WASHINGTON — The White House wants journalists to write more stories about terrorist attacks, which President Donald Trump says are being under-reported.
Asked for examples, his office released a list of attacks — including two in Canada in 2014.
It's a striking change from the last administration which, in an effort to calm anxieties, tended to emphasize how rare terrorist attacks actually are: some media have calculated that more people in the U.S. were accidentally killed by toddlers with guns than Islamist terrorists in 2015.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer takes questions from reporters during the daily press briefing at the White House on Feb. 7, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Almost 100 times more people around the world were killed by malaria in 2014, according to the international aid organization Oxfam. Almost 200 times more people were killed that year by a diarrheal disease.
But terrorism needs more attention, Trump said.
"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 said this week, during an event with enlisted military personnel. "And in many cases, the very, very dishonest press doesn't want to report it. They have their reasons and you understand that."
"It's becoming too often that we're seeing these attacks not get the spectacular attention they deserve." — Sean Spicer
During a photo-op with country sheriffs, Trump made the point again Tuesday: "I happen to know how dishonest the media is."
Asked what Trump was talking about, his spokesman Sean Spicer promised to provide a list of examples. When that list was distributed to U.S. journalists it included 78 such incidents from 2014 to 2016.
The list included two attacks in Canada in 2014: the killing of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent in Quebec, followed by the shooting of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo and the gun attack on Parliament Hill.
"We want to be very clear there are a lot of examples," Spicer said, when asked about the list. "Many of them haven't gotten the attention they have deserved. It's becoming too often that we're seeing these attacks not get the spectacular attention they deserve."
Ottawa shooting story was 'gigantic'
The suggestion these killings were ignored would surprise Canadian media-monitoring firms. One such firm, Montreal-based Influence Communications, shared its statistics for media coverage of events in 2014.
The No. 1 most-covered story in Canada by international media that year was the Parliament Hill shooting, Influence said. No. 3 was the killing of Vincent in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu.
CNN's Anderson Cooper came to Ottawa to broadcast from the scene. In fact, some media critics at the time mocked American television networks for over-dramatizing the unfolding danger, compared with the more cautious coverage in Canada.
"It was a gigantic story," said Jean-Francois Dumas of Influence Communication.
"It was a big story around the world."
The most-covered stories in Canada by international media that year, aside from terrorism, were the Keystone XL pipeline, the late Rob Ford's troubles and illness and Michaelle Jean's election as head of the Francophonie.
The firm did not provide international statistics on coverage of malaria, diarrheal diseases, and toddlers with guns.
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