Another fake attack: Sean Spicer referenced nonexistent Atlanta attack three times

UPDATE: Spicer isn't making up new attacks, he just keeps confusing two American cities over and over

By Matthew Rozsa
February 9, 2017 5:43PM (UTC)
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(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Trump's bellicose press secretary, Sean Spicer, is taking a page from the Kellyanne Conway playbook when it comes to mentioning terrorist attacks that never happened.

In his ongoing bid to defend Trump's travel ban on Muslims, Spicer has on three separate occasions referred to a terrorist attack in Atlanta. The first was on Jan. 29, when he asked "What do we say to the family who loses somebody over a terroristic (sic) — to whether it's Atlanta or San Bernardino or the Boston bomber? Those people, each of whom had gone out to a country and then come back."


The comment about Atlanta was overlooked at first — he could have meant Orlando — but on the next day, he brought up the city again.

"There was a very short period of time in which we had something to execute that ensured that the people of the United States were safe. Everybody's been protected," Spicer said on Jan. 30. What happened if we didn't act and somebody was killed? . . . Too many of these cases that have happened — whether you're talking about San Bernardino, Atlanta . . . Boston . . . would you wait until you do? The answer is we act now to protect the future."

Finally, again on Jan. 30, Spicer said of the Muslim ban, "Right, and we're reviewing the entire process over this period of time to make sure that we do this right. But I don't think you have to look any further than the families of the Boston Marathon, in Atlanta, in San Bernardino to ask if we can go further."


There was actually a terrorist attack in Atlanta, though — unlike Bowling Green. But that attack was by a right-wing extremist, Eric Rudolph. Motivated by a violent hatred of women and homosexuals, Rudolph went on a terrorist spree throughout the United States in the 1990s, most infamously a bombing of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics that left one person dead and 247 more injured.

Of course, this wouldn't be the first time that Team Trump remained oddly obtuse about terrorist activities perpetrated by the far right. Despite taking to Twitter to complain about irrelevancies such as his daughter's fashion brand being dropped by a retailer, the president has yet to express public outrage about the white supremacist behind the mass shooting at a mosque in Quebec last month.

UPDATE (9:30): Spicer told ABC News that he was, in fact, referring to the Orlando shooting. Apparently he confused the two cities three times in two days.



Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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Alternative Facts Atlanta Bowling Green Massacre Donald Trump Sean Spicer