President Trump on Monday asserted that the news media was playing down the terrorist threat posed by the Islamic State, telling American military personnel that journalists were reluctant to report on the militant group’s attacks in Europe and “have their reasons” for failing to cover them.
Mr. Trump initially did not provide examples of a news media conspiracy to underplay terrorist attacks, and his comments appeared to ignore the vast amount of reporting on violence committed by the Islamic State and its supporters in the Middle East, Europe and the United States. Later Monday night, the White House released a list of what it said were 78 attacks from September 2014 to December 2016 that were carried out or inspired by the Islamic State. The White House said that “most have not received the media attention they deserved.”
The list included the major attacks in Paris; Brussels; San Bernardino, Calif.; and Orlando, Fla., that dominated the news for weeks. Other attacks overseas, lesser known to Americans, received extensive local coverage, like a shooting in Zvornik, Bosnia, in April 2015 in which one police officer was killed and two others were wounded.
The president’s speech was the second time in recent weeks that he has used an appearance before national security personnel — usually apolitical settings in which the focus is on strategy and sacrifice — to discredit journalists and exult in his election victory.
“Radical Islamic terrorists are determined to strike our homeland, as they did on 9/11, as they did from Boston to Orlando to San Bernardino and all across Europe,” Mr. Trump said at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., home to the military’s Central Command and Special Operations Command. “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,” Mr. Trump added, “and you understand that.”
The theory that the news media is trying to whitewash terrorist attacks to protect Islam or Muslim migrants has been pushed by several right-wing news organizations, including the conspiracy-filled site Infowars, whose founder, Alex Jones, is an ally of Mr. Trump’s.
The president’s comments on Monday were reminiscent of his claim during a visit last month to the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency in Langley, Va., that the news media had fabricated his feud with the intelligence community. Those remarks came only days after he likened American intelligence officials to Nazis, after several weeks in which he had denigrated their work.
Aboard Air Force One on Monday, Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, told reporters returning to Washington with Mr. Trump that the president had been referring in Tampa to “several instances” in which the news media had not devoted sufficient attention to terrorism. Mr. Trump, Mr. Spicer said, believes journalists pay more attention to public protests than they do to terrorist attacks or plots.
“He felt members of the media don’t always cover some of those events to the extent that other events might get covered,” Mr. Spicer said. “Protests will get blown out of the water, and yet an attack or a foiled attack doesn’t necessarily get the same coverage.”[...]