If Conway doesn’t start enhancing her own credibility, she’ll have to update those numbers. She’s the presidential counselor who joined the Trump campaign last summer and helped to steer it toward victory in November. Though she’s remarkably glib in countering tough questions from journalists on live television, this skill has begun drifting toward weakness. As she attempted to stand behind the disastrous, falsehood-filled statement of White House press secretary Sean Spicer on the day after the inauguration, she made her famous remark about “alternative facts.”
Last Thursday night, Conway referred to a terrorist act that never occurred. “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,” she said on “Hardball” with Chris Matthews. “Most people don’t know that because it didn’t get covered.”
Isolated mistake? Maybe not. Cosmopolitan.com reports that she’d used even more hardened language in a Jan. 29 interview: “He did, it’s a fact,” said Conway of President Obama. “Why did he do that? He did that for exactly the same reasons. He did that because two Iraqi nationals came to this country, joined ISIS, traveled back to the Middle East to get trained and refine their terrorism skills, and come back here, and were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre of taking innocent soldiers’ lives away.”
CNN declined to welcome Conway onto the set of Jake Tapper’s “State of the Union” over the weekend. The reasons? Because Team Trump volunteered her instead of Vice President Mike Pence, but also because of “serious questions about her credibility,” according to the New York Times. Once that story gained some attention online, Conway fled to Twitter with all the confidence of a truth referee:
. @KellyannePolls was offered to SOTU on Sunday by the White House. We passed. Those are the facts.
What we have here is a case of what parenting experts call “natural consequences”: If you make excuses for falsehoods and commit them as well, TV news outlets might just find cause to banish you. As far as this blog is concerned, news organizations should welcome whatever White House rep is offered — and clean up any empirical messes with subsequent fact checks. Yet this is the Trump administration, and television purveyors should embrace all manner of experimentation in handling official spreaders of falsity. If CNN and others are considering a scale-back on people like Conway, though, what’s their policy on President Trump, an incorrigible on-air liar?