Wednesday, January 25, 2017

7 'Alternative Facts' from the White House

23 Jan 2017

WASHINGTON (NYTIMES) - Ms Kellyanne Conway, counsellor to President Donald Trump, said on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday (Jan 22) that the White House had put forth "alternative facts" to the ones reported by the news media about the size of the inauguration crowd.

She made this assertion a day after Mr Trump and Mr Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, accused the media of reporting falsehoods about the inauguration and Mr Trump's relationship with the intelligence agencies.

In leveling this attack, the president and Mr Spicer made a series of false statements.

Here are five [updated to seven] of their statements and the facts:


1. In a speech at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) on Saturday, Mr Trump said the news media had constructed a feud between him and the intelligence community. "They sort of made it sound like I had a 'feud' with the intelligence community," he said. "It is exactly the opposite, and they understand that, too."

Fact check: Mr Trump repeatedly criticised the intelligence agencies during his transition to office and has questioned their conclusion that Russia meddled in the election to aid his candidacy. He called their assessment "ridiculous" and suggested that it had been politically motivated.

After the disclosure of a dossier with unsubstantiated claims about him, Mr Trump alleged that the intelligence agencies had allowed a leak of the material. "Are we living in Nazi Germany?" he asked in a post on Twitter.


Mr Trump said of his inauguration crowd: "It looked honestly like a million and a half people, whatever it was, it was, but it went all the way back to the Washington Monument."

Fact check: Aerial photographs clearly show that the crowd did not stretch to the Washington Monument. An analysis by The New York Times, comparing photographs to the ones taken of Mr Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration, showed that Mr Trump's crowd was significantly smaller and less than the 1.5 million people he claimed.


Mr Trump said that though he had been "hit by a couple of drops" of rain as he began his address on Inauguration Day, the sky soon cleared. "And the truth is, it stopped immediately, and then became sunny," he said. "And I walked off, and it poured after I left. It poured."

Fact check: The truth is that it began to rain lightly almost exactly as Trump began to speak and continued to do so throughout his remarks, which lasted about 18 minutes, and after he finished.


"This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration - period - both in person and around the globe," Mr Spicer said.

Fact check: There is no evidence to support this claim. Not only was Mr Trump's inauguration crowd far smaller than Mr Obama's in 2009, but he also drew fewer television viewers in the United States (30.6 million) than Mr Obama did in 2009 (38 million) and Mr Ronald Reagan did in 1981 (42 million), Nielsen reported.


Mr Spicer said that Washington's Metro system had greater ridership on Inauguration Day than it did for Mr Obama's 2013 inauguration. "We know that 420,000 people used the D.C. Metro public transit... which actually compares to 317,000 that used it for President Obama's last inaugural," he said.

Fact check: Neither number is correct, according to the transit system, which reported 570,557 entries into the rail system , compared with 782,000 on Inauguration Day in 2013.


Mr Spicer said "this was the first time in our nation's history that floor coverings have been used to protect the grass on the Mall. That had the effect of highlighting any areas where people were not standing, while in years past the grass eliminated this visual."

Fact check: Similar coverings were used during the 2013 inauguration to protect the grass. The coverings did not hamper analyses of the crowd size.


Mr Spicer said that it was "the first time that fencing and magnetometers went as far back on the Mall, preventing hundreds of thousands of people from being able to access the Mall as quickly as they had in inaugurations past."

Fact check: The Secret Service said security measures were largely unchanged this year. There were also few reports of long lines or delays.

[How to create an Alternative Reality (note: old news, from The Hollywood Reporter]

Donald Trump Campaign Offered Actors $50 to Cheer for Him at Presidential Announcement


by Aaron Couch , Emmet McDermott

A casting call was sent out last week "looking to cast people for the event to wear t-shirts and carry signs and help cheer him in support of his announcement."

Donald Trump's big presidential announcement Tuesday was made a little bigger with help from paid actors — at $50 a pop.

New York-based Extra Mile Casting sent an email last Friday to its client list of background actors, seeking extras to beef up attendance at Trump's event.

"We are looking to cast people for the event to wear t-shirts and carry signs and help cheer him in support of his announcement," reads the June 12 email, obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. "We understand this is not a traditional 'background job,' but we believe acting comes in all forms and this is inclusive of that school of thought." (Read the full email at the bottom of the post.)

The pay was listed as $50 for less than three hours of work. According to the email, Extra Mile was reaching out to potential extras in partnership with Gotham Government Relations and Communications, a New York-Based political consulting group that has worked with Trump in the past. Gotham GR had no comment.

Questions as to whether the Trump campaign had hired extras were first raised Wednesday by anti-Trump activist Angelo Carusone, who came across an Instagram photo showing a man he recognized as a background actor posing at the Trump event. Carusone screengrabbed the photo of the actor, Domenico Del Giacco, and published it in a blog post. The photo shows Del Giacco with a woman, identified in the now-deleted Instagram post as actress Courtney Klotz. (Del Giacco has since deleted his entire Instagram account.)

When reached for comment about the Trump casting call, a person who answered the phone at Extra Mile said, "We don't know anything about that." When pressed about whether this response was a denial of the story, the person said she couldn't comment further and hung up. Additional calls to Extra Mile went unanswered.

Asked if Trump paid anyone to attend the event, campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said "no," and that he had never heard of Extra Mile or Gotham GR.

"Mr. Trump draws record crowds at almost every venue at which he is a featured speaker," Lewandowski told The Hollywood Reporter. "The crowds are large, often record-setting and enthusiastic, often with standing ovations. Mr. Trump's message is, 'Make America great again.'"

A still from Tuesday's 'Daily Show.'
Jon Stewart Rejoices at Donald Trump Presidential Campaign: "There's a Crazy Person Running"
Del Giacco and Klotz did not respond to a request for comment.

In politics, "astroturfing" is the term for hiring people to attend a rally or event in order to lend the appearance of grassroots support. Astroturfing is typically contracted out to political consulting firms, much like Gotham GR. The practice is considered bad form.

Here's the full email from Extra Mile, with contact information redacted.
Hi there—
We are working helping one of are [sic] associates out at Gotham GR - with a big event happening on TUESDAY 6/16/15.
This is an event in support of Donald Trump and an upcoming exciting announcement he will be making at this event.
This event is called “People for a Stronger America.” The entire group is a pro-small business group that is dedicated to encouraging Donald Trump and his latest ventures. This event will be televised.
We are looking to cast people for the event to wear t-shirts and carry signs and help cheer him in support of his announcement.
We understand this is not a traditional “background job,” but we believe acting comes in all forms and this is inclusive of that school of thought.
This event is happening LIVE and will be from 8:45AM-11:30AM. LESS THAN 3 HOURS
This will take place inside / interior.
The rate for this is: $50 CASH at the end of the event.
We would love to book you if you are interested and still available.
Please let us know and we will get back to you with confirmation.

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