David Barton’s Christian Publisher Finds His Book Deficient and Cancels It

In the category of well-deserved: Christian news site World reported on August 9th that “The Thomas Nelson publishing company has decided to cease publication and distribution of David Barton’s controversial book, The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You’ve Always Believed about Thomas Jefferson, saying it has ‘lost confidence in the book’s details.'”

And they were good at their word. By Friday morning, it was gone from Thomas Nelson’s online store. You can still find it on Amazon.com and WallBuilders is still selling it (at a discount), but it will soon be a collector’s item for the delusional. Even the e-book got axed. According to The Tennessean, “The publisher hasn’t decided what to do with the recalled books.”

I’m sure we could come up with a few ideas.

I mean, ouch, that’s gotta hurt!  This is a burn. Barton, after all, is the guy Mike Huckabee said we all ought to be forced to listen to at gun point:

Up until now Barton has enjoyed an almost unbroken string of successes, with politicians like Huckabee and Bachmann in his pocket and extremist buzz-jock Glenn Beck his loudest supporter, not to mention palling around with former child star and current crazy, Kirk Cameron. And now his own Christian publisher has deep-sixed him. That’s right: his Christian publisher. If you look at some of the books Thomas Nelson publishes, you’ll realize what a big deal this is.

According to World,

Thomas Nelson describes itself as “the world’s largest Christian publisher and one of the largest trade publishers in the United States.” (Last month, HarperCollins Publishers closed a deal to acquire Thomas Nelson.)

Of course, that a secular publisher now owns Thomas Nelson will be a cause for some speculation among the faithful, that it was canceled not for inaccuracies but because it was too accurate.

Barton, of course, pretends to be mystified:

Barton told me that he regards Thomas Nelson’s decision as a “strange scenario.” He added that the press has not tried to engage him about the ostensible problems in the book, and that Thomas Nelson officials simply notified him by email that they were stopping publication.

He is also not advertising the debacle on his WallBuilders site – no mention of it along with all the other “news” he deems worthy to print.

To be fair, we’re not talking about a few problems Barton could have cleared up with a couple taps of the keyboard. He would have had to re-write the entire book, from its flawed thesis and fabricated details to it’s twisted conclusion.

(Those still interested can read my review of The Jefferson Lies here, and my review of Throckmorton and Coulter’s polished rebuttal here.)

His book was under attack from Day One, not only by Throckmorton and Coulter this spring (though By May 13, 2012 it had made The New York Times Best-Sellers list) but by John Fea, a conservative historian and by others both left and right. His supporters claimed that criticism proved Barton was right and Barton himself responding not by arguing the merits of his thesis but by attacking his critics as liberal elitists – even his conservative critics, people who by and large share his worldview.

Then in a mid-July poll taken by History News Network, his book won the dubious distinction of being named the ”least credible history work in print.”  And that was followed by NPR’s blistering profile of the liar on All Things Considered just the other day.

Warren Throckmorton’s response was, ”Wow, I think they did the right thing.” He can probably give his fingers a well-earned rest now and power to him.  For his part, Barton says of Throckmorton ”This is one of the cases where he is just nuts.”

By far the most hilarious reaction to the cancellation was that noted by The Tennessean:

Janice Johnson, who “said she’s heard Barton speak a number of times and bought an audio book copy of “The Jefferson Lies” on CD, hoped “the current controversy won’t undermine his credibility.”

“It’s bad because it’s not typical of him,” she said. “He’s usually so rock solid on history.”

Yeah…good luck with that, Janice.

World reports that according to “Casey Francis Harrell, Thomas Nelson’s director of corporate communications,” the publishing house “was contacted by a number of people expressing concerns about [The Jefferson Lies].”

To their credit (but probably by and large due to the growing chorus of conservative criticism of the book of lies), Thomas Nelson “began to evaluate the criticisms, Harrell said, and “in the course of our review learned that there were some historical details included in the book that were not adequately supported. Because of these deficiencies we decided that it was in the best interest of our readers to stop the publication and distribution.”

“Not adequately supported” is a nice way of saying it was a wholly dishonest portrayal of Thomas Jefferson, a collection of lies of both commission and omission all strung together by wishful thinking.

Clearly, the faithful won’t abandon David Barton over this setback – a glance at comments on various sites will serve as proof of that, as this comment will attest: “PRAISE GOD DAVID HAS MANY MORE SUPPORTERS THAN CRITICS. THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL LEAD ALL OF US INTO ALL TRUTH.”

That sort always write in caps. Let’s face it: there will always be those who think dishonesty is the way to go and Barton is far from alone in pushing this revisionist, non-historical agenda, a world where lies somehow serve truth. Paul Harvey at Religion Dispatches asks if Barton is falling from grace but I don’t think that’s possible

But that so many conservative figures had begun to speak out against the book doesn’t bode well for Bartonism as a whole. And now that he has had his book pulled by his publisher, what’s next for America’s least favorite pseudo-historian?  Surely anything else he writes will have to be more carefully vetted by any publisher going forward, though he can always go back to the self-publishing route.

Of course, Barton is claiming over at ever-reliable conservative Christian propaganda source CBN (at least they stopped short of calling him a ‘historian’) that “he’s now in talks with two New York publishers ‘larger than Thomas Nelson’ who want to pick up his book.” It will surprise no one to learn that “When CBN News asked Barton if he plans to make any corrections to the work he said that he’s disproved all the major claims against it that he’s aware of.”

At this point there is nothing else Barton can do but stand by his lies. If ever there was a classic case of DIY martyrdom, you’re seeing it in David Barton. And the one certainty in all this is that this won’t be the last we hear of it – or him. Not as long as there are people who value belief about facts over the facts themselves.

Image from CBN

9 Replies to “David Barton’s Christian Publisher Finds His Book Deficient and Cancels It”

  1. Sigh…don’t ya’ just long for the day when Barton evolves into the crazy uncle who sits on the porch who says “Pull my finger” to passerby’s…it get so tiring, waste of precious time having to set scholars on this imbecile to shut him up…nice reporting, though.

  2. Harper-Collins may be a “secular” publisher but it is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

    But then, isn’t everything?

  3. I noticed that also. If a work is so falsified and biased as to give *Rupert Murdoch* a bad name, then it is (pardon my Latin) cacata carta.

  4. Since being introduced to David Barton in this forum by Hraf, I have followed Barton closely along with his critics. I have gone to the Library of Congress web site to see for myself what history actually IS as compared to what Barton says it is.
    I have seen Barton’s tour of the capital video along with his claim that the Congress of the United States actually published the first Bibles using the Congressional printing presses. Turns out that it’s not true. Won’t get into the great details of the “Congress Bible”, but will say that Congress agreed to have it’s (Congresses’) chaplains review the Bible before it was printed, by a private printer, NOT Congress.
    Barton could be considered a side show, but he is not!! He is a very dangerous individual who has the proven ability to affect policy and distort truth and science to his distorted view point.
    Look no further than the Texas history books, which now contain a distorted view of how our world came about (it’s creationism, not 4.6 million years of cosmos building) and that the word “slave” needs to be removed from the history books, to point out a few of the distortions he has been able to carry out along with support from other undercover evangelicals on the Texas school board. Barton was a key adviser to the content that would be included in the history books being provided to the Texas public schools. You can see the effect of his poisonous input.
    This type of rewriting of history to suit a particular Christen view point is as dangerous to our country as National Socialism and Communism was to Germany and Russia respectively. Look no further than the Novel 1984 to see the poisonous dangers of rewriting history to understand the very dangerous influences of Barton and his ilk has on our history.
    The real problem this country faces is how loud and influential the David Bartons of this country are and how they are in the process of turning the truth of our democracy into the Christen lie they want it to be.
    I hope this is the beginning of makeing this very dangerous individual a “non entity” and someone who is not to be trusted. My fear is that that will NOT be the case, since the lies of the GOP and the Christen Right seems to have a lot more traction and loudness then the actual truth that can be found with a little footwork and research. It is something I don’t see the press or our population do much of these days. Facts seem to get in the way of an ideological agenda that is a cancer to our way of government. God, or Gods help us this election, we’re gonna need all the help we can get. Vote people, vote!!!!

  5. Nice to see him finally called out for lying. Now, can we do the same to Rmoney and Ryan? Ryan’s ‘budget’ is in fact a shell game to make himself richer. He owns land in TX and OK leased to oil companies, and hidden in the ‘budget’ are some lovely tax breaks for those exact companies. Go figure! I think when the Democrats get done with him and with getting the details of his budhet finally front and center instead of buried in sound bytes on the 6:00 news, the GOP is going to wish they never entered this election.

  6. Janice Johnson . . . hoped “the current controversy won’t undermine his credibility.”

    Barton had none to begin with, Jan; so no worries on that . . .


  7. Well? So much for Kirk Cameron’s credibility. Typical right-winged-christian, lying in the name of Jeebus. At least get your story correct Kirk?

    Getting Jefferson Right: Fact Checking Claims About Our Third President

    There is a Bible verse that Kirk Cameron and David Barton is not following. The Judeo part of the Judeo-Christian Bible? The 10 Commandments? it’s:

    King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)
    Exodus 20 vs 16
    Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

    The same King who had a male lover? You know, homosexuality? The ” sinful act committed by choice” according to Cameron? Shaking head…this is why I am an atheist.

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