Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

hummingwolf: (My world is askew!)
‘Alternative facts’? Journalists from Venezuela to Turkey have ‘seen this movie before’
The early months of the Trump presidency will involve fierce battles about such policy matters as health care, trade and immigration. As its very first fight, though, his administration chose a target that has alarmed observers of authoritarian leaders: verifiable facts.

In a monologue at the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency on the first full day of his presidency, Trump blasted the media for correctly reporting on the size of his inauguration crowd, falsely claiming it was actually much bigger. His press secretary, Sean Spicer, then did the same from a podium at the White House, making five provably false claims and walking out.

Spicer’s words were not lies, Trump counsellor Kellyanne Conway said on NBC the next morning. They were, she said, “alternative facts.”

The instantly immortal piece of spin triggered another round of mockery on social media and beyond. For watchdogs in countries that have slid away from democracy, it was not a laughing matter in the slightest. Phillip Gunson, an International Crisis Group senior analyst in Caracas, wrote on Twitter: “This is how it begins: casting doubt on the veracity of things you can see with your own eyes. After a while, you start to doubt your eyes.”

...

Fomenting doubt about the traditional providers of facts helps inoculate politicians such as Erdogan and Trump against future stories about their wrongdoing, Zeynalov said. He said they are especially sensitive to truths that call into question the supposed popular support they use to justify their governing.

“Crowd sizes, how many people applauded me, how many people voted for me — this is the essence of populist leaders: to make sure that the people who love them, who applaud them, are ‘bigger.’ Whenever you challenge that notion, you’re assaulting the crux of their argument,” he said.


Read the whole thing.


And as reporter Daniel Dale said on Twitter: It's kind of perfect that the administration supported by the white supremacist "alt-right" is now calling lies "alt-facts."

I'm glad the NYT is giving us stories like White House Pushes 'Alternative Facts.' Here Are the Real Ones. Here's hoping that journalists will do more of that, because we certainly need it for however long the current administration has any power at all.


And at this point, the explanation here might some obvious, but maybe we're going to need the reminders that constant, brazen lying is a strategy and it isn't a strategy used by the Good Guys.
hummingwolf: (two)
Now that I'm getting back in the habit of reading Terri Windling's blog, I want you all to go to her post When you enter the woods...

Don't worry, this is not another post about politics--unless you see anything involving darkness, confusion, and reversal of fortunes as being about current politics, which is where I seem to be these days.
hummingwolf: Part of a julia fractal in colors of fire and smoke. (Fire-flavored fractal)
*whispers into the void* In contemporary use, fact is understood to refer to something with actual existence.

~~~~~

So, I'm kinda fascinated by the whole concept of news conferences in an alt-fact nation. Reading, as usual, Daniel Dale's Twitter feed, specifically this thread on the "millions of immigrants voted illegally!" meme.

As evidence - FYI there is no evidence because it didn't happen - Spicer cited a Pew report from 2012 that does not show anything like this.

Q: Wouldn't millions voting illegally be an astronomical, historic scandal demanding investigation? Spicer: "He won fairly."

Official position of the White House: 1) Millions of people voted illegally. 2) Trump won in a fair election.

Q: How can Trump be comfortable with his win if there were millions of illegal voters? Spicer: "He's very comfortable with his win."

Q: Do you, Spicer, personally believe there was massive voter fraud? Spicer: Not gonna talk about that.

Q: Why won't Trump use his powers to investigate this supposed huge fraud? Spicer: He won an overwhelming victory, "very comfortable." ...


~~~~~

From The Washington Post:
Technically, the proper way to describe claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2016 election is to state that there’s no evidence that it happened. Shortly after the election, we tallied up reports of in-person voter fraud that occurred last year and found a grand total of four examples. There is no evidence that there was fraud at any significant scale at all.

Saying this, that there’s no evidence, is a hedge. We say it just in case somehow there emerges evidence that, indeed, hundreds of people registered to vote illegally and went to cast ballots. If we say it didn’t happen and then some evidence emerges, we are stuck. So we say “there’s no evidence” instead of “it didn’t happen.”

That’s on the scale of hundreds of votes. On the scale of millions of alleged fraudulent votes, though? It didn’t happen. There’s not only no evidence that it did, it defies logic and it defies statistical analysis to insist that millions of votes were cast illegally in the 2016 election.



~~~~~

Trump Aides Can't Stop Blabbing About How He's a Madman. Are this New York Magazine piece and the articles it quotes true? Many people are saying that they seem like they could be true. Maybe they're factually true, or maybe they're "alternative facts." Facts, alt-facts, I don't know. You tell me.

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