Pfeiffer's "fact check" isn't quite right. While there is still a bust of Churchill in the White House, it's not the same one that was in the Oval when Bush was president. The bust by Sir Jacob Epstein... was lent to Bush's administration for the duration of his presidency, the British Embassy in Washington told Mediaite. When Bush left office, the loan ended and the bust was placed in the embassy. The White House collection includes its own Churchill bust by Epstein, which is the one that's now in the residence.(All the boldface in this post is mine.)
Let's go back to Krauthammer's column. Here's the line that Pfieffer is quoted saying is "so patently false": "Obama started his presidency by returning to the British Embassy the bust of Winston Churchill that had graced the Oval Office." Based on the update, I'd say what Krauthammer wrote was so patently true.
Krauthammer's column — which was about Romney's overseas trip — imagined Romney saying to the British:
“We are grateful for your steadfast solidarity in awful places like Iraq and Afghanistan. The relationship truly is special.And in fact, Krauthammer says, on Thursday: "Romney did say he wants Winnie back in the Oval Office."
“And one more thing. Still have that bust of Churchill?”
I've added boldface to stress the importance of the placement of the bust in the Oval Office (not tucked away somewhere less symbolic and high-profile) and the relationship signified by the loan from the Embassy. Those things might not seem that important to those who are pushing Obama's reelection, like Pfeiffer, but Politico should be ashamed of its shoddy work, taking what is obviously an unjustified shot at Krauthammer and leaving the accusation in the headline where it can continue its dirty work.
And here's Pfieffer's column on the official whitehouse.gov website (which should not be a campaign outlet!):
Now, normally we wouldn’t address a rumor that’s so patently false, but just this morning the Washington Post’s Charles Krauthammer repeated this ridiculous claim in his column. He said President Obama “started his Presidency by returning to the British Embassy the bust of Winston Churchill that had graced the Oval Office.”Pfieffer's overreach is apparent from the start. He says "100% false," when it's at least partly true: There's no Churchill bust in the Oval Office.
This is 100% false. The bust still in the White House. In the Residence. Outside the Treaty Room.
News outlets have debunked this claim time and again.... just last year the AP reported that President Obama “replaced the Oval Office fixture with a bust of one of his American heroes, President Abraham Lincoln, and moved the Churchill bust to the White House residence.”...
Hopefully this clears things up a bit and prevents folks from making this ridiculous claim again.So all the ridiculous folks need to stop talking about this... but then Pfieffer returns with an update, confessing his own ridiculousness (or craftiness, since he got his story out on the official White House website, beating back the Krauthammer narrative, and who's looking at updates now?):
Since my post on the fact that the bust of Winston Churchill has remained on display in the White House, despite assertions to the contrary, I have received a bunch of questions -- so let me provide some additional info. The White House has had a bust of Winston Churchill since the 1960’s. At the start of the Bush administration Prime Minister Blair lent President Bush a bust that matched the one in the White House, which was being worked on at the time and was later returned to the residence. The version lent by Prime Minister Blair was displayed by President Bush until the end of his Presidency. On January 20, 2009 -- Inauguration Day -- all of the art lent specifically for President Bush’s Oval Office was removed by the curator’s office, as is common practice at the end of every presidency. The original Churchill bust remained on display in the residence. The idea put forward by Charles Krauthammer and others that President Obama returned the Churchill bust or refused to display the bust because of antipathy towards the British is completely false and an urban legend that continues to circulate to this day.And your effort to smear Krauthammer used patently false material. And you used the official White House website to circulate your own urban legend.
Is it even legal to use the the official White House website this way?
IN THE COMMENTS: Matthew Sablan said:
It's a good thing he didn't make up a Dylan quote. You can get fired for that sort of shoddy journalism. Good thing he just called someone no one really likes a liar.Yeah, well, Jonah Lehrer needs a new job, so maybe he can be a White House blogger.