next month, her sources may well be telling her something else.

    Welcome to the Trump administration, where everything is up for grabs and nothing is set in stone.

    Comment by gwjd — 1/22/2017 @ 7:47 pm

  37. I agree it’s probably a rumor, gwjd, but Crawford is well-known here and I thought it was interesting. Trump also enjoys toying with the media and this could be an example of that.

    Comment by DRJ — 1/22/2017 @ 7:53 pm

  38. I like most everything about the Trump administration EXCEPT for the Trump guy and the inner circle of political animals.

    That one made me laugh. The old saw about Mrs. Lincoln and the play came to mind…

    Comment by Patterico — 1/22/2017 @ 7:59 pm

  39. When do y’all think Trump announces the Supreme Court pick? Has to be this coming week, no?

    Comment by Patterico — 1/22/2017 @ 8:00 pm

  40. @39. Believe President Trump referenced this again, yesterday or today, that it would be announced roughly two weeks after January 20th.

    Remains to be seen if his desk calendar is orderly and quarterly driven like a Manhattan businessman’s or haphazard and politically clocked like a Washington’s pol.

    Comment by DCSCA — 1/22/2017 @ 9:04 pm

  41. “The problem is the immensely flawed, thin-skinned, and insecure man at the helm.”

    A man who managed to create a multi-billion dollar world-wide ulta-high-end real-estate empire. A man who managed to beat out 16 other Republican candidates for the nomination, and managed to win the Presidency with the MSM, the Democrat party, and the establishment Republican party all against him.
    A man who apprears to be inside the OODA loop of a large number of strong opponents.

    You have to reconcile these facts with your characterization.

    I’m not sure that he is either thin-skinned or insecure. One thing that a number of commentators have mentioned is that he doesn’t much care about what people say about him or what names they call him. He may not like it, but it doesn’t sway him.

    He has been President for all of 2 days now. Maybe we should give him a little time before we declare it a disaster?

    Comment by fred-2 — 1/22/2017 @ 9:10 pm

  42. The only reason I think he leaves rather than the conservatives leave is Trump’s ego. I think nothing would feed his ego more than the idea that he, like Teddy Roosevelt, could withdraw from his political party and take a huge chunk of the party with him. As an incumbent, he would stand a much better chance of winning than Roosevelt did having been out of office.

    And, he would avoid an intra-party challenge from his right, which might very well happen if he remains in the GOP.

    Comment by shipwreckedcrew — 1/22/2017 @ 9:13 pm

  43. Trump won and that is impressive, but he also threatens and sues people who criticize him. That suggests he cares what people say about him and it impacts his decision-making.

    Comment by DRJ — 1/22/2017 @ 9:18 pm

  44. “39. When do y’all think Trump announces the Supreme Court pick? Has to be this coming week, no?”

    He spoke about this a week or so ago. People are just going to have to get used to his speaking style, and stop expecting him to be like a normal politcian. He says stuff with lots of side-excursions and it’s easy to miss the main point he is making.
    (At this point, I have to believe that he speaks this way on purpose. Because, see above, he managed to become a multi-billionare — so it clearly worked out for him.)

    IIRC, he said, “Maybe the 1st week, maybe the 2nd week, probably the 2nd week because there’s a lot of signing to be done on Monday. And signings on Tuesday … and Wednesday..and Thursday .. and Friday. A lot of signings — great signings — you will be thrilled by all the great signings. So…maybe the first week, but probably the 2nd week. You will love the SC pick.”

    Actually, I suspect he wants to get as many of the major cabinet nominees confirmed as possible before throwing the SC nomination onto the field. We know that that one will run into a Democrat buzzsaw.

    Comment by fred-2 — 1/22/2017 @ 9:20 pm

  45. I assume Cruz would be open to challenging Trump from the right, like Reagan did with Ford, but wouldn’t it be hard for Trump to give up the advantages of an existing Party?

    Comment by DRJ — 1/22/2017 @ 9:22 pm

  46. He has been President for all of 2 days now. Maybe we should give him a little time before we declare it a disaster?

    Comment by fred-2 — 1/22/2017 @ 9:10 pm

    He is President now and his attitudes are important.

    Comment by DRJ — 1/22/2017 @ 10:16 pm

  47. He has been President for all of 2 days now. Maybe we should give him a little time before we declare it a disaster?

    I’ll let that go, but fred-2, nobody has declared it a disaster. Please, I’m not likely to tolerate putting words in people’s mouths here. Say that stuff at the main blog, if you must. Not here.

    Comment by Patterico — 1/22/2017 @ 11:32 pm

  48. A large part of Trump’s persona over the past 40 years has been his outrageousness and willingness to make claims that most people would be too embarrassed to make if they’re not true. So it’s not a big shock that defiant attitude has now carried over to his support staff.

    But at the same time, the media for the better part of 38 years since Trump became a celebrity ate this stuff up, because it sold papers and goosed ratings. They love the idea of a guy who has no shame, shows no remorse and never apologizes for anything … unless that person happens to run for and win the presidency of the United States. If they wanted to do something about that, they should have thought about it around 1979, when Trump’s persona was crystallizing in the public’s eyes in New York City, and then nationally over the next decade (and the media does themselves no favors when they jump on the “Too good to fact-check” meme with stuff like the Martin Luther King Jr. bust being removed from the White House. It gave Conway the perfect opening to come back at Todd and question the media’s reliability. It’s easier to get away with a lie when the public knows your opponents are making up lies of their own, to the point neither side can be trusted to tell the truth).

    Comment by John — 1/22/2017 @ 11:32 pm

  49. This is simply not going to be a place where people constantly have to say: “That’s not what I said.”

    I’m not going to allow it.

    Comment by Patterico — 1/22/2017 @ 11:33 pm

  50. It’s easier to get away with a lie when the public knows your opponents are making up lies of their own, to the point neither side can be trusted to tell the truth).

    That’s for sure. The media’s hands are far from clean.

    Comment by Patterico — 1/22/2017 @ 11:34 pm

  51. Battlespace preparation. Trump has decided that the media is his opponent and he is working to reduce their influence. Part of that is getting them to expend credibility fighting about nonsense.

    Glenn expands on that here.
    https://pjmedia.com/instapundit/255223/

    Comment by SPQR — 1/23/2017 @ 7:45 am

  52. Good to see you, SPQR. I read that article, too.

    On the one hand, DJT does things that make me furious, often. On the second, he has to know media.

    I want to believe he is gaming the media.

    Maybe we will see next week with the pro-life march.

    On the other hand, if I had been Press Secretary dealing with questions about inauguration attendance, I would have calmly said, “Well, regardless, Mr. Trump’s attendance numbers at his inauguration were better than Secretary Clinton’s at hers.”

    But that would have been bad, too.

    On the other hand, if you are going to troll, go big or go home.

    Comment by Simon Jester — 1/23/2017 @ 8:10 am

  53. I still reflexively feel in my gut that if the media did not suck, politicians would be better. I’ve been thinking about this. A biased media is not good and reforming it is important, but at this point is the media setting the agenda? The daytime and nighttime talk shows, SNL, movies, sitcoms, and their liberal celebrities also create and sustain narratives.

    Comment by DRJ — 1/23/2017 @ 8:36 am

  54. My formatting disappeared. Try again:

    Patterico: I still reflexively feel in my gut that if the media did not suck, politicians would be better.

    I’ve been thinking about this. A biased media is not good and reforming it is important, but at this point is the media setting the agenda? The daytime and nighttime talk shows, SNL, movies, sitcoms, and their liberal celebrities also create and sustain narratives.

    Comment by DRJ — 1/23/2017 @ 8:39 am

  55. If so, maybe Trump was able to bypass the media simply because he is a celebrity, and celebrities have influence that in the past only the media had.

    Comment by DRJ — 1/23/2017 @ 8:41 am

  56. DRJ,

    The media have been reporting an alternative reality in support of a narrative for quite some time. They frequently use alternative “facts” in support of the narrative and quite often cite scientistic modeling as “proof” of the “fact”. When the model predictions fail, they turn to the scientisimists who produced the model for the explanation of why the actual outcome falls within the scope of the narrative with promises the model will be tweaked to achieve a higher level of certainty in its next iteration.

    Hayek covered the scientism involved very meticulously in the The Counter-Revolution of Science.

    I don’t believe Trump can completely bypass the media but I do believe his intended audience to be quite willing to accept alternate “facts” as readily as the progressive audience targeted by the media is willing to accept narrative propaganda.

    Comment by Rick Ballard — 1/23/2017 @ 9:06 am

  57. I don’t believe Trump can completely bypass the media but I do believe his intended audience to be quite willing to accept alternate “facts” as readily as the progressive audience targeted by the media is willing to accept narrative propaganda.

    Comment by Rick Ballard — 1/23/2017 @ 9:06 am

    That is a very good point, Rick. If Trump brings in enough of the new media (blogs, social, etc.), he may provide a stepping stone for future Leaders and thinkers to fight against the headwinds created by a biased legact media.

    I will admit that should a Dem be elected next time, we can kiss any such changes goodbye.

    Comment by felipe — 1/23/2017 @ 9:58 am

  58. I see that, Rick. Please correct me if I’m wrong but I think your comment focuses on people who are interested in and follow politics daily.

    I was thinking about people whose political interest is limited but who watch TV daily for entertainment. They may be the target audience for today’s politicians because IMO they are more likely to be undecided voters.

    Comment by DRJ — 1/23/2017 @ 10:18 am

  59. If not daily consumers of political information, then weekly or bi-weekly at least.

    Comment by DRJ — 1/23/2017 @ 10:19 am

  60. I think the more important issue and story that has implications far beyond this administration, both temporally and geographically, is the behavior of the press. Within the first 6 hours of President being sworn in, the mainstreamest of mainstrem media had deliberately tried to spread two false stories about Trump.

    The first, perpetrated by the Rueters and the NYT, involved trying to compare photos taken on the Mall during Trump and Obama ceremonies. Although they were taken at demonstrably different times of the day, they were presented as representative of the attendance. This was knowingly done, because they were there and knew that the photo they presented did not represent the actual crowd. In fact, they are still presenting that same picture to “disprove” Trump’s statement that the crowd went back to the Washington Monument.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/21/us/politics/trump-white-house-briefing-inauguration-crowd-size.html?_r=0

    In fact Rueters is doubling down, and claiming the photo was taken at 12:01. So compare that photo to CNN’s photo, taken from the Capital steps. Note the proximity of people to the white building clearly visible in both photos. Note the Rueter’s shot cleary depict almost nobody within 2 blocks of that building.

    http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2017/01/politics/trump-inauguration-gigapixel/

    The second, and more disturbing (but just as predictable) was the report filed by the pool reporter (from which all other news organizations depend on for accounts of events with limited space for press) during the signing of the EO installing Mattis and Kelly. The reporter claimed that the bust of MLK had been removed from the Oval Office. After being debunked with photographic evidence of his lie, he claimed to have specifically looked for it, twice. So why would he have been so intent on looking for the bust of MLK, and how could he have missed it when he said he looked around the room twice? It was right there, on a table, unobstructed. Answer: he went in there to get the story already written. And since there were no other press there, his version was going to go out to every newspaper and channel. With most squish Republicans, it would have been a slam dunk. It would have been 12 hours before a statement would have been released, and by then the damage would have been done. Not so easy with this administration, though.

    So why, here and in the MSM, is the attention on a stupid penis waving contest (Obama had a bigger crowd than you. Nuh uhh.) and not on the blatant and open dishonesty demonstrated by the one group who is given special privileged in order to provide the citizens with the truth? And how loud will they squeal when they are ejected from the White House because of their bad behavior and bad faith reporting?

    Comment by MrMoss — 1/23/2017 @ 10:54 am

  61. Rick,

    Changing course (for me), let’s assume that media bias is the main issue as Patterico believes. It looks like Trump plans to make him his focus for a long time, and it m at hurt Trump but it’s also hurting the media. If so, is that enough?

    Comment by DRJ — 1/23/2017 @ 11:03 am

  62. Sorry, I have a new tablet that is giving me fits. Let me try again:

    Rick,

    Changing course (for me), let’s assume that media bias is the main issue as Patterico believes. It looks like Trump plans to make him the media his focus for a long time and while it may hurt Trump, it’s also hurting the media. If so, is that enough?

    Comment by DRJ — 1/23/2017 @ 11:05 am

  63. I’m no fan of CNN but I think they’re right on this point. Trump and his advisors are throwing away good will and credibility on an issue that isn’t important–the number of attendees at the inauguration. Rather than worrying about those things, I’d prefer that they concentrate on getting their department heads confirmed so that work can get started.

    Comment by Rochf — 1/23/2017 @ 2:04 pm

  64. Kellyanne Conway threw a giant stink bomb into their effort to hold the media accountable by tossing out the idea of alternative facts. WTH?? She’s becoming a laughing stock with her spinning, deflections, pivoting and general unwillingness to answer a question. In effect, gaslighting.

    Comment by Martha — 1/23/2017 @ 2:25 pm

  65. If so, maybe Trump was able to bypass the media simply because he is a celebrity, and celebrities have influence that in the past only the media had.

    DRJ

    Without a doubt, it’s the fact that Trump had been in the public spotlight for almost four decades before he ran for president that allowed him to run a campaign as he did. That’s because people already were used to Trump’s persona, and his campaign only reflected what the same media decrying him now had hyped about him previously. He had defined himself in the public’s imagination before the media had a chance to define him, as was the case with Mitt Romney four years earlier. The negatives on Trump weren’t a shock to his supporters, and in fact were more of an asset for those mad at the political system.

    That’s also why any other GOP candidate in 2024 or beyond who think they can replicate the Trump style are going to fall on their faces. As with Reagan in 1980, the public knew about Donald Trump for decades before they saw Donald Trump on the campaign trail. Any regional or even second-tier national politician who tries to introduce themselves for the first time to much of the public by showing a personality like Trump’s will never get out of the starting gate (though of course the opposite wouldn’t be true on the Democrats’ side, where a pol with Trump’s attitude would get the same ‘loveable curmudgeon’ portrayal Bernie Sanders got for most of his campaign against Hillary).

    Comment by John — 1/23/2017 @ 3:57 pm

  66. “and they cannot help themselves but react (badly)” – Kevin M

    There but for the Grace of God, go we all ….

    “while I know it’s wrong to lie, I’m less convinced it’s bad politics.” – Patterico

    This reminds me of something from Machiavelli’s “The Prince.” Memory may be a bit dim, but the idea was to send someone in your stead, after conquering a territory, who would be ruthless, even evil, in enforcing the new rule. Then, the Prince could come in to remove or replace the guy, all in the name of being a good and noble ruler in the eyes of the people who would proceed to thank him. I’m not trying to make the comparison to Trump as either praise, blame, or even assess any other bases for comparison.

    In fact, the idea came to me in the context that Trump may have sent Spicer out to do what he has been doing with his own Tweets. At some point, it matters less whether what you say is true than whether you come out of the fray looking better or worse than your opponents. It may not be good politics, but successful politics if you can count on your opponents beclowning themselves more than you beclown yourself. Talk about photo finish contests. [Don’t want to get all 3-D chess here, but I note Spicer began walking back some things today. Will those who spent so much time gloating over Obama’s numbers, or freaking out over Spicer’s first foray do the same?]

    Comment by Quibus Vigilius — 1/23/2017 @ 7:40 pm

  67. That’s very interesting. Plus Trump can always fire Spicer and start over with a new spokesperson. Win-Win.

    Comment by DRJ — 1/24/2017 @ 12:03 pm

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