Trumping Truth

Essays on the Destructive Power of “Alternative Facts”

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About the Book

When Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Trump, coined the phrase “alternative facts” in January 2017, objectivity in public discourse—the long-held belief in a more or less agreed-upon set of verifiable truths—went into a tailspin. The use of alternative facts and narratives quickly became the go-to rhetorical strategy, especially among Trump’s administration and base. Rebuttals based on fact-checking and hard data were demoted to mere choices in a media bazaar where consumers are free to source their own versions of reality. This volume explores the social and political disruption accompanying the loss of faith in objectivity, along with reflections on the disregard for truth and honesty, both within the Trump Administration and in contemporary popular culture.

About the Author(s)

Salvador Jiménez Murguía is associate professor of sociology at Akita International University in Japan.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Salvador Jiménez Murguía

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 251
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2019
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7909-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3765-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Preface 1
Introduction 3

Part 1: Trump Administration Observations
(Not So) White Lies: “Rapists,” “Bad Hombres” and Donald Trump’s Conflation of “Mexicans” with “Illegal Immigration” During an Era of Declining Migration from Mexico (Justin D. García) 15
The Irony at the Heart of Fake News and Alternative Facts (Robin Blom) 39
“Rope. Tree. Journalist. Some Assembly Required”: Donald Trump’s War on Journalism (Jim Clarke) 53
Departing from the Truth and Alternative Realities: The Wrongful Death of Marvin Booker (Sig Langegger ) 65

Part 2: Philosophical Observations
Sophistry Redux: Mythology and Ancient Rhetoric Reborn in the Trump Age (Andrew Grossman) 87
On Faith/Trust and Confidence in an Alterfactual Sense (Sabatino DiBernardo) 107
What Is a Politician? (Christopher W. Thurley) 123

Part 3: Historical Observations
Of Crowd Sizes and Casualties: The Ominous Similarities Between ­Trump-Era America and Wartime Japan in the Use of Alternative Facts (Sean D. ­O’Reilly) 139
Wild Irishmen, Alternative Facts and the Construction of America’s First “Wall” (Debra Reddin van Tuyll) 150
The Alternative Electorate: Mapping ­Trumped-Up Claims of Voter Fraud in the 2016 Election (Jacopo della Quercia) 171

Part 4: Pop Cultural Observations
Speaking ­Post-Truth to Power: Comedy as Alternative Facts in Saturday Night Live (Melanie Piper) 179
The Oven That Cooked Up Pizzagate: 4chan’s Politically Incorrect Board and ­Alt-Right Conspiracy Culture (Jeffrey J. Hall) 193
From Mary Tyler Moore to Kellyanne Conway: Constructing a Synthetic Media Environment (Terri Toles Patkin ) 206

About the Contributors 223
Bibliography 225
Index 241