As if being top rated host on Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse) is not enough for the vain and hypersensitive Bill O’Reilly, he also has a sideline in authoring – or co-authoring – books. The latest in this line, which he co-authored with Martin Dugard, is titled “Killing Lincoln”, and is about the events leading up to the assassination of the then President.
Sad to say, though, the O’Reilly and Dugard book is not without flaw: for instance, it places Lincoln in the Oval Office more than forty years before the Oval Office existed (1909). There has been much adverse comment on the flaws, and in turn, O’Reilly has reacted unhappily to the criticism, in the process adopting the tactic recently deployed (unsuccessfully) by Ricky Gervais.
Bill-O declared that those who criticised his book did so at least partly because of his success, that they were his “enemies”, and that there were “guttersnipes” out there in the media. His assertion that “We also know the media lies at will these days with little accountability” may provoke a wry smile among those who know of Fox’s occasional relationship with factual accuracy.
This has not impressed critics of Fox: Eric Boehlert of Media Matters For America (MMFA) described the book during an appearance with MSNBC’s Ed Schulz as “The Fox News Version of US History”, and suggested that the number of mistakes within its pages may be rather more than the four conceded by Bill-O. He also dismissed O’Reilly’s disparaging remarks about history teaching in the USA.
And the folks at Salon.com have reprinted the criticism of the book by Rae Emerson of the National Parks Service, which runs Ford’s Theatre, where Lincoln was shot and fatally wounded. Moreover, they have cited another scathing review of the book. Bill-O has tried to deflect some of the criticism by saying folks are nit-picking over dates, but if a historical volume can’t get dates right, it’s can’t be called reliable.
But “Killing Lincoln” has accomplished its primary mission: it’s sold over a million copies, and made Bill O’Reilly a lot of money. Combined with the millions he makes out of Fox, it all adds up to a nice little earner, and will secure Bill-O a more than comfortable retirement. After all, he’s not getting any younger, and after being at Fox for all those years, who else will have him?