Shortly after President Donald Trump's inauguration, adviser Kellyanne Conway visibly swallowed her pride and coined the phrase "alternative facts.” The term has since come to define the Trump administration’s interpretation of reality and loose relationship with the truth.
This relationship is the subject of the upcoming April 3 cover of Time magazine. Graphic artist Lon Tweeten created an image that poses a simple but jarring question: “Is Truth Dead?”
It's an homage to a famous cover from Time's April 8, 1966, edition that asked the question, “Is God Dead?” At the time, there was much public debate about the role of God in a secular society and an increasingly scientific world.
The suggestion for the 1966 cover came from Time Inc. founder Henry Luce, who wrote a letter to editor Otto Fuerbringer stating that “only God could paint a portrait of God.” It was the first Time cover to feature no image, as no visual options seemed sufficient.
In the April 3 edition, Time interviewed Trump and specifically addressed the roles that truth and falsehood have played in his career. The interview covered everything from his recent false claims that former President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower, to his insinuation that Ted Cruz’s father helped Lee Harvey Oswald assassinate John F. Kennedy. In true Trump form, it is long-winded, rambling, and leaves the reader grasping at straws.
Many are reticent to call this period of history “The Era of Trump.” Perhaps it makes more sense to call this “The Era of Truth?” Since the beginning of his campaign, Trump has made his alternate reality a key topic of public discourse and, in turn, made us question what we previously took for granted: truth. He consistently calls credible media outlets “fake news,” tweets direct contradictions to real-time stories, and propagates lies by questionable sources like Breitbart. He’s divided the American people from not only each other, but their own sense of reality.