When I flew to Nice last July to report on the Bastille Day attack, I wasn’t alone. My cramped flight from London City Airport was packed with many other journalists. Their camera gear and television equipment could barely fit into the overhead lockers.
Then I arrived. Alongside me on the packed seafront where an IS inspired attacker had ploughed into bystanders, was around ten percent of the entire global workforce of ITV News. And, as always, I was stunned to see the resources committed by the American networks.
That night, as news of a coup in Turkey filtered through, as well as major developments in the US presidential campaign, our American partners NBC anchored their flagship programme from the seafront. On a busy news-day, they re-named ‘Nightly News with Lester Holt’ as ‘Nightly News: Terror in France’.
So I was surprised to hear Donald Trump’s overnight claim that the media is not reporting terrorist attacks in Europe and elsewhere (I have done little else this past year). He appeared to blame some mysterious bias.
He 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. And in many, many cases the very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it”
- Go to the bottom of this article for details of terror attacks on Mr Trump's list that ITV News has covered online
Sad. Because that’s just not correct. And more often, we are accused of giving terrorist attacks too much coverage - not too little.
The White House’s list of apparently under-reported attacks appears to be comprehensive - even though the spelling mistakes suggest it might have been put together in a rush (Copenhagen is in Denmark, not ‘Denmakr’). It includes a stabbing at a Tube station in east London in December 2015, when a schizophrenic knifeman targeted strangers at random in the ticket hall at Leytonstone station.
However, there are many exclusions, such as the murder of Jo Cox MP by a white supremacist last year. And, perhaps most notably, the terrorist attack against Muslims in Quebec last month in which six worshippers were killed. The 27-year old suspect is reportedly a supporter of Donald Trump and Marine Le Pen, the far-right French presidential candidate.
Trump’s comments appear to be the sequel to claims by Kellyanne Conway, a senior Trump aide, that the media has chosen not to cover ‘the Bowling Green massacre’. She’s right because, of course, there was no massacre. It was a fictitious claim that has left observers arguing about whether this was a slip of the tongue or something more sinister.
The kindest interpretation of Trump’s approach to terrorism, and the White House’s ludicrous list of under-reported terror attacks, is that his analysis of this issue has been selective. Others will claim that in a flurry of conspiracy theories, he has failed to notice that terrorists come from all religions.
Either interpretation presents a victory to Islamist terrorist groups, which claim that the US is engaged in a religious war against Islam and sees Muslims as their dispensable enemy. It is also a victory for far-right terror groups, which might conclude that they’re off the radar of the US executive.
Meanwhile, journalists who report on major terrorist atrocities will keep covering them. It’s not for politicians to decide how stories should be reported.
Below are links to ITV News' online coverage of attacks which were on President Trump's list of 78 'ignored' incidents:
- January 2015 - Four hostages killed at kosher deli in Paris
- Feb 2015 - Three French soldiers attacked with a knife in Nice
- Feb 2015 - Two people killed in twin shootings in Copenhagen
- Mar 2015 - Three gunmen stormed Tunis museum killing 23 people
- May 2015 - Texas police kill two gunmen at Dallas exhibition
- June 2015 - US police shoot dead 'knife-wielding' terror suspect
- June 2015 - Egypt's Karnak temple 'targeted by suicide bomber'
- June 2015 - Man decapitated during attack at factory in Lyon
- July 2015 - Car bomb left outside Italian consulate in Egypt
- Aug 2015 - Croatian man kidnapped and beheaded in Cairo
- Aug 2015 - Two civilians and one US soldier injured in train attack
- Oct 2015 - Teenager killed after murder of police worker in Sydney
- Oct 2015 - Russian plane crashes in central Sinai, killing 224
- Nov 2015 - Three attacks in Paris, including Bataclan massacre
- Dec 2015 - California couple kill 14 people in San Bernardino
- Dec 2015 - Schizophrenic knifeman launches tube attack
- Jan 2016 - Knife-wielding man killed outside Paris police station
- Jan 2016 - Man charged over police shooting in Philadelphia
- Jan 2016 - Two killed after gunmen storm Red Sea resort hotel
- Jan 2016 - Jewish teacher stabbed with machete in Marseille
- Jan 2016 - Militants launch co-ordinated bomb attacks on Jakarta
- Mar 2016 - 35 killed in Brussels airport and metro station attack
- Mar 2016 - Four dead after suicide bomb attack in Istanbul
- June 2016 - Gunman kills 49 people at gay club in Orlando
- June 2016 - Man 'with IS links' kills French policeman and partner
- June 2016 - Gun and bomb attack at Ataturk Airport kills 45
- July 2016 - Attack on cafe in Dhaka leaves 20 people dead
- July 2016 - Lorry attack on Bastille Day kills 84 people in Nice
- July 2016 - Four people injured by axe attack on German train
- July 2016 - Bomber kills himself and injures 15 in Germany attack
- July 2016 - Two men kill French priest at church in Normandy
- Aug 2016 - Two female officers injured in Belgium machete attack
- Aug 2016 - Man stabs two backpackers to death in Australia (Mother of murdered Brit slams Trump 'terror attack' claim)
- Sept 2016 - Man in 'IS-inspired knife' attack in Sydney
- Sept 2016 - Man stabs nine people at a mall in Minnesota
- Sept 2016 - Police catch main suspect in failed NY bomb attack
- Oct 2016 - Knife-wielding man stabs two Belgian police officers
- Nov 2016 - Ohio campus incident investigated as terror attack
- Dec 2016 - Ten dead, including Canadian, in Jordan shootings
- Dec 2016 - Lorry attack on market in Berlin kills 12 people