Presidents have long deceived, but the rise of 'alternative facts' is something new
It’s Day 4 of the Trump administration (or is it Day 1?). For press secretary Sean Spicer, it’s Day 3 of being the subject of a viral meme about the nature of reality.
The art of the second-day (or third-day) spin is something Spicer, a longtime spokesman for the RNC, knows well, and Kellyanne Conway is famous for it. But rhetoric this election cycle has gone beyond spin, said Sherri Hope Culver, who runs Temple University's Center for Media and Information Literacy.
"What really concerns me is the push toward this notion that truth is debatable, and that's going to be a real challenge for the press," she said. "Because when the press holds itself to its highest standard, it's aiming for objective truth. And if, even in that aim, it gets ridiculed, where do you go from there?"
Asking questions about the source of a particular piece of news, and whether they can trust it, doesn't come naturally to most people, Culver said. And people tend to interpret the news through the lens of their own experiences. Journalists at mainstream outlets reacted to Spicer's Saturday briefing with almost universal outrage. In the conservative sphere, viewers were cheering Spicer on for sticking it to the "dishonest" media.