[Ads-l] "Alternative facts" for EOTY

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Mon Jan 23 08:15:55 EST 2017


Richard W. Painter, former chief White House ethics attorney for G. W.
Bush, on CNN this morning:

"'Alternative facts'...means lies!"

JL

On Mon, Jan 23, 2017 at 7:15 AM, Stephen Goranson <goranson at duke.edu> wrote:

> Perhaps it is worth repeating a saying that goes back at least to 1975
> (with several precursors reported to this list by Garson):
>
>
> At a conference in Washington DC on December 2, 1975, in a debate on
> comparing the military power of the US and the USSR, with Daniel P.
> Moynihan
> participating, James R. Schlesinger said:
>
> I think that we might well have a debate on the facts. We have had much
> talk in this country in recent years, quite justly, about deception. I
> think our
> greatest problem may be self-deception. Everybody is entitled to his
> own views; everybody is not entitled to his own facts.
>
> Page 100 in Pacem in Terris IV, vol. 1, American-Soviet Detente, Peace and
> National Security, ed. Fred Warner Neal, published 1976, Fund for Peace
> and the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions.
>
>
> Stephen Goranson
>
> http://people.duke.edu/~goranson/
>
>
>
> ________________________________
> From: American Dialect Society <...> on behalf of Baker, John <...>
> Sent: Sunday, January 22, 2017 11:27 PM
> To: ...
> Subject: Re: [ADS-L] "Alternative facts" for EOTY
>
> Well, what did Kellyanne Conway mean?    Here's the relevant passage, from
> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__www.
> nbcnews.com_meet-2Dthe-2Dpress_meet-2Dpress-2D01-2D22-2D17-2Dn710491-3A&d=
> CwIGaQ&c=imBPVzF25OnBgGmVOlcsiEgHoG1i6YHLR0Sj_gZ4adc&r=uUVa-
> 8oDL2EzfbuMuowoUadHHcJ7pjul6iFkS5Pd--8&m=JQ6gF-2rx5-
> thH4vFE57SPJl3udkaUTSjmKy8TG9_TE&s=hk33fjCUKd54aR0Jj6-
> DvImWVMWLI4GU7oRWLEfv_GQ&e=
>
>
>
> <<CHUCK TODD:
>
>
>
> You did not--
>
>
>
> KELLYANNE CONWAY:
>
>
>
> Yes I did.
>
>
>
> CHUCK TODD:
>
>
>
> --answer the question of why the president asked the White House press
> secretary to come out in front of the podium for the first time and utter a
> falsehood? Why did he do that? It undermines the credibility of the entire
> White House press office--
>
>
>
> KELLYANNE CONWAY:
>
>
>
> No it doesn't.
>
>
>
> CHUCK TODD:
>
>
>
> --on day one.
>
>
>
> KELLYANNE CONWAY:
>
>
>
> Don't be so overly dramatic about it, Chuck. What-- You're saying it's a
> falsehood. And they're giving Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave
> alternative facts to that.>>
>
>
>
> (It will probably be easier to construe that last sentence if you
> understand it to contain dashes:  "And they're giving--Sean Spicer, our
> press secretary, gave--alternative facts to that.")
>
>
>
> Conway used the phrase again a little later in the program, although it's
> broken by an interruption from Todd:
>
>
>
> <<CHUCK TODD:
>
>
>
> Can you please answer the question? Why did he do this? You have not
> answered it.
>
>
>
> KELLYANNE CONWAY:
>
>
>
> I'll answer--
>
>
>
> CHUCK TODD:
>
>
>
> It's only one question.
>
>
>
> KELLYANNE CONWAY:
>
>
>
> --it this way. 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--
>
>
>
> CHUCK TODD:
>
>
>
> So it's a political tactic?
>
>
>
> KELLYANNE CONWAY:
>
>
>
> --facts out there.
>
>
>
> CHUCK TODD:
>
>
>
> It's a political tactic to come up with alternative facts and try to set
> up the press as your enemy?
>
>
>
> KELLYANNE CONWAY:
>
>
>
> No I didn't say that at all. And that's not why I'm here in this building.
> I'm here because of all the provable, quantifiable facts, because of the
> devastation and destruction in our schools with our health care, in our
> economy, with our small business owners.>>
>
>
>
> I can think of three things that Conway might have meant:
>
>
>
> 1.      She could have meant a sort of fantasy interpretation in which,
> shall we say, fictional facts are as valid as factual facts.  In other
> words, as Wilson suggests, alternative facts are simply lies.  That seems
> to be how the phrase is being taken generally, but it's an unlikely meaning
> for her to have.
>
>
>
> 2.      She could have meant that Spicer was presenting an alternative
> version of the facts that arguably was based on evidence as good or better
> than the evidence supporting the facts reported by the press.  This
> presumably is how Spicer himself would describe what he was doing (although
> the evidence for his "facts" does not stand up to scrutiny).
>
>
>
> 3.      She could have meant that Spicer was presenting other facts that
> are arguably more important than the facts reported by the press and that
> arguably cast those facts in a different light.  Conway's references to
> health care, the economy, and small business owners suggest that this may
> be what she thought she was saying.
>
>
>
> Regardless of what Conway actually meant, of course, the public is going
> to think that alternative facts = lies.  And since both Spicer and Conway
> seem to be trading in falsehoods, that's an understandable view.
>
>
>
> Whether or not "alternative facts" turns out to have legs as a WOTY
> candidate, I think we already have an early entry on Fred's list of the
> quotes of the year.
>
>
>
>
>
> John Baker
>
> ....
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>



-- 
"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

------------------------------------------------------------
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org


More information about the Ads-l mailing list