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Bill O’Reilly’s Misleading Defense Of The Accuracy Of His Lincoln Book

Reported by Ellen - November 15, 2011 -

Not surprisingly, Bill O’Reilly addressed reports of errors in his new book about Abraham Lincoln. Unfortunately, his defense was either disingenuous or else… well, inaccurate.

O’Reilly began his “defense” by dredging up an old grudge against Al Franken who, O’Reilly claimed, had been proven a liar. Therefore, I guess we should never challenge anything O’Reilly writes in a book ever again.

“Now we have attacks on my new book,” O’Reilly intoned. “The Washington Post saying the bookstore at Ford’s Theatre in Washington where Lincoln was assassinated is refusing to sell the book.”

Actually, that’s not quite what the Post said. It reported:

While the National Park Service does not carry “Killing Lincoln” in the theater’s basement museum bookstore, Ford’s Theatre Society, which operates Ford’s Theatre in partnership with the park service, sells the book in its gift shop in the ground-floor lobby.

So when O’Reilly announced that the director of the Ford’s Theatre Society issued a statement clarifying the misinformation that O’Reilly’s book had been banned and advising that the book is for sale in that shop, he was not contradicting anything reported by the Post.

I guess he just forgot about the National Park Service’s museum bookstore. And the lengthy passages in which Rae Emerson, deputy superintendent at Ford’s Theatre, corrected the book's mistakes.

O’Reilly went on to say, “Well, 325 pages, there are four minor misstatements, all of which have been corrected. There are also two typeset errors.”

I think O’Reilly needs to double check those counting fingers. You can read Emerson's complete review, with her complete list of errors, here. Even an arithmetically challenged person like myself can plainly see that it's more than six. And Emerson's not the only one.

The Post noted that historian Edward Steers Jr. also wrote a critical review published in the November issue of “North & South — The Official Magazine of the Civil War Society:”

What most irks Steers is the book’s portrait of conspirator Mary Surratt. 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.”

O’Reilly concluded by saying, with unintentional irony, “We well understand our enemies are full of rage at (the book’s) success. We also know the media lies at will these days with little accountability.”

O’Reilly said he has invited Emerson on the show. If she doesn’t accept the invitation, she really ought to be prepared for an O’Reilly Factor ambush.

Video via Mediaite.

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