On January 22, presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway went on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and defended a (provably false) statement by the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, about the size of the crowd at his boss’s swearing-in ceremony. Spicer wasn’t telling lies, Conway insisted; he was presenting “alternative facts.”
The phrase quickly became a social-media meme and an entry in Urban Dictionary. (Definition: “The worst of the four classifications of lies: lies, damned lies, statistics, alternative facts. Alternative facts are distinguished from the other damnable lies by the addition of gaslighting the listener.”)
And then it appeared in ads.