On Meet the Press, host Chuck Todd challenged White House Chief Propagandist Kellyanne Conway about this despicable display, and her response instantly became infamous, and will surely reverberate throughout the entire tenure of Donald Trump.
The entire interview is viewable here, and the full transcript is available here, but here is the relevant excerpt (with my commentary below the transcript):
CHUCK TODD: Then explain—you did not answer the question: Why did the President send out his Press Secretary, who's not just the spokesperson for Donald Trump; he could be— He also serves as the spokesperson for all of America at times. He speaks for all of the country at times. Why put him out there for the very first time in front of that podium to utter a provable falsehood? It's a small thing. But the first time he confronts the public it's a falsehood?Todd insisted—and I understand why—that Conway didn't answer his question. But she did. It just wasn't the answer that any reasonable person would expect or want to hear.
KELLYANNE CONWAY: Chuck, I mean, if we're going to keep referring to our Press Secretary in those types of terms, I think that we're going to have to rethink our relationship here. I want to have a great open relationship with our press. But look what happened the day before talking about falsehoods. We allowed the press—the press to come into the Oval Office and witness President Trump signing executive orders. And of course, you know, the Senate had just confirmed General Mattis and General Kelly to their two posts. And we allowed the press in. And what happens almost immediately? A falsehood is told about removing the bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. from the Oval Office.
TODD: All right—
CONWAY: No, that's just flat out false! And the pool writer—
TODD: And it was corrected immediately.
CONWAY: But why— Chuck, why was it said?
TODD: But Kellyanne, no, let me—
CONWAY: Chuck, why was it said in the first place because—
TODD: I don't know!
CONWAY: —everybody's so presumptively negative—
TODD: Climb into the head of that reporter.
CONWAY: No, that it's okay. No excuse me.
CONWAY: Oh no, no, no, no. That reporter was writing to—on behalf of the press pool. That falsehood—
TODD: I understand that—
CONWAY: —got spread 3,000 times—
TODD: But it does not excuse—
CONWAY: —before it was corrected.
CHUCK TODD: —excuse me. It does not—
CONWAY: And it's still out there.
TODD: —excuse and you did not answer the question.
CONWAY: I did answer—
TODD: No you did not.
CONWAY: —your question.
TODD: You did not—
CONWAY: Yes I did.
TODD: —answer the question of why the President asked the White House Press Secretary to come out in front of the podium for the first time and utter a falsehood. Why did he do that? It undermines the credibility of the entire White House press office—
CONWAY: No it doesn't.
TODD: —on day one.
CONWAY: Don't be so overly dramatic about it, Chuck. What— You're saying it's a falsehood. And they're giving Sean Spicer, our Press Secretary, gave alternative facts to that. But the point remains—
TODD: Wait a minute. Alternative facts?! Alternative facts?! Four of the five facts he uttered, the one thing he got right—
CONWAY: Hey, Chuck, why— Hey Chuck—
TODD: —was Zeke Miller. Four of the five facts he uttered were just not true. Look, alternative facts are not facts. They're falsehoods.
CONWAY: Chuck, do you think it's a fact or not that millions of people have lost their plans or health insurance and their doctors under President Obama? Do you think it's a fact that everything we heard from these women yesterday happened on the watch of Barack Obama? He was president for eight years. Donald Trump's been here for about eight hours. Do you think it's a fact that millions of women, 16.1 million women, as I stand here before you today, are in poverty along with their kids? Do you think it's a fact that millions don't have health care? Do you think it's a fact that we spent billions of dollars on education in the last eight years only to have millions of kids still stuck in schools that fail them every single day? These are the facts that I want the press corps to cover—
CONWAY: And these are—this is why I'm here at the White House—
TODD: But I understand this.
CONWAY: —to change awful—
TODD: What I don't understand is—
CONWAY: —numbers like that.
TODD: —that is not what yesterday was about. So you—
CONWAY: Yes it is.
TODD: —have not answered the qu— You did not answer the question the—
CONWAY: It's what this presidency's going to be about.
TODD: You sent the Press Secretary out there to utter a falsehood on the smallest, pettiest thing.
CONWAY: I don't think that anybody can prove the—
TODD: And I don't understand why you did it.
CONWAY: —look, I actually don't think that— Maybe this is me as a pollster, Chuck. And you know data well. I don't think you can prove those numbers one way or the other. There's no way to really quantify crowds. We all know that.
TODD: [chuckles incredulously]
CONWAY: You can laugh at me all you want. But I'm very glad—
TODD: I'm not laughing. I'm just befuddled.
CONWAY: Well, but you are. And I think it's actually symbolic of the way we're treated by the press. The way that you just laughed at me is actually symbolic of the way—very representative of the way we're treated by the press. I'll just ignore it. I'm bigger than that. I'm a kind and gracious person.
Todd wanted to know why Spicer would be sent out to lie. And Conway's answer came in two parts:
1. That he was offering "alternative facts" and no one can prove otherwise.
2. "It's what this presidency's going to be about."
That last part, which has gotten virtually no attention compared to the "alternative facts" line, is the real meat of her answer. This presidency is "going to be about" disseminating misinformation in order to discredit the media and create chaos, from which Trump will then promise to deliver us.
That is the playbook of authoritarians. Undermine trust in institutions; sow discord; create chaos; and then position themselves as uniquely capable of saving The People from the very horror show the strongman himself created.
Conway did answer. It's just that Todd, like most of the corporate media, isn't listening with ears primed to hear what she is saying, because they are still in denial about the fact that they helped elect a despot.