Sean Spicer Cites Nonexistent Atlanta Terror Attack Three Times In Two Days
He shares Conway’s passion for events that never happened
Image via White House YouTube
Remember the “Bowling Green massacre?” No? That’s because it doesn’t exist. Kellyanne Conway would have you think otherwise, though, telling MSNBC’s Chris Matthews in an interview on February 2 that two Iraqis “were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre,” adding, “Most people didn’t know that because it didn’t get covered.”
Now, White House press secretary Sean Spicer seems to be on the same bogus history train as Conway. In three separate incidences over the course of two days, Spicer mentioned the need to do more as a country to prevent terrorism on U.S. soil—Atlanta’s soil specifically. To make his point, he listed San Bernardino, California, and Boston where terror attacks did occur at the hands of self-radicalized, legal U.S. immigrants. Then he threw in Atlanta as another example, which left reporters at the news briefings wondering what he could possibly mean. Atlanta hasn’t seen a terror attack since the mid-1990s, and even then, it happened at the hands of a Florida-born man with no foreign ties.
When The Daily Beast first noticed Spicer had repeatedly mentioned Atlanta as a victim of terrorism, the publication reached out to the White House for comment and got no reply. Then CNN and several other outlets picked up the story, prompting Spicer to make a statement. A full day after the story initially broke, Spicer sent an email to ABC News, explaining he “clearly meant Orlando” instead of Atlanta.
Only, nothing about his argument is clear. Forget the fact that Orlando shares almost no similarities with Atlanta. The more troubling issue should be that Omar Mateen—who killed 49 people at Pulse nightclub in the deadliest mass shooting in American history—was born in New York, had no direct ties to terrorist organizations, and used an assault rifle he bought legally in the United States. Using this tragedy to defend Trump’s travel ban is illogical at best and dangerously misinformed at worst.
Using the other two cities as examples doesn’t make much sense either. Tashfeen Malik, one of the San Bernardino shooters, was born in Pakistan, while the Boston bombers spent their childhoods in the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan. Don’t bother looking for either of these places on Trump’s list of banned countries, because you won’t find them.
If the issue came down to Spicer misspeaking in one interview, that would be one thing. But he repeatedly cites misinformation that would have taken 30 seconds for him or one of his aides to verify with a simple Google search. We currently live in a time when drunk comedians tend to get history correct more often than White House staff members. If this is what it means to be living in a “post-truth” era, then it’s about time we put less faith in the government to report accurate information and take it upon ourselves to seek out and defend the truth.