MMFA sends letter to Wal-Mart, Amazon.com, and Barnes & Noble asking these top booksellers to review policies on selling Unfit for Command
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In light of an August 19 report in The Washington Post (titled "Records Counter a Critic of Kerry") proving that a key allegation in the new book Unfit for Command by John E. O'Neill and Jerome R. Corsi is fraudulent, I'm writing to express my concern that by continuing to sell Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry as a work of nonfiction, prominent book retailers are complicit in a literary hoax.
The Post reported on August 19 that "[n]ewly obtained military records of one of Sen. John F. Kerry's most vocal critics, who has accused the Democratic presidential candidate of lying about his wartime record to win medals, contradict his own version of events." This is but the latest in a long line of evidence that Unfit for Command is a fraud, with no basis in reality and no attempt to convey the truth. Slate.com editor Jacob Weisberg has described the book as a "scurrilous book accusing Kerry of being a war criminal and faking his injuries in Vietnam"; it's important to keep in mind that official military records (as well as the statements of all but one of Kerry's crewmates) flatly contradict the lies in Unfit for Command.
With the revelations of August 19, it's clear that Unfit for Command is the Hitler Diaries of the current political season -- a complete fraud. As you know, and as Salon.com reported on August 19, "[T]here is a long-standing tradition by reputable publishers of withdrawing titles that prove to be hoaxes or frauds." I would hope that in the case of Unfit for Command, Regnery, the book's publisher, would do the right thing and withdraw it from publication. However, given Regnery's history as an irresponsible publisher, I have no expectation, nor should you, that it will act responsibly with respect to this deeply flawed book.
I therefore ask you to consider what is the responsibility of a bookseller when a prominent work of nonfiction is found to be based on false information. As the president and CEO of Media Matters for America, a nonprofit organization that seeks to rid the U.S. media (including book publishing) of conservative misinformation, I ask you to consider taking some action on Unfit for Command -- if not simply pulling it from the shelf -- to alert your customers that this book is a paid political hatchet job, full of false allegations and lies. One way you could do so is to prominently place on your Unfit for Command product page a link to -- and excerpt from -- one of the many refutations of Unfit for Command and the organization behind it.
In addition to the August 19 Washington Post report, I'd also like to draw your attention to my organization's website, www.mediamatters.org, where we have documented, since Unfit for Command's publication, several false and grossly contradictory statements made by the so-called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Of particular interest may be the bigoted and hate-filled prior writings of Unfit co-author Jerome Corsi, for which he has publicly apologized. Other resources you may wish to consider making available to your customers include FactCheck.org, a project of the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center, which has debunked Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, and the August 18 Slate.com piece titled "Unfriendly Fire: Liar vs. coward in the Vietnam ad war," by William Saletan and Jacob Weisberg.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.
Fax: (206) 266-2950
Barnes & Noble