December 16, 2003


Measure a man not by how he copes when things are going his way, but by how he reacts when circumstances threaten or challenge. Saddam Hussein, the tyrant, pledged to die fighting; Saddam Hussein, the spider hole resident, begged: "Don't shoot!"

So it is with anti-Bush obsessive Phillip Adams, who, responding to news of Saddam's capture, devotes most of his column today to a sack of crap about the plastic Thanksgiving turkey of popular mythology:

George W. Bush - whose presidency promises to be a turkey - arrived in Baghdad carrying one. A turkey.

No, he didn't. The bird was already there.

Brought to Iraq in the strictest of secrecy, the President presented his nonplussed troops with the aforementioned chook - for the purpose of a spectacular photo opportunity.

Nonplussed troops? Not according to this account. Or according to any video or newspaper coverage.

Bush's Thanksgiving turkey, around which the beaming Bush and his happy warriors were grouped, was photographed and filmed from every angle.

No, it wasn't. The scene, which lasted only a few seconds, was recorded by a pool photographer.

But it turns out that this turkey shoot - and here I use the term in its photographic sense - was a right stuff-up, because it has been revealed that the turkey wasn't a turkey.

No, it has not.

It was a prop turkey, a pretend turkey. Just as ketchup replaced blood for violent scenes in movies, and mashed potato substituted for ice cream in Happy Days (to prevent its melting under the studio lights), the President had taken a plastic turkey - one used for gourmet magazine shoots - to the mess hall.

No, he didn't. As was reported weeks ago, "Bush picked up a decoration, not a serving plate ... A contractor had roasted and primped the turkey to adorn the buffet line, while the 600 soldiers were served from cafeteria-style steam trays, the officials said. They said the bird was not placed there in anticipation of Bush's stealthy visit, and military sources said a trophy turkey is a standard feature of holiday chow lines."

On Saturday the SMH's Alan Ramsey wrote his own plastic turkey fantasy, including the bizarre addition that the bird was a Christmas turkey. Lots of emails were sent to the SMH letters editor; none so far have been published. Nor have I received a response from Ramsey to my own email. These people aim to get away with this. For what it's worth, here's The Australian's email address. Hammer it. Totally hammer it.

UPDATE. Professor Bunyip has tons more on what might be the most error-loaded Adams column ever, including this:

There's one last reason why shouldn't pluck "facts" from between those cordoba leather buttocks of yours: You know your assertions are wrong (you are an old ad man, after all), but some senior citizens are easily gulled, and then go off and make even bigger fools of themselves than time and nature have already achieved -- Alan Ramsey (whose name you misspell), for example. When you had the old codger wheezing away as a guest on your show last week, you both had a good old chuckle about George W. Bush's "plastic" bird. And what did we see on the weekend? The Silly Moaning Hilmer's drooling old fool -- as opposed to all its purse-lipped young ones -- filled his own column with your misrepresentations.

(Cool turkey pic via Jessica’s Well. Check the clock ...)

Posted by Tim Blair at December 16, 2003 02:41 AM

You have to admit, "Don't shoot!" is the Mother of All Pants-Shitting Pleas for Mercy.

Posted by: Jim Treacher at December 16, 2003 at 02:46 AM

Taking self-parody to a whole 'nother level...

Posted by: Roger Bournival at December 16, 2003 at 03:04 AM

What a waste of ink to print such garbage. It must really bother Adams that Saddam has been captured and Iraq hasn't turned into the 'killing fields' of Vietnam for coalition forces.

I have relatives serving in Iraq. They were absolutely thrilled that Pres. Bush paid a visit. The idea that their commander in chief would leave his own family to visit pleased them.

(My relatives were quite far away from where Bush was, so didn't see him in person.)

Posted by: Chris Josephson at December 16, 2003 at 03:16 AM

What does a lefty journalist in Oz have to do to get canned? As you and the Bunyip point out, this sack of flaming crap has plagiarised Schlesinger in a most egregious way, and now this farrago of nonsense comes along to entrance us.

What a shoddy excuse for a journalist.

Posted by: David Gillies at December 16, 2003 at 03:29 AM

Probably worth asking them: if their correspndents are that sloppy with details on real news as they are with this puff piece/happy bashfest, then they need to take stock of their writers' qualifications.

Posted by: Joe at December 16, 2003 at 03:47 AM

Come on, Adams isn't just a journalist, he's an artist.
He's just taking a little artistic license!
Okay, a lot. The whole thing, actually.

Posted by: Joe Geoghegan at December 16, 2003 at 04:03 AM

so much depends

an unserved

glazed with glaze

beside the right

Posted by: ForNow at December 16, 2003 at 04:27 AM

I mean, they’re hanging onto that turkey like for dear life. What is it, a fetish? Something mystical?

Posted by: ForNow at December 16, 2003 at 04:29 AM

I sent them an email asking why they allowed Ramsey to expose them to international ridicule by drawing his facts from the likes of Michael Moore as opposed to, say, newspapers or wire services.

Posted by: Mike G at December 16, 2003 at 04:29 AM

ForNow, that's a pretty good turn on the doctor from Patterson. Now let's see what you can do with the insurance lawyer from Hartford.

Run with it.

Posted by: S.A. Smith at December 16, 2003 at 04:37 AM

Here’s the beginning of an actual poem of his:

The white cock’s tail
Tosses in the wind.
The turkey-cock’s tail
Glitters in the sun.

This is too hard for me. But the savvier among us may find it or the following useful for the world political battle:


And perhaps there’s something in The Parliament of Birds.

Posted by: ForNow at December 16, 2003 at 04:52 AM

Mmmm, roasted plastic turkey

Geez, at least Clinton-haters (myself occasionally included) had a few legitimate things to bitch about. You know, screwing around instead of leading the country, lying under oath, little things like that.

Posted by: Steve Gigl at December 16, 2003 at 05:28 AM

Geez, when Mark Steyn said the anti-war crowd lives in its own self-created reality, I thought he was being a little harsh. But, what is the problem with these people?

Posted by: PMock at December 16, 2003 at 05:44 AM

How about this, Smith:

On seeing a plastic turkey against a green sky,
Even the Bawds of Euphony
Would gobble sharply!

Posted by: Joe Geoghegan at December 16, 2003 at 05:47 AM

At another website some years ago some folks said that what would happen to W’s opponents would be like the story of the evil spirits driven out into the swine who would then run off a cliff. I’m not religious & didn’t find the idea particularly resonant, but darn if something hasn’t gotten into those nutcase leftists.

Posted by: ForNow at December 16, 2003 at 05:51 AM

I was sort of amused by all the attention, but it's nearly 3 weeks later and so godawful debunked that it's getting beyond strange how people latched on to this. All this uproar, and if you watch the video it was nothing. Bush was chatting with some soldiers by the table and the photogs were there, he saw the platter, picked it up and grinned, said a couple things, set the platter down, and moved on....something some people seem incapable of. It wouldn't matter to me one iota if it was even plastic, why would it matter?

Posted by: RC at December 16, 2003 at 06:34 AM

Psychiatric Nurse: Now you understand, they are not real they can't hurt you, you must calm down.

Phillip Adams: no t..t...tu..tu...turkeys?

Nusre: No Mr Adams, you have to stop thinking about them. When you think about them you become ill again.

Phillip: But they're haunting me I can't sleep, they follow me Bush and his PLASTIC TU......

Nurse: Now now Phillip, go to bed or you'll relapse again.

Phillip. Right, I won't think about them then they can't hurt me, right.

Nurse: That's right Phillip.

Phillip: I just have to stop thinking about them for a while.

Nurse: Do cold turkey, oh damn...

Phillip: NOOOOO! no Turkeys aaaaagh {Jumps out of window}

Nurse: Damn, Turkey Obsessive Disorder claims another

Posted by: Robert Fisk at December 16, 2003 at 07:09 AM

I agree RC, it's a prop either way, what possible difference could it make? Later, when he poses with some kids and Santa Claus, will there be a scandal that the Santa Claus wasn't real, either? Yet some are ready to draft articles of impeachment over it, it's truly unhinged.

Posted by: Mike G at December 16, 2003 at 07:09 AM

Damn, I forgot I had left my name on 'Robert Fisk' from the last time I posted here.

Posted by: Ross at December 16, 2003 at 07:11 AM

They should broadcast a TV interview with the soldiers, and when one of the maniacal leftist journalists asks them what they thought about the "plastic" turkey, the soldiers can reply that it was the most delicious plastic turkey they've ever eaten.

Posted by: Jono at December 16, 2003 at 07:27 AM


Letter sent. Consider them hammered.

BTW, you're doing a great job. Appreciate the posts.

Posted by: Alice at December 16, 2003 at 07:39 AM

Plastic turkey. Takes one to know one....ha ha!

I read today, with interest, that found in Saddams lair among the Mars Bars was none other than SPAM©. Could another controversy be at hand?

Posted by: Wallace at December 16, 2003 at 07:47 AM .

Another email address to hammer.

Posted by: fred at December 16, 2003 at 08:01 AM

MikeG- Actually, I believe the next big scandal will be the contractor for the White House christmas decorations.

Posted by: Julia at December 16, 2003 at 08:07 AM

We should look on the bright side - it can be used as a good litmus test for the kooky leftists. If you do not know the political persuasion of someone just ask the question - "Was the turkey real?" the answer will reveal whether you should continue to have eye contact or not. In Phil's case - not.

Posted by: Rob at December 16, 2003 at 08:20 AM

At least they left out the "turkey for breakfast" myth. Small progress, but better than nothing.

Posted by: Sean E at December 16, 2003 at 08:25 AM

This is one of the grossest examples of Adams' strange condition that I have seen. Like many other left wing (self-regarded) intellectuals, Adams may genuinely beleive that words are what is important in life - more important that simple facts. That is, he writes from his own convictions (aka prejudices), brings all of his power of rhetoric to bear (and he is a fairly good at that), and doesn't let simple things like truth or the facts distract him.

The maical power of words is an abiding theme of the left - repeat it enough and say it enough to each other and you can just start to believe it is true.

Either that is the explanation of his pathology or else it is something more sinister - like Noam Chomsky, he might be quite deliberately lying in furtherance of an "end justifies the means" philosophy.

Thankfully, most centrist and right-wing ntellectuals and commentators seem to have greater respect for evidence and the truth.

Posted by: Bob Bunnett at December 16, 2003 at 08:31 AM

Now there we have an argument aganst repairing English’s spelling system. Not pictograms or ideograms, not phonetic, just its own thing. Breed that linguistic distrust in from the earliest years.

In fact, maybe we should make it more difficulte.

Posted by: ForNow at December 16, 2003 at 08:39 AM

it seems to me that if The Australian won't deal with their "fact problem", then maybe we should ask some other paper to take them to account. I think the Sun would be a good choice, or maybe some other Aussie paper besides The Australian or SMH. The Sun contact page:,,23,00.html

Posted by: Jake at December 16, 2003 at 08:46 AM

it seems to me that if The Australian won't deal with their "fact problem", then maybe we should ask some other paper to take them to account. I think the Sun would be a good choice, or maybe some other Aussie paper besides The Australian or SMH.

Posted by: Jake at December 16, 2003 at 08:48 AM

Sorry about the double post

Posted by: jake at December 16, 2003 at 08:49 AM

Do you mean, jake, they might as well let SMH fill Aust's fact free pages ;the merits of that are 2, basically the same bullshit and it would save the shareholders some expenses in the way of payroll.

Posted by: d at December 16, 2003 at 09:01 AM

And he doesn't get the gripping, know-it-all finale right, either.
First, nobody uses ketchup for blood in movies. Nobody. Hell, high-school plays don't use ketchup. 'Troma' doesn't use ketchup. You use expensive substitutes bought from MU supply stores by skilled professionals, something this guy is not.
If he wanted a turkey like that, it would cost you a few hundred bucks; Dubya would have to really splurge. And you'd never know the difference unless someone told you or you tried to bite it.
And mashed potatoes for ice cream?? Jeez!
They used to use potato flakes for snow, days before Afghanistan was the Soviets.
But hey, this guy's film acumen is from friggin' Happy Days.
What a total production savage!
And the turkey wouldn't be a "prop," (if W. pulled out a GPS or a pistol, that'd be a prop) it'd be 'set dressing.' And nobody would ever call it a "pretend turkey" (you'd be fired).
All in all, a pathetic use of film production metaphor. F.

Posted by: jkrank at December 16, 2003 at 09:15 AM

No d, what I tried to say was that I think that since neither SMH or the Australian is interested in fixing their stories, why not write the Sun (which loves making people look stupid) or the New York Post for that matter to see if they would bring attention to the faux stories.

But I have to admit your spin on it is interesting.

Posted by: Jake at December 16, 2003 at 09:16 AM

What these meatwhistles seem to be ignorant of is every mess hall in the Army on every holiday since long before I was in in the late 60's has these display turkeys (or hams or whatever. We were always served cafeteria style but the display items (usually real cooked turkeys, not plastic) are there to sort of lend a homey touch. I also remember even in Nam extrodinary lengths (at risk of life in some cases) to try to get a hot turkey meal to every GI no matter how far out in the boonies they are.

Posted by: Two in the Hat at December 16, 2003 at 09:39 AM

Speaking of Adams' peculiar fury at the idea of fake blood in movies -- what, does he want the actors to really get shot and stabbed? The man does let his fingers type without brain engaged, doesn't he...

As for the turkey thing -- email, hell. I say people sent the paper in question a crapload of plastic turkeys. Heck, find out where Adams lives, and send them there. If I were rich, there would be a cargo load on its way to Australia as I type. (Yes, if I were feelthy rich I'd waste my money on pranks against fools. Well, it's either that or leave everything to my cat.)

Posted by: Andrea Harris at December 16, 2003 at 09:53 AM

Hot damn! Adams is in deep doo-doo now; he's got an actual film professional on his ass. Faster, jkrank! Kill! Kill!

Say, could you enlighten us on the technical difference between props and set dressing? I mean, if it's meant to be picked up and used, it's a prop, but if it's just sitting around, it's set dressing---is that it? What if Phillip Adams were there and said, "What are you doing with that plastic turkey, Bushitler?" and Bush repeatedly whopped him over the head with it: would it be a prop then? Wouldn't that make a great scene?

Posted by: Angie Schultz at December 16, 2003 at 09:53 AM

Forget the PVC turkey. Latest conspiracy theory: an ABC announcer this morning suggested the capture of Saddam was timed to coincide with US prime time and therefore exact the most PR benefit.

Posted by: ilibcc at December 16, 2003 at 10:05 AM

???? US prime time? He was captured early on a Sunday morning (on the US side of the world) wasn't he? Or as every stateside blogger I've read -- including myself -- said, "I woke up late to find out they'd gone and captured Saddam Hussein and I missed the whole live announcement!" The only "prime time" this seemed to coincide with was Australia's prime time.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at December 16, 2003 at 10:09 AM

ilibcc - given that it was announced at 5AM EST in the US, seems strange to suggest that the timing was coincidental with Prime Time.

God do these 'journalists' have any fact checkers on their staff?

Posted by: James Dudek at December 16, 2003 at 10:11 AM

The Left are stark raving mad.
They are nominating unelectable candidates, proposing unimplementable policies and pursuing unimportant scandals.
Why do they bother getting out of bed?
No wonder the Right is cleaning up everywhere, it has no Opposition.

Posted by: Jack Strocchi at December 16, 2003 at 10:15 AM

Prime time? What a load. Australian prime time maybe.

For chrissakes, it even missed the deadline for my local (California) papers! They had nothing Sunday morning, at best it made the few afternoon editions still around.

Posted by: Ken Summers at December 16, 2003 at 10:18 AM

Apparently the turkey has replaced the pretzel as the left's favorite food of derision against George W. Bush. Given their passionate embrace of the issue, I'm sure we'll see protestors carrying around plastic turkeys next September during the Republican National Convention in New York (and TV images of anti-Bush protestors with Rachel Corrie-like faces of rage marching around the Ground Zero site with plastic Thanksgiving bird replicas in their hands is not likely to sway a bunch of American voters to their side).

Posted by: John at December 16, 2003 at 10:18 AM

But what a picture it makes in the mind... We can call it "Dance of the Turkeys."

Posted by: Andrea Harris at December 16, 2003 at 10:21 AM

Yes, I know it's totally absurd, but that's what the guy said.

Half the dingbat lefties here wouldn't know what hour it is here let alone in another time zone - so it just amounts to another piece of anti-US sniping giving them a moment of sanctimony.

By the way, the ABC news early yesterday reported 'mixed feelings' in Shepparton, home to 3000 Iraqis, who at the time were whooping it up in the streets.

Posted by: ilibcc at December 16, 2003 at 10:22 AM

The Allah Broadcasting Collective noe has promo ads running with urchins of assorted ethnicity scampering around chanting "Happy Holidays" with no identifiable Yuletide props in view.

About time the national broadcaster started catering for we heathens.

Posted by: Habib at December 16, 2003 at 10:34 AM

A disgusting old fellow called Adams

Put his arse up for rent at the Madam's

Yet while his tariff was low

No takers for poke, stroke or blow

Could interrupt his onanistic orgasms

Posted by: suberboot at December 16, 2003 at 10:37 AM

Well it was kinda early in the UK too. Like most sensible people were tucked up in bed when the live announcement happened. It was a bloody Sunday morning.

Posted by: Andrew Ian Dodge at December 16, 2003 at 11:01 AM

Not too bad a way to cure a hangover, though.....

Posted by: James Dudek at December 16, 2003 at 11:17 AM

Is the next step the Press Council?

Posted by: Andjam at December 16, 2003 at 11:40 AM

Don't need to hurt someone to get real blood. Just raid the blood bank. That's what Adams wants.

Posted by: hast at December 16, 2003 at 11:42 AM

Heh heh! Seems Adams has excelled himself this time. Who's the turkey now?

I thought the is it real/is it fake story was settled ages ago?? It would have been funny if it was a fake, but we soon discovered it wasn't. Ah well, get over it.

Anyways, as I've said before, the real turkey was clearly the one HOLDING the tray. The trimmed and dressed fowl on the tray seems somewhat less important, don't you think?

Posted by: Nemesis at December 16, 2003 at 12:18 PM

Did the article include this photo? If so, we should give him a pass.

Posted by: Ben at December 16, 2003 at 12:34 PM

...and with great ease and dexterity Bush flips the bird at the lefties.

Posted by: anne bright at December 16, 2003 at 01:21 PM

Anybody who watched C-SPAN on Thanksgiving day would have seen the whole turkey scene, in context.

Just goes to show how little the lefty liberal loudmouths care about consulting primary sources.

Posted by: Virginius at December 16, 2003 at 01:28 PM

Just had a look at the photo Ben. HEHEHE

Posted by: Anne at December 16, 2003 at 01:31 PM

The turkey plot looked set to thicken,
When Phil, his lips he was lickin',
He claimed Bush used a dummy,
but was disspelled by Rummy,
And Phil was found chokin' his chicken.

Posted by: Habib at December 16, 2003 at 02:12 PM

For the curious:

I worked in the "art department" (responsible for production design/props) for several years on commercials and television and on several occasions we were called upon to provide false food for shoots. Sometimes I was able to make it myself, but on occasion we purchased professionally made false food. It is EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE. The studio we bought from is called Trengrove and they make stunningly realistic props. Check out this page to see their range of false meats, including a PLASTIC TURKEY, and look at the prices. If you look at the turkey Dubya is holding, if it were indeed plastic, it would have to be on the caliber of Trengrove's model to appear as realistic as it did. I'm pretty sure the military didn't shell out for one of those (and if you add the trimmings, you are talking hundreds of dollars). Get it through your thick heads, Bush bashers, the turkey WAS NOT PLASTIC. I've met plastic turkeys, plastic turkeys were friends of mine. Sir, you are NO PLASTIC TURKEY.

It's sad that things get this petty, isn't it?

Posted by: goldsmith at December 16, 2003 at 02:45 PM

I wrote a short letter to SMH refuting the Ramsey turkey allegations but of course it wasn't published (although I've had many previous letters published in that rag). I thought at least ONE letter pointing out Ramsey's errors would have been published, but NOOOOOO....Forget turkeys, is Ramsey a sacred cow or something?

Posted by: mike at December 16, 2003 at 03:29 PM

Just to add my 2 cents on the timing of the announcement issue - I live in California. I sleep with the radio on. Around 3am (which would have made it 6am on the east coast) a news report snuck into my half asleep brain and I thought I heard the reporter say that there were reports that Saddam Hussein had been captured. My eyes popped open and I turned on Fox News. Sure enough, the reporters were being cautiously optomistic about the reports, but they didn't have official word, yet. I stayed up the rest of the day and saw the Paul Bremmer announcement, the Bush speech, the celebrations.

Aren't the reporters embarrased when they make such obvious mistakes . . . the plastic turkey, the time zone differences. . . Jeez. Don't their editors hold them responsible for anything? If I made as many mistakes as these guys do, I would have absolutely no credibility at work.

Posted by: Polly at December 16, 2003 at 03:50 PM

Nah, it wasn't primetime in Australia either. The news broke here at about 11:00PM (Melbourne time). It was, what, about 8:00PM at the earliest in Australia (viz Perth time). By my calculations the news would have broken at primtime only for people in Mauritius. Still, I know they'll cast a lot of votes for the next US president ....

Posted by: National Party Headcase at December 16, 2003 at 06:03 PM

"I wrote a short letter to SMH refuting the Ramsey turkey allegations but of course it wasn't published (although I've had many previous letters published in that rag). I thought at least ONE letter pointing out Ramsey's errors would have been published, but NOOOOOO....Forget turkeys, is Ramsey a sacred cow or something?"

No. More like a sacred sclerotic liver.

Posted by: Geoff Honnor at December 16, 2003 at 06:07 PM

Wow! I only just found your blog yesterday and it's great to find out i'm not the only one in this country who considers Phillip Adams the ultimate moron. From coffee conversations
at work, free-to-air news and leftist newspapers, from my friends ranting and raving... i could swear i was living in Communist Russia half the time. Nice to see people here with their heads screwed on right :-) Kudos!

Posted by: Relieved in Brisbane at December 16, 2003 at 08:24 PM

(whose name you misspell),

Adams doesn't write the transcript. It wouldn't be the first time the ABC goofed up a transcript.

Posted by: Andjam at December 16, 2003 at 08:32 PM

Say, could you enlighten us on the technical difference between props and set dressing?

umm no. that would be extremely dangerous. presenting left wing loonies with TECHNICAL DETAILS (let alone facts !!) seems to cause some sort of brain malfunction, causing them to stop whatever they were saying and stand there dribbling for a few minutes. Followed by the occasional brain-fart along the lines of "BUSHLIEDFAKETURKEYSTEALOILNOTINMYNAME!!!!!" or something similar........
I've seen it and it ain't pretty

Posted by: Osamas Psychotic Proctologist at December 16, 2003 at 09:12 PM

ok ok so the turkey was real. But you call that an airport?

Posted by: random at December 16, 2003 at 10:08 PM

Don't be so hard on Phil - it's only a minor mistake - certainly only as bad as saying that the US flag draped over Sadam's statue came from the Pentagon on 9/11. But hang on - that would mean "Media Watch" would run a feature on Phil's little error next season. I can hardly wait.

Posted by: procrustes at December 16, 2003 at 10:12 PM

In any case, it was a Christmas turkey and that therefore invalidates the entire Bush trip.

The International Zionist Conspiracy, in its neverending efforts to corrupt decent (i.e. non-Jewish) society, has for many years fooled our trusting, foolish Christian neighbors. Our captive food dealers supply them with Christmas turkeys at Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving turkeys at Christmas.

Yes, you foolish goyim...bwahahaha! The turkeys you will be buying in the next week for your Christmas dinners are, in fact, Thanksgiving turkeys. Thus do we insidiously destroy your innocent festivities and pave the way for our complete takeover. (Note to the New Zealand branch of the IZC: I've got dibs on Lucy Lawless.)

Now, you may believe that a turkey is a turkey and you may find Thanksgiving and Christmas turkeys absolutely indistinguishable in every way. Little do you know. Alan Ramsey and the valiant Sydney Morning Herald crew somehow discovered our secret and were able to tell Thanksgiving and Christmas turkeys apart. We do not yet know who leaked this vital secret but rest assured, the miscreant will be punished--we already have the sealed room and the complete discography of Barbra Streisand available, since only the most fiendish torture will suffice.

Posted by: Alex Bensky at December 17, 2003 at 12:57 AM