Sunday, January 22, 2017

Alternative facts and other lies.

Pixabay | Public Domain
As a sort of part 2 to last week's post on gaslighting, we now have a new concept to wrap our brains around: the alternative fact.

In case you've been out of touch, this all started when the media posted side-by-side photos of the crowd on the National Mall during Barack Obama's first presidential inauguration in 2009, and Donald Trump's inauguration this past Friday. Then, following the Women's March on Washington yesterday, further comparisons were made among the crowds at all three events.

By any objective measure, the crowd at the Trump inauguration came up short. I won't post the photos here (they're probably under copyright anyway). But the New York Times ran a story yesterday about a couple of British crowd-sizing experts who said the same thing: the Trump inauguration drew the smallest crowd of the three events. (I agree with those experts on the parameters of the Women's March; my daughters and I attended the march, and I am here to tell you that Independence Avenue was wall-to-wall people from the Capitol grounds to 14th Street. We had to keep ducking down side streets to get to a spot where we could see and hear what was going on.)

None of this sat well with our new President. White House press secretary Sean Spicer called a news conference yesterday to read a statement that said, basically, the Trump inauguration was not only huge -- it was the most-watched in history. Which is also not true, even if you count in television ratings. But Spicer took no questions from the press -- he just read the statement and left the room.

It was left up to Trump's counselor, Kellyanne Conway, to try to explain the whole thing away. In a heated exchange this morning with Chuck Todd on NBC's "Meet the Press," Conway claimed Spicer's comments were "alternative facts." Todd, to his credit, immediately responded, "Alternative facts are not facts. They're falsehoods."

I suppose Conway should get some credit, too, for keeping a straight face throughout the exchange. There's video of it at the link, if you care to watch it. Be sure to pay attention to the part where Conway threatens to cut off Todd's access to the White House if he keeps challenging her.

Alert hearth/myth readers have already drawn the correlation I'm driving at here. This whole thing, from denying the numbers, to discounting the photographic proof, to accusing those who challenge the official narrative as promulgating "fake news" -- my friends, this new administration is gaslighting us. And it's only day 3.

I'm not saying the news media always get the story right; they don't. But serious journalists don't willfully get things wrong, either, and certainly not something as easily disprovable as this. Anyone who tries to tell you they do is lying to you. Don't fall for it.

In more cheerful news: Other Realms Vol. II hit the virtual shelves at Amazon this week. The stories in this volume don't pretend to be anything but fantasy (unlike some of the news coming out of the White House...okay, I'll stop), and I'm pleased to have a short story -- an epic fantasy called "The Auguror's Apprentice" -- included in the collection. I continue to be impressed by the caliber of writing in our group of authors, and I think you will be, too.

These moments of provable bloggy facts have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.

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