White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, not wanting to miss out on all the fun that his colleague Kellyanne Conway has been having, referenced a nonexistent terror attack in Atlanta on at least three separate occasions late last month—before suddenly claiming that he had been trying to refer to the Orlando massacre.
In two interviews and a press briefing, Spicer referenced an attack in the Georgia city, a gaffe closely timed with Conway's getting generally roasted for using the fake "Bowling Green massacre" as an argument to back Donald Trump's Muslim travel ban.
During a January 29 segment on ABC News' This Week, Spicer said:
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.
A day later, he did it again on MSNBC's Morning Joe:
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. "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.
Later that day, Spicer again alluded to a tragedy in Atlanta in his daily press briefing:
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.
As the Atlanta Police Department made clear, there hasn't been a recent terror attack in the city. The last attack was in 1997, when Eric Robert Rudolph bombed a lesbian club in the city.
A full day after Spicer's remarks were first reported, he said in a statement to ABC News that he "clearly meant Orlando," despite the massacre in that city occurring in another state, some 450 miles away, from Atlanta. Ironically, Orlando was one of the attacks that Spicer and the White House recently accused the media of underplaying.