Archive for November 18th, 2011

Washington Post Misleads Readers about Bill O’Reilly’s Lincoln Book

By Jerry A. Kane

While I am no fan of Bill O’Reilly, I was floored by the blatant disregard of the facts exhibited by The Washington Post regarding his recent book Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination That Changed America Forever.

Steven Levingston, the nonfiction editor of the Post’s Book World, wrote an article titled “Bill O’Reilly’s ‘Lincoln’ book banned from Ford’s Theatre because of ‘mistakes.’” In the piece, Levingston stated that O’Reilly’s book was banned by the Ford’s Theatre, but it turns out that the book is actually offered in the Ford’s Theatre gift shop.

Apparently Levingston discovered this pesky fact afterward and corrected the piece saying that the book “is available in the theater’s gift shop but not its basement museum bookstore.”

Keep in mind that Levingston’s article slams O’Reilly for shoddy historical research, yet Levingston is guilty not only of shoddy research, but also of intentionally misleading the public. In the corrected, updated, and retitled version, “O’Reilly’s ‘Killing Lincoln’ not for sale at Ford’s Theatre museum bookstore,” Levingston mentions that the theater is run by the Ford’s Theatre Society in partnership with the National Park Service.

In keeping with the narrative to embarrass O’Reilly, Levingston’s new title emphasizes that the book is not for sale at the Ford Theatre museum bookstore. Technically, he is correct; but he’s intentionally misleading readers. He knows that most readers won’t know what he obviously didn’t know when he originally penned the piece.

To be fair, he could have retitled the article, “National Park Service refuses to sell O’Reilly’s ‘Killing Lincoln’ in museum bookstore at Ford’s Theatre,” but fairness it seems takes a backseat to the narrative because The Washington Post employs a “journalist” with a tendency to rely more on rhetoric than on truth to persuade readers.

I.M. Kane

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