Merriam-Webster says Kellyanne Conway described false statements as 'alternative facts'


What You Need To Know Kellyanne Conway

Frank Luna contributed to this report.

During a interview Sunday with Kellyanne Conway, NBC's Chuck Todd asked the counselor to the president why the new White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, "(uttered) a provable falsehood" when talking about the size of the crowd that attended the inauguration of President Donald Trump on Friday.

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During his first official press conference, Spicer scolded the media for its reporting on the size of the crowd at Friday's inauguration.

"This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period," Spicer said, contradicting all available data.

Barack Obama's first inauguration on Jan. 20, 2009, attracted the largest crowd of people on record, with an estimated 1.8 million attendees.

>> A look back at presidential inaugurations: Past performers, attendance numbers

Official estimates of attendees at the inauguration of Donald Trump have not been recorded, but preliminary estimates said 700,000 to 900,000 people were expected to attend the event on Friday.

>> Whose inauguration crowd was bigger, Trump or Obama?

Conway, on NBC's "Meet the Press," defended Spicer by suggesting he was putting forth "alternate facts" in reference to the crowd size.

"Why (did) the president ask the White House press secretary to come out in front of the podium for the first time and utter a falsehood?" Todd asked. "It undermines the credibility of the entire White House press office on day one."

"No it doesn't. Don't be so overly dramatic about it," Conway said. "You're saying it's a falsehood … and Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts."

"Wait a minute, alternative facts?" Todd said. "Four of the five facts he uttered were just not true. Alternative facts are not facts. They are falsehoods."

>> #AlternativeFacts: Twitter trolls Trump team over Conway, Spicer comments

Merriam-Webster, known for publishing dictionaries, took to Twitter Sunday after the interview to clarify the definition of "fact."

"A fact is a piece of information presented as having objective reality," the tweet said. 

The tweet was liked more than 40,000 times.

Merriam-Webster said that "lookups for 'fact' spiked after Kellyanne Conway described false statements as 'alternative facts.'"

"In contemporary use, fact is generally understood to refer to something with actual existence, or presented as having objective reality," the listed definition explained.

Lauren Naturale, Merriam-Webster's social media manager, is known for posting sarcastic messages on the company's social media platforms.



Kellyanne Conway

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 22: Counselor to President, Kellyanne Conway, prepares to appear on the Sunday morning show Meet The Press, from the north lawn at the White House, January 22, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

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