"There you go, using those words," Kellyanne Conway said on Sunday during an interview with Brian Stelter, a journalist whose job is literally to use words to explain the media to viewers at home on Reliable Sources. The pollster turned presidential adviser was complaining about the news channel's coverage of the White House; Conway disagreed with Stelter's characterization of the Republican health care bill implosion as a "stunning failure." Thus, Conway revived the "alternative fact" saga, by explaining what the term actually means. As it turns out — unsurprisingly — it has everything to do with placing blame on the media.
After a long interview volleying back and forth questions and answers regarding the media's fairness to the White House — about 25 minutes — Stelter changed the topic to "alternative facts." But it didn't even take one minute for the interviewee to try and steal back the power dynamic.
Conway asked Stelter repeatedly, "Do you know what alternative facts are? Do you know what they are?" She went on to answer her own question:
Alternative facts are "partly sunny, partly cloudy." Alternative facts are when all of you in the media say, "We have the highest-rated show," and another show that's a competitor says, "No, we have the highest-rated show."
Conway continued to explain that one show, in her example, would base that claim off of its total viewers while the other would base it off a specific demographic.
"Alternative facts," Conway declared. "Alternative fact: glass half full, glass half empty" — in other words, it's the media's spin that creates alternative facts in Conway's world. "Everybody knew what I meant ... They just wanted to look at it through the most negative lens possible."
Of course, her attempts to blame the media don't make sense. When Conway first used "alternative facts," it was in reference to the White House's numbers of the inaugural crowd that didn't jibe with every other count. Conway also reargued that whole situation in Sunday's interview, defending the crowd size of the inauguration once again.
You now, in 2016, 2017, have people looking at the inauguration up close and in person. You have people watching on their screens, which they couldn’t do 10 years earlier. You have people certainly watching on TV, listening to it on the radio, multimedia way of doing that.
Then Conway went on to try and deflect away from the topic, by saying that "alternative facts" don't matter when you compare them to other issues of the day.
What matters is if the president is able to move the needle economically and through national security. And indeed, since Jan. 22, he has. And that's not an alternative fact, that's a fact.
Conway, just to attack CNN and the media one last time, sarcastically thanked Stelter for bringing up the topic.
Thank you for raising, I knew you meant it to be snarky, but I'm at least glad to have the platform to explain it.
Her attack on the media, though, still leaves plenty unclear.