President Donald Trump went after the media once again this week, defending his travel ban Executive Order by accusing the press of not covering or “underreporting” terrorist attacks. Although he cited no incidents to support his claim, Trump said the media was ignoring the seriousness of the terrorist threat. When asked about the “many cases,” Press Secretary Sean Spicer assured reporters that a list would be provided later.
And it was — full of misspellings, non-specific information in many cases, and lacking in coherency. The “underreported” list of terrorist attacks contained 78 incidents. However, as CBS News reported, roughly three-quarters of those stories were covered by its news agency. But on the list also were incidents that received extensive coverage by numerous media outlets — like Brussels, Nice, Paris, Orlando, San Bernardino — and in no way fit the definition of “underreported.”
And, according to CBS News correspondent Major Garrett, not one of the attacks would have been prevented by President Trump’s travel ban. So what was the point Trump was trying to make by using them as examples? That the press was deliberately not reporting or underreporting on terrorist attacks.
President Trump seemed to take offense when U.S. District Court Judge James Robart suspended his Executive Order travel ban last week that targeted travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S. After first attacking the judge via Twitter, Trump later set his sights on his go-to adversary, the media. In his first speech in front of troops as Commander-In-Chief, the president said that the news was simply not reporting on terrorism.
“ISIS is on a campaign of genocide, committing atrocities across the world. 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.”
With the list, CBS News noted that the White House “falsely claimed that most of the 78 attacks motivated by ISIS from September 2014 to December 2016 ‘have not received the media attention they deserved.'”
CBS News suggested that President Trump’s comments and accusations about the media were meant to remind Americans of the terrorist threat as a distraction from the legal battles his travel ban is currently undergoing. The suspension has been appealed, of course, and a decision is anticipated at any moment.
But CBS News was not alone in taking President Trump and the White House to task over the misleading accusations and subsequent list. CNN‘s Jake Tapper confronted Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s chief counselor, on the underreporting (or not reporting, as the president had stated) issue.
According to Huffington Post, Conway began defending the White House’s position by referring to a report about how the death of Prince, the pop icon who passed away in April, received more coverage by the major news networks than did terrorism. Tapper quickly shot her down, pointing out that the three major networks (CBS, ABC, NBC) were not reflective of the news media as a whole. Conway replied that President Trump was concerned that covering major terrorist attacks was making the media “inured” to some of the smaller, less deadly incidents.
Tapper told Conway that her defense was a “lovely spin” on the president’s concerns.
“That’s a lovely spin, but that’s not what he was saying, Kellyanne. He was saying the media does not cover these stories… it’s offensive given that CNN and other media organizations have reporters in danger right now in war zones covering ISIS.”
Conway admitted that she did not mean to minimize the work being done by reporters when covering terrorism stories. She also admitted that CNN was not “fake news,” a label placed on the network by President Trump just after he took office.
In less than 90 seconds, Jake Tapper forced Conway to acknowledge that the “fake news” was coming from the White House and Trump’s accusations that the media was not reporting or was underreporting terrorist attacks.
[Featured Image by John Moore/Getty Images]