Let’s start with a typical Trump move, the “blur.” For example, let’s say that your birthday is March 5th, 1990. I then say that it’s March 6th. When you tell me it’s the 5th, I say that it’s close enough. Or if I said, “Sometime in March,” it would be sort of correct, unless I followed it by, “And I have the best memory of anyone I know, because I always remember everyone’s birthday.” And if you press on this, I then use the “switch.” “Memory isn’t about remembering birthdays, it’s about remembering where your car keys are! I’ve never lost my car keys!” If you press me further, saying, “You lost your car keys this morning!”, we get the “pout.” “Why are you being so unfair and picking on me when your own sister never remembers your birthday!”
Trump started with a statement that there are many unreported new stories about terrorism. Reporters said, we’re not letting you off the hook this time, give us some examples? So the Trump administration then released its supporting documentation, showing 78 terrorist attacks. Well, what do you know! Trump was right! Let’s look at this list of unreported attacks. San Bernadino, Orlando Florida… Wait a second. Aren’t these the same highly reported cases that blanketed the news for months? Hmmm… Yes, they are!
Ah! I see. This list doesn’t say unreported it says underreported. Well, there you go! Now we have the “switch.” These are underreported incidents. Even if we drop these two, that still leaves… a lot. But wait (another?) second! When these two terrorist stories broke, they did blanket the news. For TV news, which is limited to a 30 or 60-minute slot, every minute of news you add means a minute is pushed off the air. When a huge story about terrorism breaks, is there any room left for smaller terrorism stories?
Looking back to Trump’s list – just a few days after the San Bernardino massacre (14 killed, 22 injured), there was an “underreported” story of three people injured in a knife attack in the London underground. It’s difficult to compare any two tragedies, but in pure numbers, Orlando was a much bigger story and it was an American story. So, if this story got pushed off of the news, it’s pretty understandable.
When we look at the Orlando massacre (50 killed, 53 injured), it’s even clearer. Over the next 2 weeks, there were 4 more terrorist attacks outside of the U.S. that are on Trump’s list. One, in Dhaka, Bangladesh was a very significant act of terror that killed 22 and injured 50 more. But Dhaka is very far away. Even though it is a city of 17 million, how often do you hear ANY stories about Dhaka?
That’s the way that broadcast news works. The further away something is, the less it is reported. However, the range of reporting is a bit better in a traditional newspaper where each paper represents “hours” of news reporting. If something big happens, the paper can always add another page or two. Too bad Trump doesn’t like to read.
What about all of the other “under-reported” acts of terrorism? Unfortunately, virtually every day there has been an “act of gun violence” in America where two or more people are injured and/or killed. Between January 1st and February 8th of 2017, there were 35 such incidents. These daily killings are undoubtedly have made overseas acts of terror less visible in America. So, let’s give that one to Team Trump. America should be more aware of the dangers of overseas terrorism.
Without these daily stories about domestic violence, there would be more room in the newspapers… and in our heads… to focus on foreign terrorism. Think about it, Mr. President! Instead of moving on to the “pout” stage, as you get negative comments on the quality of your list, this could be the issue that brings together factions on the left and the right!