Monday, August 30, 2004

Ban those books!

Why am I not surprised. Media Matters for America, one of those wonderful 527's working against the President, sent this letter to Wal-Mart, Amazon.com, and Barnes & Noble asking these top booksellers to review policies on selling 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.
And the response from Barnes and Noble?
"We do not intend to pull Unfit for Command from our shelves. The question of whether the book is a fraud or hoax belongs in a court of law, not in a bookstore. If we pulled all the controversial books that customers have at one time or another asked us not to sell, our shelves would be pretty bare."