President Donald Trump’s hurricane-paced, Anti-Camelot administration hurtled into official power on January 20, 2017.
Since then, amid the president’s rage tweeting, a blitz of executive orders, and a distinctly authoritarian and petty approach to governance — one consistent theme has been widely noted: The current White House and Trump have a dangerously fluid relationship with truth, more specifically, with facts.
The embarrassing snafu prompted thousands of Twitter users to mock Conway’s “alternative fact” by trending “Bowling Green Massacre” on Friday morning.
The goof took place during Conway’s interview with Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s Hardball program on Thursday evening. Kellyanne cited a non-existent “Bowling Green massacre” while trying to justify Trump’s immigration executive order, which temporarily suspends visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries.
Conway compared Trump’s “travel ban” to what she inaccurately described as a “six-month ban” ordered by former President Barack Obama.
“I bet it’s brand new information to people that President Obama had a six-month ban on the Iraqi refugee programme after two Iraqis came here to this country, were radicalised and they were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre,” Conway told Matthews.
She added, “Most people don’t know that because it didn’t get covered.”
However, no such massacre never took place and the Obama administration did not place a six-month ban on Iraqi refugees.
What Obama did do in 2011 was to order a fresh screening of about 57,000 Iraqis refugees who entered the U.S and tighter checks for future entries. This was in response to the arrest of two Iraqi’s who tried to send money to al-Qaeda and used improvised explosive devices (IEDs) against American soldiers in Iraq.
They were later jailed for life. Both men had been living in Bowling Green, Kentucky. But, there was no “Bowling Green Massacre” in the U.S. Obama’s screening order slowed down the refugee process, but it was not a ban.
Following an over 12-hour dragging on Twitter and ridicule in the press, Conway tried to clarify her mistake.
In a tweet posted on Friday morning, the 50-year-old adviser, explained, “On @hardball @NBCNews @MSNBC I meant to say ‘Bowling Green terrorists’ as reported here,” and linked to a 2013-dated ABC news media report speculating that al-Qaeda members possibly entered the U.S. posing as refugees.
— Kellyanne Conway (@KellyannePolls) February 3, 2017
Among the many who took to Twitter to snark about Conway, political commentator, sports pundit, and writer, Keith Olbermann tweeted “KellyAnne ConJob invents terrorist attack that never happened to rationalize the @realDonaldTrump racist ban.”
— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) February 3, 2017
Author Saladin Ahmed deadpanned, “Wow Kellyanne Conway is now on Fox News blaming Muslim immigrants for a nonexistent trilogy of films set before STAR WARS.”
Another Twitter user shared a GIF of a man being hit between the legs by a bowling ball, captioning it, “I found evidence of the Bowling Green Massacre!”
One Twitter user wrote, “RT if you died in the Bowling Green Massacre.”
— The Hill (@thehill) February 4, 2017
Later Friday, an unrepentant Conway tweeted encouragements to read the aforementioned ABC news article. She also hit back at Chelsea Clinton and anyone who criticized her.
Referring to Hillary Clinton’s loss in last year’s election, Conway jabbed back at her daughter, then went on to express concern about the effect of terrorism on U.S. troops and civilians.
“Bosnia lie a Great reminder. And 2 @ChelseaClinton & others, you can’t ‘invent’ quality candidates either. I misspoke; you lost the election,” Conway blistered.
— Kellyanne Conway (@KellyannePolls) February 3, 2017
The “Bowling Green Massacre” misstep is by no means Conway’s first rookie moment.
Following widespread face-palms over White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s claim that the inauguration crowd for Trump “was the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration, period” Conway described Spicer’s assessment as “alternative facts” to NBC last week.
“You’re saying it’s a falsehood, and they’re giving — Sean Spicer, our press secretary — gave alternative facts to that,” Conway said with a straight face.
— Raw Story (@RawStory) February 3, 2017
— Jim Roberts (@nycjim) February 3, 2017
But, perhaps, the biggest example of shifting realities was seen during Trump’s campaign, when he displayed seemingly willful blindness over Russia’s cyber attacks during last year’s U.S. presidential election. Draw your own conclusions.
The issues arose following multiple hacks then subsequent disclosures of Democrat emails during the 2016 election. For months during the presidential race, Trump denied Russia was the author of the hacking. The ex-The Apprentice star also denied that Russia was trying to help him win, arguing that any interference could have come from China or even an overweight hacker from his bed.
Things came to head in the first week of January when a U.S. intelligence report stated that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin directed a sophisticated influence campaign including cyber attacks to denigrate Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and support Trump, Reuters reported.
The report was commissioned by former Democratic President Barack Obama in December. It concluded that vote tallies were not affected by Russian interference and did not say whether the tampering influenced the outcome of the vote in other ways.
After a briefing on January 6 from leaders of the U.S. intelligence agencies, Trump did not specifically pin blame on Russia for trying to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.
Instead, Trump’s later statement noted that “Russia, China, other countries, outside groups and people are consistently trying to break through the cyber infrastructure of our governmental institutions, businesses and organizations including the Democrat[ic] National Committee.”
Two days later, Reince Priebus, then incoming Chief of Staff told Fox News Sunday that Trump now thinks Russia was behind the intrusions into the Democratic Party organizations.
“He accepts the fact that this particular case was entities in Russia, so that’s not the issue,” Priebus said.
White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, later told Reuters that both Trump and Priebus’ comments were in line with each other.
U.S. makes sanctions exceptions for some transactions with Russian intelligence agency https://t.co/ui2Zfj7TDq
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) February 2, 2017
Fast forward to a Trump-authorised action by the U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday (February 2) to adjust sanctions on Russian intelligence agency FSB. It makes a limited exception to the measures ordered by former President Obama after U.S. intelligence agencies confirmed two Russian spy agencies launched cyber attacks to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Obama expelled 35 suspected Russian spies and sanctioned two spy agencies, including FSB last December. He also sanctioned four Russian intelligence officers and three companies it is believed helped these illegal cyber efforts.
During a White House briefing on Thursday, President Trump replied to a reporter who asked if he was easing sanctions on Russia, saying, “I’m not easing anything.”
To date, Trump continues to refute U.S. intelligence agencies’ contention that Putin ordered the cyber attacks on U.S. political parties.
Trump’s initial denial and obstructionism before he reluctantly accepted Russia hindered and cyber attacked the Democrat campaign in the U.S. election, is also seen in his administration’s insistence that his immigration executive order which authorizes extreme vetting of immigrants and visitors to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries isn’t a Muslim ban — when it very clearly is.
Conway, Spicer, and other Trump staff have made the same Orwellian claim and played with words, facts, and the truth.
The only one who didn’t get that party memo was Rudy Giuliani, who happily told Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro in an interview earlier this week that Trump “first announced” [to Giuliani] what became the immigration executive order, as a “Muslim ban.”
— Hadi Nili (@HadiNili) January 29, 2017
“He called me up, he said, ‘Put a commission together, show me the right way to do it legally,'” Guiliani went on to say.
He recalled, “I put a commission together with Judge Mukasey, with Congressman McCaul, Pete King, a whole group of other very expert lawyers on this. And what we did was we focused on, instead of religion, danger. The areas of the world that create danger for us, which is a factual basis, not a religious basis.
Guiliani claims the order is “Perfectly legal, perfectly sensible, and that’s what the ban is based on.”
In other words, the intent of Trump’s “travel ban” is to ban Muslims from seven Muslim-majority countries from the U.S., but the wording of the order was dressed up to appear as though terrorist threat is the criteria.
Notably, an analysis by the Cato Institute of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil between 1975 and 2015 confirmed that foreign nationals from the seven countries listed in Trump’s travel ban — Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya, and Somalia — have killed no Americans.
— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) February 4, 2017
— FOX 2 Detroit (@FOX2News) February 1, 2017
Amid human cost, protests, and outrage and confusion from human rights groups, Democrats, and some Republicans, on Friday (February 3), a federal judge in Seattle, Washington blocked the implementation of the immigration directive nationwide.
Politico reports U.S. District Court Judge James Robart ruled in favor of the attorneys general of Washington state and Minnesota on a lawsuit they filed seeking to overturn the order limiting travel to the U.S. by citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries.
After dialing down its first response and removing the word “outrageous,” in a statement Spicer wrote, “At the earliest possible time, the Department of Justice intends to file an emergency stay of this outrageous order and defend the executive order of the President, which we believe is lawful and appropriate,”
Spicer continued, “The president’s order is intended to protect the homeland and he has the constitutional authority and responsibility to protect the American people.”
Naturally, Trump took to Twitter the next morning to slam the judge and insist the ban is necessary to “keep ‘evil’ out of our country!”
The 70-year-old went on to say that a country is in “big trouble” when it “is no longer able to say who can, and who cannot, come in & out, especially for reasons of safety &.security.”
The President then claimed “certain Middle-Eastern countries” agreed with his ban before wrapping his Twitter rant by insulting the judge who overturned his immigration executive order.
Trump vowed, “The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!”
— The Hill (@thehill) February 4, 2017
Another example of a Trumpims that is not backed up by evidence, is the President’s stated claim that three million — yes, exactly the amount that won Clinton the popular vote — people voted illegally.
Update: The president spoke to Fox’s Bill O’Reilly on The O’Reilly Factor about his voter fraud beliefs during an interview set to air before the Super Bowl. An excerpt of the absurd transcript can be seen below.
Trump stands by his false, evidence-free claim that millions voted illegally; tells O'Reilly “many people have come out and said I am right” pic.twitter.com/hLKitpa7MY
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) February 5, 2017
Meanwhile, it’s sobering to note that it’s only 15 days into Trump’s presidency. Yet, confrontations over words, facts, meaning, intent, language, integrity, ideology, borders, and the constitution are already being fought so bloodily.
Face-offs over banning EPA staff from social media communication, fears of some over the arch-conservatism of Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, mounting concerns over the President’s business conflicts of interest, cozying up to Wall Street, Trump’s seeming penchant for intimidating other countries, the dismantling of Obama-era regulations — including a rule which blocked gun sales to the mentally ill — the president and the right’s branding of any media-reported facts they don’t agree with as “Fake News” are just some of the U.S.’ new frontlines within the wider context of the 21st century’s preoccupation with information warfare.
So here’s the question: Do enough Americans have the will, clarity, and stamina to meet the present challenge to preserve and fight for democracy, liberty, human rights, equality, accountability, and the rule of law when the leader of the free world is evidently hell-bent on undermining those principles?
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) February 3, 2017
— The Hill (@thehill) February 2, 2017
— POLITICO (@politico) February 4, 2017
— Planned Parenthood (@PPact) February 2, 2017
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) February 3, 2017
— The Hill (@thehill) February 4, 2017
[Featured Image by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]