While 60 Minutes is conducting some kind of "journalistic review" of its discredited story about the Benghazi attack, publishers of a related book that has been removed from stores have been largely mum about how they published an apparent fabrication.
Threshold Books published The Embassy House by "Sgt. Morgan Jones" and then retracted the book after it became clear that the author -- a British former security contractor whose real name is Dylan Davies -- had apparently lied about being at the scene of the September 2012 assault.
Some critics have questioned how Threshold could have published such a story in the first place without verifying it. But according to publishing veterans, there are few safeguards to prevent such a failure in an industry that provides only minimal review and fact-checking. Without in-house fact-checkers at most publishing houses, authors themselves typically bear the sole responsibility for the accuracy of their work.
"As a general course of business, publishers do not conduct a thorough fact-check on most of their books," said Sloan Harris, a literary agent at ICM Talent who represents New Yorker veterans Jane Mayer and Ken Auletta. "A number of our prominent authors will, in fact, employ an outside fact-checker at their own expense."
But such fact-checking arrangements are far from mandatory or routine.
Harris explained, "publishers are already under huge market pressures and seem to be overworked every year, adding another function to their obligation is not a likely outcome at this point."
Threshold, a conservative imprint of the CBS publishing division Simon & Schuster, announced last week that the Davies book would no longer be for sale following the revelation that the author had told a dramatically different story to the FBI and his employer than he provided in the book. Davies' co-author Damien Lewis reportedly issued a statement saying:
If there are inconsistencies in the events as told in The Embassy House and Mr. Davies's previous renderings of the story, Mr. Davies needs to answer those inconsistencies. Those who were injured on the night of Benghazi 9/11 deserve to know the truth, as do the families of those who lost their lives.
But so far, that truth has yet to be provided, and Threshold does not seem in a hurry to explain it. The publisher has not responded to requests for comment or an explanation about how it vetted Davies, if the book was fact-checked, or what is being done to investigate how a book largely based on lies of its author could be approved.
Editors and agents who spoke with Media Matters agree that non-fiction book authors have the leeway to write what they wish without editors seeking to verify their claims. In the case of authors like Davies, who apparently choose to fabricate their stories, the lack of accountability can be devastating to publishers, journalists, and readers.
"It's true that it is up to the author a lot of the time," said Barry Harbaugh, a veteran editor at Harper Collins. Citing a biography of the cyclist Lance Armstrong he is editing, Harbaugh noted, "We made sure the author hired a fact-checker."
A former magazine fact-checker, Harbaugh recalled his surprise when he first arrived at the publishing house and discovered "there is not a full-time fact-checker here in the way that there is at most big magazines."
The New York Times reported today that Fox News president Roger Ailes is identified in affidavits as the News Corp. executive who allegedly encouraged one of his colleagues to lie to federal investigators who were vetting Bernard Kerik's nomination to lead the Department of Homeland Security:
It was an incendiary allegation -- and a mystery of great intrigue in the media world: After the publishing powerhouse Judith Regan was fired by HarperCollins in 2006, she claimed that a senior executive at its parent company, News Corporation, had encouraged her to lie to federal investigators two years before.
The investigators had been vetting Bernard B. Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner who had been nominated to become secretary of Homeland Security and who had had an affair with Ms. Regan.
The goal of the News Corporation executive, according to Ms. Regan, was to keep the affair quiet and protect the then-nascent presidential aspirations of former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Kerik's mentor and supporter.
But Ms. Regan never revealed the identity of the executive, even as her allegation made headlines and she brought a wrongful termination suit against HarperCollins and News Corporation.
But now, affidavits filed in a separate lawsuit reveal the identity of the previously unnamed executive: Roger E. Ailes, chairman of Fox News.
What is more, the documents say that Ms. Regan taped the telephone call from Mr. Ailes in which Mr. Ailes discusses her relationship with Mr. Kerik.
The Times further reported:
Recently, Fox & Friends' hosts and guests have made a series of sexist comments to and about women. Indeed, Fox & Friends has a long history of sexism which also permeates throughout Fox News and mirrors a culture at parent company News Corp that has led to numerous sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuits.
It doesn't take long to spot a lie in the new tea party book by Scott Rasmussen and Doug Schoen -- Mad as Hell: How the Tea Party Movement is Fundamentally Remaking Our Two-Party System.
On page four in the book's introduction, the authors write (highlighting added):
For something to be "patently false" it must actually be false and not demonstrably true. Unfortunately for Rasmussen and Schoen, the later happens to be the case.
Let's look at this piece-by-piece, shall we?