Opinion: The Death of Knowledge

The Trump White House is actively trying to take information away from the American people. This week has seen a myriad of falsities from press secretary Sean Spicer and Kellyanne Conway’s “alternative facts,” to the continuation of the falsehood about illegal voters, to Trump’s executive order banning the EPA from tweeting and talking to reporters.

One thing is for sure, fake news just got harder to stop. Stopping illegitimate sources from passing off falsities as facts will be harder than ever in an era where the White House provides those falsehoods and present them as the truth.

On Saturday Spicer and Conway supplied the American people with “alternative facts.” The “alternative facts” are just part of the “alt” speech popularized this electoral cycle. First “alt right” became the nomenclature for white supremacy and other likeminded movements, and now that same “alt” just gave lies the power to be facts under this administration. When Trump and the new White House feel that the public opinion is turning against them because journalists are shining a light on truths that make the administration look bad they will provide “alternative facts” to make themselves look better.

Journalists are compelled to report what the White House offers and are also taught to keep their opinion out of the report, but that will become harder to do as the White House tries to manipulate the American people. At first simply fact-checking the White House in real time will be enough, but how many times will it take before the judgement call comes that the White House can’t be trusted and the people who support the White House start to believe that the media cannot be trusted (even less than those people already trust the media) and causes an even wider gap between the media and the people and an even smaller gap between facts and “alternative facts.”

Conway already explained to Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press” why the White House felt compelled to lie to the American people, “I'll answer it this way: Think about what you just said to your viewers. That's why we feel compelled to go out and clear the air and put alternative facts out there.”

Before Conway said that she equated falsity and the “alternative facts.”

“You're saying it's a falsehood. And they're giving -- Sean Spicer, our press secretary -- gave alternative facts,” Conway told Todd.

These tweets from Badlands National Park, regarding climate change, have since been deleted.

These tweets from Badlands National Park, regarding climate change, have since been deleted.

She admitted that if the administration feels that they are being portrayed in a negative light they will go and lie, even if it is something as easily fact-checked as the crowd size of an inauguration. This may seem relatively unimportant but if they will lie about the number of people who came to cheer on President Trump as he was sworn into office where will they stop? Will they provide “alternative facts” to unemployment, to the number of people living in poverty, to the number of soldiers fighting overseas? If they cannot be trusted to just admit that the turnout was lower than they expected what can they be trusted to provide?

It starts with providing “alternative facts” which at least go against the actual factual truth, but with the media blackout for the EPA it looks like the current administration would prefer no facts. Banning press releases, tweets, and blog posts serve only to keep the American people uneducated about what is being done to the country and the world.

The White House wants to wage a war against the media but it does so at the expense of the American people. The people of this country have a right to the truth.