BOSTON (CBS) – Part of my job most days is to watch the daily White House briefing, on the unlikely chance that some actual news might be made there.
Usually, it’s a tedious bore.
But Tuesday was different.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer engaged in a heated and unintentionally hilarious debate over whether or not President Donald Trump’s immigration crackdown on travelers from several predominantly-Muslim countries constitutes a “travel ban.”
Spicer insisted it did not.
‘‘When we use words like travel ban that misrepresents what it is,” he said. ‘‘A ban would mean people can’t get in.’’
And when incredulous reporters noted that just hours before, the president himself had referred to the action as a “ban” in one of his patented tweets, Spicer blamed the media for putting that inaccurate word in Trump’s mouth.
“I think that the words being used to describe it are derived from what the media is calling this,” he said with a straight face.
That’s classic comedy. But the whole story really is no laughing matter.
As you know if you’re one of the many readers who’ve rushed out to buy George Orwell’s books in search of guidance about a universe where “alternative facts” rule, he who controls the language of the news controls its meaning, and can twist that to their own ends.
It’s like when the Democrats named Obamacare the “Affordable Care Act,” which comes as a surprise to those stuck with unaffordable deductibles.
So Sean, your play here isn’t to blame the media; you need to run out and pick up copies of “1984” and “Animal Farm” for the boss right away.
Listen to Jon’s commentary: