Right-Wing Media Try, Fail To Declare Palin Was "Right" On Paul Revere Story
Research ››› ››› JUSTIN BERRIER
The right-wing media have declared that Fox News contributor Sarah Palin was indeed correct when she claimed that "part of Paul Revere's ride" involved "ringing...bells," "send[ing]...warning shots" and "warn[ing] the British that they weren't going to be taking away our arms." In fact, Revere's "warning" to the British occurred after he was captured and was not the purpose of his ride.
Palin Claimed Revere "Warned The British That They Weren't Going To Be Taking Away Our Arms"
Palin Claims Paul Revere "Warned The British" That "We were Going To Be Armed." During a visit to Boston, MA, in response to a question about what she had learned during her visit, Palin said:
We saw where Paul Revere hung out as a teenager, which was something new to learn. And, you know, he who warned the British that they weren't going to be taking away our arms, by ringing those bells and making sure that as he's riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be secure and we were going to be free. And we were going to be armed. [Sarah Palin, 6/2/11, via MSNBC.com]
Palin Later Claimed, "I Didn't Mess Up About Paul Revere ... I Know My American History." During her interview on Fox Broadcasting's Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace told Palin, "You realize you messed up about Paul Revere, don't you?" Palin responded (emphasis added):
PALIN: You know what? I didn't mess up about Paul Revere. Here's what Paul Revere did. He warned the Americans that 'the British were coming, the British were coming,' and they're going to try to take our arms, so we got to make sure that we were protecting ourselves and shoring up all of our ammunitions and our firearms so that they couldn't take them. But remember that the British had already been there, many soldiers, for seven years in that area, and part of Paul Revere's ride -- and it wasn't just one ride he was a courier, he was a messenger -- part of his ride was to warn the British that were already there that hey, you are not going succeed, you're not going to take American arms. You are not going beat our own well-armed persons' individual private militia that we have. He did warn the British. And in a shoutout, 'gotcha' type of question that was asked of me, I answered candidly. And I know my American history.
According to MSNBC's Morning Joe, the question Palin was asked -- which she described as a "gotcha type of question" -- was: "What have you seen so far today, and what are you going to take away from your visit?" [Fox Broadcasting Company, Fox News Sunday, 6/5/11, via Media Matters; MSNBC, Morning Joe, 6/6/11]
Right-Wing Media Attempt To Declare "Palin Was Right" About Revere
Boston Herald: "Experts Back Sarah Palin's Historical Account." In a June 6 Boston Herald article, writer Chris Cassidy claimed Palin's account "is actually historically accurate. And local historians are backing her up." From the Boston Herald:
In fact, Revere's own account of the ride in a 1798 letter seems to back up Palin's claim. Revere describes how after his capture by British officers, he warned them "there would be five hundred Americans there in a short time for I had alarmed the Country all the way up."
Boston University history professor Brendan McConville said, "Basically when Paul Revere was stopped by the British, he did say to them, 'Look, there is a mobilization going on that you'll be confronting,' and the British are aware as they're marching down the countryside, they hear church bells ringing -- she was right about that -- and warning shots being fired. That's accurate." [Boston Herald, 6/6/11]
Drudge Claims "Experts Back [Palin's] Historical Account." On June 6, the Drudge Report linked to the Herald's article under the headline "Experts back historical account." From the Drudge Report:
[The Drudge Report, 6/6/11]
Hot Air: "Historians Agree: Palin Was Right About Revere." In a June 6 post on Hot Air, Ed Morrissey cited the Boston Herald article to claim, "According to historians interviewed by the Boston Herald, Paul Revere then warned the British not to challenge a roused and armed populace. That came as news to many observers who had rushed to criticize Sarah Palin for her response to a gotcha question at the Old North Church." [Hot Air, 6/6/11]
Hoft: "Palin Did Not Misspeak On Paul Revere." In a June 3 post on Gateway Pundit, Jim Hoft wrote: "The state-run media is having fun today smearing Sarah Palin on her historical knowlege [sic]. Yesterday she told reporters Revere warned the British that the colonial militias were waiting for them. Sarah Palin was right. Paul Revere did in fact tell the British that the colonial militias, who had been alerted, were waiting for them." In a separate post, Hoft wrote, "Sorry libs. Sarah Palin stood by her correct narrative of Paul Revere's ride(s) today on FOX News Sunday." [Gateway Pundit, 6/3/11 emphasis in original, 6/5/11, emphasis in original]
But Experts Agree: Palin's Version Is Mostly Inaccurate
Herald's "Experts" Say Accurate Elements Of Palin's Account Were "Lucky," Not "Reflect[ing] Scholarship." The historians quoted in the Herald article, while admitting that some elements of Palin's account may have been accurate, questioned the authenticity of her historical knowledge. From the Boston Herald:
Boston University history professor Brendan McConville said, "Basically when Paul Revere was stopped by the British, he did say to them, 'Look, there is a mobilization going on that you'll be confronting,' and the British are aware as they're marching down the countryside, they hear church bells ringing -- she was right about that -- and warning shots being fired. That's accurate."
Patrick Leehey of the Paul Revere House said Revere was probably bluffing his British captors, but reluctantly conceded that it could be construed as Revere warning the British.
"I suppose you could say that," Leehey said. "But I don't know if that's really what Mrs. Palin was referring to."
McConville said he also is not convinced that Palin's remarks reflect scholarship.
"I would call her lucky in her comments," McConville said. [Boston Herald, 6/6/11]
AP: "Secrecy Was Vital To [Revere's] Mission." A June 5 Associated Press article reported that "Revere's own writing and other historical accounts leave little doubt that secrecy was vital to his mission." The article added:
The Paul Revere House's website says that on April 18, 1775, Dr. Joseph Warren, a patriot leader in the Boston area, instructed Revere to ride to Lexington, Mass., to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock that British troops were marching to arrest them.
In an undated letter posted by the Massachusetts Historical Society, Revere later wrote of the need to keep his activities secret and his suspicion that a member of his tight circle of planners had become a British informant. According to the letter, believed to have been written around 1798, Revere did provide some details of the plan to the soldiers that night, but after he had notified other colonists and under questioning by the Redcoats.
Intercepted and surrounded by British soldiers on his way from Lexington to Concord, Revere revealed "there would be five hundred Americans there in a short time, for I had alarmed the country all the way up," he wrote.
Revere was probably bluffing the soldiers about the size of any advancing militia, since he had no way of knowing, according to Joel J. Miller, author of "The Revolutionary Paul Revere." And while he made bells, Revere would never have rung any on that famous night because the Redcoats were under orders to round up people just like him.
"He was riding off as quickly and as quietly as possible," Miller said. "Paul Revere did not want the Redcoats to know of his mission at all." [Associated Press, 6/5/11, via Boston.com]
ABC News: Revere "Didn't Rely On Bells" And "He Was On A Covert Mission." In a June 3 post on ABC News' blog The Note, ABC News' Sheila Marikar wrote, "Of course, Revere was in fact trying to warn John Hancock and Samuel Adams about the approaching British army. And he didn't rely on bells. He was on a covert mission. Had he used bells, or had he warned the people with whom America was at war, Palin's tour bus might have chugged through the northeast on the left side of the road." [ABC News, The Note, 6/3/11]