CNN's King: Media "did not get to photograph" Bush in protective gear; Fox claimed he didn't wear it

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

After the release of a picture depicting White House counselor Dan Bartlett and press secretary Tony Snow wearing helmets and flak jackets while riding in a helicopter in Iraq, CNN chief national correspondent John King reported that President Bush also wore protective gear during the helicopter ride, but that members of the media "did not get to photograph" Bush because official personnel "didn't want us to get any pictures" of him entering or exiting the aircraft. In contrast, on Fox and Friends, co-hosts Steve Doocy and E.D. Hill claimed Bush wore no protective gear, but cited no evidence supporting their claim.

Following growing attention to a recently released photograph of White House counselor Dan Bartlett and press secretary Tony Snow wearing helmets and flak jackets while riding in a helicopter in Iraq, CNN chief national correspondent John King reported on the June 14 edition of CNN's Live From ... that President Bush also wore protective gear during the helicopter ride, but that members of the media "did not get to photograph him" because official personnel "didn't want us to get any pictures" of him entering or exiting the aircraft. In contrast, on the June 14 edition of Fox News' Fox and Friends, co-hosts Steve Doocy and E.D. Hill claimed Bush wore no protective gear, but cited no evidence supporting their claim.

As Media Matters for America noted, following Bush's surprise visit to Iraq on June 13, an Associated Press photo of Bartlett and Snow wearing helmets and flak jackets for a helicopter ride between Baghdad International Airport and the U.S. Embassy was circulated on the Internet and appeared on Page 2 of The Washington Post, accompanying a "Washington Sketch" column by Dana Milbank. A similar photo of Bush has not been circulated.

On the June 14 edition of Live From ..., King -- who accompanied Bush on his trip to Iraq -- stated that although he and other reporters "didn't see the president," "[w]e were told that he [Bush] had body armor on." King further stated that reporters "did not get to photograph the president" as he boarded or exited Air Force One or "any of those helicopters, because they moved him so quickly. They didn't want us to get any pictures of that." King added that "[o]nce he [Bush] got off the helicopter in the Green Zone, then we were allowed to take our body armor off and walk around without it."

But on the June 14 edition of Fox and Friends, Doocy and Hill presented a very different story. Doocy asserted that "apparently the president of the United States did not wear any of the security [gear] ... the flak jacket." In support of this claim, Doocy and Hill cited only a White House photo displayed onscreen, depicting Bush "moving into one of the palaces, where he did speak with the prime minister." Doocy and Hill noted that the photo showed Bush wearing "a blue shirt" and a "baseball cap," but no protective equipment. They contrasted this photograph with the picture of Snow and Bartlett aboard a helicopter, noting that the two aides "wore the flak jackets and the helmets as well."

Doocy and Hill did not, however, cite any evidence that Bush had not worn protective gear during the helicopter ride to the Green Zone. The photograph they discussed -- depicting Bush after he had exited his helicopter -- was consistent with King's report that Bush wore protective equipment during the helicopter ride but removed it "once he got off" the aircraft.

From the June 14 edition of CNN's Live From ...:

KYRA PHILLIPS [anchor]: All right. You wore body armor. So did the other journalists. But I was reading that the president's aides did not. Is that true, and does the president wear body armor?

KING: That -- that's not true. When we got on the helicopter, the president's aides -- it was 115 degrees, or 112 degrees, and it's hotter inside those helicopters, and they had to wear suits and ties because they were going to an official meeting with the prime minister and the Iraqi cabinet. Now, they put the flak jackets over their suits on the vest. We were told -- we didn't see the president -- one of the most interesting things is we did not get to photograph the president getting on Air Force One, off Air Force One, on or off any of those helicopters, because they moved him so quickly. They didn't want us to get any pictures of that. We were told that he had body armor on. He doesn't like it. I can tell you that from personal conversations with him in the past. But we were told he had body armor on. Once he got off the helicopter in the Green Zone, then we were allowed to take our body armor off and walk without it, right when you're just around the embassy compound.

From the June 14 edition of Fox News' Fox and Friends:

DOOCY: Now, we do have some pictures this morning. One you just saw a moment ago was of the president moving into one of the palaces, where he did speak with the prime minister. If we could go back to the picture -- we should point out that apparently the president of the United States did not wear any of the security -- you know, the flak jacket. We understand that a number of his aides --

HILL: Is that him in the blue shirt with the --

DOOCY: He's just wearing a blue shirt.

HILL: With the baseball cap?

DOOCY: Pulled down tight. Meanwhile, we also have another picture of Dan Bartlett and Tony Snow. They're in one of the helicopters as they fly toward the Green Zone. It was about a seven-minute flight.

HILL: Oh, Dan's real happy you're showing that again.

DOOCY: Oh, sure. He made that clear an hour ago.

HILL: He said he hates that photo, Steve.

DOOCY: They all wore the flak jackets and the helmets as well. And, you know, Dan Bartlett was honest. He said, "You know, for the men and women who work over there, it's just another day for them. But if you're not used to it -- a reason to be tense."

Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel, CNN
Person
Steve Doocy, John King
Show/Publication
FOX & Friends, Live From...
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