Trump's terrorism claim is baloney

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  • Peter Bergen ran White House timeline of terrorist attacks through media database
  • Bergen found the 78 cited as under-covered were the subject of 80,000-plus articles

Peter Bergen is CNN's national security analyst, a vice president at New America and a professor of practice at Arizona State University. He is the author of "United States of Jihad: Investigating America's Homegrown Terrorists."

(CNN)First, there was the "Bowling Green massacre" that wasn't.

Now comes President Donald Trump's claim Monday at the key US military base overseeing the war on ISIS -- US Central Command in Tampa, Florida -- that the media aren't reporting terrorism for "reasons" the President didn't elaborate upon.
Trump told the CENTCOM audience, "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. And in many cases, the very, very dishonest press doesn't want to report it. They have their reasons, and you understand that."
    To "prove" that the media aren't covering terrorism adequately the Trump White House, which is fighting in court to reinstate a refugee ban citing the terrorist threat, on Monday night released a list of 78 "major" terrorist attacks since September 2014, claiming, "Most have not received the media attention they deserved."
    This is one of the biggest baloney sandwiches this White House has foisted on the public since ... well ... the "Bowling Green massacre," but it's a much bigger and harder-to swallow helping of baloney because it is the President who is forcing it down our throats rather than one of his aides.
    Taking the White House timeline of terrorist attacks, I ran it through the Nexis database, which is an authoritative resource for tracking media hits of all types, including in newspapers, magazines, wire service reports, TV news shows and the like.
    The results show that terrorist attacks over the past couple of years are, in fact, some of the most well-reported stories of our times. The total number of media hits for the 78 terrorist attacks that the White House released Monday is 80,878, or about an average of slightly more than 1,000 mentions per incident.
    And those numbers clearly understate how much coverage the media have given these incidents because a Nexis search only will display a maximum of 3,000 mentions for any given search.
    There are 16 terrorist attacks on the White House list of purportedly under-covered attacks that each elicited more than 3,000 media mentions.
    The following are a representative sample:
    • In Ottawa in October 2014 Michael Zehaf-Bibeau killed a Canadian soldier.
    • Two months later in Sydney, Man Haron Monis killed two Australians.
    • In March 2015, 21 tourists were killed at the Bardo Museum in Tunis, Tunisia.
    • Two months later in Garland, Texas, two ISIS-inspired militants attacked a Prophet Mohammed cartoon contest. Luckily no one was killed except the terrorists.
    • In Tunisia, also in 2015, 38 were killed at a beach popular with Westerners.
    • In October 2015, 224 were killed in Sinai, Egypt, when ISIS brought down a Russian passenger jet with a bomb.
    The terror attacks in Paris and Nice, France, that Trump cited in his CENTCOM speech also received more than 3,000 media mentions.
    The terrorist attacks that didn't get as much coverage were -- surprise --- the ones where there were no deaths or that took place in countries such as Saudi Arabia or Bangladesh where there is little independent media reporting.
    In three cases, there were no articles listed in the publications included in the Nexis database, and in each of those cases there were no casualties.
    The media, including CNN, have exhaustively covered terrorism around the globe since the 9/11 attacks made the issue a central national security concern.
    Indeed, the wall-to-wall media coverage of the ISIS attacks in Paris in November 2015 in which 129 were killed and the ISIS-inspired attack in San Bernardino, California, a month later in which 14 were killed was instrumental in boosting Trump in the polls, according to the polling analysis site FiveThirtyEight
    Many Americans felt threatened by the ISIS-directed and ISIS-inspired attacks. As the presidential campaign was in full swing at the beginning of 2016, just over half of Americans said they were very or somewhat worried that they, or a member of their family, would be victims of a terrorist attack. This was the largest number to feel that way since just after the 9/11 attacks.
    And how did so many Americans learn about the terrorist attacks they were so scared of? Here's a clue: It wasn't through telepathy.
    Below is the official White House timeline of terrorist attacks since September 2014 with my annotations in bold about the media coverage they each received. (There are a number of incorrectly spelled words I have left as they were in the original.)
    TIMELINE: September, 2014 - December, 2016
    NUMBER OF ATTACKS: 78
    MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA
    September, 2014
    TARGET: Two police officers wounded in knife attack
    ATTACKER: Abdul Numan Haider
    406 stories
    TIZI OUZOU, ALGERIA
    September, 2014
    TARGET: One French citizen beheaded
    ATTACKER: Jund al-Khilafah in Algeria
    140 stories
    QUEBEC, CANADA
    October, 2014
    TARGET: One soldier killed and one wounded in vehicle attack
    ATTACKER: Martin Couture-Rouleau
    1,509 stories
    OTTAWA, CANADA
    October, 2014
    TARGET: One soldier killed at war memorial; two wounded in shootings at Parliament building
    ATTACKER: Michael Zehaf-Bibeau
    More than 3,000 stories
    NEW YORK CITY, NY, USA
    October, 2014
    TARGET: Two police officers wounded in knife attack
    ATTACKER: US person
    477 stories
    RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA
    November, 2014
    TARGET: One Danish citizen wounded in shooting
    ATTACKERS: Three Saudi Arabia-based ISIL members
    10 stories
    ABU DHABI, UAE
    DATE: December 2014
    TARGET: One American killed in knife attack
    ATTACKER: Dalal al-Hashimi
    24 stories
    SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA
    December, 2014
    TARGET: Two Australians killed in hostage taking and shooting
    ATTACKER: Man Haron Monis
    More than 3,000 stories
    TOURS, FRANCE
    December, 2014
    TARGET: Three police officers wounded in knife attack
    ATTACKER: Bertrand Nzohabonayo
    91 stories
    PARIS, FRANCE
    January, 2015
    TARGET: One police officer and four hostages killed in shooting at a kosher supermarket
    ATTACKER: Amedy Coulibaly
    More than 3,000 stories
    TRIPOLI, LIBYA
    January, 2015
    TARGET: Ten killed, including one US citizen, and five wounded in bombing and shooting at a hotel frequented by westerners
    ATTACKERS: As many as five ISIL-Libya members
    837 stories
    RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA
    January, 2015
    TARGET: Two US citizens wounded in shooting
    ATTACKER: Saudi Arabia-based ISIL supporter
    5 stories
    NICE, FRANCE
    February, 2015
    TARGET: Two French soldiers wounded in knife attack outside a Jewish community center
    ATTACKER: Moussa Coulibaly
    268 stories
    COPENHAGEN, DENMARK
    February, 2015
    TARGET: One civilian killed in shooting at a free-speech rally and one security guard killed outside the city's main synagogue
    ATTACKER: Omar Abdel Hamid el-Hussein
    535 stories
    TUNIS, TUNISIA
    March, 2015
    TARGET: 21 tourists killed, including 16 westerners, and 55 wounded in shooting at the Bardo Museum
    ATTACKERS: Two ISIL-aligned extremists
    More than 3,000 stories
    KARACHI, PAKISTAN
    April, 2015
    TARGET: One US citizen wounded in knife attack
    ATTACKERS: Pakistan-based ISIL supporters
    375 stories
    PARIS, FRANCE
    April, 2015
    TARGET: Catholic churches targeted; one civilian killed in shooting, possibly during an attempted carjacking
    ATTACKER: Sid Ahmed Ghlam
    612 stories
    ZVORNIK, BOSNIA
    April, 2015
    TARGET: One police officer killed and two wounded in shooting
    ATTACKER: Nerdin Ibric
    61 stories
    GARLAND, TX, USA
    May, 2015
    TARGET: One security guard wounded in shooting at the Prophet Muhammad cartoon event
    ATTACKERS: Two US persons
    More than 3,000 stories
    BOSTON, MA, USA
    June, 2015
    TARGET: No casualties; one police officer attacked with knife
    ATTACKER: US person
    627 stories
    EL GORA (AL JURAH), EGYPT
    June, 2015
    TARGET: No casualties; camp used by Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) troops attacked in shooting and bombing attack
    ATTACKERS: Unknown number of ISIL-Sinai members
    0 stories
    LUXOR, EGYPT
    June, 2015
    TARGET: One police officer killed by suicide bomb near the Temple of Karnak
    ATTACKER: Unidentified
    101 Stories
    SOUSSE, TUNISIA
    June, 2015
    TARGET: 38 killed and 39 wounded in shooting at a beach frequented by westerners
    ATTACKERS: Seifeddine Rezgui and another unidentified attacker
    More than 3,000 stories
    LYON, FRANCE
    June, 2015
    TARGET: One civilian killed in beheading and explosion at a chemical plant
    ATTACKER: Yasin Salhi
    188 stories
    CAIRO, EGYPT
    July, 2015
    TARGET: One killed and nine wounded in VBIED attack at Italian Consulate
    ATTACKER: Unidentified ISIL operatives
    1,085 stories
    CAIRO, EGYPT
    July, 2015
    TARGET: One Croatian national kidnapped; beheaded on August 12 at an unknown location
    ATTACKER: Unidentified ISIL-Sinai operative
    466 stories
    PARIS, FRANCE
    August, 2015
    TARGET: Two civilians and one US soldier wounded with firearms and knife on a passenger train
    ATTACKER: Ayoub el-Khazzani
    2,484 stories
    EL GORA, EGYPT
    September, 2015
    TARGET: Four US and two MFO troops wounded in IED attack
    ATTACKER: Unidentified
    5 stories
    DHAKA, BANGLADESH
    September, 2015
    TARGET: One Italian civilian killed in shooting
    ATTACKER: Unidentified
    788 stories
    COPENHAGEN, DENMARK
    September, 2015
    TARGET: One police officer wounded in knife attack
    ATTAKER: Palestinian national
    130 stories
    EL GORA, EGYPT
    October, 2015
    TARGET: No casualties; airfield used by MFO attacked with rockets
    ATTAKER: Unidentified ISIL-Sinai operatives
    0 stories
    PARRAMATTA, AUSTRALIA
    October, 2015
    TARGET: One police officer killed in shooting
    ATTAKER: Farhad Jabar
    1,826 stories
    RANGPUR, BANGLADESH
    October, 2015
    TARGET: One Japanese civilian killed in shooting
    ATTAKER: Unidentified
    471 stories
    HASANAH, EGYPT
    October, 2015
    TARGET: 224 killed in downing of a Russian airliner
    ATTAKER: Unidentified ISIL-Sinai operatives
    More than 3,000 stories
    MERCED, CA, US
    November, 2015
    TARGET: Four wounded in knife attack on a college campus
    ATTAKER: US person
    163 stories
    PARIS, FRANCE
    November, 2015
    TARGET: At least 129 killed and approximately 400 wounded in series of shootings and IED attacks
    ATTAKERS: Brahim Abdelslam, Saleh Abdeslam, Ismail Mostefai, Bilal Hadfi, Samy Amimour, Chakib Ahrouh, Foued Mohamed Aggad, and Abdelhamid Abaaoud
    More than 3.000 stories
    DINAJPUR, BANGLADESH
    November, 2015
    TARGET: One Italian citizen wounded in shooting
    ATTAKER: Unidentified
    203 stories
    RAJLOVAC, BOSNIA
    December, 2015
    TARGET: Two Bosnian soldiers killed in shooting
    ATTAKER: Enes Omeragic
    42 stories
    SAN BERNADINO, CA
    December, 2015
    TARGET: 14 killed and 21 wounded in coordinated firearms attack
    ATTAKERS: Two US persons
    More than 3,000 stories
    LONDON, ENGLAND, UK
    December, 2015
    TARGET: Three wounded in knife attack at an underground rail station
    ATTAKER: Muhyadin Mire
    44 stories
    DERBENT, RUSSIA
    December, 2015
    TARGET: One killed and 11 wounded in shooting at UN World Heritage site
    ATTAKER: Unidentified ISIL-Caucasus operative
    286 stories
    CAIRO, EGYPT
    January, 2016
    TARGET: Two wounded in drive-by shooting outside a hotel frequented by tourists
    ATTAKERS: Unidentified ISIL operatives
    5 stories
    PARIS, FRANCE
    January, 2016
    TARGET: No casualties; attacker killed after attempted knife attack on Paris police station
    ATTAKER: Tarek Belgacem
    97 stories
    PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA
    January, 2016
    TARGET: One police officer wounded in shooting
    ATTAKER: US person
    321 stories
    HURGHADA, EGYPT
    January, 2016
    TARGET: One German and one Danish national wounded in knife attack at a tourist resort
    ATTAKER: Unidentified
    5 stories
    MARSEILLES, FRANCE
    January, 2016
    TARGET: One Jewish teacher wounded in machete attack
    ATTAKER: 15 year-old Ethnic Kurd from Turkey
    184 stories
    ISTANBUL, TURKEY
    January, 2016
    TARGET: 12 German tourists killed and 15 wounded in suicide bombing
    ATTAKER: Nabil Fadli
    More than 3,000 stories
    JAKARTA, INDONESIA
    January, 2016
    TARGET: Four civilians killed and more than 20 wounded in coordinated bombing and firearms attacks near a police station and a Starbucks
    ATTAKERS: Dian Joni Kurnaiadi, Muhammad Ali, Arif Sunakim, and Ahmad Muhazan bin Saron
    2,530 stories
    COLUMBUS, OH, US
    February, 2016
    TARGET: Four civilians wounded in machete attack at a restaurant
    ATTAKER: US person
    108 stories
    HANOVER, GERMANY
    February, 2016
    TARGET: One police officer wounded in knife attack
    ATTAKER: Safia Schmitter
    60 stories
    ISTANBUL, TURKEY
    March, 2016
    TARGET: Four killed and 36 wounded in suicide bombing in the tourist district
    ATTAKER: Mehmet Ozturk
    306 stories
    BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
    March, 2016
    TARGET: At least 31 killed and 270 wounded in coordinated bombings at Zaventem Airport and on a subway train
    ATTAKERS: Khalid el-Bakraoui, Ibrahim el-Bakraoui, Najim Laachraoui, Mohammed Abrini, and Osama Krayem
    More than 3,000 stories
    ESSEN, GERMANY
    April, 2016
    TARGET: Three wounded in bombing at Sikh temple
    ATTAKERS: Three identified minors
    197 stories
    ORLANDO, FL, US
    June, 2016
    TARGET: 49 killed and 53 wounded in shooting at a nightclub
    ATTAKER: US person
    More than 3,000 stories
    MAGNANVILLE, FRANCE
    June, 2016
    TARGET: One police officer and one civilian killed in knife attack
    ATTAKER: Larossi Abballa
    1,124 stories
    KABUL, AFGHANISTAN
    June, 2016
    TARGET: 14 killed in suicide attack on a bus carrying Canadian Embassy guards
    ATTAKER: ISIL-Khorasan operative
    1,404 stories
    ISTANBUL, TURKEY
    June, 2016
    TARGET: 45 killed and approximately 240 wounded at Ataturk International Airport
    ATTACKERS: Rakhim Bulgarov, Vadim Osmanov, and an unidentified ISIL operative
    More than 3,000 stories
    DHAKA, BANGLADESH
    July, 2016
    TARGET: 22 killed, including one American and 50 wounded after hours-long siege using machetes and firearms at holy Artisan Bakery
    ATTACKERS: Nibras Islam, Rohan Imtiaz, Meer Saameh Mubasheer, Khairul Islam Paye, and Shafiqul Islam Uzzal
    More than 3,000 stories
    NICE, FRANCE
    July, 2016
    TARGET: 84 civilians killed and 308 wounded by an individual who drove a truck into a crowd
    ATTACKER: Mohamed Bouhlel
    More than 3,000 stories
    WURZBURG, GERMANY
    July, 2016
    TARGET: Four civilians wounded in axe attack on a train
    ATTACKER: Riaz Khan Ahmadzai
    283 stories
    ANSBACH, GERMANY
    July, 2016
    TARGET: At least 15 wounded in suicide bombing at a music festival
    ATTACKER: Mohammad Daleel
    300 stories
    NORMANDY, FRANCE
    July, 2016
    TARGET: One priest killed in knife attack
    ATTACKERS: Adel Kermiche and Abdel Malik Nabil Petitjean
    1,637 stories
    CHALEROI, BELGIUM
    August, 2016
    TARGET: Two police officers wounded in machete attack
    ATTACKER: Khaled Babouri
    10 stories
    QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA
    August, 2016
    TARGET: Two killed and one wounded in knife attack at a hostel frequented by Westerners
    ATTACKER: Smail Ayad
    852 stories
    COPENHAGEN, DENMAKR
    September, 2016
    TARGET: Two police officers and a civilian wounded in shooting
    ATTACKER: Mesa Hodzic
    43 stories
    PARIS, FRANCE
    September, 2016
    TARGET: One police officer wounded in raid after VBIED failed to detonate at Notre Dame Cathedral
    ATTACKERS: Sarah Hervouet, Ines Madani, and Amel Sakaou
    21 stories
    SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA
    September, 2016
    TARGET: One civilian wounded in knife attack
    ATTACKER: Ihsas Khan
    269 stories
    ST. CLOUD, MN, US
    September, 2016
    TARGET: 10 wounded in knife attack in a mall
    ATTACKER: Dahir Ahmed Adan
    241 stories
    NEW YORK, NY; SEASIDE PARK AND ELIZABETH, NJ, US
    September, 2016
    TARGET: 31 wounded in bombing in New York City; several explosive devices found in New York and New Jersey; one exploded without casualty at race in New Jersey; one police officer wounded in shootout
    ATTACKER: Ahmad Khan Rahami
    More than 3,000 stories
    BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
    October, 2016
    TARGET: Two police officers wounded in stabbing
    ATTACKER: Belgian national
    31 stories
    KUWAIT CITY, KUWAIT
    TARGET: No casualties; vehicle carrying three US soldiers hit by a truck
    ATTACKER: Ibrahim Sulayman
    0 stories
    MALMO, SWEDEN
    October, 2016
    TARGET: No casualties; mosque and community center attacked with Molotov cocktail
    ATTACKER: Syrian national
    26 stories
    HAMBURG, GERMANY
    October, 2016
    TARGET: One killed in knife attack
    ATTACKER: Unknown
    516 stories
    MANILA, PHILIPPINES
    November, 2016
    TARGET: No casualties; failed IED attempt near US Embassy
    ATTACKERS: Philippine nationals aligned with the Maute group
    1 story
    COLUMBUS, OH, US
    November, 2016
    TARGET: 14 wounded by individuals who drove a vehicle into a group of pedestrians and attacked them with a knife
    ATTACKER: US person
    More than 3,000 stories
    N'DJAMENA, CHAD
    November, 2016
    TARGET: No casualties; attacker arrested after opening fire at entrance of US Embassy
    ATTACKER: Chadian national
    11 stories
    KARAK, JORDAN
    December, 2016
    TARGET: 10 killed and 28 wounded in shooting at a tourist site
    ATTACKERS: Several gunmen
    2,037 stories
    BERLIN, GERMANY
    December, 2016
    TARGET: 12 killed and 48 wounded by individual who drove truck into a crowded market
    ATTACKER: Anis Amri
    More than 3,000 stories