Accuracy in Media

When White House counsel Kellyanne Conway said on NBC News that the White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, had presented the press with “alternative facts” about the size of Donald Trump’s inauguration crowd, the press immediately concluded that alternative facts were, in fact, lies. They’ve had a field day with it ever since.

Yet Spicer argued at a January 23 press conference that if the press publishes a correction, it is not necessarily seen as lying. So, too, the press shouldn’t assume the White House is lying if they are proven wrong. However, Spicer maintained that the inauguration viewership—including online viewers and television viewers—was the largest ever.

“Look, alternative facts are not facts. They’re falsehoods,” said NBC’s Chuck Todd during the January 22 interview on NBC’s Meet the Press in which he relentlessly hounded Conway about Spicer’s conduct:

CHUCK TODD: What was the motive?

KELLYANNE CONWAY: —and your job is not to give your—

TODD: What was the motive?

CONWAY: —opinion, Chuck. Respectfully, your job is not to call things ridiculous that are said by our press secretary and our President. That’s not your job. You’re supposed to be a news person. You’re not an opinion columnist.

TODD: Can you please answer the question? Why did he do this? You have not answered it.

Todd continued to badger Conway, asking the same question at least a half dozen times. It is highly unlikely that Todd would have relentlessly badgered a Democratic guest the same way. After all, Todd is a former Democratic staffer, and his wife is an activist for liberal Democrat politicians and causes. We always know where his sympathies lie.

The press and social media have relentlessly mocked and criticized Conway for the idea that there might be alternative facts that support differing interpretations. “Most people believe there is truth and there are lies,” writes Jill Abramson, former executive editor at The New York Times, for the UK Guardian. “‘Alternative facts’ are lies.”

Karen Tumulty, writing for The Washington Post said, “Donald Trump, having propelled his presidential campaign to victory while often disregarding the truth, now is testing the proposition that he can govern the country that way.”

But alternative facts aren’t necessarily lies, or even false. Sometimes they are misleading, but other times they provide context which illuminates the original lie—often the ones perpetuated by the mainstream media.

“We believe there is an objective truth, and we will hold you to that,” states a letter to President Trump from the press corps authored by Kyle Pope of the Columbia Journalism Review. “When you or your surrogates say or tweet something that is demonstrably wrong, we will say so, repeatedly,” states the letter. “Facts are what we do, and we have no obligation to repeat false assertions…”

We have repeatedly reported about how the media have continued to distribute fake and false news in the service of President Obama, most notably the continued claim that the Iran deal is signed. It is not, and the lack of anything that would make this agreement enforceable explains continued Iranian aggression. Here the Obama administration narrative is fed by false reporting.

Another pervasive lie by both the media and Obama administration officials is that former President Obama had a scandal-free administration. What, exactly, does it take to make something officially a scandal? Is it only a scandal if the liberal media label it one? Instead, reporters ignored or downplayed the IRS scandal; the death of four heroes in Benghazi; the hundreds of thousands who died while waiting for care from the Veterans Administration; and gun-running under Fast & Furious. What about Hillary Clinton’s lies about Benghazi, about her years as secretary of state, regularly sending and receiving classified material on an unsecured server, and her outrageous pay-for-play schemes that she ran out of the State Department? How do those compare to lies, if that’s what they are, about the size of the crowd at the inauguration, or the number of fraudulent votes cast in the presidential election? Why weren’t the media more vigorous in an effort to hold Obama and Hillary accountable? It’s because they’re on the same ideological team.

When the IRS scandal broke, Obama claimed that he found out about it from national news at the same time that the public became aware. We found that, in fact, the White House Chief Counsel, Kathryn Ruemmler, knew about the brewing scandal weeks earlier, as did White House chief of staff Denis McDonough. Are we supposed to credibly believe that President Obama wasn’t told by his staff?

Former President Obama must have operated in a bubble. Otherwise, how could he also claim that he learned about Hillary’s private email at the same time that the news broke? Press Secretary Josh Earnest massaged Obama’s claims back in 2015: “The point that the President was making is not that he didn’t know Secretary Clinton’s e-mail address…But he was not aware of the details of how that e-mail address and that server had been set up…”

By making the scandals about other entities—whether it is a regional Cincinnati IRS office, or Mrs. Clinton herself—Obama sought to save himself from the mark of scandal. However, claims about a scandal-free Obama administration are not alternative facts—they come from an alternative reality altogether.

Accuracy in Media has reported how the media have used unemployment statistics to support the contention that Obama handed off a growing, thriving economy to Trump. The alternative fact here, however, is that millions of Americans are being left behind in our economy. The relevant data is not the rosy unemployment rate so much as our ailing labor participation rate. The only reason the unemployment rate is so low is that millions of people have quit looking for work because so few good jobs were available, and Obamacare’s mandates forced millions of people into part-time jobs. The unemployment number by itself doesn’t mean much, without additional, or alternative, facts that give it context.

Alternative facts can shine a light on the times that the left sell their own lies.

As for the inauguration turnout, it is clear that the press is playing a duplicitous game. This New York Times article contains a video that shows vast open white spaces at President Donald Trump’s inauguration. However, our screen captures of CNN’s gigapixel panorama of the event shows those areas filled. I am no expert in this area, but it appears that there were a lot more people at Trump’s inauguration who weren’t in the Times’ photo, so this is guesswork. Brit Hume of Fox News tweeted that the Times’ photo with all of the empty space was “taken early,” and that the “area was considerably fuller by time of speech.”

It matters little, in the end, whether Trump had a momentous inauguration turnout or not. But the mainstream media should think before claiming a whole set of facts are false; they have been guilty of purposeful twisting of the truth too many times themselves.

None of this is meant to justify Trump or his appointees saying things that they can’t back up with some credible evidence or sources. Being the president is different than being a candidate or even President-elect. They have to be more careful. But the media’s disposition towards Trump is proving far more adversarial than towards previous administrations. All of a sudden they are eager to show how principled and high minded they are when it comes to their sacred profession. The sad truth is that what we are witnessing by the media is largely partisan politics and a double standard, not a passion for speaking truth to power, or holding the powerful to account.




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Comments

  • jug

    The democrats are an “alternative party”, for the CPUSA!
    They both use the very same candidates, since they adopted each other’s platforms.

    Combined as they are, they would be better labeled as “Commiecrats”!

  • zapman95020

    Great article Roger.

  • efred1

    The MSM is, as Trump so succinctly and simply put it, “Fake News”. The MSM is playing Chutes and Ladders, while Trump is playing Tri-Dimensional Chess.

  • Ted

    There’s NO SUCH THING as an “alternative fact”. A fact is a fact. One of a kind! Immutable! Only a dingbat bu**sh**ter like Conway could possibly dream up such a phantasmagorical piece of crapola.

  • Ted

    Mostly, Trump just plays with himself!

  • lobsterman

    The sky is blue.
    The sky is not black.
    These are alternative facts.

  • efred1

    [Facepalm]

  • D. G. Williams

    It’s not that there are alternative “facts”, but that too many of us state our opinions as facts or purposely use inaccuracy to promote our own agendas.

  • Tim

    Here’s a lesson in English for you. A fact is a fact, by virtue of definition. The addition of an adjective in front of it does not negate that fact, it merely distinguishes it as a fact that has been omitted, in this case by the spin doctors in the media.

  • ScottsWhite

    It’s time to split this country into two sides, it’s the only way. We are to far gone and it’s not going to get better.

  • Carl

    The main stream media is dead and gone. No one with any common sense will ever take ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC or CNN serious ever again. It will take years if not decades to get there credibility back. That is if they even exist!!!

  • efred1

    Obama’s incessant claims that he “knew nothing….NNNOTHINNNGK!” About everything that happened that the press even bothered to bring up to him, he responded like Sgt. Schultz on “Hogan’s Heroes”, saying over and over again that he “just found out about it in the paper this very morning”, makes him either the stupidest, most ignorant, moronic President we’ve ever had, or a congenital liar of epic proportions. That conclusion, I will leave up to you. I also wonder, what does that make the “people” that voted for him not once, but twice?

    Oh, and regarding the flap over attendance of his inauguration, CNN posted a live picture about halfway through the Inaugural Address, and the crowds were immense, equally as large as Obama’s. So, apparently, the MSM is the one with the “Fake News” presenters, biased to desperately minimize Trump’s popularity. I like that Trump fights back, and I hope he wins this one, destroying the MSM, then rebuilding it with fair, unbiased news agencies.

    But he needs our help, and that’s to STOP WATCHING THE NETWORK NEWS!!!! Not only that. but inform both the networks and their sponsors that due to their rabid bias, you’ll no longer be watching, and you’ll be severely curtailing your purchases of their sponsor’s products until they start producing accurate, unbiased news without editorializing or slanting everything.

  • Ted

    1 + 1 = 2

    A fact.

    And, there is no “alternative fact”. Every “alternative” answer to the equation is … WRONG! Get it, Roger?

    Conway is an even better bu**sh**ter than is Trump!

  • kansas

    Brilliant.

  • kansas

    False analogy Bob.

  • kansas

    Yes there is Bob.

  • Gigi

    Chuck Todd didn’t “badger” Kellyanne Goebbels, he simply kept asking the same question over and over again in an effort to get her to give him a straight answer, for once, instead of pivoting and avoiding. Something she refuses to do. The fact that you’re trying to defend her use of the term “alternative facts” instead of admitting that she, Trump and Spicer are proven liars, tells me all I need to know about you.

  • Gigi

    Trump took a fake news story and used it as a means to increase his presence on the national stage. He became the Birther King. Instead of shutting him down and calling out his lie, Corporate Media gave him a platform from which to spew his fake news “Obama wasn’t born in Americaso he’s an illegitimate president” story. Trump loved the media, as long as they allowed him to disseminate the birther lie. Now that they’re finally holding his feet to the fire and calling out his lies, he pretends to hate them. U too he needs them to promote something, then he doesn’t. Trump is a monster that they helped create.

  • Gigi

    The crowds were not even close to being as large as Obama’s were, at any time of the day. I attended both. They weren’t. Stop lying.

  • Gigi

    Bob’s not wrong. Conway us a better BS artist than Trump.

  • Gigi

    Those are facts.

  • Gigi

    And a lie is a lie. The media has finally been doing its job and calling out lies being told by Trump and Conway. That’s a fact.

  • efred1

    I don’t care if Obama had bigger attendance than Trump; the point is, that Trump’s inauguration attendance was much bigger than what was portrayed by the MSM. Your being there is irrelevent, because you cannot see just how big the attendance was from the middle, on the ground, only from a very high vantage point, or at the very rear of both inaugurations.

    The comparison pictures shown of both Trump’s and Obama’s inauguration are of different times during each event: Obama’s picture was taken at the peak of the event, whereas Trump’s picture was taken an hour or more before the event started while people were still moving in, thus showing considerably less in attendance.

    I know that many people were trepidacious about attending, with the threats of violence and unrest by liberal protesters, who were screaming “Love Trumps Hate” while beating up people, smashing store windows and burning cars. And their fears were well-founded.

    Liberals like yourself had nothing to fear at Obama’s inauguration, because conservatives didn’t protest, didn’t riot, didn’t beat people up who they thought might be Obama supporters; they just stayed home.

    You most likely didn’t attend as a protester, because most were arrested for the brigandage they committed, unless you were a very fast runner; you most likely were there to see if someone would try to kill the President, much in the same way people like to watch auto racing for the car wrecks.

  • efred1

    There’s been no lies told by Trump and Conway; the lies were by the media, proven by the extreme bias of their polling data. The media’s polls were to serve only one purpose: to sway weak-minded people to either vote for Hillary, or discourage Trump supporters, which didn’t work.

    The media has not done their job in well over 60 years. They are supposed to be the Watchdogs of Liberty and Freedom, but are now the Leg-Humping Lapdogs of Tyrants.

  • vyar

    If one person looks at the south side of my house and counts the windows, they may conclude that my house has four windows. If another person looks at the north side of my house, they may conclude that my house has one window. Neither person is wrong, they are presenting “alternative facts”.

  • tkrepel

    CNN’s “gigapixel” picture was taken at a low angle in front of the crowd, which makes it impossible to determine crowd size. The most accurate way to determine crowd size is with a picture taken from the back and at a high angle — and those pics showed how comparatively small Trump’s crowd was.

    Again: Stop lying.

  • tkrepel

    Now Trump-fluffers like you and AIM are the leg-humping lapdogs of tyrants.

  • Gigi

    “There’s been no lies told by Trump and Conway…” That’s a lie.

  • Gigi

    Excuses, excuses, excuses. That’s all I hear from conservatives. “We didn’t go to the inauguration because we have jobs…Obama supporters didn’t,” and “We were afraid of the ‘riots’ and wouldn’t have been able to get there because they blocked all the roads and besides…liberals are scary.” Which is it – are we whiny little wimpy snowflakes who crumble at the first sign of trouble, or are we violent thugs who physically attack conservatives? We can’t be both. And the “pictures were taken at different times of the day” excuse is nonsense as well. Even Trump knew the truth, which is why he tweeted out a picture of a HUGE inaugural crowd…from Obama’s 2008 inauguration. He’s a fool for being so petty and stupid to think he wouldn’t get caught, and you’re a fool if you think that his and your excuses are believed by anyone outside of your bubble.

    The fact is that Trump is one of the most unpopular presidents to ever be elected. If his first week in office is any indication of things to come, we’re in a heap of trouble.

  • Gigi

    Lies and excuses are all they have. They’re size queens just like their leader, and they’ll do and say anything to prove how big his crowd was.

  • efred1

    No, you are incorrect; the picture, even at a low angle in front of the crowd, clearly shows people filling up the area in front of the building, which in the other picture, was clearly only about half-full. There is no way that those two pictures were taken at anywhere near the same time. If they were, there would be white showing through the crowd near the building.

  • efred1

    If he’s so unpopular, then how come he garnered more votes than Obama did in either of his elections?

    Yes, ‘peaceful, loving-all liberals’ ARE scary; they act like spoiled brats when they don’t get their way, destroying everything in their path. When conservatives, or Tea Partiers have a rally, the Park police and sanitation are glad. The park is actually cleaner when they leave than before they got there. Are liberals, environmentalists, feminists the same? No. Not only do they leave a trail of maimed onlookers and destruction, but refuse and waste. Look at any picture of the aftermath of either kind of rally, and you will see.

    Conservatives do not look for a fight, like liberals do, and it’s lucky for you that we don’t. We are ready for a fight because we are armed, but use discretion and self-control. You are called snowflakes because you’re delicate and fragile (your sense of reality), and you melt at the slightest sign of provocation. Liberals are so mad and stupid and careless and bigoted that you destroyed a limo that was owned by one of your own.

    And with that, I’m done with you.

  • efred1

    Conservatives have little to no effect on the media; that’s all by the mainstream networks. So, it’s liberals like Chris Matthews who “gets a tingle going up (his) leg” when talking or thinking about Obama. THAT’s a leg-humping lapdog.

    I’ve always wondered about people in your situation: Just what do you see when you open your mouth?

  • Gigi

    Trump didn’t garner “more votes than Obama did in either of his elections.” He got 62,979,636 votes. Obama got 69,498,516 votes in 2008 and 65,915,795 votes in 2012. Stop lying.

  • John Lock

    Journal is dead. They are now all standing naked in the street waiting on the daily progressive far left liberal talking points so they can go to work – reading the news – In the UK they are titled News Readers. Here they are:

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/76ba26e4eab13921caf0608e925e85846055ceb0f8dc0177023c45d8c789c3a4.jpg

  • John Lock

    Hey, Ted you have not kept up with the Progressive new math – there is an alternate everything.

  • John Lock

    What is the Point? Like saying my dad can whip your dad?

    Fact = Trump is President now – Obama and Clinton are so yesterday.

  • Gigi

    The point is, it’s not possible to have an honest discussion if one of you (efred1) is lying.

  • radicalrabbit

    I propose that all the west coast and a good portion of the east coast be “liberated” from our Constitutional Republic. Not need for them to put on a great news show to withdraw….this way I and my fellow patriots don’t have to listen to their constant “we’re smarter then you” b.s.
    Let them form their own nation based on their cannibalistic progressive agenda. Freedom of press carries with it a high degree of respect to the citizens….Democrats have been caught in all to many lies and to date are unwilling to change their course….yet many progressives call President Trump a liar with no bases other then their own hate and one dimensional political agenda…jmho
    semper fidelis

  • Natalie MacKinnon

    Where is the outrage that Trump is directly stopping scientific outposts from reporting their findings? Isn’t that hindering our ability to get actual facts?

  • T

    Fact: HRC got more votes. Alternative Fact: DJT is President!