Bust-gate mea culpa: White House sorry for 'confusion' over Winston Churchill statuette

The White House apologized Tuesday to Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer for lambasting him over saying President Obama removed a bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office – an act that Krauthammer had argued was symbolic of the president’s failure to appreciate the United States' close allies.

White House Communication Director Dan Pfeiffer said in his apology that his comments on the official White House blog – including one dismissing Krauthammer’s claim as “ridiculous” – were the result of “internal confusion” about two Churchill busts.

“I take your criticism seriously and you are correct that you are owed an apology,” Pfeiffer wrote in an email that Krauthammer asked be made public. “There was clearly an internal confusion about the two busts and there was no intention to deceive.”

In the apology, Pfeiffer wrote that he lashed out in the blog because he thought Krauthammer, in his Washington Post op-ed piece last week, was repeating the false argument that the president removed the bust and that the move showed his failure to appreciate the special relationship between England and the United States.

In his post, Pfeiffer wrote that he does not bother dealing with "a rumor that's so patently false" but felt compelled to issue a "fact check" on Krauthammer's charge in the column.

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"This is 100% false," Pfeiffer blogged. "The bust still in the White House. In the Residence. Outside the Treaty Room."

The post also included an official White House photo of Obama showing British Prime Minister David Cameron a Churchill bust, which turned out to be the other one.

The British Embassy in Washington then released a statement saying there had been two busts in the White House, prompting Pfeiffer to update his blog post by noting the embassy was correct.

The one Krauthammer had referenced had been loaned to President George W. Bush after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and was in the Oval Office. It was returned after his presidency.

The other, which had been in the White House for decades, was the one Pfeiffer had referenced in the photo.

“I clearly overshot the runway on my (blog) post,” Pfeiffer wrote in the apology. “A better understanding of the facts on my part and a couple of deep breaths at the outset would have prevented this situation.”