Why did White House cite "underreported" attacks that were widely covered?

President Donald Trump speaks to troops while visiting U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla.,Monday, Feb. 6, 2017. 

Susan Walsh, AP

The Justice Department will ask a federal court in a few hours to revive President Trump’s temporary ban affecting immigration.

The president defended his executive order Monday, saying the threat from terrorism is growing. And he claimed the press is deliberately not reporting on some terror attacks.

The White House offered nearly 80 examples from the last two years. Our records show CBS News has reported about three quarters of the incidents on that list. And none of the attacks would have been prevented by President Trump’s travel ban, reports CBS News correspondent Major Garrett.

In his first speech to troops as commander in chief, President Trump told soldiers at MacDill Air Force Base the media was ignoring the reality of terrorism.

President says media isn't reporting attacks, doesn't cite evidence

“ISIS is on a campaign of genocide, committing atrocities across the world,” Mr. Trump said. “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.”

The president offered no examples to the bewildered soldiers; neither did Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

Immigration order faces major legal test

“Yeah… we’ll provide a list later,” Spicer said. 

The White House eventually produced a list that was riddled with spelling errors. It falsely claimed that most of the 78 attacks motivated by ISIS from September 2014 to December 2016 “have not received the media attention they deserved.”

On that list was the widely covered San Bernardino shooting in December 2015 that left 14 dead, and the June 2016 Orlando nightclub massacre -- where 49 people were gunned down by Omar Matteen, an American citizen who pledged his allegiance to ISIS.

The atrocity in Nice, France on Bastille Day 2016 was also on the list. Eighty-six people were killed. That carnage prompted then candidate Trump to postpone the announcement of Mike Pence as his running mate.

The list also had smaller scale attacks with little details, like ones in El Gorah, Egypt and Kuwait City, where there were no casualties.

An August 2015 episode, when three Americans tackled a Moroccan passenger armed with a box cutter and assault rifle on a train from Amsterdam to Paris, was also mentioned on the list. All three became international heroes and met with President Obama.

The White House knows these events were covered and the accusation would lead news organizations to remind their audiences of the events, thereby distracting attention from the president’s legal woes with his immigration order, while reviving fears of terrorism the order is supposedly designed to address.