“I bet it’s brand-new information to people that President Obama had a six-month ban on the Iraqi refugee program after two Iraqis came here to this country, were radicalized, and were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green Massacre. Most people don’t know that because it didn’t get covered.” — Kellyanne Conway on MSNBC. 02.02.17
President Obama didn’t impose a six-month ban on refugees and there was no Bowling Green Massacre. The story Kellyanne Conway was referring to as justification for the president’s immigration ban was the 2013 sentencing of two Iraqi citizens living in Bowling Green, Kentucky, after they were found guilty of providing material support to Al Qaeda in Iraq.
If the new president’s top communication adviser had simply misspoken as she later claimed, reporters and social media critics might have brushed it off as an unfortunate verbal gaffe. But Conway was lambasted for the mistake because her credibility had already been disappearing. The former pollster and political commentator had twisted the truth–a.k.a. “spinning”–far too often when talking to reporters, most notably when she defended Press Secretary Sean Spicer after he inflated the size of the inauguration’s audience by saying he was providing “alternative facts.”
As Conway has taken on the difficult task of representing and often defending her factually-challenged boss, she’s damaged her own reputation to the point that reporters have come to expect her to twist reality. “For sheer, jaw-dropping wonder…a typical Conway television interview…is a circus of euphemisms, a festival of distractions and a testament to the stamina of a willed smile,” wrote Frank Bruni in The New York Times last month. “No claim is too laughable or denial too ludicrous if it counters the supposed insidiousness of the other side.”
After a spokesperson or a PR practitioner loses the trust of the public as well as their media relationships, it can almost never be recovered. Kellyanne Conway’s “alternative facts” are now subjected to daily ridicule of pundits, reporters, and comedians (watch “SNL”) alike. She’s become an excellent case study in why the truth really matters, and why spin on behalf of any client–especially the White House–is ultimately destructive. Your thoughts?