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Time editor hits White House in statement about false MLK bust report

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AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

Time magazine editor Nancy Gibbs is calling out President Donald Trump's administration for suggesting one of the outlet's correspondents "deliberately" published an erroneous report that a bust of Martin Luther King, Jr., had been removed form the Oval Office.

"No news organization ever wants to make an error, but we all have procedures for handling them when we do," Gibbs wrote in a statement published Tuesday afternoon.

Here's what happened: Zeke Miller, Time's White House correspondent, incorrectly reported on Inauguration Day that the bust of Martin Luther King had been removed from the Oval Office. Soon after, he corrected himself, but the information had already made its way into pool reports.

Miller took to Twitter to issue an apology to the White House.

However, speaking to staff at the Central Intelligence Agency on Saturday, the president attacked Miller, claiming he purposefully spread a bogus report that the bust had been removed.

"So Zeke, Zeke from Time magazine writes this story about ‘I took down’ — I would never do that because I have great respect for Dr. Martin Luther King," Trump said. "But this is how dishonest the media is. Now big story, the retraction was like, where? Was it a line or do they even bother putting it in?"

And White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer accused the Time writer of "deliberately false reporting" about Trump's first day as president.

After repeated attacks on Miller from the White House, Gibbs is not taking the attack lightly.

"The president and White House aides have cited this mistake as an example of ‘deliberately false reporting,'" she wrote. "It was no such thing. We regret that the error occurred, and believe it is important to share some detail about how it happened."

Gibbs explained that Miller published the inaccurate report, believing the MLK bust had been removed when it was actually just out of sight.

"I should not have allowed unconfirmed information to end up in a pool report," Zeke says. Within minutes, when inquiries began to come in about the missing bust, Zeke reviewed videos and wire photos, and tried to find a member of the White House staff who could answer whether the bust had been moved. He found an aide who went into the office to check and texted Zeke at 8:10 p.m. that the bust was there.

"I did all I could to correct the record," Miller said, "and I apologize to my colleagues, the president and anyone misinformed by my mistake."

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