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The Case for Alternative Facts

The Case for Alternative Facts

Posted: January 23, 2017

Is there is such a thing as an alternative fact?

Aren’t facts by definition true?

If proven false then don’t they cease to be . . .


In the land before the internet I enjoyed court room dramas. Inevitably the prosecution and the defense would take turns interviewing their experts who would present competing evidence. With the internet it is possible for any debate to become a courtroom drama. You can find evidence, facts, and experts that support any believe or opinion. Now for the matter at hand I don’t care if Trump had more attendees or not. My first thought when I see a headline like that is that there isn’t much going on at the moment, (but they have to report on something). I don’t think crowd size at the inauguration is blog-worthy, let alone a press conference, but I believe what has happened here is a microcosm of the larger drama between the Trump Administration and the media. That is worth taking a closer look at.

It’s worth paying attention because in this case we have access to all the facts. That will not always be the case. We can look at the facts and draw our own conclusion. Kellyanne Conway believes this incident is a “symbol for the unfair and incomplete treatment that this President often receives.” Is that what is happening here? Or do we have, as the Media tells it, a situation where government is brow beating reporters for telling the truth.

Recode does a fair job of covering the issue but there are some other sources I want to reference. It started with the Times reporting that fewer people attended President Trump’s inauguration than President Obama’s in 2009.


The Times reports the images were both captured 45 minutes before the oath of office. The Times’ expert, Keith Still, estimates that the crowd on the National Mall on Friday was about one-third the size of Mr. Obama’s. He is a professor at Manchester Metropolitan University in England and a crowd safety consultant. He has consulted for the 2011 royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, as well as the Saudi government on crowds for the hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.

I tuned in about 10 min before noon. There were performances and prayers just before the swearing in of Vice President Pence. According to the Times attendees were still entering the National Mall up until Mr. Trump’s speech. Better late then never. That is like showing up to a movie for the last 15 min. There obviously was room for them. Fox news provides some additional facts that support the Times’ narrative.

Then Spicer entered the debate. I find it odd that the White House held a special press conference on Saturday ahead of the first scheduled conference on Monday to address the matter. He made five points to refute the Times:

  • “This was the first time in our nation’s history that floor coverings have been used to protect the grass on the Mall. That had the effect of highlighting any areas where people were not standing, while in years past the grass eliminated this visual.”

  • “All of this space from Trump’s platform to the Washington Monument was full when the president took the Oath of Office.”

  • “We know that 420,000 people used the D.C. Metro public transit yesterday, which actually compares to 317,000 that used it for President Obama’s last inaugural.”

  • “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — period — both in person and around the globe.”

  • “This was also the first time that fencing and magnetometers went as far back on the Mall, preventing hundreds of thousands of people from being able to access the Mall as quickly as they had in inaugurations past.”

Each of these points have been proven false. I have the same question Chuck Todd asks Kellyanne Conway in the clip below,

Why send Spicer to the podium to litigate a provable falsehood? Mind you about the smallest, pettiest thing.

“Alternative facts are not facts. They are falsehoods,” Chuck Todd tells Pres. Trump’s counselor Kellyanne Conway this morning. ~ Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) January 22, 2017

Kellyanne makes a great point, “Presidents are not judged by crowd sizes, they are judged by their accomplishments.” She follows up with the statement,

“I am about things that are quantifiable and important.”

But the Trump Administration’s actions tell a different story. Is she avoiding the question?

So is there is such a thing as an alternative fact? Alternative facts are not facts. They are falsehoods. I want to make the argument that we should consider and even seek out facts that contradict our opinions and beliefs. We don’t need to rename them. They are simply fact.

If proven false they cease to be . . .


Git Sum (un)common sense,

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© 2017 · Rho Lall