Merriam-Webster Responds To Kellyanne Conway's Use Of The Term 'Alternative Facts'

Merriam-Webster Schools Kellyanne Conway On What A Fact Is After She Spins Sean Spicer Lies As ‘Alternative Facts’

Merriam-Webster is letting Kellyanne Conway know that there’s no such thing as “alternative facts.” All she has to do is read the definition of the word “fact” to realize this.

According to Merriam-Webster, there was a recent spike in searches for the word “fact” on its online dictionary. A short post on Merriam-Webster’s “Trend Watch” page explains that Kellyanne Conway, Donald Trump’s counselor and former campaign manager, is to blame for the sudden interest in the word.

“Lookups for ‘fact’ spiked after Kellyanne Conway described false statements as ‘alternative facts.'”

As the Washington Post reports, Kellyanne Conway coined the contradictory term during a testy exchange with Meet the Press host Chuck Todd. Todd asked Conway to explain why White House press secretary Sean Spicer spent his first press briefing angrily reading a short statement about the crowd size at Donald Trump’s inauguration ceremony. Spicer made a series of erroneous claims about the number of people in attendance, and he also offered false explanations for why photos made it appear that Trump’s inauguration wasn’t as packed as Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration.

“Why put him out there for the very first time, in front of that podium, to utter a provable falsehood?” Todd asked. “It’s a small thing, but the first time he confronts the public, it’s a falsehood?”

Kellyanne Conway tried to avoid answering the question by attacking the media instead, but Chuck Todd steered the conversation back to Sean Spicer’s press briefing. Conway responded by telling Todd that he was overreacting to Spicer’s “alternative facts.”

“Don’t be so overly dramatic about it, Chuck. You’re saying it’s a falsehood, and they’re giving — Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that.”

Conway made another attempt to change the subject, but Todd wasn’t going to let her get away with trying to downplay Sean Spicer’s comments by coming up with a quirky new term to describe the Trump administration’s lies.

“Alternative facts are not facts; they’re falsehoods,” Todd pointed out.

Sean Spicer Made Multiple Untrue Comments During Press Briefing
Sean Spicer gave first press briefing in front of photos of Donald Trump’s inaugration crowd [Image by Alex Wong/Getty Images]

Merriam-Webster also attempted to help Kellyanne Conway understand that alternative facts can’t exist by defining the word “fact” for her. According to the dictionary, a fact is “a piece of information presented as having objective reality.” Conway can’t reject reality and substitute her own.

If Kellyanne doesn’t want to call Sean Spicer’s comments “lies” or “falsehoods,” she may want to check out Merriam-Webster’s list of synonyms for the words. She could go with “fabrications,” “prevarications,” “whoppers,” or “taradiddles.”

Politico opted to label Sean Spicer’s comments about Donald Trump’s inauguration numbers “untruths,” and the political website reports that he “told at least 5 untruths in 5 minutes.” One of Spicer’s biggest false assertions was that Trump can boast having “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — period — both in person and around the globe.”

According to Politifact, the estimated crowd size for Donald Trump’s inauguration was 250,000 to 600,000 people. An estimated 1.8 million people attended Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration, and around 1 million supporters packed the National Mall to watch him be sworn in for the second time. Trump’s TV ratings were also topped by inaugurations of Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, and Richard Nixon.

Sean Spicer’s falsehoods alarmed some members of the media.

“For months now, we’ve been wondering what covering a Trump White House might be like,” CNN’s Brian Stelter said Sunday on Reliable Sources. “I think (now) we’re wondering something else. Is this what every day is going to be like?”

Stelter could have used Merriam-Webster’s word of the year for 2016 to describe the situation: surreal.

Another situation that may seem surreal to some? Merriam-Webster trolling America’s future POTUS by trying to help Twitter users decipher one of his tweets. According to the Huffington Post, former presidential candidate Marco Rubio was the target of the February 26, 2016, Trump tweet in question. The POTUS wrote that Rubio was a “Leightweight chocker [sic]” and that it was a “Great honer! [sic]” that many polls had declared him the winner of a debate.

Merriam-Webster is clearly on a quest to make America’s grasp of the English language great again.

[Featured Image by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]