“Trump uses CIA visit to tout size of crowd,” (TNT, 1/22).
The word “tout” means to make much of; promote, talk up. Is that the key issue here?
The entire world has seen dozens of still and video images showing the unprecedented size of the crowds who showed up, not for the inauguration, but for the next day’s march for women’s rights. But sadly, our new press secretary and presidential senior adviser lied about this.
When Sean Spicer used his first White House press conference to claim that “this was the largest audience to .ever witness an inauguration,” we gasped. Could he not see with his own eyes the evidence we saw with ours? And when Kellyanne Conway defended Spicer’s lie, renaming it “alternative facts,” we could only think of George Orwell.
Journalists are at a fork in the road now. They can use weasel words that straddle facts and “alternative facts,” thereby acquiescing to an Orwellian reality. This is how language is going to be used now.
Or they can heed Edward R. Murrow: “To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; to be credible we must be truthful. It is as simple as that.”