It's been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad 48 hours for David Barton. Yesterday, NPR's All Things Considered did a story that took a hard look at the fundie pseudo-historian's half-baked approach to scholarship. Then today--in what can hardly be a coincidence-- his publisher yanked his latest book from the shelves due to concerns about its accuracy.
First, yesterday's All Things Considered did what is arguably the most devastating mainstream media piece yet on Barton. NPR checked out many of his longstanding claims and found them to be complete bollocks. For instance, Barton claims that several passages in the Constitution come straight from the Bible. But NPR couldn't find a single one. It also included Mike Huckabee's infamous quote that "all Americans should be forced--at gunpoint, no less" to listen to Barton's hot air. As a Web extra, NPR culled videos of Barton's claims to show how they don't jibe with the facts.
Then, earlier today, Thomas Nelson Publishers announced it will no longer publish or distribute Barton's latest book, The Jefferson Lies. Thomas Nelson conducted a review of some of the claims made after several people expressed concerns about them, and found that in many cases, there was no evidence to support them. While the NPR piece was no doubt a factor, World's Thomas Kidd reports that a large number of Christian conservatives have expressed concerns about Barton's work. For instance, Jay Richards of the Discovery Institute, previously a close ally of Barton's, has broken with him due to concerns his work contains "embarrassing factual errors, suspiciously selective quotes, and highly misleading claims." A group of 10 Christian professors he consulted about Barton's work largely agree.
Amazing what happens with a little bit of sunshine ...
5:46 PM PT: Kidd reports that Barton called Thomas Nelson's decision to yank his book "a strange scenario," and claims nobody from the publisher engaged him about the problems in the book. However, it's hard to blame Thomas Nelson, given how egregious the errors were.
Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 6:26 AM PT: A lot of people have wondered how it took so long for the mainstream media to do a takedown like this. As unfair as it is, I suspect it's because until now, Barton's main critics have been secularists. I see a parallel with how Peter Popoff is still on TV even after being exposed as a fake by James Randi--only because Popoff's followers seized on Randi's atheism.
Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 9:52 AM PT: Barton tells the Tennessean that he met with a different group of scholars who gave his work their blessing. He claims that the group included a good number of PhD's ... but refuses to tell us who they were, saying he didn't have permission. I wonder how many of them were from Regent, Liberty and ORU.