Politics & Government

Trump aide’s use of ‘alternative facts’ has people wondering what a fact really is

By Greg Hadley

ghadley@mcclatchy.com

President Donald Trump's adviser Kellyanne Conway gets ready to speak on television outside the White House, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017, in Washington.
President Donald Trump's adviser Kellyanne Conway gets ready to speak on television outside the White House, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017, in Washington. AP

It’s the hottest new grammatical question in politics: What are alternative facts? And how do they compare to just plain old facts?

Speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday, President Donald Trump’s counselor Kellyanne Conway got into a heated debate with host Chuck Todd over the White House’s statements contesting the size of the inauguration crowds.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer contended Saturday that the media had deliberately misled the public by suggesting that Trump’s inauguration crowd was smaller than that of Barack Obama’s. Spicer also said Trump’s inauguration had the largest audience in person and on television ever, though the evidence he presented has been contradicted by all available reports.

When Todd pressed Conway on why Spicer said a “falsehood” in his first meeting with the press in the White House, Conway accused Todd of being “overly dramatic.”

“You’re saying it’s a falsehood ... and Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts,” Conway argued.

“Wait a minute,” Todd interrupted. “Alternative facts? ... Four of the five facts he uttered were just not true. Alternative facts are not facts. They are falsehoods.”

Immediately, #AlternativeFacts began trending on Twitter, with many roasting Conway’s statement as a poor defense. Meanwhile, Merriam-Webster Dictionary reported a spike in searches for the definition of the word “fact.”

For what it’s worth, Merriam-Webster defines “fact” as “something with actual existence, or presented as having objective reality.”

On social media, critics of the president were unforgiving in their mockery of the phrase

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