In Jonathan’s last post on this, he wrote that White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer owed Charles Krauthammer an apology, after accusing him of lying about the Winston Churchill bust being removed from the Oval Office. So you have to hand it to Pfeiffer for doing the right thing and issuing what had to be a very uncomfortable public apology yesterday. Not that Pfeiffer doesn’t deserve to squirm a bit after putting out such a misleading statement:
I take your criticism seriously and you are correct that you are owed an apology. There was clearly an internal confusion about the two busts and there was no intention to deceive. I clearly overshot the runway in my post. The point I was trying to make – under the belief that the bust in the residence was the one previously in the Oval Office– was that this oft repeated talking point about the bust being a symbol of President Obama’s failure to appreciate the special relationship is false. The bust that was returned was returned as a matter of course with all the other artwork that had been loaned to President Bush for display in his Oval Office and not something that President Obama or his administration chose to do. I still think this is an important point and one I wish I had communicated better.
A better understanding of the facts on my part and a couple of deep breaths at the outset would have prevented this situation. Having said all that, barring a miracle comeback from the Phillies I would like to see the Nats win a world series even if it comes after my apology.
Hopefully, this will encourage campaign officials on both sides of the aisle to think more carefully before issuing “fact-checking” statements without due diligence. This was an unforced error by the White House, and Pfeiffer is smart to step back and offer a mea culpa instead of digging in further.