White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer is facing heat for repeatedly citing an Atlanta terrorist attack that never happened, CNN reports. "What do we say to the family who loses somebody [in a terrorist attack], whether it's Atlanta or San Bernardino or the Boston bomber? Those [terrorists], each of whom had gone out to a country and then come back," Spicer told ABC's This Week in late January.
The next day, Spicer told the Morning Joe hosts "too many of these cases that have happened — whether you're talking about San Bernardino, Atlanta ... Boston ... would you wait until you do?" And in his January 30 White House press briefing, Spicer said: "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."
Atlanta has been victim to a terrorist attack, a 1996 bombing that killed one and injured 111 others. But it was a right-wing anti-abortion radical from Florida — who was neither a foreigner nor an Islamic State-inspired terrorist — who carried out the attack.
Spicer defended himself by saying he misspoke, telling ABC News he "clearly meant Orlando" when he said "Atlanta." As The Washington Post points out, Orlando is "a city located 450 miles south of Atlanta in a different state" and "is a popular Florida tourist destination and home to Mickey Mouse. It was also, on June 12 of last year, the site of the most deadly mass shooting in U.S. history."
This is not the first time the Trump administration has faced criticism for citing a nonexistent terrorist attack. Kellyanne Conway on multiple occasions referred to "the Bowling Green massacre," which never occurred. Conway later defended herself by claiming she had misspoke.