Friday 23 February 2018

We want the facts, ma'am, just the facts - but whose facts?

Kellyanne Conway. Photo: Reuters
Kellyanne Conway. Photo: Reuters
Declan Lynch

Declan Lynch

It is about two weeks since Kellyanne Conway used the term "alternative facts" in her challenge to the correct estimates of the crowd at the Trump inauguration, and in that time I have seen nothing but outright ridicule of her choice of words.

I was enjoying it myself, for a while, as "alternative facts" became an instant classic, a risible symbol of the Trump junta's seemingly endless capacity for brutish wrong-headedness and fabulous dishonesty.

And then, from the mists of journalistic time, the name of Claud Cockburn drifted into my mind. Was it not Claud, a great journalist and a man of the left, who advised us that there are no such things as "facts"? That this notion of facts lying out there "like gold nuggets waiting to be unearthed" is itself a form of fiction?

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