Sean Spicer
Credit: C-Span/Screengrab

During today’s White House press conference held by newly-minted press secretary Sean Spicer, two new ideas were unfurled on an unsuspecting American public. The first is that a belief you have held for a while () has some kind of special standing. So, the president’s belief that he only lost the popular vote by millions of votes because many millions more ineligible people voted for his opponent than for him…that’s not news.  That’s not subject to scrutiny or discussion. If it were a new belief, maybe that would be different. But, since it’s not a new belief, it is somehow uncontroversial and truthier.

The second new idea is that the president can justify holding flatly false beliefs by appealing to “studies and evidence that have been presented to him” () even if no one else has seen those studies and evidence or those studies and evidence are fake or comically flawed.

Clearly, Sean Spicer was not prepared to say that he shared the president’s bizarre and false belief that millions of ineligible voters threw the popular vote to Hillary Clinton, but neither was he willing to express any personal doubt about the myth or to imply that the president might simply be crazy.

As you might imagine, this basically spoiled what otherwise might have been considered a competent press briefing.

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Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at