O’Reilly’s ‘no fact zone’

Bill O’Reilly has a new bestseller, this time writing a book on the Lincoln assassination. The Fox News host recently boasted he didn’t want to write another “boring history book.”

That’s understandable, I suppose, since boring history books usually require scholarship and a focus on facts. As Justin Elliott reports, O’Reilly couldn’t be bothered.

A reviewer for the official National Park Service bookstore at Ford’s Theatre has recommended that Bill O’Reilly’s bestselling new book about the Lincoln assassination not be sold at the historic site “because of the lack of documentation and the factual errors within the publication.”

Rae Emerson, deputy superintendent at Ford’s Theatre, which is a national historic site under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service, has penned a scathing appraisal of O’Reilly’s “Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever.” In Emerson’s official review, which I’ve pasted below, she spends four pages correcting passages from O’Reilly’s book before recommending that it not be offered for sale at Ford’s Theatre because it is not up to quality standards.

The errors in the book, co-authored by O’Reilly and Martin Dugard, reflect an amazing degree of sloppiness. The writers got dates wrong; they overlooked key events; and they describe Lincoln holding meetings in the Oval Office, which wasn’t built until decades later. Perhaps most notably, O’Reilly’s book suggests Secretary of War Edwin Stanton was involved in Lincoln’s murder, but offers no evidence to support the claim, which has long been rejected by actual experts.

Making matters slightly worse, Edward Steers Jr., the author of more than five books on the Lincoln assassination, published an analysis of his own, and found that O’Reilly’s work simply got all kinds of facts wrong. Steers concluded, “If all of the above sounds like nitpicking, consider this. If the authors made mistakes in names, places, and events, what else did they get wrong? How can the reader rely on anything that appears in ‘Killing Lincoln’?”

Couldn’t a similar question be asked of all of O’Reilly’s work?