Churchill’s Bust and Fake News

The Steel Soapbox Examination Time

This picture I have stamped false below, is a prime example of how false reporting is crafted to cause trouble and sway people. This is the same method use in pseudo archaeology and pseudoscience, carefully picked facts welded to lies in order to make a dramatic point to sway people.


The problem with fake news sites is that they continue to push false or cherry picked information that suits their purpose. Here is a good example of how a false news stories is spread throughout the net. Lack of fact checking allows these false rumors to spread.

This simply is the case of returning of a LOANED piece of art that ran a muck escalating to irrational claims. There are TWO busts of Winston Churchill that are the center of this discussion.

The first is a loan to George W. Bush administration in July 16, 2001 by then Prime Minister Tony Blair. Several news agencies made note the bust would be returned to the British people when Bush left office. Nothing shocking, straight up loan. The bust was owned by Britain and remains British property. That is the bust that upon Obama taking office that was legally returned to Britain. That is all..

The second bust that needs to be mentioned was given to Lyndon Johnson in Oct. 6, 1965 given to him by selection of friends comprised of diplomats and military officers. That piece sits in a prominent place outside the Treaty Room since being acquired. This piece is owned by the United States and was never in the Oval Office.

“It was the acceptance of the Jacob Epstein bust of Winston Churchill which is being presented to the White House by his wartime friends.” (by Lady Bird Johnson in A white House Diary page 327)

Got that so far… two busts.. one on loan from Britain (we shall call that the 2001 bust), one owned by the United States (we shall call that the 1965 bust). The 2001 bust was returned when the loan date had expired and was the only one ever in the Oval Office… is that so far clear.

For years a fallacy of Obama hating the British and rejecting the Churchill 2001 bust has remained a rallying point for alt right group. This fallacy continued to be echoed back and forth around social media. Remember those echo chambers I mentioned in an earlier posting, this is a good example of those echoing that keep repeating FALSE information.

In 2011 Huckabee claimed that Obama returned the bust as an insult because he disliked the British and thus western culture…..

“One thing that I do know is his having grown up in Kenya, his view of the Brits, for example, (is) very different than the average American,” and “The bust of Winston Churchill, a great insult to the British,” Huckabee said. “But then if you think about it, his perspective as growing up in Kenya with a Kenyan father and grandfather he probably grew up hearing that the British were a bunch of imperialists who persecuted his grandfather.” … (AP 2011)

Of course the entire accusation made is false, Obama was never raised in Kenya nor was the return an insult to British, and nor does he dislike the British people. That rhetoric is just a rallying tactic. Fake news to get people upset.

In 2012 Romney got into the frack by declaring he would return Winston Churchill to the oval office. However we do not know if Romney knew of the 1965 bust and was referring to it which never was in the Oval Office or the loaned 2001 bust since the distinction was not made clear. Yet considering the false story circulation and push by the right to make this a major issue, the odds that he was unaware of the 1965 bust and was referring to the 2001 loaned bust.

This falsehood of the bust continued. In 2015 we see the same misinformation continue

“One of the very first acts President Obama did upon being elected was sending Churchill’s bust back to the UK, and I think that foreshadowed everything that was to come the next six years.” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), remarks at Iowa Freedom Summit, Jan. 24, 2015

That comment sounds bad, and it is supposed to sound bad. The truth, adding in the 2001 bust was on loan and therefore dated to be returned when Bush’s term ended the day Obama was sworn in, just does not have that same punch.

So what replaced the Churchill bust? Obama choose to put in a bust of Abraham Lincoln…an American. So where are all those flag waving patriotic souls that should be expounding on the fact the American President choose to have a famous American bust in the Oval Office. You would think that would be a plus factor not a condemnation issue.

Sadly when tensions mount, people, even those who should know better, are quick to jump the fence and not check. It also must be noted that the two busts, similar in appearance due to the fact they are copies, would be confusing. However since it is now known about the limited time duration of the loaned bust, these false stories should ceased, but instead they have intensified in 2016. Thus we can rationalize it is not the facts that is important here but the purpose to make soundless accusations to rally people to believe the false information and therefore sway their votes and alliances

This is one of the same tactics used to propel pseudo-archaeology or pseudo-science are used here, this echoing back and forth, the same words, and the same false information. Cherry picked facts that are carefully crafted to fit inside a covering of falsehoods, yet at the base there is still that small kernel of truth.. clever very clever indeed

The facts…..

#1– There were TWO busts of Churchill in the White House. Both are copies created by the artist Jacob Epstein.

#2– Bust ONE was on loan to George W. Bush administration in July 16, 2001 by then Prime Minister Tony Blair. Several news agencies made note the bust would be returned to the British people when Bush left office. Nothing shocking, straight up loan.

#3– When Obama came into office the loan was up and the bust returned. That 2001 bust resides at the British ambassador’s residence in Washington in 2011. That is all. That statue was never US property. It was a loan for a duration of time and when the time period was up, the bust was legally returned. Much like a museum display.

#4– Obama choose to display in the office the bust of Abraham Lincoln in the Oval Office.

#5– Bust TWO (1965) is part of the White House’s own art collection, thus owned by the United States. Not on loan. This bust was given to Lyndon Johnson in Oct. 6, 1965 by selection of friends comprised of diplomats and military officers. That piece sits in a prominent place outside the Treaty Room.

#6– The 1965 bust was NEVER in the oval office… only the 2001 bust on loan was. So to say the bust will be returned to the Oval Office with jubilant cries of victory either means that the US will take back what is not ours illegally.. not good at all. Or the 1965 bust will be moved to the Oval Office with Lincoln being removed in effect… hmm seems the American bust id more important.. jut saying


“FACT CHECK: Huckabee claims Obama grew up in Kenya” by Philip Elliott (Associated Press ) March 1, 2011…/…/03/01/AR2011030104385.html

“Fact Check: The Bust of Winston Churchill” by Dan Pfeiffer (July 27, 2012)…/fact-check-bust-winston-church…

“Fact-check: did Obama really remove a Churchill bust from the Oval Office?” by Mona Chalabi (The Guardian April 22, 2016)…/barack-obama-winston-churchil…

“The Case Of The Two Churchills” by Amy Davidson (New Yorker August 1, 2012)…/d…/the-case-of-the-two-churchills

“Busted: Two Statues Amount to One Churchill Bust of a Controversy” by Kevin Liptak (CNN July 27, 2012)…/busted-two-statues-…/

“Barack Obama sends bust of Winston Churchill on its way back to Britain” by Tim Shipman (The Telegraph Feb 1, 2009)…/Barack-Obama-sends-bust-of-Win…

“Dear Boris Johnson: Our “Half-Kenyan” President Still Keeps A Churchill Bust In The White House. Ask David Cameron.” (No More Mister Nice Blog April 22, 2016)…/dear-boris-johnson-our-h…

About jasterling

One part of my life is in the science of anthropology and archaeology where I did comparative work. My other life that I am now pursuing is writing along the lines of fantasy/sci fi fictional writing as my one way to stay sane in this other insane world. Please enjoy the selections you will find in my blog.
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