Six months after launching “alternative facts” into the cultural and political lexicon, Kellyanne Conway attempted on Sunday to define what she meant when she uttered that infamous phrase.
“Alternative facts are ‘partly sunny, partly cloudy,'” Conway said in an interview with CNN’s Brian Stelter. “Alternative facts are when all of you in the media say, ‘We have the highest-rated show,’ and another show that’s a competitor says, ‘No, we have the highest-rated show.'”
In January, Conway clashed with NBC’s Chuck Todd over the administration’s false assertion that President Trump’s inauguration crowd was the largest in history.
“You’re saying it’s a falsehood,” Conway told Todd on Jan. 22. “Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts.”
The day before, Spicer used his first official statement to castigate the media for what he called “deliberately false reporting” on the size of the crowd at Trump’s inauguration.
“This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe,” Spicer told reporters in the White House Briefing Room despite clear visual evidence to the contrary. “These attempts to lessen the enthusiasm of the inauguration are shameful and wrong.”
Conway insisted on Sunday that members of the media knew what both she and Spicer meant, but “just wanted to look at it through the most negative lens possible.”
“You now, in 2016, 2017, have people looking at the inauguration up close and in person,” Conway said. “You have people watching on their screens, which they couldn’t do 10 years earlier. You have people certainly watching on TV, listening to it on the radio, multimedia way of doing that.”
Conway then pivoted to what she claimed were indisputable “facts”: that Trump has been responsible for rising stocks and falling unemployment figures.
“Stock market up 25 record highs, fact,” Conway said. “Over 800,000 jobs created, fact. Health care reform on its way and tax reform right after that. Fact, fact.”
“But alternative facts, let me just repeat for those at home: partly cloudy, partly sunny,” Conway said.
Conway’s appearance on CNN came two days after Spicer resigned over Trump’s hiring of Anthony Scaramucci as communications director. The president has long been frustrated by the media’s coverage of his administration and, in particular, his campaign’s contacts with Russia — and tapped Scaramucci to help reshape the narrative coming out of the White House.
“We have accomplished so much and we are being given credit for so little,” Trump said in a statement announcing Scaramucci’s hiring.
Earlier in the interview, Conway complained that CNN is “obsessed” with the Russia scandal that has dogged the first six months of Trump’s presidency — and that it should expect more attacks from the White House.
“If you’re going to cover Russia, Russia, Russia, while we’re talking about America, America, America, we’re always going to be like this,” she said.
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