After President Donald Trump spent his first full day in the White House attacking the press, deploying White House press secretary Sean Spicer to falsely claim the media underreported the size of his inauguration crowds, top Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway doubled-down on those statements on Meet the Press early Sunday.
Conway characterized Spicer's statements as "alternative facts."
"Don't be so overly dramatic about it, Chuck," Conway complained, when host Chuck Todd repeatedly asked her why the president had asked his press secretary to spend his first press conference making plainly false statements.
"You're saying it's a falsehood, and Sean Spicer, our press secretary gave alternative facts to that," Conway said.
"Alternative facts are not facts," Todd responded. "They're falsehoods."
Conway went on to argue: "There's no way to really quantify crowds, we know that." But Spicer on Saturday repeatedly maintained that Trump's inauguration saw the largest crowds of any inauguration in history—a statement that was easily disproved by photographs.
Watch the whole exchange:
"Alternative facts are not facts. They are falsehoods," Chuck Todd tells Pres. Trump's counselor Kellyanne Conway this morning. WATCH: pic.twitter.com/Ao005dQ13r
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) January 22, 2017
In fact, many observers were highly alarmed by Saturday's press conference, and have warned that Spicer's insistence on untruths are a sinister sign of the Trump administration's intentions.
As Jonathan Freedland wrote in the Guardian on Sunday:
Authoritarian strongmen crave control. If they can control what you believe—even make you believe that black is white and night is day—then their power over you is total. Not for nothing did George Orwell's 1984 have the omnipotent Party persuade Winston Smith that if a Party official said he was holding up five fingers, then he really was holding up five—even if Smith could only see four.
Meanwhile, in an immediate backlash, people have taken to Twitter under the hashtag #SpicerFacts to keep the outrageousness of Spicer's behavior in the spotlight:
— Ben Patz (@BenPatz) January 22, 2017
— Keep2020Alive (@Keep2020Alive) January 22, 2017
Guess the number of jelly beans.
— Mark Zohar (@markzohar) January 22, 2017
— Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) January 22, 2017