Kellyanne Conway, the person who coined the term "alternative facts."
By Reg Henry / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Trump administration has certainly thrown some cats among the pigeons in its first few weeks in office — to the dismay of the pigeons and to the disgust of the cats. But one announcement should win the general acclaim of the American people.
Alternative facts. Thanks to Kellyanne Conway, President Donald Trump’s right-hand woman with the gift of the garbled gab, a new way to describe our world has arrived. No longer do we the people have to suffer the tyranny of the old-fashioned, fuddy-duddy, restrictive sort of facts formerly defined as being true.
The beauty of alternative facts is that they are truly democratic, with a lower-case ‘d,’ as in dreadful. These new facts are available to the highest official in the land (the president) to the lowliest peons (me and other media types). Now you can make up your own facts — they are no longer the property of elites.
Of course, alternative facts have been around for years on talk radio and other bilious outlets but it took the genius of Ms. Conway to properly identity the phenomenon. She has got the number of the beast.
But a danger lurks here. If all of us now concoct our own alternative facts, political debates will become impossible and even more pointless than they are already. Having no common set of references, Americans will just shout at each other in a dialogue of the mutually incomprehensible.
Sooner of later, the public is likely to grow nostalgic for stories that are real, not fake, and facts that are true, not alternative. My guess is this won’t take long to happen, which is why it is necessary to act quickly while alternative facts are still officially approved.
For my part, I have decided to rewrite my personal history, which could do with a sprinkling of magic dust composed of alternative facts ground down to crystals. Here is my alternative fact life story; feel free to use it as a template for your own.
My father was a journalist and I was born with a pen in my hand, which was unusually painful for my mother. I wrote my first letter to the editor when I was 3 and was contributing op-eds to the local paper at age 5. I remember a headline on one: “Timeouts for Misbehaving in Pre-School Are Cruel and Unusual Punishment.”
I used to walk to school through 2 feet of snow. I know some of you did too, but what makes my experience unique is that we were living in sub-tropical Australia at the time. In summer, wild wombats and bandicoots lay in wait to ambush me and steal my lunch.
Of course, I always outsmarted them. “No free lunch,” I told those brazen bush beasts.
The bandicoots were covered in Band-Aids by the time I had done with them. The wombats got a good batting, too.
In high school, I excelled in all fields and on graduation received the coveted Most Likely to Stay in Bed Award. But I was summoned to action by a bugle call. The Vietnam War was going on and the local draft authorities in Australia did me the high honor of requesting the pleasure of my participation.
I had a deferment for my university studies but the authorities asked me so nicely I felt I should go anyway. While green was not my color, I nevertheless did brilliantly, winning many medals, including the Perfect Attendance Medal with clasp. My job was one of the toughest in the army — I was a military reporter portraying the Vietnam War in rosy terms to the incredulous folks back home.
I was soon promoted to corporal, roughly the rank Hitler had during his World War I service, but this didn’t go to my head quite as much as it did his. Based in Saigon because of my special skill in offending readers, I soon had the Viet Cong demoralized. “Such witty press releases,” their cadres lamented, “How can we withstand such metaphors.”
Back in civilian life, I decided to take my prodigious talents to Fleet Street. I worked on the sports desk of The Times of London, where I put umlauts on the names of foreign soccer players. Then I met an American lady — I always tell young people, watch out who you kiss in this life — and the next thing I know I was living in Pittsburgh.
Well, the rest is history — the honors, the glories, the pigeons up and the cats down. Thank goodness for alternative facts.
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