“You’re saying it’s falsehoods,” she said to host Chuck Todd, who asked her why White House Press Secretary was lying about the crowd size at Donald Trump’s inauguration. “And they’re giving -—Sean Spicer, our press secretary — gave alternative facts.”
The connection between “alternative facts” and Orwell’s 1949 classic was made on CNN’s Reliable Sources, where Washington Post reporter Karen Tumulty said, “Alternative facts is a George Orwell phrase.”
Readers began comparing “alternative facts” to Orwell’s concept of “Newspeak,” the language of Oceania designed to limit the freedom of thought. Orwell’s “Principles of Newspeak” further explain that the language “was designed not to extend but to diminish the range of thought, and this purpose was indirectly assisted by cutting the choice of words down to a minimum.”
Other 1984 fans pointed out that “alternative facts” had an eerie link to Orwell’s phrase “doublethink,” which “means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them,” he wrote.
Conway’s comments were widely condemned — even by Merriam-Webster, who tweeted out the definition of a “fact” — and The Daily Show and Late Night with Seth Meyers ripped into the comments during televised segments. “Kellyanne Conway is like someone trying to do the Jedi mind trick after only a week of Jedi training,” Meyers said on his show Monday night. “These may seem like small lies but the small lies inoculate us against bigger lies. They make facts a matter of partisan debate rather than accepted shared reality. It may be crowd sizes now, but soon much bigger decisions will come when reality will matter.”