Alternative facts: Donald Trump aide Kellyanne Conway meant to say something else, claims controversial book

It was actually a slip-up by Conway, Michael Wolff claims in his book, 'Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House'.

Alternative facts: Donald Trump aide Kellyanne Conway meant to say something else, claims controversial book
Kellyanne Conway's 'alternative facts' defence gave opponents a mantra to club the Trump administration with. (File picture)

Do you remember last year, when "alternative facts" sparked a frenzy in the US? It turns out Donald Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway may not have meant to say those words, and ended up saying a word that meant something entirely different.

The outrageously controversial fly-on-the wall account of the early days of the Donald Trump presidency - Michael Wolff's 'Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House' - suggests the entire blowback was a result of a simple slip-up by Conway.

Conway had said those words a day after the now-infamous proclamation by then Press Secretary Sean Spicer, that Trump had drawn the "largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period." 

The Trump administration's uneasy relationship with truth and the battles with the media began that day.

Kellyanne Conway, a Trump surrogate through the unlikely campaign, turned up on NBC News the next day in an interview with Trump baiter Chuck Todd. He asked her if bringing Spicer out to claim a provable falsehood amounted to a devaluation of the entire White House.

Conway responded with a line that sparked raging controversy in the real and cyber worlds. "You are saying it's a falsehood. And they are saying Sean Spicer, our Press Secretary, gave 'alternative facts' to that," she said.

Todd cut in. "Wait a minute. Alternative facts? … Look, alternative facts are not facts. They are falsehoods."

And here is how this is how this exchange figures in Michael Wolff's controversial book, which has shot to global notoriety thanks to Donald Trump's decision to declare war on it - on Twitter and with a legal notice trying to stop the book's release.

"The next day Kellyanne Conway, her aggressive posture during the campaign turning more and more to petulance and self-pity, asserted the new president's right to claim 'alternative facts.' As it happened, Conway meant to say 'alternative information,' which at least would imply there might be additional data," Wolff claims in his book.

"But as uttered, it certainly sounded like the new administration was claiming the right to recast reality. Which, in a sense, it was. Although, in Conway's view, it was the media doing the recasting (hence "fake news") out of a molehill (an honest minor exaggeration, albeit of vast proportions)," read the paragraph on the two words that have gone on to become a raging internet meme.

Conway's comment became the club with which a vast majority of the American media would beat down anything that came out of the Trump White House for months afterwards.

One word that apparently that came out differently. And it probably made the biggest difference in the way the Trump presidency was perceived, period.

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