Merriam-Webster Calls Out Kellyanne Conway for 'Alternative Facts'

Posted on January 22, 2017

Kellyanne Conway at Donald Trump's office in Trump Tower

President Trump's former campaign manager and current counselor Kellyanne Conway caused jaws to drop this morning when she used the term "alternative facts" to explain why White House press secretary Sean Spicer presented at least three deliberate falsehoods in his first press conference yesterday.

In a bizarre appearance that shocked the White House press corps, Spicer insisted that the number of people that attended the inauguration was the biggest crowd for any inauguration in the U.S., despite proof that the statement was false. He also shared inaccurate numbers of how many people rode the subways the day of the inauguration and inaccurately said that this was the first time any president had used tarps to cover the grass on the mall (the Obamas also used tarps to protect the grass and there is photographic proof).

Kellyanne was a guest on Meet the Press this morning and the encounter was charged with "epistemological tension" according to Merriam-Webster. NBC's Chuck Todd asked about Spicer's demonstrably false statements, to which Kellyanne replied that Spicer was simply providing "alternative facts." Todd replied, "Alternative facts are not facts. They're falsehoods." Merriam Webster wasn't having it, tweeting, "A fact is a piece of information presented as having objective reality."

Merriam Webster further explained:

There are three obsolete senses of fact in English. Two of these senses are no longer used: a wrong or unlawful deed, a meritorious or valorous deed, [or] an action in general.

Fact meaning "a wrong or unlawful deed" is rare, but is still used in the phrase "after the fact."

In contemporary use, fact is generally understood to refer to something with actual existence, or presented as having objective reality.




Photo: Kellyanne Conway

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