It didn’t take long for Donald Trump’s first obnoxious childish outburst of lies and ignorance as president, which broke out almost immediately over the issue of the crowd size at his inauguration. With the “dispute” now entering its third day his administration has resorted to ever more outrageous justifications for his lies. Most recently Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s chief counselor, referred to press secretary Sean Spicer’s lies about the crowd size as “alternative facts” to an astonished Chuck Todd on Meet the Press.
In reality, where facts are non-negotiable, Trump’s inauguration was one of the least attended and watched inaugurations in recent memory, and was absolutely dwarfed in terms of crowd size by the enormous protests that took place yesterday around the world and were attended by close to 1% of the entire U.S. population. But that didn’t stop Sean Spicer, Trump’s press secretary, from fittingly beginning his tenure with a bald-faced lie by claiming that “this was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe.”
As ominous as it was for Trump’s administration to have already blatantly and repeatedly lied on its first day in office, things became even more Orwellian when the administration tried to explain itself. After Chuck Todd accurately told Mrs. Conway that Spicer’s statistics were “a falsehood,” Conway replied “Don’t be so overdramatic about it Chuck. What you’re saying is a falsehood. And they’re giving Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that.” Besides the usual Trumpist lies and thoughtless repetition of criticism, the notion of “alternative facts” is a particularly frightening one.
It is indeed unarguable that the Trump campaign from the beginning was built almost entirely on lies, although of course Trump can merely meet every critic who points that out with cries of “liberal media bias” and his supporters won’t notice the difference. To be speaking of alternative facts, however, while an unintentionally accurate description of how the Trump administration functions, is a frightening indication of just how much Trump wants to model his state on Airstrip One.
George Takei, ever the insightful observer, was quick to realize the Orwellian connotations of Conway’s statement, which he explained brilliantly in a tweet referencing the reality-manipulating government in Orwell’s 1984 and its infamous mantra: “We get it. War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Trump is presidential.”
Kellyanne Conway now refers to their lies as "alternative facts." We get it. War is peace, freedom is slavery, Trump is presidential.
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) January 22, 2017
James DeVinne is a student at American University in Washington, DC majoring in International Service with a focus on the Middle East and South Asia. He is a founding member of Occupy Baltimore and interns at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy.