Week 3 into the President Donald Trump administration, and he’s following the course of the previous two. Words still have little value to the man, and he proved it on Monday when he made a wild unsupported slam claim against the media again.
He had the audacity to accuse the news media of ignoring attacks by Islamist militants in Europe. Naturally, he had no specific examples to give which he never has. He just leaves that to Sean Spicer who is left to create new scenarios to take our attention away from his boss.
“All over Europe, it’s happening. It’s gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported,” he told a group of about 300 U.S. troops at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida.
“And, in many cases, the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it. They have their reasons, and you understand that,” he added, without saying what those reasons were.
Pressed by reporters later on Trump’s remarks, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the Trump administration would provide a list of unreported or under-reported attacks, adding “there’s several instances.”
“There’s a lot of instances that have occurred where I don’t think they’ve gotten the coverage it deserved,” Spicer said.It was Trump’s latest salvo against the news media, a favorite target for derision who he says broadly underestimated his chances during the presidential campaign. He has kept up the attacks since his Jan. 20 inauguration.
At one point Trump did cite attacks in the French cities of Paris and Nice, which were widely covered. More than 230 people have died in France alone in the past two years at the hands of attackers allied to Islamic State. Of course, he’ll never admit to being so wrong on that fact alone.
Later in the day, Spicer had to really walk back Trump’s wild claims, and he did it the best way he knew how. Perfect spin. Spicer claimed that Trump felt that the media didn’t actually cover ‘some’ of events enough whereas other terrorist events gained more coverage. He did release a list of 78 attacks around the world which actually were covered in the media.
But he knows that tomorrow the media will be focusing on the Ninth Ward courts decision on Trumps’ immigration ‘ban’ appeal.
Below breaks it all down much better.
We all know that if Trump loses his appeal today, we can expect another Twitter storm. That’s the one very predictable thing about this unpredictable president.
President Donald Trump made an unsupported assertion Monday that terrorist acts in Europe are going unreported. A look at the matter:
TRUMP: “All over Europe it’s happening. It’s gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported. And in many cases, the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it. They have their reasons, and you understand that.”
THE FACTS: Trump and his team have cited only one example of a deadly terrorist attack anywhere going unreported, the one that didn’t happen in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Adviser Kellyanne Conway spoke about a Bowling Green “massacre” that didn’t take place, correcting herself when she was called out on the error.
As for Trump’s claim about Europe, it’s probably true that you haven’t heard of every attack on the continent that can be tied to terrorism. Scores if not hundreds happen every year. Many don’t rise to the level of an international audience because they cause no casualties, or little or no property damage, or are carried out by unknown assailants for unclear reasons.
One exhaustive list is the Global Terrorism Database, maintained by the University of Maryland. It lists 321 episodes of suspected or known terrorism in Western Europe alone in 2015. Many are anti-Muslim attacks against mosques, not the brand of terrorism Trump has expressed concern about. Many are attacks undertaken for right-wing or left-wing causes that have nothing to do with Islamic extremism or xenophobic attacks on mosques.
Among examples from 2015 that were largely under the radar of Americans:
-On Oct. 24, assailants set fire to the residence of a Socialist Justice Party member in Gothenburg, Sweden, one of series of attacks against the party that day.
-On Sept. 13, assailants set fire to the Whitton Methodist Church Hall in Richmond, England, with no reported casualties and no one immediately claiming responsibility.
-On Jan. 17, gunmen opened fire on patrons at a bar in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, causing no casualties. Dissident Republicans were thought to have been behind the attack.
The database defines a terrorist act as one aimed at attaining political, religious, social or economic goals through coercion or intimidation of the public, outside acts of war.
The devastating attacks by Islamic extremists that year are also on the list, among them the murderous assault on the Paris offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, and the even bloodier attack at Paris’ Bataclan concert hall, the worst in a series of killings in one day. Those attacks and other deadly ones in Europe received saturation coverage for days.
But even the smaller, non-lethal acts of terrorism received coverage: The database itself is built from media reports.
Trump made his claim before a broad audience on live television, while speaking at Central Command headquarters in Florida.
On Air Force One, before a smaller audience, Trump spokesman Sean Spicer said Trump did not really mean that terrorist attacks received no coverage. Trump’s actual complaint, he said, was that such acts don’t get enough attention.
“He felt that members of media don’t always cover some of those events to the extent that other events might get covered,” Spicer said. “Like a protest gets blown out of the water, and yet an attack or a foiled attack doesn’t necessarily get the same coverage.”
The White House later released a list of 78 worldwide attacks it described as “executed or inspired by” IS. Most on the list did not get sufficient media attention, the White House said, without specifying which ones it considered underreported.
Attacks on the list that had high death tolls were given blanket coverage, such as the Brussels bombings in March, the San Bernadino, California, shootings in December 2015, and the Paris attacks in November 2015. Some with a smaller death toll, such as two attacks in Canada that killed one soldier each, also were covered at the time and well known.
The White House did not point to any examples supporting Trump’s contention that terrorist attacks were “not even being reported.” Less than half of the 78 incidents the White House listed occurred in Europe.