How Trump’s ‘Alternative Facts’ Will bite his own Supporters on the Ass

By Peter Certo | ( ) | – –

If Trump can sell a plain-as-day lie about his inauguration crowd, he can lie about anything — including things that hurt his own supporters.

About an hour after Donald Trump was sworn in, I was having lunch with my wife and our five-month-old. As we picked at our food outside my office in D.C.’s Dupont Circle neighborhood, groups of tourists trickled by in Trump regalia.

Early the next morning, as I dumped a pail of diapers in the trash can out front, I ran into a much different crowd: throngs of people wearing pink and carrying anti-Trump signs, passing through my neighborhood on their way to the Women’s March.

It was scarcely 7am, yet already I’d seen more pink hats than I’d seen red ones the day before. Surprised — and still in my pajama pants — I scurried inside.

DC’s Women’s March alone attracted three times as many visitors as Trump’s inauguration, crowd experts quoted by The New York Times estimate. According to ridership data from the DC Metro system, only one other event topped it: Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009.

This was obvious to anyone who lives here, and to anyone who’s seen aerial photos of the crowd.

(Photo: woodleywonderworks / Flickr)

Of course, whose crowd is bigger matters only a little more than whose hands are bigger, among other appendages Trump likes to size up. But sometimes he can’t help himself.

At a moment you’d expect a new president to be busy with other things, Trump directed his press secretary to announce that his crowds had been “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period.” Any media outlet that told you differently, he said, was lying.

It was laughably untrue. But it wasn’t a lie, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway told NBC. It was just an an “alternative fact.”

If that doesn’t set your Orwell alarm off, I don’t know what will. Yet almost immediately, Trump’s version of events started circulating through conservative news sites and social media outlets.

The Trump administration, in short, used its inaugural press conference to tell bald-faced, easily falsifiable lies — and many Americans believed them. Aerial photos, crowd experts, Metro data, even TV ratings be damned — all that mattered were the “alternative facts” of the Trump team.

There’s more at stake here than a “whose is bigger?” contest — including for millions of Trump supporters. To see how, let me tell you something else about Trump’s first day in office.

Shortly after announcing that “every decision” will be “made to benefit American workers and American families,” Trump retreated to the Oval Office to sign his first directives as president.

The first raised mortgage fees for working families, including many who probably supported Trump. Another began the process of dismantling a health care law that’s helped 20 million people get insurance.

Trump voters in red states could be especially hard-hit.

From Florida to Pennsylvania, in fact, over 6 million people getting health insurance subsidies live in states that Trump won. Combined with the law’s Medicaid expansion and protections for people with pre-existing conditions, that’s helped deep-red states like Kentucky and West Virginia cut their uninsured rates by half.

But here’s the question: If Trump can tell you your own eyes are lying about a simple aerial photograph of his inauguration, can he also convince you your mortgage fees didn’t just go up? Or that you’ll still have health care after he axes your subsidy and gives your insurer permission to drop you?

Talk about “alternative facts.” If those things slide, what else can he get away with?

Trump voters are famously skeptical of Washington. Of all people, I hope they’d agree that watching what a politician does tells you more than hearing what he says. If they shut their eyes now, they’re going to get sucker punched.

Peter Certo is the editorial manager of the Institute for Policy Studies and the editor of


6 Responses

  1. Paula Kline

    Everything he does hurts other people. That is who he is and has always been. His supporters love that about him.

      • Peasants have supported ruling classes that objectively hurt them before. The (profitable) secret to this is that people prize not just empirical goods, but emotional rewards. Pecking orders are great at producing emotional rewards for the people who are second from the bottom – at the expense of the people at the bottom. How else could the Whites of the South have tolerated the poor economic performance of their states under Jim Crow while the rest of America forged ahead?

  2. Not only is mortgage insurance and the ACA on the chopping block but according to Mick Mulvanney, Medicare and Social Security will also be cut.
    link to
    Watch the Mulvanney hearing. He is a Tea Party tax scofflaw weaselwording defective.

  3. did you really need to mention the dirty diapers? isn’t talking about the trump disaster dirty enough?

  4. I would like to live in a country where lies do hurt politicians; however I am sad to report my conclusions that I don’t think the lies will hurt Trump or his supporters at all. There are four reasons why I think this is so:

    1) There is a complete separation of pro-Trump and anti-Trump crowds. While those that are in the middle mildly watch one of the news programs or pick up facts from others; those that passionately care one way or another simply do not talk to each other anymore. There is a complete split in social media, traditional media, and real life socially. What scandalizes one segment is simply a non issue in the other group. Both groups live in an echo chamber. Most people receive their news in such echo chambers

    2) There is a lack of objective media. The trend from the last few decades has been a media that plays it safe, and most do not directly challenge the narrative of the most powerful groups in Washington. Main stream media has been responsible for propagating misinformation and bad narratives about the world, in particular the middle east, for a long time. And now this makes it easier to start propagating myths more at home. Even if some conglomerates wanted to change and be objective, and there are always those in each organization who wish to, there are very real market and political reasons why real change cannot be implemented

    3) The scales have tipped too far and those that are lying have a lot more power than those that care about the lies. The majority of Americans have issues directly challenging and questioning those that are in power. At the same time, most Americans feel detached and distant from the federal government. The average person spends a few minutes each day getting news and they are more likely to believe official government sources, unless their echo chamber in social media (not trying to be mean, but see #1, most people of same political ideology only talk among themselves) has an issue about something specific. And as stated in #2 most main stream media are not going to go on a warpath against the most powerful forces in Washington. If the lies are consistent and everyday, they are going to wash over the mainstream media and most people without being challenged much.

    4) Most of the county does not care. Simply put, most Americans elected someone they knew as not having full integrity, and an even greater number of people did not even bother to vote at all. Apathy wins and is the ultimate force today. For most people who did not care in the past six months (and they are a majority), as long as their own lives are not affected they will continue to not give much thought, energy or outrage to lies they recognize as lies.

    To summarize all points in one sentence: when those who oppose Trump are outraged, they are the only ones listening to each other; it will take some life altering events to engage the rest of the population and by then what will have happened ? Those that are trying to fight Trump need to realize it is not enough to be outraged and talk among others of like minded beliefs, but there is not a current mechanism to engage the rest of the country in a mutually beneficial conversation.

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