President Donald Trump’s media allies rushed to bolster and clarify his remarks after he called on rally-goers to “Look at what’s happening last night in Sweden” during a February 18 speech before listing three non-Swedish cities recently attacked by homegrown terrorists. Trump later clarified that he was referring to a Fox News report hyping immigrant criminality in Sweden from the prior night, not a nonexistent attack, while conservative outlets, fringe blogs, and fake news purveyors declared that “actually, Trump was right” that Sweden is “experiencing a migrant crime wave,” despite widely cited data that proves otherwise.
Trump Says, “Look At What's Happening Last Night In Sweden,” Before Listing Non-Swedish Terrorist Targets
Trump Told Supporters To “Look At What’s Happening … In Sweden” Before Mentioning Three European Cities Struck By Domestic Terrorists. President Donald Trump told supporters at a February 18 rally in Florida to “look at what’s happening in Germany” and to “look at what’s happening last night in Sweden,” which he said “took in large numbers” of Muslim immigrants and refugees, before mentioning three French and Belgian cities attacked by domestic terrorists over the past two years. According to The Washington Post, “his remarks were widely perceived … as suggesting that an attack had occurred Friday night in Sweden.” He later tweeted that he was talking about a story that aired on on Fox News, likely an interview with a filmmaker who “has blamed refugees for what he says is a crime wave in Sweden,” according to the Post. From The Washington Post’s February 20 article:
President Trump caused confusion during a Saturday rally in Florida when he said: “You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this?” Trump then mentioned the French cities of Nice and Paris and the Belgian capital, Brussels. The three European cities were attacked by terrorists over the past two years.
Although Trump did not explicitly say it, his remarks were widely perceived in the United States and abroad as suggesting that an attack had occurred Friday night in Sweden.
Trump attempted to clarify his remarks, tweeting Sunday: “My statement as to what's happening in Sweden was in reference to a story that was broadcast on @FoxNews concerning immigrants & Sweden.”
Trump probably was referring to an interview with filmmaker Ami Horowitz on Fox News Channel's “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” which started circulating on social media shortly after Trump's speech in Florida. Horowitz has blamed refugees for what he says is a crime wave in Sweden. The filmmaker's claims have since come under scrutiny, as Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter reported Monday. Two Swedish police officers who were interviewed by Horowitz said that their comments had been taken out of context. One of them, Anders Göranzon, accused the filmmaker of being a “madman.” [The Washington Post, 2/20/17]
Pro-Trump News Outlets And Fake News Purveyors Carry Water For Trump’s Blunder
FoxNews.com: Trump “May Have Been Unclear,” But Sweden Is “Experiencing A Migrant Crime Wave.” Fox News online writer Cody Derespina attempted to validate Trump’s claims about immigrant-led attacks in Sweden by pointing to a Facebook post published by fringe blog Zero Hedge in which a Swedish police investigator listed crimes allegedly committed by Middle Eastern immigrants in Sweden over a five-day period. From the February 20 FoxNews.com article:
[President Donald] Trump’s comments during a Florida campaign rally on Saturday – which some took as a misstatement about a supposed terror attack – dovetail with what [police investigator Peter] Springare has been seeing during a typical week in Orebro, Sweden. Five rapes, three assaults, a pair of extortions, blackmail, an attempted murder, violence against police and a robbery made up Springare’s caseload for a five-day period earlier this month, according to a Feb. 3 Facebook post he wrote. The suspects were all from Muslim-majority countries – Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia and Turkey – save for one Swedish man nabbed in a drug-related case.
“Mohammed, Mahmod, Ali, again and again,” Springare wrote of those arrested.
Springare, who was briefly investigated for possible hate crime incitement based on his post, managed to elucidate what Trump only hinted at during a Florida campaign speech – somewhat opaquely. [FoxNews.com, 2/20/17]
Fox News Host Tucker Carlson Defends Trump In Fox & Friends Interview. Fox News prime-time host Tucker Carlson told the hosts of Fox & Friends that although “the president ought to be precise in what he says, there should be no confusion about what he means.” Carlson told the panel that immigration in Europe “hasn’t worked very well -- at all” and is “in the process of totally changing these ancient cultures into something different and much more volatile and much more threatening.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 2/20/17]
Zero Hedge: Anyone “Claiming That The Swedish People Are Just Cock-A-Hoop At The Government’s Immigration Decisions Is Either Lying Or Delusional.” The fringe blog Zero Hedge doubled down on Trump’s claims, writing, “Anyone - media or politician - claiming that the Swedish people are just cock-a-hoop at the government's immigration decisions is either lying or delusional.” From the February 20 post (emphasis original):
Having clarified his comments with regard Sweden over the weekend, President Trump has taken to Twitter to try and stop the inevitable groundswell and ignorance from the mainstream media about Sweden's immigration disaster…
Anyone - media or politician - claiming that the Swedish people are just cock-a-hoop at the government's immigration decisions is either lying or delusional. Over the past year we have detailed the Scandinavian utopia's problems numerous times. [Zero Hedge, 2/20/17]
WND: Trump “Drew Ridicule For Drawing Attention To Sweden’s Immigrant Problem.” A staff writer for the conspiratorial right-wing outlet WorldNetDaily,” cited an “American contractor” living in Sweden who affirmed “Trump’s assertion that a wave of Muslim migrants is devastating the Scandinavian country” and a “veteran police officer” who “blew the whistle on the destructive effects mass immigration has had on Sweden.” From the February 20 post:
An American contractor who has been a lawful permanent resident of Sweden for almost a decade affirms President Trump’s assertion that a wave of Muslim migrants is devastating the Scandinavian country
“Anybody who says that the immigration influx into Sweden of recent years has not had profoundly negative impacts on Swedish society is either ignorant or deliberately lying,” the contractor told WND.
He asked to remain anonymous because of concern of government retaliation and the nation’s criminalization of speech.
“I have witnessed the symptoms of the disaster firsthand on more occasions than I can count. Crime is exploding, rape is a normal fact of life now, Middle Eastern and African migrant men regularly harass women on the streets and the situation is quickly deteriorating.”
At a rally Saturday in Florida, President Trump drew ridicule for drawing attention to Sweden’s immigrant problem.
Earlier this month, veteran police officer Peter Springare blew the whistle on the destructive effects mass immigration has had on Sweden.
He said the crimes he processed, including rape, assault, violence against police, drug trafficking and murder, were nearly always committed by someone named “Mohammed” or a variation of the name. The suspects were consistently natives of Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Afghanistan or Somalia.
Only days later, a second Swedish police officer, Tomas Åsenlöv, backed up Springare, claiming police had been told to cover up information about crimes committed by migrants. [WorldNetDaily, 2/20/17]
Infostormer: “Nothing Positive Has Come From Mass [Muslim] Migration Into Sweden.” The neo-Nazi website Infostormer backed up Trump’s claim, writing, “Nothing positive has come from mass Moslem (sic) migration into Sweden,” which the article characterized as an “invasion.” From the February 20 post:
The fake news media jumped all over President Trump’s remarks about Sweden this past weekend. They falsely claimed that he said a terrorist attack occurred in the country when he said no such thing. He merely expressed concern about the problems Sweden has had due to mass migration. He’s right about this.
Nothing positive has come from mass Moslem (sic) migration into Sweden. Now more people know about it thanks to the media’s over reach on the subject. Trump has played the fake news media yet again! [Infostormer, 2/20/17]
Right Wing News Claims “Trump Has It Right” And “The Clueless Left” Is “Clueless Yet Again On Terrorism.” Fake news-purveying website Right Wing News claimed Trump was “right” about terrorism in Sweden because “Islamic refugee violence is off the charts there, but … government covers it up and the media spins it with lies.” It also insisted that “instead of making fun of him, people should heed his words on this.” From the February 20 post:
The left and the media are making fun of President Trump this morning because of his reference to terrorism in Sweden. Trump has it right and the clueless left is well… clueless yet again on terrorism. Sweden is arguably the first country to fall to the Caliphate regardless of what you hear in the news. Islamic refugee violence is off the charts there, but you would never know it because the government covers it up and the media spins it with lies. Trump was referring to an actual report from Tucker Carlson. He interviewed Ami Horowitz on migrant violence in Sweden.
It would seem to me that Trump’s critics are interpreting him too literally. I believe he was referring to overall violence in Sweden and not just one evening. Chelsea Clinton was an absolute b*tch over it, quipping: “What happened in Sweden Friday night? Did they catch the Bowling Green Massacre perpetrators?” Look at that… she takes after the Hildabeast after all. They’ll mock Trump for basically telling the truth. Americans are savvy enough to know this… we realize the true nature of radical Islam. We’re not fooled by the left over Sweden. [Right Wing News, 2/20/17]
Before It’s News: “Trump Stated The Obvious.” Fake news-purveying site Before It’s News wrote that “Trump stated the obvious” and that the “damage done by Sweden’s open border refugee policy is real.” The site faulted “the Leftist media” for attempting “to conflate this as Trump spreading fake news about a non-existent terror attack.” From the February 20 post:
Trump stated the obvious. Sweden has a Muslim refugee problem. But the Leftist media avoids the main issue…again.
At his Florida rally on Saturday, President Trump referred to rising crime due to Muslim refugees in Sweden. Somehow, the Left tried to conflate this as Trump spreading fake news about a non-existent terror attack. Despite the alleged gaffe, the damage done by Sweden’s open border refugee policy is real. [Before It’s News, 2/20/17]
Eagle Rising: “Actually, Trump Was Right About Sweden’s Refugee/Rape Problem.” Fake news-purveying site Eagle Rising published an article claiming mainstream media are “casting darkness upon Trump’s statement” by “looking for a non-existent terrorist attack and ripping the president because they can’t find one.” According to the article, the Fox News segment Trump referenced “was talking about Sweden’s increase in violent crime, particularly rapes.” From the February 20 post:
The MSM as expected is casting darkness upon Trump’s statement. They are looking for a non-existent terrorist attack and ripping the president because they can’t find one. But the Tucker Carlson segment wasn’t talking about one major terror attack, it was talking about Sweden’s increase in violent crime, particularly rapes. [Eagle Rising, 2/20/17]
Prntly: “Trump Is Right, Sweden Did Have A Recent Terrorist Attack.” Fake news-purveying site Prntly claimed that “Trump’s transcript of the speech didn’t mention anything about Timeframes (sic), let alone ‘last night’” and asked if it was “any wonder why Trump and Bannon call [the media] ‘the opposition party’?” In another post, Prntly claimed that “Trump never said it, and an attack actually happened, and the media is being dishonest (who knew?).” [Prntly, 2/19/17, 2/20/17]
The Federalist Papers Project: “Examples Like Sweden Prove The Importance Of President Trump’s Executive Order.” Fake news-purveying site The Federalist Papers Project posted a piece claiming that Trump was “right about Sweden” and that “examples like Sweden prove the importance of President Trump’s executive order.” From the February 20 post:
Besides the fact that the liberal media establishment immediately assumes President Trump is lying and sways the rest of the United States to believe the same, what is Sweden doing?
Examples like Sweden prove the importance of President Trump’s executive order.
The last thing the United States needs is an influx of migrant refugees who care not to assimilate, but take advantage of the rights and privileges of our country.
Tolerance and political correctness should not come before national security. [The Federalist Papers Project, 2/20/17]
Right-Wing Media Have Stoked Fears About Refugees For Years
After Domestic Terror Attacks, Fox News Lets Commentators Push Misinformation About Refugees. Fox News provided a platform for conservatives to spread misinformation about refugees and stoke anti-Muslim fears following a series of apparent terror attacks around the United States. Fox News gave anti-Muslim hate group leaders, Islamophobic Fox figures, and then-presidential candidate Trump airtime to call for increased scrutiny on immigrant and refugee communities in the wake of attacks perpetrated by homegrown extremists. [Media Matters, 9/19/16]
Fox’s Meghan McCain: Fear Of Refugees Is “Completely Rational And Based In Reality.” On Fox’s Outnumbered, co-host Meghan McCain alleged that it is “completely rational to have fear” of refugees while misleadingly claiming that an isolated outbreak of sexual assaults in Germany was proof that fear of refugees is “completely rational and based in reality.” Fox’s John Bolton claimed there is “evidence all around us” that the U.S. immigration system is “dangerous.” [Media Matters, 9/20/16]
Fox News Used European Refugee Crisis To Stoke Islamophobic Fears. Fox News hosts and figures used the European refugee crisis, during which more than 380,000 migrants and refugees immigrated into the continent from war-torn countries in Africa and Asia, to stir up fears among its audience that groups of Muslim refugees may harbor terrorists and that those supposed infiltrators could one day enter the United States. [Media Matters, 9/10/15]
Sweden's Crime Rate Has Not Increased As A Result Of Muslim Immigration
Wash. Post: “Sweden’s Average Crime Rate Has Fallen In Recent Years.” The Washington Post cited a criminology professor at Stockholm University who pointed out that Trump’s remarks about the national security threats created by Muslim immigrants are not “justified,” adding that “overall, Sweden’s average crime rate has fallen in recent years.” From the February 20 article:
Trump's references to Sweden seemed to suggest that the country's welcoming approach to refugees and its alleged effects on crime rates should be a warning sign. But were the president's remarks justified?
“Absolutely not,” said Felipe Estrada, a criminology professor at Stockholm University. His response was echoed Monday by multiple other experts who are familiar with Swedish crime statistics.
Overall, Sweden's average crime rate has fallen in recent years, Estrada said. That drop has been observed for cases of lethal violence and for assaults, two of the most serious categories of crime.
Moreover, an analysis by Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter, conducted between October 2015 and January 2016, came to the conclusion that refugees were responsible for only 1 percent of all incidents. Researchers caution, however, that segregation and long-term unemployment of refugees could have a negative effect on crime rates in Sweden in the future. [The Washington Post, 2/20/17]
The Guardian: “Crime Rates In Sweden Have Changed Little Over The Last 10 Years.” The Guardian reported that contrary to Trump’s implication, crime rates in Sweden -- which witnessed an unsuccessful Islamist terror attack in 2010, but has seen no such attacks since -- have “changed little over the last 10 years” and that although reported incidents of rape rose in 2016, there were still fewer than in 2014. The article countered claims filmmaker Ami Horowitz made on the Fox segment Trump referenced with data from the 2016 Swedish Crime Survey. From the February 19 article:
Sweden suffered a suicide bombing by an Iraqi-born Swedish citizen in Stockholm in 2010, a year before civil wars began in Syria and Libya and unrest across the Middle East pushed millions of people to flee their homes, many into Europe. Crime rates in Sweden have changed little over the last 10 years, according to the 2016 Swedish Crime Survey.
[Filmmaker Ami] Horowitz also claimed crime “is increasingly significantly in Sweden”, contradicting the survey, and citing rape as an example. Sweden has a broad definition of rape, compared to many western nations; according to the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention, there were 13% more reported rapes in 2016 than 2015, but the total was still lower than in 2014. [The Guardian, 2/19/17]
NY Times: “Statistics In Sweden Do not Back Up The Suggestion That Immigrants Have Created a Major Crime Wave.” The New York Times reported that recent data from Sweden's crime prevention council “found no significant increase in crimes” during 2016, “when the country processed a record 163,000 asylum applications.” From the February 20 article:
But statistics in Sweden do not back up the suggestion that immigrants have created a major crime wave.
Preliminary data released last month by Sweden’s crime prevention council found no significant increase in crimes from 2015 to 2016, even with the influx of migrants The council did note an increase in assaults and rapes last year, but it also recorded a drop in thefts and drug offenses. [The New York Times, 2/20/17]