Media on 'Alternative Facts': 'We've Gone Full Orwell'

Reporters react to White House's first presser: 'These are not normal times'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 23, 2017 5:18 AM CST
Updated Jan 23, 2017 6:31 AM CST
Dan Rather Slams 'Orwellian' Use of 'Alternative Facts'
President Donald Trump speaks during a reception for inaugural law enforcement officers and first responders in the Blue Room of the White House, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017 in Washington.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Dan Rather has been in the news business for longer than most of Donald Trump's aides have been alive and he says the weekend's goings-on were like nothing he has seen before. In a Facebook post, the former CBS anchor slams adviser Kellyanne Conway for the "Orwellian" use of the phrase "alternative facts," press chief Sean Spicer for "bullying and lying" in his first White House appearance, and Trump himself for boasting about the size of inaugural crowds "before the stars of the fallen CIA agents," the Hill reports. "These are not normal times," Rather writes, calling for reporters to ask congressional Republicans about what they plan to do about "lying from the White House." "Facts and the truth are not partisan," he writes. "They are the bedrock of our democracy." In other coverage:

  • Twitchy reports that sources have told reporters at New York magazine and the New York Times that Saturday's press conference may have been a "trap" for Spicer. The sources say Spicer was RNC chief Reince Preibus' choice, not Trump's, and the president described the press secretary's performance Saturday as "terrible."

  • The New York Times reports that many others in the media reacted with alarm to a standoff developing with the Trump administration this quickly. In Sunday's coverage, many outlets described Spicer and Trump's statements as "lies" or "falsehoods," the Times notes.
  • In a single press conference, Spicer managed to kill off the traditional way of reporting on a president, writes Margaret Sullivan at the Washington Post. But "journalists shouldn’t rise to the bait and decide to treat Trump as an enemy," she writes. They should remember that their mission is to hold public officials accountable and "dig in, paying far more attention to actions than to sensational tweets or briefing-room lies—while still being willing to call out falsehoods clearly when they happen."
  • At Politico, Jack Shafer says there is no need for the "extraordinary measures" Rather is calling for if journalists just do their jobs and report the facts. He says journalists should view Trump "as a politician whose behavior is different only in degree, not in kind," noting that the Obama administration was no stranger to media manipulation.
  • David Graham at the Atlantic looks at what he calls the Trump administration's devotion to a "particular variety of pointless falsehood." The Trump administration appears to be going "double-or-nothing" on the campaign gamble that it could get away with easily disprovable mistruths, he writes.
(Read more Donald Trump stories.)

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