Trump’s Remarks on Media Overlook US State Terrorism
Donald Trump is right in the sense that the corporate media does not cover terrorism committed by the United States and its allies, says author Beau Grosscup
DHARNA NOOR: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Dharna Noor, joining you from Baltimore. On Wednesday President Trump tweeted an Emerson College poll that showed 53% of their participants believed the media is not truthful. This compares to 48% of the polls participants who believe that Trump isn’t truthful. The poll comes on the heels of a week-long dispute with the media which began when Trump said last Monday that the media have not reported on terror attacks. Here’s what he said.
DONALD TRUMP: Radical Islamic terrorists are determined to strike our homeland, as they did on 9/11; as they did from Boston to Orlando, to San Bernardino and all across Europe. 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.
DHARNA NOOR: The White House followed up the next day with a list of 78 terror attacks between September, 2014 and December, 2016 that “have not received the media attention they deserved.” The list included many prominent attacks that were covered extensively but omitted attacks committed by non-Muslims, such as a recent attack on a Quebec Mosque, the 2016 shootings by Dillan Roof(?) in South Carolina and the 2012 attacks on Asick Guthrada(?) in Wisconsin. Here to talk more about this today is Beau Grosscup. Beau joins us from Chico, California. He’s the author of several books, including “The Newest Explosions of Terrorism” and more recently, “Strategic Terror, the Politics and Ethics of Arial Bombardment”. Thanks so much for joining me today, Beau.
BEAU GROSSCUP: You’re very welcome, Dharna.
DHARNA NOOR: Now, Trump was pointing out that just under half of those polls’ participants don’t trust him, while just over half don’t trust the media. You’d think that the real news story probably should be that so many folks trust neither their media nor the President. What do you make of these high levels of mistrust that we’re seeing?
BEAU GROSSCUP: Well, coming with the Trump situation, I would say that, you know, he has a strong record of exaggeration and outright misspeaking. I think people are very much caught on to that even early in his administration. On the other hand, the corporate media is very biased and I think people understand that, you know, a lot of what they cover is political in nature, that is to say to satisfy their corporate agenda because they are part of corporate America. And so, I think, you know, in general that the suspicions or the notion that they can’t be trusted depends on what they can be trusted with. Can they be trusted with giving the American public the news as news rather than news as entertainment? The answer, I think, is proven to be no.
DHARNA NOOR: And what strategy do you think that Trump is pursing here by attacking the media’s coverage of what he calls “terrorism”?
BEAU GROSSCUP: Well, he understands to some degree the politics of terrorism in the sense that fear is a very effective motivating factor to mobilize people behind your agenda. And politicians around the world know this, and so that’s why, you know, raising the terrorism issue, and of course, it’s always terrorism of the other, meaning the other folks who are the enemy, use terrorism, and of course, your own side does not. So, you know, terrorism this is nothing new. Terrorism has proven to be able to mobilize large numbers of people and populations behind an agenda that otherwise they probably wouldn’t agree with.
DHARNA NOOR: Right, and in your work you’ve noted that the US commits acts of terror too, which the Trump Administration frequently doesn’t acknowledge at all. So, talk a bit about that.
BEAU GROSSCUP: Well, this is where we get to the point of, you know, his notion that the media, the corporate media doesn’t cover acts of terrorism. Of course, he’s speaking about terrorism of the other, terrorism’s enemies and, you know, of course the corporate media has a reason to cover those acts and they do. And they have scrambled all week since he made that statement to prove that yes indeed they have covered acts of terrorism by others, particularly, by the Muslim community or people allegedly associated with the Muslim community. While at the same time, Trump’s not interested, as we know, in covering what is right-wing terrorism, particularly in the United States, domestic terrorism. So, he is partially wrong because they have, I think, pretty effectively proven that they do cover terrorism of the other. He’s right in the sense that the corporate media does not cover terrorism by the United States and its allies. In fact, that’s the most politically incorrect thing you can do, is to associate United Stated and its allies with the plague of modern-day terrorism. You do that and you’ll be out of a job. But there’s a plethora of evidence to show that indeed the United States through bombing, through ground forces, etc., by using its military, engages in terrorism; engages in acts that, if anybody else was doing it, let’s say Iran or China, why we would clearly say, “Oh, see? We told you they are responsible for the plague of terrorism.” What’s going on in Yemen, for example, the US-Saudi-backed war killing civilians, bombing hospitals, you know, these are acts of terrorism, if somebody else were doing them. But since Saudi Arabia is our ally and we’re supporting that ally why, we have all kinds of ways to excuse what in any other way would be considered terrorism, like the bombing of hospitals, you know. Well, we have all kinds of ways and the corporate media is complicit in this. They buy it hook line and sinker the Pentagon’s excuses and rationales for why this isn’t terrorism. So, it’s interesting that the President Trump is both right and he’s wrong at the same time.
DHARNA NOOR: Yeah, and looking back domestically, the White House list omits any mention of “non-Muslim terrorism”. A New America study, from 2015, shows that right-wing extremism is actually more likely to kill Americans than a Muslim terror attack.
BEAU GROSSCUP: Yes, but… Yeah, and I mean, the FBI has documented that for a couple of decades, that , you know, the biggest terrorist threat in the United States is domestic terrorism of the right. But of course, their list, we talk about the FBI’s list, their list starts with animal rights groups like PETA as the biggest terrorist group. So, again you can see the absolute political nature of the investigation, the research and then obviously the reporting on who the terrorists are both internationally and domestically. You know it’s them not us.
DHARNA NOOR: Kelly-Ann Conway who has become sort of a spokesperson of Trump Administration fake news, recently referred to a non-existent Bowling Green massacre as evidence of poor reporting. Let’s take a look at that.
KELLY-ANN CONWAY: I bet there was very little coverage. I bet it’s brand new information to people that President Obama had a six-month ban on the Iraqi refugee program after two Iraqis came here to this country, they were radicalized and they were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre. And most people don’t know that because it didn’t get covered.
DHARNA NOOR: She later retracted her statement. And then more recently, Sean Spicer has been referring to this terrorist attack in Atlanta.
SEAN SPICER: But what… what do we say to the family that… that loses somebody of a terrorist to whether it’s Atlanta. Too many of these cases that have happened, whether you’re talking about San Bernardino, Atlanta, but I don’t think you have to look any further than the families that were… of the Boston Marathon, in Atlanta…
DHARNA NOOR: Sean Spicer claims he “obviously meant Orlando”. You’ve spoken about some of the impacts of these inaccuracies in the media coverage of the Administration and of terrorism. You’ve spoken about how they’re able to engender fear and therefore, sort of that fear can beget a sort of nationalism and an adherence to the Trump Administration. Talk about how we’ve seen that in a measureable way and also how we can fight back.
BEAU GROSSCUP: Well, in a measurable way it can be seen just in terms of how people talk about terrorism. They talk about it and who the terrorists are. They talk about it in a very partial way, which is, you know, they’re the terrorists and we’re not. When in fact, as I mentioned earlier, the scourge of terrorism, this dastardly deed that we all hopefully aren’t(?) interested in continuing, they basically ignore. So, in policy wise I mean, we’ve institutionalized what we call the Terrorism Industry which is basically, where people who study it and research it, are getting paid big bucks, and go on television and tell us who the terrorists are, and who they aren’t. And more importantly, in terms of policy, there’s strong evidence and you see this every day, in the discussions, that in terms of dealing with the issue of terrorism there’s an accepted notion that there’s a security fix to terrorism. And so, all we have to do is really and this is really what Trump is saying with the Muslim Ban, all we have to do is lock down the society, convince people that the threat is so great, that they have to give up some, if not most of their civil liberties, and the terrorist threat will be diminished or in deed disappear. Well, okay, but you’ve got yourself a locked-down society, so you’ve basically destroyed the very democratic society that you allegedly relish. At the same time, you may be diminished the terrorism threat. My point is there’s no security fix to terrorism. You can bomb as many cities as you want to and you’re only going to, and the CIA has documented this for years, you know, you’re only going to enrage. You’re only going to create a recruiting tool for people who are seeking revenge. You know, revenge isn’t a one-way street. It’s a two-way street and, you know, that’s a real problem that people don’t want to recognize. Revenge causes revenge causes revenge; violence causes violence. But this notion in terms of policy that there’s a security fix to terrorism is just a bogus idea.
DHARNA NOOR: Beau Grosscup is the author of the new book, “Strategic Terror, the Politics and Ethics of Arial Bombardment.” Beau, thank you so much for joining us today and we hope to catch up with you again soon.
BEAU GROSSCUP: You’re very welcome, Dharna. Thank you very much.
DHARNA NOOR: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.