Cameron, CNN's Clarke obscured White House role in "Mission Accomplished" banner

››› ››› SIMON MALOY

Fox News chief White House correspondent Carl Cameron and former Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke both obscured the role the White House played in the display of the "Mission Accomplished" banner that appeared behind Bush on May 1, 2003, when he declared an end to major combat operations in Iraq. Cameron referred to the banner as a "Navy banner," while Clarke claimed "it's still a matter of debate" who printed and put up the banner, despite a 2004 report that a White House spokesperson confirmed that White House staff had the banner made.

On May 1 -- the three-year anniversary of President Bush's 2003 speech in which Bush declared an end to major combat operations in Iraq while standing under a large banner reading "Mission Accomplished" -- Fox News chief White House correspondent Carl Cameron and former Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke both obscured the role the White House played in the display of the banner. On the May 1 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume, Cameron reported that President Bush stood "beneath a Navy banner" when he declared an end to major combat operations in Iraq. On the May 1 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, Clarke claimed that "it's still a matter of debate who actually printed the banner and who actually put it up." The Associated Press, however, reported in 2004 that a White House spokesman confirmed that White House staff had the banner made.

From the May 1 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume:

CAMERON: Meanwhile, Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid [NV] emerged on the Senate floor with a poster of the president's speech, three years ago today, in which Mr. Bush declared major combat operations in Iraq were over, while standing beneath a Navy banner reading: "Mission Accomplished."

From the May 1 edition of The Situation Room:

WOLF BLITZER (anchor): Torie, whose idea was it for the president to land on the Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier under that "Mission Accomplished" banner?

CLARKE: I'll tell you what -- I'll take some responsibility for this.

BLITZER: You were the Pentagon spokesman.

CLARKE: I was at the Pentagon at the time. And I was very eager to have lots of senior officials greet the troops as they were coming home from various missions, and that aircraft carrier had been out for over six months. So I was all for that. I think it's still a matter of debate who actually printed the banner and who actually put it up.

But, as Media Matters for America noted during the 2004 presidential campaign, when Bush was trying to distance himself from the banner, the Associated Press reported on April 16, 2004:

The banner, which has been a source of controversy for the Bush administration, has been mocked many times over the failed search for weapons of mass destruction and the continuing violence in Iraq.

Bush said in October that the White House had nothing to do with the banner; a spokesman later clarified that the ship's crew asked for the sign and that the White House staff had it made by a private vendor. It was not clear who paid for the sign.

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