When Charles Krauthammer wrote a column criticizing President Obama for his disrespect for our allies, the White House took issue with one sentence out of Krauthammer’s litany of Obama snubs and worse:
Obama started his presidency by returning to the British Embassy the bust of Winston Churchill that had graced the Oval Office.
The White House first denied that the bust had even been returned, calling it a “rumor” that was “patently false”. Except it was true, and the denial was patently false. The White House later retracted their “fact check” (although they left all the incorrect material up and buried the correction at the end) and eventually apologized.
However, they continued to maintain that Krauthammer’s allegation was a “completely false” “urban legend”, claiming that the bust was returned only because the loan had expired at the end of President Bush’s term in office. The White House deputy press secretary took up the new line of defense and attack:
There is myth floating in some of the darker corners of the internet that suggest that upon taking office the President went out of his way to snub the British people by prematurely returning the bust of Winston Churchill that had occupied a prominent place in the Oval Office under the previous president. That’s not true. . .
The bust was loaned to President Bush by the British government. As is customary, at the conclusion of President Bush’s term, and before President Obama entered the Oval Office, the bust was returned to the British embassy.
The White House’s new story isn’t true either. The British government has made it clear that they offered to extend the loan and the Obama administration refused. The Times reported:
Britain wants President Obama to put a bronze bust of Sir Winston Churchill back in the Oval Office, where it stood for the past eight years as a symbol of an enduring special relationship with America. The White House is not so sure. . .
A spokesman for the British Embassy in Washington said yesterday: “We have made it clear that we would be pleased to extend the loan should Mr Obama so wish.” He added that no response had been received; yesterday the White House declined to comment.
A similar report appeared in the Sunday Telegraph.
We will be charitable, and assume that the White House’s original attack was not a deliberate falsehood, and that they simply failed to ascertain the facts before lashing out. But we cannot be so charitable now that they have had every opportunity to establish the facts. Not only is their latest defense/attack false, but they sneer that the allegation comes from the “darker corners of the internet”. Darker corners? The Times is one of the world’s oldest and most respected newspapers, dating from 1785. The Telegraph and the Washington Post (for which Krauthammer writes) are relative upstarts, dating from just 1855 and 1877.