Witt: When a lie is an alternative fact

Published 7:53 am Tuesday, January 31, 2017

By Chuck Witt

Sun columnist

There is some irony in the fact President Trump used an analogy to Nazi Germany recently in suggesting intelligence agencies had allowed fake news to be leaked to the media.

The irony lies in the fact the President, through all his campaign and now into the opening days of his tenure, has used and continues to use some of the same tactics used by that hateful regime, the big lie.

Nazism — and virtually every other totalitarian form of government in history — used the big lie to propagate and promulgate their control over the people.  Their motto was often “Tell a big lie, tell it often and tell it loudly and eventually the people will come to believe it.”

Probably no other president in history has chalked up a record for lying to the public comparable to what has already transpired with the current president.

He lied continuously throughout his campaign.

“Can’t release tax returns because I’m being audited.”

“I believe in a woman’s right to choose.”

“I never mocked that reporter.”

“I saved 1,100 jobs at Carrier.”

Shortly after his inauguration, he picked up on his lying ways.

“There were more than a million people at the inauguration.”

“The rain stopped as I began to talk.”

“This was the largest inauguration in history.”

Then he went to CIA headquarters and lied to them, saying he never had a problem with the organization, despite condemning it for its analysis of Russian hacking of the elections.

What was even worse, CIA staff actually applauded his lies.

And Americans (and the media) must quit being reticent about labeling these falsehoods as anything other than lies. Just because someone holds high office does not release him or her from being labeled a liar when appropriate.

The lying, prevarication, dissemination and obfuscation are trickling down (a favorite of Republicans) to the staff in the White House.

Sean Spicer, the press secretary, presented before the press the “inauguration was the largest in history.  Period.” A claim that has been shown to be a lie.

Then Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the President, went on television and characterized Spicer’s remarks, not as lies, but as “alternative facts.”  Fortunately, some members of the press are gaining some backbone and she was quickly  disabused of her notion of “alternative facts,” a phrase which is nothing more than an oxymoron.

President Trump has expressed, on numerous occasions, his disdain for the media, the press, perhaps because there are so many media outlets which refuse to permit his obscenities without question.

Thomas Jefferson said, “Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press” and “…were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”

Now, it appears, we are entering a period in this country when a free and unfettered press will prove more valuable and more necessary than at any time in our past.

If the recent past is any indication, the next four years will demand a higher diligence from the press than has been necessary since the days of Nixon.

We must hope it does not fail the task and the first order of business will be to condemn and expose “lies” whenever they come from those in high office, whether it be the presidency or the Congress.

Chuck Witt is a retired architect and a lifelong resident of Winchester.  He can be reached at chuck740@bellsouth.net.