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Hillary Rodham Clinton rails against fake news, trolls and Trump in a speech at Wellesley College

The former senator and secretary of state lamented a “full-fledged assault on truth and reason.”

Children's Health Fund Annual Benefit 2017 Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Children's Health Fund

Hillary Clinton launched a broadside against fake news, online trolls and her Republican opponent in the 2016 election, now-embattled President Donald Trump, in a speech Friday that called for better, reasoned political debate.

Delivering the commencement address at Wellesley College, her alma mater, the former Democratic senator and secretary of state lamented that graduates are entering the world at a time when there is a “full-fledged assault on truth and reason.”

“Just log on to social media for 10 seconds, it will hit you right in the face,” Clinton said. She pointed to “people denying science, [and] concocting elaborate hurtful conspiracy theories about child abuse rings atop of pizza parlors” — the latter a reference to the Pizzagate saga in the nation’s capital.

In doing so, though, Clinton also took aim at Trump, even though she didn’t mention him by name. She criticized those who quarrel over facts, like “the size of crowds” — a shot at Trump’s constant reference to his own inauguration — as well as those who defend themselves “by talking about, quote unquote, alternative facts.”

Clinton further pointed to Trump’s budget, calling it a “trillion dollar mathematical lie.” And she offered a subtle nod to the recent investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. Weeks after the president dismissed his own FBI director, Clinton didn’t address the matter explicitly. Instead, she sought to draw a parallel between the current political climate and her own experience after graduating from Wellesley in 1969, when she and her friends were furious with "a man whose presidency would eventually end in disgrace with his impeachment for obstruction of justice,” a reference to Richard Nixon.

Watch her full speech, beginning at about minute 51

“When people in power invent their own facts, and attack those who question them, it can mark the beginning of the end of a free society,” Clinton said. “That is not hyperbole. It is what authoritarian regimes throughout history have done. They attempt to control reality, not just our laws and our rights and our budgets, but our thoughts and beliefs.”

“You don’t own a cable news network, you don’t control the Facebook algorithm, you aren’t a member of Congress. Yet,” she continued. “Because I believe with all my heart that the future of America, indeed the future of the world, depends on brave, thoughtful people like you, insisting on truth and integrity, right now, every day. You didn’t create these circumstances, but you have the power to change them.”

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