You were lied to on Saturday.
“We do know a few things, so let’s go through the facts,” said Sean Spicer, the new White House press secretary. “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration. Period.”
His statement in a live broadcasted “press conference,” can easily be proven false by photographs comparing Friday’s inauguration to President Barack Obama’s first inauguration in 2009.
On Sunday, Kellyanne Conway, a senior aide for President Donald Trump said Spicer’s comments were “alternative facts.”
There is no such thing as an alternative fact — either something is a fact, or it is not. To have the leaders of our country try to dictate truth, because they don’t like what they’re hearing, is dangerous. It opens the door for propaganda and the stifling of free speech.
Simply put, the White House did not like the facts journalists and news outlets researched and reported, so it created its own account. The government has lied before, as proved by the Pentagon Papers and Watergate scandal. But to see officials lie about easily checked facts, and to do so in such a blatant manner, is an insult to the fundamental purpose of journalism.
At the forefront, journalists are not concerned with getting a story that will make the most money or attract the most traffic from readers.
Our concern is to get it right.
We exist because knowledge of the world around us is a fundamental right. We research and analyze because understanding what it means to be a part of this society is a fundamental right. We do everything we do because freedom of speech and freedom of information are fundamental rights.
The freedom of the press is cemented in the Constitution, right after the freedom of speech. They are rights recognized by the government, and they come without stipulation. There is no “give-and-take” with freedom of the press and our relationship with the government.
It’s clichéd, but there is a reason journalists make up the “Fourth Estate,” the watchdog of the executive, legislative and judicial branches. It is our job to hold the powerful accountable, and to inform the public of their actions.
We hold no loyalty to the powerful because all that we say and all that we do is for you.
The Temple News is dedicated to reporting the facts. We do not just strive to be the watchdogs for the Temple community, but actively engage as such.
We are not afraid to file Right-To-Know requests to get you information that you need to know. Everything the university does affects students, faculty and our surrounding community. We take the responsibility of documenting and investigating those happenings very seriously because it is your right to know what happens.
But this freedom of the press cannot come without help from you.
We will continue to publish the facts and provide context for our community, but we need your support. We need to know that you are still willing to read, watch and listen to what journalists are reporting about the world around you.
News organizations strive to, but don’t always get things right upon first publication, and it is up to you to tell us. The leaders of our world, the powers in our lives, do not always tell us the truth, and we need you to join us in holding them accountable.
Tell them that we are a free press, because that is essential to remaining a free people.
The powerful cannot get away with telling lies if they know that we have access to the truth.
That’s a fact.