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Merriam-Webster reminds the president’s adviser that facts, by definition, are based in reality.
Kellyanne Conway made headlines this weekend for rebranding the White House’s false information about Donald Trump’s inauguration crowds as “alternative facts.” So, the social media team behind the Merriam-Webster Dictionary felt the need to clarify the definition of the word “fact.”
Linking to a trending topic page for Conway’s quote, Merriam-Webster tweeted, “A fact is a piece of information presented as having objective reality.”
📈A fact is a piece of information presented as having objective reality. https://t.co/gCKRZZm23c
— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) January 22, 2017
On Saturday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer scolded reporters during a press briefing for spreading what he deemed falsities about Trump’s inauguration, according to CNN. “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period,” he said, despite contrary findings from aerial photos, Nielsen ratings, and Metro reports on subway riders in Washington, D.C.
During a Sunday interview on NBC’s Meet the Press, Conway defended Spicer’s false claims as “alternative facts.”
“You’re saying it’s a falsehood, and they’re giving — Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that,” she said. Host Chuck Todd countered, “Alternative facts are not facts. They are falsehoods.”
The dictionary also linked to a post that it wrote (well, its editors wrote) about how Conway’s comments fueled a spike in online searches for the word “fact.” That people aren’t sure whether “alternative facts” are still facts appeared to get under the skin ― the cover? ― of the dusty, gold-trimmed book that’s been begging for attention on your shelf for at least a decade.
“In contemporary use, fact is generally understood to refer to something with actual existence, or presented as having objective reality,” reads the post.
It’s not the first time the dictionary has inserted itself into the political arena. Last February, Merriam-Webster tried to help make sense of one of Trump’s error-riddled tweets.
— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) February 26, 2016
Trump has since deleted that tweet, which called Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) a “Leightweight chocker [sic]” twice, and said it was a “Great honer! [sic]” that so many polls showed him winning a debate.