Bill O’Reilly Flunks History In His Own Book

Have you heard that Bill O’Reilly “wrote” a new book on the assassination of Abraham Lincoln? With some guy named Martin Dugard? Apparently the book is so filled with errors, inaccuracies and lack of documentation that historians are pointing their fingers and laughing.

Staff historians at the Ford’s Theatre, an official National Historic Site, reviewed the book to determine if it was fit for sale in their bookstore. They concluded:

Publication (Killing Lincoln) not recommended as a sales item in the Eastern National Bookstore located in the Museum at Ford’s Theatre National Historic because of the lack of documentation and the factual errors within the publication.”

I’m sure it’s just those liberal historians being mean!

A list of factual errors is at the link. Some of the most glaring errors are references to President Lincoln having meetings in the Oval Office, which wasn’t built until 1909 in the Taft Administration.

And then there’s this:

What most irks Steers is the book’s portrait of conspirator Mary Surratt, which sacrifices truth for drama. O’Reilly and Dugard write that when she wasn’t on trial she had to wear a padded hood that disfigured her and made her claustrophobic; that she was “sick and trapped” in a cell that was “barely hospitable” aboard the monitor Montauk; and that she had “a haunted, bloated appearance” because of the experience. To which Steers replies: “None of this is true. Mary Surratt was never shackled or hooded at any time. She was never imprisoned aboard the Montauk. . . . This mischaracterization of Mary Surratt is unfortunate, and helps to perpetuate the myth of her innocence and her brutal treatment at the hands of the Federal government.”

I’m sure with all of these embarrassing and irresponsible factual errors, Bill O’Reilly’s career as a historian is kaput, right? Don’t be silly! Reports the Post:

Since its publication the book has been riding at the top of the bestseller list, and soon after its release O’Reilly signed a contract to write two more books, one of which will be another presidential history.

Wingnuts love to preach about “personal responsibility” but have you ever noticed that for the Conservative Elite, there’s never any price to pay when they fuck up? When the elites fall, it’s always upward. And this is the problem with the modern American Republican Party.

The wingnut welfare gravy train includes book deals, TV shows, syndicated radio shows and the like, where facts are fungible and the only thing that matters is posturing. The inevitable result of this lowering of standards and focus on style over substance is the 2012 GOP presidential clown car. The entire Republican presidential process is drenched in overwhelming self-importance, which has resulted in hundreds of these ridiculous, damaging debates — each one an advertisement for President Obama. You’d think Republicans would have pulled the plug on this nonsense after, like, the gazillionth time the televised audience cheered beating puppies and drowning kittens while America recoiled in horror. Amazingly, no. They are puffed up and proud of these buffoons and rejects who slithered out from under conservatism’s rock.

But what do you expect? When your standard for presidential scholar and historian are media personalities like Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck, you’ve by definition lowered your standard for who holds the office of president.


Filed under Bill O'Reilly, pop culture, Republican Party

7 responses to “Bill O’Reilly Flunks History In His Own Book

  1. Janiah Hoff

    You are pointing your poison pen in the wrong place. The modern publishing industry offers book sales to anyone with a platform, because they self-market. Ergo, easy sales. Left or right, or non-political, it doesn’t matter. Quality means almost nothing and fact-checking is often bypassed entirely.

    Only when consumers refuse to buy sloppy books will anything change.

    • I disagree that there isn’t a partisan political element to all of this. There are publishers like Regnery who produce nothing BUT wingnut tomes, like Jerome Corsi’s partisan attacks on John Kerry and President Obama.

      This particular book on Lincoln was published by Henry Holt, who should be judged harshly for unleashing such an error-riddled book on the marketplace, in effect lowering its own standards to the likes of a Regenery. Will they? Probably not. And the wingnut welfare gravy train rolls on.

      • Janiah Hoff

        Standards in the book publishing biz have been lowered nearly across the board for quite some time. Readers are expected to do their own fact-checking now. Inexcusable but true. As to the numbers of the leftish vs rightish books, I have not counted and it would depend upon terms anyway, but when it comes to explicitly political books the conservative audience is larger and to the publishers it is all about sales.

      • I think you are overlooking what we on the left refer to as the right wing “noise machine,” which basically exists to dish out talking points, not facts, and wage a communications war in which their ideology is consistently puffed up and promoted.

        A key part of this machine is the right-wing publishing industry, outfits like Regenery, Broadside, and WND, which elevate no-nothings like Jonah Goldberg and Jerome Corsi and yes, even Ann Coulter, to elevated status as “expert.” They then get to trot out their own skewed facts and slanted worldview to promote their ideology (tax cuts grow the economy, poor people are poor because they deserve it, Hitler was a liberal commie, Obama is a Muslim, Islam is fascism, climate change isn’t real, etc. etc. etc.).

        Because once upon time the rule was, everyone is entitled to their own opinion but not their own facts. Now thanks to conservative moneybags like the Kochs, Brent Bozill, Phillip Anschutz, etc. bankrolling this entire farce, we have an entirely new set of facts to flood the marketplace with! Right-wing ones! Doesn’t matter if they aren’t true, if they aren’t based on scholarly evidence. Bill O’Reilly wrote a best-seller about Lincoln and that’s all that matters! Now read his NEXT book about Franklin Roosevelt, where he reveals FDR was a pedophile and commie! Easy peasy!

        If you think this manipulation isn’t planned you’re deluding yourself.

        Does it make money? Sometimes. Not always. That’s not what’s important. The books are a loss-leader for a variety of other schemes and machinations. What matters is power — infinitely more profitable in the long run.

  2. Oh, batsqueeze, the publishers have lowered standards. My ass they have.

    Look at the fucking publishing industry lately – they are working in such a thin margin of profit (as are the few independent bookstores that still exist) that they couldn’t possibly take the risk of publishing anything that came down the pike – UNLESS it was a sure seller. This isn’t a case of lowered standards overall; it’s a case of lowered standards for a Brand Name like O’Reilly or Glennbeck.

    Micheal Moore could probably fart out a text as lazily written as, oh, say, “Liberal Fascism” and expect it to be sold (not that he *would*, mind you), but few others on the left could command that kind of Brand Name.

    And the deep pockets at abattoirs-for-the-truth like Regnery, WND Books, and Thomas Nelson, where hating liberals and Islamophobia are reasons enough to fund a book, don’t help either.

  3. If this were about money not ideology they wouldn’t be selling most of these books in the 25-cent bin almost as soon as they are published — or better yet, giving them away for free with registration to Tea Party Nation confabs and subscriptions to WingNut Daily.

    These book deals are baubles dangled before the grifters enabling them to take a place at the microphone and pretend to be “serious thinkers” — something the right has always jealously resented the Left for. The right will never have the same cultural relevance as the left, because you don’t become culturally relevant by fighting FOR the status quo. So instead the right manufactures its ersatz version of the same thing.

    • ThresherK

      Don’t forget that the right-wing model of bulk sales (for things people won’t hardly buy with their own money for anything resembling cover price) have been so screwed up the bookkeeping that the NYT had to invent a special mark for “this doesn’t really count”. And in what remains of the book publishing industry, the Times’ list is the only bestseller list that matters.

      It’s like “mark to market” but for books.