Email #49, Subject: the press secretary lied

I watched our new Press Secretary stand in front of a room of White House reporters and say: “This is the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration. Period.”  His statement contradicts all available information from all available sources. Fox News reported:

“Photos of the National Mall from his inauguration make clear that the crowd did not extend to the Washington Monument. Large swaths of empty space are visible on the Mall. Thin crowds and partially empty bleachers also dotted the inaugural parade route. Hotels across the District of Columbia reported vacancies, a rarity for an event as large as a presidential inauguration. And ridership on the Washington’s Metro system didn’t match that of recent inaugurations.”

I don’t care how many people did or did not attend the inauguration. I don’t even care what Donald Trump claims on his personal Twitter account. But I very much care that the spokesperson of the executive branch of our government is capable and willing to make statements that are overwhelmingly and verifiably false. This is not “spin.” All press secretaries emphasize and deemphasize certain facts over others. All press secretaries interpret facts for favorable effects. But I have never seen such an excessive and unflinching disregard for truth before. Inauguration attendance numbers are irrelevant, and yet Sean Spicer still lied about them. How can Americans trust him about things that really do matter?

Because the Republican party controls all of Congress, only the Republican party can exert control over President Trump. While there are many issues conservatives and liberals can disagree about, this is not one of them. The White House Press Secretary cannot be allowed to flagrantly lie. As Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, you are in a position of not only great authority but of great responsibility. How are you responding to the exective branch’s abuse of the office of the Press Secretary to disseminate false information?

Chris Gavaler

Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an associate professor at W&L University, comics editor of Shenandoah, and series editor of Bloomsbury Critical Guides in Comics Studies. He has published two novels: School for Tricksters (SMU 2011) and Pretend I’m Not Here (HarperCollins 2002); and six books of scholarship: On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa 2015), Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury 2017), Superhero Thought Experiments (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Iowa 2019), Revising Fiction, Fact, and Faith (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Routledge 2020), Creating Comics (with Leigh Ann Beavers, Bloomsbury 2021), and The Comics Form (Bloomsbury forthcoming). His visual work appears in Ilanot Review, North American Review, Aquifer, and other journals.

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