Fake news is so presidential election. We’ve since drilled down to alternative facts.
Starting on the first full day of Donald Trump’s presidency, he and team members began to spread factual inaccuracies that have been disproved by experts — including audience size at the inauguration.
Here, notable alternative facts posited by the administration just days into its four-year tenure.
Spicer v. Inauguration Day head count
Though Sean Spicer’s first official press briefing was on Monday, Trump’s press secretary gave a cantankerous speech to news outlets on Saturday. Questioning the coverage of the crowds on the mall during Trump’s inauguration, Spicer said that it “was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe.”
Many fact checkers — buoyed by aerial photographs showing significantly smaller crowds than at Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009 — have debunked that statement. As for broadcast viewership, Nielsen reported that Trump’s swearing-in was watched by 30.6 million viewers, which was topped in 2009 by Obama’s 37.8 million. Streaming data is not available.
But when adviser Kellyanne Conway was asked Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” about Spicer’s claim, she responded that the press secretary had presented “alternative facts.”
Another alternative history was presented earlier on Jan. 21, when the president spoke at CIA headquarters. There, he accused the media of fabricating his tensions with the U.S. intelligence community despite his frequent posts on Twitter that derided the agencies.
Trump and the popular vote
On Monday, Trump returned to an assertion he had previously made on Twitter: that he lost the popular vote because of millions of fraudulent votes.
Back on Nov. 27, he tweeted: “In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”
Though that claim has no supporting evidence, Trump, who won the Electoral College with 304 votes but lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by nearly 3 million, the president revisited the meat of his tweet on Jan. 23 when meeting with congressional leaders, the New York Times reported.
At the White House, per the Times, and citing “several people familiar with the closed-door meeting,” Trump said that, as paraphrased by the Times, “between three million and five million unauthorized immigrants voted for Mrs. Clinton.”
On Tuesday, Spicer stood by Trump’s allegations that Clinton won the popular vote due to massive voter fraud, but he failed to offer any evidence to support the claim.
“The president does believe that,” Spicer told reporters, adding that Trump continues to believe this based on “studies and evidence that people have presented to him.”
Spicer repeatedly side-stepped questions from reporters on the specifics of the studies and information provided to the president on the matter.
On Jan. 25, the president promised to keep his allegations of voter fraud alive with morning tweets complete with two hallmarks of his posting style: all caps and and exclamation mark.
“I will be asking for a major investigation into VOTER FRAUD, including those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal and …. even, those registered to vote who are dead (and many for a long time). Depending on results, we will strengthen up voting procedures!”