After President Donald Trump claimed that “the very, very dishonest press doesn't want to report” on terrorist attacks, the White House provided a list of 78 attacks that the administration says didn’t receive adequate attention from the media. But Trump himself appeared on at least four segments covering high-profile terrorist attacks included on the list to give his opinion, which counters his claim that the media failed to satisfactorily report on them.
Trump Claimed That “The Very, Very Dishonest Press Doesn’t Want To Report” On Terrorist Attacks
Trump: “In Many Cases, The Very, Very Dishonest Press Doesn’t Want To Report” On Terrorist Attacks. In an address to the United States Central Command (CENTCOM) in Tampa, FL, President Donald Trump attacked the “very, very dishonest press” for supposedly “not even” reporting on terrorist attacks, adding that the press has “their reasons” for the alleged lack of coverage. From the February 6 address:
DONALD TRUMP: You’ve seen what happened in Paris and Nice. 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. So today we deliver a message in one very unified voice to these forces of death and destruction: America and its allies will defeat you. We will defeat them. [CNN, President Trump’s Address to U.S. CENTCOM, 2/6/17]
Wash. Post: “The White House Released A List Of 78” Extremist Attacks “That It Feels Have Been Given Short Shrift.” In an effort to support Trump’s claim that the media has not adequately reported on terrorist attacks, the administration sent out a list of 78 incidents that it claims have not been adequately covered by the press, including the March 2016 attack in Brussels, Belgium; December 2014 attack in Sydney, Australia; May 2015 shooting in Texas; and November 2015 attack in Paris, France. The Washington Post reported that the list is “a bit of a mess,” noting that it includes “Dozens of typos, odd inclusions and odd exclusions.”
In response to their boss's allegation that the media has been ignoring terrorist attacks, the White House released a list of 78 of them that it feels have been given short shrift.
It's a bit of a mess.
Dozens of typos, odd inclusions and odd exclusions are the norm in this apparently hastily assembled list. Also:
- As Philip Bump notes, many of these attacks didn't result in multiple -- or any -- fatalities
- As Morning Mix notes, they don't include attacks on non-Western victims
- The document makes repeat reference to “ISIL,” despite Trump and the White House preferring “ISIS.” (And the difference is important. Barack Obama referred to ISIL for a specific reason.) [The Washington Post, 2/7/17]
Trump Appeared On Several News Shows To React To Attacks The White House Listed As Being Undercovered
Trump Appeared On CNN For An 11-Minute Interview Reacting To The March 2016 Brussels Attack. The Trump administration listed the March 22, 2016, attack in Brussels, Belgium, as an example of a terrorist attack that was inadequately covered by the media. But Trump himself was invited on CNN’s The Situation Room on the same day of the attack to speak for 11 minutes. He said during the interview that he does not “believe” that U.S. military leaders “oppose torture,” saying he thinks “they’re told to say that politically.” He also said “we have to change our laws” in order to fight extremists on an “almost equal basis.” [CNN, The Situation Room, 3/22/16; The Washington Post, 2/7/17]
Trump Reacted To The December 2014 Attack In Sydney, Australia, On Fox & Friends. The White House included the December 15, 2014, Sydney hostage crisis on its list of supposedly under-covered terrorist attacks. On the day of the attack in Sydney, Donald Trump appeared on Fox News’ Fox & Friends to claim that such an attack “will happen in this country.” Trump also added that President Barack Obama’s approach to countering extremist violence made America’s “allies all over the world ... petrified to even talk to us anymore because we’re so stupid” and that it is “inconceivable” that anyone would disagree with his opinion on torture. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 12/15/14; The Washington Post, 2/7/17]
Trump Appeared On Fox News To React To The May 2015 Shooting At An Event Featuring Images Of The Prophet Mohammed And Blamed The Event’s Organizer For The Shooting. The Trump administration listed the May 3, 2015, shooting at the “the Prophet Muhammad cartoon event” in Garland, TX, as an example of an attack that received inadequate coverage. But Trump himself appeared on Fox News’ Fox & Friends to condemn the event’s organizer, Pamela Geller, saying that “it looks like she’s actually taunting people” with the event, and adding, “Why are they doing drawing Mohammed? Isn’t there something else that they could draw?” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/4/15; The Washington Post, 2/7/17]
Trump Reacted To The November 2015 Attack In Paris On Fox News. The White House included the November 13, 2015, attack in Paris, France, on its list of supposedly inadequately covered terrorist attacks, but Trump appeared on Fox News two days after the attack to give his reaction. When asked a hypothetical question about how he would “respond” to such an attack if he were president, Trump said that “you have to toughen up,” and that “we have to knock the hell out of these people.”[Fox News, Fox & Friends, 11/15/15; The Washington Post, 2/7/17]
Trump Appeared On Morning Joe To React To The December 2015 Attack In San Bernardino, CA. The Trump administration included the December 2, 2015, shooting in San Bernardino, CA, that left 16 people dead on its list of supposedly under-reported attacks. Six days later, Trump appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe and was asked about his “rhetoric that is fueling hatred and alienation.” Trump responded by saying that he believes people “should be more scared by what’s going on” and continuing to discuss the details of the investigation into the shooting in San Bernardino. [MSNBC, Morning Joe, 12/8/15; The Washington Post, 2/7/17]
Trump Reacted To The June 2016 Shooting At A Gay Nightclub In Orlando, FL, On Fox & Friends. The Trump administration included the June 12, 2016, massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, FL, on its list of attacks that were insufficiently covered. Trump appeared on Fox News’ Fox & Friends the morning after to discuss the shooting, which killed 49 people. He claimed that “something’s going on,” and that “tens of thousands of people are pouring into our country, and many of them are no different than this guy yesterday who created this horrible act.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 6/13/16]
The Press Has, In Fact, “Robustly Covered Many Of” The Attacks The Trump Administration Listed
CNN’s Jim Acosta: “CNN And Other International News Outlets Covered These” Attacks “Extensively.” CNN’s Jim Acosta reported that “CNN and other international news outlets covered these [attacks] extensively,” calling some of the inclusions a “head-scratcher,” and OutFront host Erin Burnett called the list “absurd.” From the February 6 edition of CNN's OutFront with Erin Burnett:
JIM ACOSTA: To back up this claim that the new media are simply not reporting or devoting enough coverage to these terrorist attacks, [White House] press secretary Sean Spicer said that they would produce a list of these attacks that they believe were not covered enough. Erin, we just got our hands on this list. Our producer, Dan Merica, just obtained this from a White House official, and there are 78 attacks listed on this list. And I have to tell you, Erin, it's a head-scratcher, because several of these -- we here at CNN and other international news outlets covered these extensively. Mentioned on this list: the November 15 terror attacks in Paris, yes, the Paris attacks, where 129 people were killed; the San Bernardino terrorist attack; the Brussels, Belgium, terrorist attack that happened last year; Istanbul; even the Nice truck attack. Erin, all of these, you'll recall, we all covered these extensively. So it's just, it's puzzling as to why the White House would include these attacks on this list when they were covered for days on end. Also, Erin, we still have not gotten any explanation from the White House as to what the president meant when he said that “the dishonest news media are not covering these terrorist attacks for some reason, and you know what I mean,” is what he said to that military audience earlier today. So a real head-scratcher in terms of a comment coming from the president tonight, Erin.
ERIN BURNETT (HOST): They did just provide this list of 78 attacks, literally just in my phone in the past couple of moments. I can tell you, they put Brussels there. They put the Paris attacks in November of 2015. They put Orlando. Media obviously covered those extensively. I happened to be among the many on the ground in all of those cases. We talked to the families of the perpetrators. We talked to the families of the victims. We talked about U.S. visa policy and what that meant. And we did this for days and days and days and days. I am at a loss to understand what he means in these cases. He put San Bernardino on this list. Frankly, it's absurd. [CNN, OutFront with Erin Burnett, 2/6/17]
Wash. Post: “Some Of The Countries Most Devastated By Terrorism From Islamist Extremists Were Left Out Entirely.” The Washington Post’s Katie Mettler and Derek Hawkins called the list “bare-bones in nature” and said it “seemed to have been hastily assembled,” noting that “some of the countries most devastated by terrorism from Islamist extremists were left out entirely.” The authors noted that, “according to the Global Terrorism Database reported by the Voice of America, … a vast majority of terrorist attacks — about 98 percent between 2001 and 2015 — occurred outside the United States and Western Europe, even if the White House’s list and rhetoric may suggest otherwise” and concluded, “If there is any critique to be made of the way Western journalists cover terrorist attacks around the world, it’s that they may disproportionately focus on incidents involving Western citizens — the exact opposite of what Trump’s list seems to suggest.” From the February 7 article:
It was bare-bones in nature and seemed to have been hastily assembled. The document contained numerous typos and several factual inaccuracies. Some of the attacks listed were so high-profile and thoroughly reported that anyone with Google would be hard-pressed to say they didn’t receive sufficient attention. Among them were the Pulse nightclub massacre, the Bastille Day attack in Nice, France, the coordinated shootings and explosions in Paris, and the holiday party shooting in San Bernardino, Calif.
The other attacks included on the list seemed to have been picked arbitrarily. More than half involved two or fewer deaths or injuries, so it’s no surprise that they didn’t receive front-page coverage.
But what’s more telling, perhaps, is not what Trump’s list included — but what it didn’t.
Some of the countries most devastated by terrorism from Islamist extremists were left out entirely. Whether that suggests that the administration thinks they received adequate coverage is anyone’s guess. But it was a glaring omission either way.
What the data show, according to the Global Terrorism Database reported by the Voice of America, is that a vast majority of terrorist attacks — about 98 percent between 2001 and 2015 — occurred outside the United States and Western Europe, even if the White House’s list and rhetoric may suggest otherwise.
A Washington Post analysis of all terrorist attacks from the beginning of 2015 through the summer of 2016 found that the Middle East, Africa and Asia have seen “nearly 50 times more deaths from terrorism than Europe and the Americas.”
If there is any critique to be made of the way Western journalists cover terrorist attacks around the world, it’s that they may disproportionately focus on incidents involving Western citizens — the exact opposite of what Trump’s list seems to suggest.
“The death toll in the West tends to be lower most of the time, but the coverage the West gets is an order of magnitude larger,” Mohamad Bazzi, a journalism professor at New York University and former Middle East bureau chief for Newsday, told FiveThirtyEight. [The Washington Post, 2/7/17]