Alternate reality and alternative facts

Illustration by Cole Eisenhour

Since Jan. 20, the United States has lived in its own reality that is being carefully constructed by the Trump administration. This administration coined the term “alternative facts,” which has become increasingly relevant to the information coming out of the White House. This is a troubling and dangerous trend that needs to be recognized and addressed if the American people have any hope of recognizing fact from fiction.

One of the most enduring claims made by President Trump is that of voter fraud. He has repeatedly claimed that up to 3 million illegal immigrants, dead people and people registered to vote in multiple states, are responsible for him losing the popular vote. However, he has not provided any evidence to support this claim, aside from twisting information in several studies to support falsified conclusions.

When Press Secretary Sean Spicer was questioned about Trump’s inaccurate claims, he countered by stating that these were long held beliefs that the president has had. The danger here is that a belief is not a fact, and no matter how long something is believed, it doesn’t make it true. Fun actual fact, multiple members of the Trump family, and several advisers, are registered to vote in multiple states. It’s worth noting that this itself is not illegal, but would be if they tried voting in multiple states.

Trump claimed that the viewing audience of his inauguration was the largest in history, which was repeated by Sean Spicer. The truth is that Trump’s inauguration crowd size did not reach the Washington Monument, like Trump claimed. In fact, more people attended the Women’s March the following day than attended the inauguration. An estimated 30.6 million people tuned in to Trump’s inauguration, which is certainly a large amount. However, 38 million watched Obama’s inaugural address 8 years ago.

Trump claimed that it’s far easier for a Muslim from Syria to enter the country than a Christian from Syria. Seeing as Christians account for roughly 5 percent of the Syrian population, there are undoubtedly going to be fewer Christians coming over compared to Muslims.

Trump claimed that the U.S. is seeing the highest murder rate in the past 47 years, as well as a rise in violent crimes. According to the FBI, violent crime rates did increase 3.9 percent from 2014 to 2015. However, this information is misleading, as the crime rate has dropped 15.6 percent since 2008. While he’s right that violent crime rates are rising, it’s still at one of the lowest points in the past 45 years.

These falsehoods may seem inconsequential, but they highlight the incredibly important job of you, the informed American, to act as a fact-checker and hold those in power accountable. This job is even more important now, as the American people are being bombarded with misleading information and fake news. This misinformation can come from a variety of outlets, including social media, seemingly reputable news sources and the White House itself.

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