When White House counselor Kellyanne Conway last week cited the “Bowling Green Massacre” as a reason why President Donald Trump's executive order banning travel from seven majority-Muslim countries was necessary, the response was immediate. The criticism poured in and an internet meme was born as her fictional account of a non-existent terrorist attack was widely condemned and mocked.
But it appears not everyone got the message that the event never happened.
Indeed, a poll released Friday indicated that a majority of Trump’s supporters believe it took place. Asked by Public Policy Polling about Trump’s travel ban, which an appeals court refused to reinstate Thursday, 51 percent of Trump voters said “the Bowling Green Massacre shows why we need Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration.” Only 23 percent disagreed with the statement.
For voters of the three other candidates in the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton, Gary Johnson and Jill Stein, the percentages of those who agreed with the statement were all in the single digits.
Speaking to MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, Conway brought up the fake atrocity as an example of attacks that Trump’s controversial policy would help prevent.
“I bet there was very little coverage — I bet — 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 they were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre,” she said.
The truth lay some way apart from the fiction. While there were Iraqi citizens living in Bowling Green, Kentucky, who were arrested for attempting to send weapons to al Qaeda in Iraq, there was never any attack.
Conway later attempted to explain her comments by stating she simply misspoke, intending to instead say “Bowling Green terrorists.”
— Kellyanne Conway (@KellyannePolls) February 3, 2017
However, it later emerged that Conway had also previously referenced the nonexistent attack in separate interviews with Cosmopolitan and TMZ.
As Trump’s travel ban continues to be thwarted by the courts, the new poll indicated that only 45 percent of voters are in support of the executive order, while 66 percent said they believe the country is already sage.