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.
Haha, isn’t it funny when I say things like that?
Followed quickly by this:
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 cannot tell a lie…but…perhaps I can interest you in an alternative fact?" pic.twitter.com/bGIMf3b9wT
— Alex Rainert (@arainert) January 22, 2017
Do we take alternative facts literally or seriously?
— (((Harry Enten))) (@ForecasterEnten) January 22, 2017
"Alternative facts are stubborn things."
– Alternative John Adams pic.twitter.com/N7QIdan8y3
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) January 22, 2017
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:
Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to "leak" into the public. One last shot at me.Are we living in Nazi Germany?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2017
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.
[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]