Feb 07, 2017
The White House late Monday published a list of supposedly "under-reported" terrorist attacks, following up on President Donald Trump's claim that the media was deliberately suppressing coverage of such acts.
In addition to the fact that many of the events listed were extensively covered by the press, glaringly absent, many noted, are attacks committed by white men and those whose victims were non-Western.
The 78 examples provided span from September 2014 through December 2016. The list includes prominent events such the December 2015 shooting in San Bernardino, California (among other typos, the list misspells "Bernadino"), the Nice, France truck attack that killed 84 civilians, and the June 2016 coordinated suicide bombings at Istanbul's Ataturk International Airport.
Putting to rest claims that the listed attacks were under-reported, the Guardian on Tuesday published the full White House list with internal links and details regarding "how they were reported."
"What does the White House's choice of 'cases the very, very dishonest press doesn't want to report' tell us?" the newspaper asks, using the president's own words.
As many pointed out, Trump's list specifically does not include attacks perpetrated by white men or where Muslims were the majority of victims, such as last week's deadly shooting at a Quebec City mosque.
\u201cNor does @WhiteHouse list include terrorist acts committed by white men, like Oklahoma City, Aurora, Tucson or Sandy Hook Elementary School.\u201d— Michael Skolnik (@Michael Skolnik) 1486443053
Arguing that such exclusions are even more telling than what is included, the Washington Post's Katie Mettler and Derek Hawkins write: "Some of the countries most devastated by terrorism from Islamic 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."
In 2015, nearly three quarters of all deaths from terrorist attacks occurred in five countries--Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Syria, according to the State Department. The White House chose not to include any attacks from Iraq, Nigeria and Syria on its list. The two others got a single mention each--a knife attack that wounded a U.S. citizen in Pakistan in 2015, and a suicide bombing that killed 14 Nepalese security guards in Afghanistan last year.
Similarly, between 2004 and 2013, about half of all terrorist attacks and 60 percent of fatalities from terrorist attacks took place in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, Erin Miller, of the Global Terrorism Database at the University of Maryland, told the BBC.
It's hard to precisely quantify how many victims of terrorism are Muslim. Some have floated statistics as high as 95 percent, and the U.S. government has published reports reflecting that number. But experts such as Miller say it's difficult to determine how accurate the reports are because most data depends on news coverage, and often the religious affiliation of terrorist attack victims is not included.
What's more, as CBSreported this morning, none of the attacks on Trump's terror list "would have been prevented by his [travel] ban" on immigrants and refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries.
As for the White House's intent, some observers, such as the Washington Post's Philip Bump, suggest that the whole frenzy was deliberately designed to get the press to reiterate these dozens of attacks to underscore Trump's call for closed borders. Others point to the fact that far-right outlets like InfoWars have long sown fears about a "massive media cover-up."
In a lengthy Twitter thread (partially sourced above), activist and entrepreneur Michael Skolnik argues that such media attacks are both a distraction and an attempt to undermine core institutions.
\u201cThe audacity to accuse media of not covering terrorist attacks, when Trump knows they have, is another attempt to discredit institutions.\u201d— Michael Skolnik (@Michael Skolnik) 1486443053
\u201cTrump\u2019s continued attempt to discredit institutions like the media, gov\u2019t, military, universities, is straight out of the fascist textbook.\u201d— Michael Skolnik (@Michael Skolnik) 1486443053
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