Dean Obeidallah: Sorry, Kellyanne, "alternative facts" are nothing more than lies
An untrustworthy administration will be a real danger to all Americans
Editor’s Note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is the host of SiriusXM’s radio’s daily program “The Dean Obeidallah Show” and a columnist for The Daily Beast. Follow him @TheDeansreport. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his.
Donald Trump’s White House counselor Kellyanne Conway coined a new term Sunday morning when she stated that White House Press secretary Sean Spicer was not lying about the size of the crowd at Trump’s inauguration. Instead, Conway claimed, Spicer simply told us “alternative facts.”
It’s truly hilarious that the Trump team, so vocally opposed to political correctness, is now being PC in describing a lie. Sorry, Kellyanne, I’m not buying it. “Alternative facts,” as NBC’s Chuck Todd so accurately put it in response to you on the air, “are not facts, they’re falsehoods!”
This issue started back on Saturday, when the notoriously thin-skinned Trump visited the CIA and, while standing in front of the wall that pays tribute to CIA agents who sacrificed their lives for our nation, bragged about the size of the crowd that had attended his inauguration. Trump, after first trashing the media, told the audience of CIA employees that, “it looked like a million, million and a half people” were standing in the crowd cheering for him.
The only problem with Trump’s statement at the CIA is these pesky things called facts. No one can say with any certainty what the crowd size was, plus objective metrics – such as use of Washington’s mass transit – indicated that Trump’s crowd was much smaller.
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Likely adding to Trump’s distress was the visual contrast of photos circulating that showed Trump’s inaugural crowd versus President Obama’s first inaugural, which clearly show that Obama’s crowds were far larger – even though it was a frigid 20 degrees that day in 2009 and the temperature for Trump’s inaugural Friday was in the mid-40s. Trump is so obsessed with being the “best” that this morning he tweeted that his TV ratings for the inaugural were higher than Obama’s in 2013.
Of course, he failed to mention the fact that Obama’s inauguration in 2009 had far higher ratings.
So later Saturday Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer held his very first press briefing since Trump was sworn in. And there Spicer lied to the American people. Spicer astoundingly stated, “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period.” Well, as the nonpartisan website Politifact concluded, Spicer’s statement was a “pants on fire” lie.
Moments after Spicer’s statement, he was being skewered on social media. Some even dubbed him “Baghdad Bob,” a reference to Saddam Hussein’s press spokesman who would lie so openly it was actually laughable.
Which brings us to Conway’s appearance Sunday morning on “Meet The Press” – which was like a “Saturday Night Live” sketch come to life. There she was, saying Spicer wasn’t lying but rather was simply offering us “alternative facts.”
But even before Trump’s CIA speech, Spicer’s first press conference, or Kellyanne Conway’s attempts to run interference, Trump’s team has had problems with telling the truth. As Politifact noted, Trump made almost 200 statements during the campaign that were deemed “Pants on fire” lies or simply false.
But many – including myself – had hoped that Trump would be honest with us once he was sworn in as the 45th President. Apparently, we were being naive or expecting too much.
Not accepting lies as “alternative facts” is an issue that truly must transcend partisan politics. If Trump and his administration are going to continue lying to us, how can we trust any information they release? How can we trust the administration’s statements on issues like the unemployment rate, GDP growth or numbers of people signing up for government programs like Obamacare?
And even more concerning, how can we trust anything the Trump administration states about national security issues? When Trump officials tell us that they know who committed a terrorist attack or that they have eliminated terrorists, how can we believe them?
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All Americans – especially Trump supporters – must demand that Trump and his administration always tell us the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. No more fabrications, exaggerations or outright lies by Trump or his officials should be tolerated by any American regardless of political affiliation. And all Americans – including the media – must call out Trump’s lies and never accept PC terms for them like “alternative facts.”
Anything less will leave us with a presidential administration that few Americans can trust. And that presents a real danger to all Americans.