Published: Monday, January 23, 2017 @ 10:44 AM
Updated: Monday, January 23, 2017 @ 11:54 AM
By: Brianna Chambers - Cox Media Group National Content Desk
Frank Luna contributed to this report.
During a interview Sunday with Kellyanne Conway, NBC's Chuck Todd asked the counselor to the president why the new White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, "(uttered) a provable falsehood" when talking about the size of the crowd that attended the inauguration of President Donald Trump on Friday.
During his first official press conference, Spicer scolded the media for its reporting on the size of the crowd at Friday's inauguration.
"This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period," Spicer said, contradicting all available data.
Barack Obama's first inauguration on Jan. 20, 2009, attracted the largest crowd of people on record, with an estimated 1.8 million attendees.
Official estimates of attendees at the inauguration of Donald Trump have not been recorded, but preliminary estimates said 700,000 to 900,000 people were expected to attend the event on Friday.
Conway, on NBC's "Meet the Press," defended Spicer by suggesting he was putting forth "alternate facts" in reference to the crowd size.
"Why (did) the president ask the White House press secretary to come out in front of the podium for the first time and utter a falsehood?" Todd asked. "It undermines the credibility of the entire White House press office on day one."
"No it doesn't. Don't be so overly dramatic about it," Conway said. "You're saying it's a falsehood … and Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts."
"Wait a minute, alternative facts?" Todd said. "Four of the five facts he uttered were just not true. Alternative facts are not facts. They are falsehoods."
Merriam-Webster, known for publishing dictionaries, took to Twitter Sunday after the interview to clarify the definition of "fact."
"A fact is a piece of information presented as having objective reality," the tweet said.
The tweet was liked more than 40,000 times.
A fact is a piece of information presented as having objective reality.https://t.co/gCKRZZm23c— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) January 22, 2017
Merriam-Webster said that "lookups for 'fact' spiked after Kellyanne Conway described false statements as 'alternative facts.'"
"In contemporary use, fact is generally understood to refer to something with actual existence, or presented as having objective reality," the listed definition explained.
Lauren Naturale, Merriam-Webster's social media manager, is known for posting sarcastic messages on the company's social media platforms.