MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AP) — President Donald Trump is accusing the media of deliberately minimizing coverage of the threat posed by the Islamic State group, saying news outlets “have their reasons” for not reporting what he described as a “genocide” underway at the hands of the group.
The president did not immediately offer evidence to support his claim, made during the new commander in chief’s visit Monday to the headquarters for U.S. Central Command.
Later, the White House released a list of 78 attacks it described as “executed or inspired by” the Islamic State group since September 2014. The White House said “most” on the list did not get sufficient media attention, although it did not explain how it defined the term. Some of the incidents on the list received widespread attention and deep reporting.
“You’ve seen what happened in Paris and Nice. All over Europe it’s happening. It’s gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported,” Trump told a group of military leaders and troops during the visit. “And in many cases, the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it. They have their reasons and you understand that.”
Trump, who has made relentless criticism of the media a hallmark of his presidency, did not explain why he thinks news outlets minimize attention on such attacks.
Later, White House spokesman Sean Spicer tried to tone down the president’s remarks, saying it was a question of balance: “Like a protest gets blown out of the water, and yet an attack or a foiled attack doesn’t necessarily get the same coverage.”
The list released late Monday included incidents like a truck massacre in Nice, France, that killed dozens and received widespread attention, as well as less high-profile incidents in which nobody was killed.
The AP could not verify that each of the incidents had connections to the Islamic State group. The list appeared to be hastily assembled, including several misspellings of the word “attacker.”
Trump also used the visit to CENTCOM to defend his immigration and refugee restrictions and reaffirm his support for NATO.
He laced his speech with references to homeland security amid a court battle over his travel ban on people from seven majority-Muslim countries. He did not directly mention the case now before a federal appeals court after a lower court temporarily suspended the ban.
“We need strong programs” so that “people that love us and want to love our country and will end up loving our country are allowed in” and those who “want to destroy us and destroy our country” are kept out, Trump said.
“Freedom, security and justice will prevail,” Trump added. “We will defeat radical Islamic terrorism and we will not allow it to take root in our country. We’re not going to allow it.”