There’s a great quote that has been attributed to Daniel Patrick Moynihan:
“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to their own facts.”
Listen, I get that elections have consequences. And, I revere the peaceful transition of authority from one leader, and one political party, to the next.
But, at the same time, I expect — indeed, demand — that the decisions made by political parties and leaders be based on facts.
Now, this isn’t to say that values have no place in decision-making. I’ve spent my entire career studying decision-making. I’ve also made science-based recommendations within the public and private spheres to the effect that that facts and values should be brought to bear on the consequential decisions of our time.
But here’s the thing: Making ridiculous assertions about crowd sizes, voter fraud, skipping inaugurations, and grizzly bears are neither facts nor values. They are falsehoods that don’t deserve a seat at the table that is our national discourse.
Yet, judging by this exchange, some members of the current Executive Branch seem to disagree:
Todd: You did not 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 on day one.
Conway: No, it doesn’t. Don’t be so overly dramatic about it, Chuck. You’re saying it’s a falsehood, and Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that, but the point…
Todd: Wait a minute. Alternative facts? Alternative facts. Four of the five things he uttered. The one thing he got right was Zeke Miller. Four of the five facts he uttered were just not true. Look. Alternative facts are not facts. They’re falsehoods.
This is not normal.
I’ll take it a step further:
“Alternative facts” are lies. Period.
Anyone, from any political party, who invokes “alternative facts” as a justification for events or behaviors, or as inputs to decision-making, should be ashamed. They also deserve our scorn.
Today is Wednesday the 25th of January. The year is 2017.