Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck are well known political commentators, and both have millions of fans and followers of their television and radio programs.
Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck have the right to say whatever they wish on their programs, and they have the right to write and publish whatever books they wish to produce!
Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck, however, are not historians who work at producing accurate, valid historical works, and one has to realize that they are more outstanding in producing historical fiction than fact, when they make references to the past via speech or by publication.
So the fact that O’Reilly has published a book on the Lincoln assassination, which the Fords Theatre bookstore in Washington, DC will not sell because of alleged incorrect or unsubstantiated information without documentation, and this decision is backed up by expert historians on the Civil War period, has become the center of controversy.
O’Reilly is, of course, furious, and he has a right to be, as any author can feel, but the historical profession needs to legitimize what is called “history”, and to challenge publications that claim to be “history”, but are in fact historical fiction!
Certainly, there is much interpretation that goes on in the historical community of scholars, but there is a responsibility when there appears to be a lack of accuracy and validity on a book and topic that many will read and believe is totally true, when experts make it clear it is NOT accurate, or backed up by appropriate documentation!
So it means a serious student of history should have a doubting view of anything that Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck (author of a supposed authoritative view of George Washington), or any other political propagandist chooses to publish!
Anyone can write and publish what he or she wishes, but we have the right to make a judgment on its validity and to state so, whether that author likes it or not!
ADDENDUM: It has now been reported that there were only four minor errors in O’Reilly’s book, and they have been corrected, and Fords Theatre has NOT removed his book from their store as reported incorrectly in the media. O’Reilly is owed an apology, and I will also apologize. However, any reader should always be alert to any book published, whether by O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, or anyone else, as to whether it is accurate in its factual basis and documentation!