Journalists call out White House claims on terror reporting
Journalists are calling out a White House claim that news outlets are failing to adequately report terror attacks.
On Monday, the White House issued a list of 78 terror attacks to underscore President Donald Trump’s assertion that the media is failing to adequately report them.
Trump told enlisted service-members at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida that attacks were happening “all over Europe” and that “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,” Trump added.
Later, the White House distributed a list of the attacks Trump was citing, saying “most did not receive adequate attention.”
“Below is a list of 78 major terrorist attacks targeting the West that were executed or inspired by ISIS since September 2014, soon after the terror group declared its caliphate. Most of these attacks did not receive adequate attention from Western media sources,” a White House official said on background, when distributing the list.
But reporters in print, on air and on social media have robustly covered many of those attacks and terror in general.
“As a journalist I’m really troubled by that,” Washington Post columnist David Ignatius said on CNN’s “The Lead” on Monday, responding to Trump’s initial statement.
“We have brave colleagues who everyday are taking big risks to cover these stories. Look at the “New York Times” which the president demonizes often. The New York Times this weekend had an outstanding piece of reporting about how ISIS has been reaching out, is more involved in some attacks in Europe and abroad,” he said.
Ignatius said he has about 100 examples of strong reporting he’d like to show the President.
CNN’s Anderson Cooper also highlighted his coverage of many of the events listed.
“Not only did we cover many of the attacks on that list the White House has released, we covered them heavily. I know because I was there on the ground reporting a number of them,” he said Monday night, before showing footage of himself reporting from Ottawa, Canada, in 2014; Paris in November 2015; San Bernadino, California, in 2015; in Orlando, Florida, in June 2016.
He added: “To be sure, we as a program did not cover each and every incident on the list, however other programs, as well as CNN International covered most if not all of them, many of them exhaustively.”
The attacks listed span from September 2014 to December 2016, and include the Paris attacks, the Orlando nightclub shooting, the truck attacks in Nice and Berlin, the Brussels airport attack, the Istanbul airport and Sultanahmet attacks, and the Sydney siege.
But the White House only mentions attacks that appear to have been carried out with Islamist motives and omits other terror operations. It does not mention the recent attack on a mosque in Quebec City, or the racially motivated attack by Dylann Roof on a church in South Carolina, in which nine black worshipers were shot dead.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters after Trump’s statement that the President “felt as though members of the media don’t always cover some of those events to the extent that other events might get covered; that a protest will get blown out of the water, and yet an attack or a foiled attack doesn’t necessarily get the same coverage.”
Trump has used terror attacks to justify his controversial temporary ban on citizens from seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the US. He has also repeatedly referred to media organizations critical of him as “fake news.”
UPDATE: This story has been updated to include the complete White House statement distributed with the terror attack list.