‘Alternative facts’ don’t serve public

(ANDERSON) HERALD BULLETIN

Let’s think for a second how newspapers, TV stations and other media outlets would be regarded if they chose to print all “alternative facts.”

Granted, some social media sites already publish rumors, gossip and unproven statements. They’re generally considered second-rate by professional news-gathering organizations.

Take a look at the impact of the comment by President Donald Trump’s spokeswoman that will likely make “alternative facts” the top new phrase for 2017.

It started with estimates concerning the crowd size at Trump’s inauguration. Spokesman Sean Spicer made a false claim that the gathering was witnessed by the most people ever at an inauguration. Period.

Then in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” host Chuck Todd pressed Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway about Spicer’s claim. Her laughable defense: “Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts.”

Todd responded: “Alternative facts aren’t facts; they are falsehoods.”

Seconds later Todd continued: “Can you please answer the question? Why did he do this? You have not answered it — it’s only one question.”

Conway said: “I’ll answer it this way: Think about what you just said to your viewers. That’s why we feel compelled to go out and clear the air and put alternative facts out there.”

The discussion did not lead Americans any closer to the truth of the matter.

However, it gave a sign of White House policy explanations to come. Transparency and common honesty may fall victim to spokespeople building walls of inane defenses. Comments will become layered with distractions turning Americans from real issues and real facts — though we’ve never had to say “real” before “facts” previously.

The “alternative” phrase elicits satire.

National Public Radio reworked a typical “fact-checking” post to an “alternative facts” political update. Slate, an online journalism site, found the phrase to be a perfect euphemism for Trump’s administration.

The Dallas Stars hockey team claimed that their recent attendance was 1.5 million, for one single game.

After losing five of eight games, Mike D’Antoni, of the Houston Rockets, said, “Actually we won all those games. I’m going with that alternative-fact thing.”

The jokes will wear thin.

Americans can only hope that Conway’s tactic will also wear out. Her response was poorly thought out and is its own satirical jab at Trump policy.

If media organizations print unfounded “alternative facts,” the public would never be served with the news balance and objectivity it deserves.

This was distributed by Hoosier State Press Association.