Donald Trump says media plays down terror threat

US president appears to ignore the vast amount of reporting on Isis violence

US president Donald Trump speaks to members of military during his first visit to the headquarters of the US Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, on Monday. Photograph: James Borchuck/Tampa Bay Times via AP

US president Donald Trump speaks to members of military during his first visit to the headquarters of the US Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, on Monday. Photograph: James Borchuck/Tampa Bay Times via AP

 

US president Donald Trump asserted Monday that the news media was playing down the terrorist threat posed by the Islamic State.

He told US 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.

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.

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Later Monday, the White House released a list of what it said were 78 attacks from September 2014 to December that were carried out or inspired by the Islamic State. The White House said “most have not received the media attention they deserved”.

Major attacks

The list included the major attacks in Paris; Brussels; San Bernardino, California; and Orlando, Florida, 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. But in many of these attacks, it was not clear what role, if any, the Islamic State played.

Trump’s speech was the second time in recent weeks that he has used an appearance before national security personnel – usually apolitical settings – to discredit journalists and exult in his election victory.

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. During his speech Monday, Trump promised to make “a historic financial investment in the armed forces”, in an effort to maintain peace in “our troubled, troubled times”. He vowed to give the military the tools necessary to prevail against the Islamic State.

The speech underscored the drivers of his inward-looking national security vision: an almost exclusive focus on the threat of the Islamic State; a skeptical view of multilateral alliances including Nato; and an “America First” rationale for hard-line policies like his travel ban.

New York Times service