“Great, great Supreme Court nominee, you all saw that, but I said to myself, Perhaps the only thing more important to me definitely is the defense of our nation. Supreme Court’s so important, but we have to defend our nation, and we will do that, believe me.”
The threat to the U.S. is great, in Trump’s telling.
“The challenges facing our nation nevertheless are very large. Very, very large,” Trump said. “We’re up against an enemy that celebrates death and totally worships destruction. You’ve seen that. ISIS is on a campaign of genocide, committing atrocities across the word. Radical Islamic terrorists are determined to strike our nation as they did on 9/11, as they did from Boston to Orlando to San Bernardino and all across Europe.”
He continued: “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.”
The last few sentences there are staggering: Trump’s assertion that there are attacks that the press is not reporting, and furthermore is not reporting for political reasons. In fact, the media love reporting on terrorism stories, following the old news adage that “if it bleeds, it leads.” One might argue, in fact, as my colleague Conor Friedersdorf has, that America already overreacts to terrorist attacks, instilling undue public fear relative to the number of Americans actually killed in terror attacks.
But never mind that: Just what attacks is Trump claiming have not been covered? He did not name any, and a request to the White House for a list was not returned. It’s a safe bet there are not any. Trump might prefer more frequent, or more salacious, coverage of European attacks, but that’s a different complaint.
Then there is the accusation that the press is intentionally covering up, for some nefarious reason that his audience will understand but need not go stated, a classic example of dogwhistle politics. That’s in keeping with his longstanding assault on the press, though when combined with the implication that they are doing so to undermine the nation’s security, it takes on an even darker shade. (Claims of a media coverup of terrorism are a staple of conspiracy-theory outlets like Alex Jones’s Infowars.)
Once again, the nation is left to ask whether Trump’s wild deviation from reality is intentionally misleading or simply sloppy and careless. The natural comparison is to comments last week by senior Trump aide Kellyanne Conway, who claimed that Trump’s immigration executive order would have prevented the “Bowling Green massacre” that was not covered. There was, of course, no such massacre, although the hubbub distracted somewhat from Conway’s other false claim that President Obama had issued a similar six-month moratorium on refugees entering the U.S. from Iraq.