Conway trips, but media still ‘not cool’
Kellyanne Conway messed up. Speaking with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews on Thursday night, United States President Donald Trump’s senior adviser invented a mass killing that never happened.
“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, were radicalized and were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre,” she said. “Most people don’t know that because it didn’t get covered.”
There was no “Bowling Green massacre,” in any Bowling Green. There was, as many have pointed out, an incident in 2011 where two Iraqi men were arrested for trying to send weapons to al-Qaida. Both men admitted to having attacked American troops in Iraq, but no attacks occurred in the United States. The Bowling Green massacre has the happy distinction of being the least deadly massacre in history.
When the Conway clip started to proliferate on social media, there were a few directions that the response could go. We’ve come to expect a certain pattern from Trump himself: an outrageous claim, an immediate blowback, a doubling down from Trump, a sometimes-strained defence from his loyal defenders. It’s a function of the odd political space Trump occupies, one that straddles truth and falsehood, where he’s given credit for what people want to read into his comments versus what he actually said. (“Take him seriously, not literally.”) How would that cycle iterate for someone besides Trump making an obviously false statement from within his inner circle?
The first response was right on cue. Reaction on social media was immediate and harsh. “Bowling Green Massacre” trended on Twitter, with any number of jokes made at Conway’s expense. News outlets rushed to offer brief fact checks: the “massacre” simply didn’t happen.
On Reddit’s The_Donald forum, one of the most energetic and loyal bastions of Trump fandom, the ensuing response was varied — and rather muted. One user shared the clip uncritically, saying Conway had “school[ed] libs” on the massacre. Another called it “a strange choice of words” but declared it “only 10 per cent as dishonest as what the media does every day.”
On Friday morning, Conway responded on Twitter.
“On @hardball @NBCNews @MSNBC I meant to say “Bowling Green terrorists” as reported here: https://t.co/nB5SwIEoYI”
That alleged refugee ban also didn’t happen. That’s why it was “brand-new information.”
You’ll be glad to know that Conway still managed to make lemonade out of the whole Bowling Green situation: “NBC reporter texted me at 632 am re:a diff. story; never asked what I meant on @Hardball b4 slamming me on @TODAYshow Not cool, not journalism”
Sure, Conway got her facts wrong. But, as always, the real problem is the media.