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Rotten to Decor

Claim:   President Obama changed the decor in the White House from a red, white, and blue color scheme to a "Middle Eastern" one with a "Muslim prayer curtain."

FALSE

Examples:   [Collected via e-mail, August 2010]

For a long time, I have noticed that the decor at the White House has changed since BHO moved in. The Oval Office is now stripped of the traditional red, white, and blue, and replaced with middle eastern wallpaper, drapes, and decor. The hallway that he walks out of to talk to the press now has middle eastern chairs, drapes, etc. And the thing that has bothered me the most is the bright yellow drape behind him every time he speaks from the white house. It has Arabic symbols on it and has been there from the beginning.

What is missing at Barack Hussein Obama's press conference?

No it is not the teleprompters. See the other president's pics for a clue.

BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA (aka BARRY SOETORO)



GEORGE WALKER BUSH

 
WILLIAM JEFFERSON BLYTHE CLINTON



GEORGE HERBERT WALKER BUSH



RONALD WILSON REAGAN



That's right...no American flags!!!

And I don't believe it was just an accident! It is intentional. So I ask, why is it intentional? He told you he would change America, didn't he?
 

Origins:   The Oval Office in the White House is a feature of that historic building which most incoming U.S. presidents feel free to modify to suit their styles and tastes, choosing their own sets of drapery and rugs, furniture, artwork, and various other objects to display. But whoever authored the opening paragraph above about President Obama's allegedly having changed the Oval Office's decor from a "traditional red, white, and blue" color scheme to a "Middle Eastern" style apparently hadn't actually viewed any pictures of that room in recent years, as the decor scheme President Obama inherited from his predecessor, George W. Bush, bore no signs of red, white or blue furnishings:




The Oval Office of George W. Bush's father, President George H.W. Bush, likewise was decorated with a light bluish-gray color scheme rather than red, white or blue furnishings:


In fact, the only U.S. presidential office in the last several decades that sported something close to a "traditional red, white, and blue" color scheme was President Bill Clinton's, which featured a blue rug with red-and-white striped couches:


Other historical photographs displayed on the White House Museum web site, which show the Oval Office as it appeared during the tenures of U.S. presidents from Truman onwards, document that a red, white, and blue color scheme has been far more of an exception than a tradition in the last several decades. (A Time magazine article highlights some of the personal touches that President Obama brought to the Oval Office after his inauguration.)

The images displayed in the Example block above were later reworked into one graphic which suggested that President Obama had removed U.S. flags from the White House and installed a gold-colored "Muslim prayer curtain" in their place:


There is no such thing as a "Muslim prayer curtain," and the patterned drapes shown behind President Obama bear no "Arabic symbols" or other markings of significance. They're simply gold silk lampas curtains that have adorned a wall in the East Room of the White House (a site commonly used for presidential press conferences) through several presidential administrations since the early 1960s:




The first photograph displayed above is taken from a press conference held by President Obama in the East Room of the White House on 27 May 2010 to address issues related to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. On this occasion, it was the case that no U.S. flags were present (i.e., within visible camera range) in the East Room. However, the implication in the accompanying text that the lack of flags demonstrates President Obama to be engaging in a form of unprecedented, aberrant presidential behavior is erroneous.

Although it is typical practice that U.S. flags are present as a backdrop whenever the President of the United States speaks to the press or engages in other types of public appearances, such displays are not always present. Due to other factors (e.g., an event's nature, or its being impromptu, its being held at an unusual location) an opportunity to set up U.S. flag backdrops may be missed or skipped, or flags may be present but simply not visible in the camera angles used by photographers, so it's not hard to turn up photographs of the other recent Presidents referenced above addressing the press with no U.S. flags visible anywhere:








And, of course, the "flag as backdrop" press conference is a relatively recent artifact of round-the-clock cable television news coverage. In the days before all press conferences were routinely televised, Presidents typically held such conferences in much more informal settings, as President Lyndon Johnson is shown doing below:



Last updated:   26 February 2014

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