NEW YORK — Down is up. The sky is red. Dogs are birthing kittens. Facts? Nope. Try ‘‘alternative facts.’’
The Internet went wild after a top Trump adviser, Kellyanne Conway, said the administration was supplying the media with ‘‘alternative facts.’’ The comment came after she was asked why Trump press secretary Sean Spicer mischaracterized the size of inauguration crowds.
Spicer made two unprovable statements in his briefing with reporters: that photographs of the audience at Donald Trump’s inaugural were intentionally framed to minimize the appearance of support, and that Trump drew the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration. He also made statements that were quickly disproven, including an assertion that the Washington Metro system recorded more riders on the day of Trump’s inaugural than when Obama was sworn in for his second term.
‘‘Alternativefacts’’ quickly became a popular hashtag on Twitter, where users supplied their own such facts, including ‘‘cigarettes are good for you’’ and ‘‘it’s not Monday. It is still the weekend.’’
The hashtag ‘‘spicerfacts’’ followed. Widely shared #spicerfacts included ‘‘Yoko Ono broke up the Monkees. Period.’’ and ‘‘The KKK is a peaceful community outreach organization.’’
But even amid the snarky mockery, many users pointed to eerie similarities to George Orwell’s ‘‘1984,’’ a dystopian novel about a totalitarian regime. One quote reads: ‘‘The Party told you to reject all evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.’’
Veteran journalist Dan Rather told the Associated Press on Sunday that while past press secretaries have misled reporters before through the omission of information, the weekend’s demonstrably false assertions about the inauguration crowd size was the first time he could recall false material being delivered in this way.