Example: [Collected via e-mail, December 2013]
Is this a plastic turkey?
Origins: In November 2003, eight months after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Americans settling in for their own Thanksgiving celebrations were surprised by the news that President
What many Americans now recall about those images ten years later, however, is that what President Bush was carrying wasn't a real
The misremembering of President Bush's posing with a plastic turkey grew out of news reporting at the time of the event which noted that the although the bird on the platter was real, it was meant as a decorative piece only and was not actually served to or eaten by troops. At the time, there was some dispute over whether a White House report that a British Airways pilot had spotted Air Force One as it secretly made its way to Baghdad was genuine, or whether the tale was invented to associate President Bush's surprise trip with some publicity-generating suspense and danger.
Washington Post reporter Mike Allen, who covered President Bush's surprise trip to Iraq, subsequently penned an article in which he invoked the "show turkey" doubts about the British Airways pilot tale and lingering controversy over the President's justification for going to war in Iraq to suggest that the White House had "new credibility questions":
The bird is so perfect it looks as if it came from a food magazine, with bunches of grapes and other trimmings completing a Norman Rockwell image that evokes bounty and security in one of the most dangerous parts of the world.
But as a small sign of the many ways the White House maximized the impact of the
The scene, which lasted just a few seconds, was not visible to a reporter who was there but was recorded by a pool photographer and described by officials yesterday in response to questions raised in Washington.
Bush's standing rose in a poll conducted immediately after the trip. Administration officials said the presidential stop provided a morale boost that troops in Iraq are still talking about, and helped reassure Iraqis about U.S. intentions.
Nevertheless, the foray has opened new credibility questions for a White House that has dealt with issues as small as who placed the "Mission Accomplished" banner aboard the aircraft carrier Bush used to proclaim the end of major combat operations in Iraq, and as major as assertions about Saddam Hussein's arsenal of unconventional weapons and his ability to threaten the United States.
The White House has updated its account of an airborne conversation in which a British Airways pilot wondered into his radio if he had just seen Air Force One and was told that it was a
"I don't think everybody was clear on exactly how that conversation happened," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said.
British Airways said it has been unable to confirm the new version. "We've looked into it," a spokeswoman said from London. "It didn't happen."
Even allowing that the turkey held by President Bush in press photographs was a decorative one and not one meant to be eaten by troops, criticizing the event (or at least that aspect of the event) as somehow being "fake" might still be considered overblown. As Allen also noted in his article, officials maintained the "prop turkey" was a regular Thanksgiving feature that had not been created for the President to show off during his visit:
Allen, Mike. "The Bird Was Perfect But Not for Dinner." The Washington Post. 7 December 2003. Bash, Dana. "No Pilot Comes Forward on Spotting Bush's Plane." CNN. 2 December 2003. Dinan, Stephen. "Media Feasting on Bush 'Fake' Turkey Claim." The Washington Times. 27 November 2013.