Column: Trump lies visible from all angles

The new presidential administration brought in their first day by telling a boldfaced lie to the American people based on the petty insecurities of our new president, Donald Trump, and a shameless, blatant disregard for the truth.

Saturday, when millions of Americans took to the streets to join the women’s marches that swept the nation, Donald Trump was more concerned with the reports and photos that showed a meager audience at his inauguration in comparison to Obama’s record-setting 2009 and respectable 2013 turnouts.

It’s almost comical the leader of the free world would have such an easily bruisable ego to care about such a thing in the first place. But Trump, always one to break away from precedent, made his frustrations clear Saturday afternoon. He did so, of all places, in front of the CIA Memorial Wall of Agency, a wall which commemorates CIA officers who have died in the line of duty. It was a stunning sight of sheer narcissism, as Trump crassly suggested that there could have been a million to a million and a half people at the ceremony, a number that even the most generous projections have yet to near.

But this was only the beginning of the downward spiral. Later on, Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer, in his first White House briefing, declared the event had “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period,” showed photos of the crowd from a dramatically different vantage point as “proof” and stormed out of the briefing room without answering any questions. Spicer refused to walk back his claim in a Monday briefing.

Yes, Spicer was lying to the American people about something so demonstrably false — something you can see with your own eyes — that his appearance had an almost comical tone. But, as the day wore on, Spicer’s ridiculous claim lost its humor as pundits and the American people began to wonder if the Trump administration would be so keen to fib about things that actually matter.

This anxiety only deepened when Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, former Trump campaign manager and occasional Civil War cosplayer, told Meet the Press host Chuck Todd that Spicer was simply offering the media “alternative facts” at the press briefing. Todd immediately attacked Conway’s newly invented phrase, but Conway managed to spin and deflect herself out of the controversial, but telling moment, as she often does (it’s, admittedly, sort of impressive). Moments earlier in the broadcast, Conway presented Todd and presumably the entire media, with a thinly veiled threat, implying there may be consequences if some organizations don’t come around to the Trump team’s erroneous vision of the truth.

“If we’re going to keep referring to our press secretary in those types of terms, I think that we’re going to have to rethink our relationship here,” Conway said.

But it’s not the media’s responsibility to have a positive relationship with figures who have a flagrantly inaccurate concept of reality. And there aren’t “alternative facts.” Denying something the American people can see with their own eyes is so insulting that the Trump administration may as well be telling the American people that the sky is red rather than blue (which, who knows what will happen now that the White House website has removed any mention of climate change).

While the inauguration crowd may be a matter of optics, the lies that followed can be seen from any angle: In only a day, and less than forty-eight hours after Trump took his oath, three members of the administration lied to the American people three times, lacking subtly, smarts and shame in all three attempts. These weren’t “falsehoods” and these weren’t “misrepresentations of the facts.” All Americans — those who voted for Trump and otherwise — should take concern with the ease of which this occurred. If the Trump administration can lie about something so utterly meaningless, what might they lie about in the future?

Jared Casto can be contacted at [email protected]