Yesterday W stood in the rose garden at the White House for a photo op with a turkey, presented, as you might expect, by the poultry industry’s Washington lobby.

Supposedly, he was carrying on a Thanksgiving tradition, begun by Harry Truman, of pardoning the bird and sending it off to a safe retirement. (This year it went to… Disneyworld?) The AP report says the ritual is “now in its 60th year”.

However, according to the Post, the history of this triviality is far different than the story presented by news organizations this week.

But like any masterly misdirection, like a fake FEMA news conference, like a government-produced “news” segment, ah, the turkey pardonings are not what they seem.

The photos of Truman pardoning his turkeys looked real enough — live turkey, live prez, grandly extending his hand toward the tom’s wattle in a gesture that surely said Emancipation! Liberation! Freedom!

Except it didn’t.

The turkey Truman received wound up in the White House oven as it most likely did for the presidents that followed. Eisenhower didn’t even take possession of a live bird. He wanted it dressed (“and we ain’t talking tuxedos”).

The first official faux presidential pardon of the spokesbird for the National Turkey Federation came in 1989.

Just one more example of a piece of American history that everyone knows is true.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

thanksgiving, turkey, pardon, myth