So the new White House press secretary Sean Spicer has ripped into the media for what he calls "fake news" reporting about the size of Donald Trump’s inauguration crowd.
Spicer was taking issue with media reports that said Trump's crowd was much smaller than those at Barack Obama's two inaugurations.
"This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration - period - both in person and around the globe," he told reporters at an extraordinary press conference.
If this were true, Spicer's hectoring tone would have been more than justified. But the claim was ludicrous.
All the available data suggests that Mr Trump’s crowd, while sizeable, was far smaller than those in 2013 and 2009.
For instance, Spicer said 420,000 people used the Washington DC metro system on Friday, compared to 317,000 for Obama in 2013. In fact, 571,000 trips were taken on Friday, compared to 783,000 on the day of Obama's second inauguration.
But in the face of overwhelming evidence, Trump's team is sticking to its guns.
Today his senior advisor, Kellyanne Conway, said that Spicer had simply been presenting the media with a set of "alternative facts".
Let that phrase roll around in your head for a moment. Bathe in its Orwellian slipperiness, which suggests that what's true is merely a matter of interpretation.
I am not a Trump-hater - I feel uncomfortable with his behaviour towards women and his race-based policies, but I am interested in his populist, anti-globalist agenda.
Trump, Brexit and the rebirth of Pauline Hanson in Australia feel like part of a broader reaction against free trade and I think you're blind if you can't see that. I'll be very surprised if we don’t see something similar at New Zealand’s upcoming elections.
But tearing down the journalists as liars, even when they tell the truth, is a despot's tactic.
I know that many people think the media is inherently untrustworthy. To them, Trump must seem like a new breeze, blowing out the cobwebs that lying journalists have spun.
Journalists make mistakes. Some allow their liberal (and conservative) beliefs to shape their reporting. Some let inconvenient truths slide in the pursuit of a punchy headline.
But the journalists I work with every day don't make up facts. We try our best to work out what is really going on. You might not believe me, but it's true.
Donald Trump seems to be gearing up for a sustained attack on press credibility, with the administration promising to fight journalists "tooth and nail".
Presumably some kind of regulation may be on the cards - Ms Conway has already called on CNN to sack journalists for revealing the existence of a now-infamous intelligence report that claimed Russia had damaging video of the president.
There are plenty of people out there who think this is great - that finally the "lying media" is being held to account.
I see it differently. Part of the media's job - and arguably it's the most important part - is to hold publicly-elected politicians to account.
Trump has expressed admiration for Vladimir Putin on a number of occasions. It's not clear if that extends to the Russian president’s treatment of dissenting media organisations.
In Russia, there is generally one set of facts - the government's. Opposing viewpoints and independent media are more or less openly suppressed. Mr Putin is free to prosecute his agenda without the interference of a pesky press.
Democracies need actual facts, not alternative facts. Even if they're a smoke screen to divert the media from more substantive matters, Mr Trump's tactics are opening to door to further erosion of press credibility - and ultimately a less-free media environment.