Kellyanne Conway, a senior advisor to President-Elect Donald Trump, takes questions from the media at Trump Tower on Nov. 21, 2016 in New York, N.Y.
Photo by Kevin Hagen/Getty

With ‘alternative facts,’ Trump World swimming in a sea of dishonesty

When George Orwell wrote “1984,” he meant it as a warning, not an instruction guide.
Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Donald Trump, said the White House press secretary gave “alternative facts” when he inaccurately described the inauguration crowd as “the largest ever” during his first appearance before the press this weekend.
It fell to “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd to explain to the White House aide, “Alternative facts are not facts. They’re falsehoods.”

To be sure, the new president and his team have already adopted some amazing new words and phrases that are quickly defining the Trump era – “unpresidented,” “American carnage,” “bigly” – but “alternative facts” is truly special. As the Washington Post’s Margaret Sullivan noted yesterday, its use makes it clear “we’ve gone full Orwell.”

In late 2004, Ron Suskind ran a lengthy, much-discussed piece on the Bush/Cheney administration, which featured an exchange between the reporter and an unnamed White House aide, rumored to be Karl Rove. The aide said journalists were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.”

The White House staffer added, “That’s not the way the world really works anymore. We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.”

More than 12 years later, a new Republican administration has power, and its approach to creating its own reality is arguably even more twisted.

The point, of course, is not to pick on Conway’s deeply unfortunate phrase. It’s far more important to appreciate the frequency with which Trump World has relied on “alternative facts” during its brief White House tenure:

* Trump’s widely panned inaugural address was filled with demonstrable falsehoods.

* After repeatedly telling reporters that the new president took it upon himself to write his own inaugural address, the White House finally acknowledged a day later that Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller wrote it – a point that seemed pretty obvious to anyone who heard it.

* In Trump’s first speech on his first full day as president, he lied to the CIA about his inaugural crowd sizes.

* Sean Spicer, the new White House press secretary, did the same thing later in the day.

* Even the original background on the official White House Twitter account, showing a large inaugural crowd, wasn’t Trump’s inaugural crowd.

The era “alternative facts” is just getting started. Reality should prepare accordingly.