President Donald Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, blatantly lied Sunday in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” over the size of attendance at the inauguration. When confronted over the falsity, Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s senior adviser, set the stage for a terrifying new reality.
"You're saying it's a falsehood. And they're giving — Sean Spicer, our press secretary — gave alternative facts," Conway said.
It’s no secret the media are widely distrusted in this nation. During the presidential election, partisan networks furthered the divide between parties and the surge of fake news caused many to question any and all facts presented to them by media outlets that didn’t immediately affirm their stances.
And yes, sometimes the media has made grave errors, as was pointed out by Spicer in a conciliatory press conference Monday. Spicer bluntly reminded the press of an article by a Time magazine writer that incorrectly stated a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. had been removed from the Oval Office.
Spicer complained the press was constantly attempting to “undermine” Trump’s credibility and that the harsh narratives leaking out of media markets was “demoralizing.”
On one hand, he’s absolutely right. The media does tend to focus on the many alarming and frankly disgraceful statements made by Trump or his staff. The good coming out of the new administration often gets lost in the attempt to siphon through the layers of rubbish pouring out of every tweet, interview and now apparently press conference Trump or his staff holds.
That’s not to say focusing on the negative is by any means ethically right. The press has a duty to the public to report every truth of a situation and, when covering the White House, that includes reporting on the positives of said administration.
However, unabashedly lying is no way to mend bridges between the government and the press. And let’s be entirely honest, alternative facts are lies.
If the media is going to have to allocate large portions of their funds entirely to fact-checking every word coming out of our administration’s mouth, important stories are going to go uncovered.
The New York Times has already announced it is setting aside an additional $5 million to cover Trump’s presidency by adding experts on taxes, immigration, climate change and education as well as investigative journalists to its staff.
We should not have to fear being constantly deceived by the very men and women who lead our nation. Trump was in office less than 48 hours before a main member of his cabinet lied to the faces of reporters and then blamed them for misinterpreting his falsities.
According to Spicer, the media simply misunderstood his claim about inauguration attendence. He said he was including those who watched it via social media as well as those in attendance, though that math also fails to support his cliam the event was the most watched inauguration in history, though it is less blatently wrong.
Yes, Monday Spicer took steps in repairing the connections with the media he had severed the day prior, but skepticism is now ingrained in every reporter covering the administration.
Trump spent his entire campaign undermining the media and it appears as if his entire team echos his disdainful sentiments.
Though Spicer promised he would never lie from the podium in the briefing room, his platitudes appear to be surface deep at best. While he vowed not to be deceptive, he also warned truth may be more of a relative concept than a firm line.
“I think sometimes we can disagree with the facts,” Spicer said.
The next four years are bound to be interesting.