On the September 28 edition of Inside Politics, CNN correspondent Jeanne Meserve joined FOX News Channel chief political correspondent Carl Cameron and FOX News Channel host Bill O'Reilly in echoing the false Bush-Cheney '04 campaign defense that Bush never actually said "mission accomplished" in reference to the American-led war in Iraq.
Meserve suggested that the Kerry-Edwards '04 campaign distorted the facts in its recent ad, which claims: "George Bush said Iraq was 'mission accomplished.'" Meserve reported, "In reality, the sign said, 'MISSION ACCOMPLISHED'; the president said something quite different." She then played a clip of Bush stating, "We have difficult work to do in Iraq," in his May 1, 2003, speech aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln.
As Media Matters for America previously documented, in addition to declaring an end to major combat in Iraq in front of a "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED" banner aboard the Abraham Lincoln in May 2003, Bush said to U.S. troops in Qatar on June 5, 2003: "America sent you on a mission to remove a grave threat and to liberate an oppressed people, and that mission has been accomplished."
And what Meserve didn't say is that, even if the president didn't mouth those words on that ship, his White House had the "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED" banner made, according to an April 16 Associated Press report. The AP noted that, although Bush denied in October 2003 that the White House had anything to do with it, a spokesman later admitted that the White House did, in fact, commission a private vendor to make the banner; however, it is unclear who paid for it. The AP also noted that Bush's chief political aide, Karl Rove, said he regretted the use of the banner.