What You Need to Know About David Barton's New Edition of The Jefferson Lies (Press Release)

What You Need to Know About David Barton’s New Edition of The Jefferson Lies
Contact Warren Throckmorton, warrenthrockmorton@gmail.com
GROVE CITY, Penn., Jan. 13, 2016 /Christian Newswire/ — Yesterday was the official release date of the second edition of “The Jefferson Lies” by Ted Cruz’s Super PAC coordinator David Barton. Published by World Net Daily, the second edition promises to answer Barton’s critics and restore Jefferson’s reputation.
However, there is much World Net Daily and Barton are not telling the public about the circumstances surrounding the new book.
In August 2012, Thomas Nelson confirmed that the first edition of “The Jefferson Lies” had been pulled from publication because the publisher “learned that there were some historical details included in the book that were not adequately supported.” Thomas Nelson stated that it was in “the best interest of our readers to stop the publication and distribution.”
Many of those historical details are addressed factually in “Getting Jefferson Right: Fact Checking Claims about Our Third President,” a 2012 book by Christian college professors Warren Throckmorton and Michael Coulter. With the release of the second edition of “The Jefferson Lies,” the fact checking in “Getting Jefferson Right” is more important than ever.
The new version of “The Jefferson Lies” contains an entire section in critical response to “Getting Jefferson Right.”
In his response, the first error Barton makes is to assert that “The Jefferson Lies” was pulled from publication due to attacks from liberals. However, critics Jay Richards. Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute and Gregg Frazer, professor of history at The Master’s College are not liberals. “Getting Jefferson Right’s” authors are not liberals. Many other conservative historians have also expressed negatives reviews of “The Jefferson Lies.”
Members of the media may contact Warren Throckmorton and Michael Coulter regarding the facts surrounding the removal of “The Jefferson Lies” from publication in 2012, the allegations of liberal bias now and the historical claims made in “The Jefferson Lies” about Jefferson’s life and work.
For more information, see Getting Jefferson Right.
“Anyone who reads  ‘Getting Jefferson Right’ must come to grips with the untruths and suspect historical interpretations that [David] Barton regularly peddles in his books, speaking engagements, and on his radio program.” — John Fea, Chair, History Department, Messiah College
Warren Throckmorton, PhD is Professor of Psychology and Michael Coulter, PhD is Professor of Political Science, both at Grove City College (PA)

A Challenge to WND and David Barton on Thomas Jefferson and Slavery

Late last night, World Net Daily published another “exclusive” promo piece for David Barton’s The Jefferson Lies. This one focuses on Thomas Jefferson’s relationship to his slaves and repeats Barton’s overconfident denial that Jefferson fathered any of Sally Heming’s children. We did not take up that claim in Getting Jefferson Right because there is no way to know for sure what happened.
However, the unknown author of the WND article then comes after me (and my co-author Michael Coulter without naming him). In his first edition, Barton selectively omitted a section of Virginia’s 1782 law on manumission which allowed slave owners to free slaves by going to the county court house with a “deed of manumission.” He claimed that Virginia law did not allow emancipation. Citing Barton, the WND article doubles down on that claim:

“Numerous historians of previous generations who sought for truth rather than political correctness affirm that the laws of Virginia did indeed forbid Jefferson from doing what he wanted to do throughout his long life: free his own slaves.”

Mr.Barton please name some of those “numerous historians.”
In fact, because of the 1782 law on manumission, many slaves were freed by their owners.
Barton continues:

But Barton says the situation was far more complicated, and takes on Throckmorton’s claim directly in a special section of the new edition. He argues Throckmorton seems to believe only one law governed emancipation in Virginia. In fact, he argues, there were many.

In Getting Jefferson Right, we deal with several relevant Virginia laws, not just one as Barton claims.

Barton asserts:

Because Jefferson suffered severe difficulties throughout his life, Barton says he would be exposing his slaves to possible re-enslavement if he tried to set them free.

Barton observed: “Particularly relevant to Jefferson’s case was a law requiring the economic bonding of certain emancipated slaves… Jefferson… was unable to meet the added financial requirements of that emancipation law.”

We never claimed that it would have been easy for Jefferson to free all of his slaves. We countered Barton’s assertion that Jefferson was not allowed to do so by Virginia law. In fact, there were some restrictions on emancipation for some slaves. On that point, the 1782 Virginia law enumerated the conditions (scroll down to page 39):

 II. Provided always, and be it further enacted, That all slaves so set free, not being in the judgment of the court, of sound mind and body, or being above the age of forty-five years, or being males under the age of twenty-one, or females under the age of eighteen years, shall respectively be supported and maintained by the person so liberating them, or by his or her estate; and upon neglect or refusal so to do, the court of the county where such neglect or refusal may be, is hereby empowered and required, upon application to them made, to order the sheriff to distrain and sell so much of the person’s estate as shall be sufficient for that purpose.

Males and females above 45, males under 21, females under 18 and disabled slaves required financial support. However, not all of Jefferson’s slaves fell in those categories. This provision of Virginia law did not prohibit emancipation. Furthermore, during this period of time, Jefferson voluntarily sold over 50 of his slaves to reduce debts, moving them from one condition of enslavement to another.

Barton and WND continue:

Another law applicable to Jefferson also stated, “All slaves so emancipated shall be liable to be taken… to satisfy any debt contracted by the person emancipating them.”

As Jefferson was, in today’s standards, millions of dollars in debt when he died, freeing the slaves might simply lead to them being taken by someone else.

The clause Barton refers to was passed as a part of a 1792 law. In full, the clause provided:

That all slaves so emancipated shall be liable to be taken by execution to satisfy any debt contracted by the person emancipating them, before such emancipation is made. (emphasis added)

Barton omitted the phrase in bold print. After 1792, a slave freed after an owner contracted a debt could be taken by authorities and sold back into slavery with the proceeds going to satisfy the pre-existing debt. However, if a slave was emancipated and then the slave owner went into debt, the slave could not be taken.

Two points should be obvious. First, this clause is a restriction but not a prohibition. Second, there was a ten year window when the 1792 restriction did not apply.

A third point isn’t as obvious because Barton doesn’t address what Thomas Jefferson did while some Virginia slave owners were manumitting their slaves. Jefferson continued to buy and sell slaves during this period. Jefferson even hired slave catchers to track down runaway slaves.

A Challenge to WND

Let me issue a challenge to Barton and World Net Daily: Allow me space to rebut these promo pieces. Stop misrepresenting my arguments and the evidence and link to this post. Right now, your behavior is a right wing version of the liberal bias you assert is true of the mainstream media. If you are so sure you are correct, then have the courage to back it up.

World Net Daily and David Barton Claim Political Correctness Doomed The Jefferson Lies

On Friday of last week, World Net Daily published something called “Anatomy Of An American Book Banning.” Believe it or not, World Net Daily and David Barton are hoping to convince readers that Barton’s book was pulled from publication due to political correctness. The subtitle of the article is:

How New York Times bestseller was resurrected after falling casualty to political correctness.

Joseph Farah and Barton deserve each other; both engage in historical revisionism. Farah says at the end of the WND article.

Farah added: “Think about all the books that are published every year in America – many tens of thousands. Only one book that I know of in my lifetime has been censored by its own publisher after becoming a bestseller. Only one history book was so banned in the United States, to my knowledge – pulled from the shelves to ensure Americans couldn’t read it and make up their own minds about it. Many books published in America as non-fiction are made up out of whole cloth – and that includes history books with the most preposterous speculation and fantasies. In a free society, that is to be expected. What should never be expected is that controversial books with premises some might disagree with should be banned, spiked, burned or shredded. That’s exactly what happened to this book. And that’s why WND Books is bringing it back into the marketplace.

Is it possible that Farah thinks he is telling the truth? I can’t see how. The book was never “censored,” nor was it “banned in the United States.” The book was not destroyed. WND is not bringing it back into the marketplace. The Jefferson Lies has been available from Wallbuilders since the rights reverted back to Barton after Thomas Nelson stopped publishing it (see this Wayback Machine link for February 2013). It is available now on Amazon and has been for years.  In fact, it has been available since at least June 15, 2013 from World Net Daily’s Superstore (see this Wayback Machine link). Let that sink in. Farah said the book was banned and implied it was somehow not in the marketplace. He has been selling it since early 2013.
There is two critical problems for WND’s theory about political correctness and Thomas Nelson: Thomas Nelson publishes many other conservatives and no other books have been pulled from publication during the same time period.
I left a comment after the article and in it named several conservative authors which Thomas Nelson publishes, including a couple published by WND.

Regarding WND’s accusation that Thomas Nelson pulled Barton’s book due to political correctness, please consider that Thomas Nelson currently publishes books by Jerome Corsi and Ben Shapiro. Thomas Nelson publishes Eric Metaxas’ highly regarded book on Bonhoeffer. Other conservatives published by Thomas Nelson include Richard Land, Judge Napolitano, Tom Coburn, William Bennett, Kevin McCullough, Star Parker, Sam Brownback and others. It makes no sense that Thomas Nelson publishes these authors but removed David Barton’s book due to Barton’s conservative ideas.

The politically correct theory fails when one considers there is no pattern, no other book which was removed. Thomas Nelson conducted an internal review and came to the same conclusion as many external critics. No amount historical revisionism by Barton and WND will change what happened.

Happily, there is an antidote to this revisionism.

David Barton and World Net Daily Begin the Spin Recycle

Yesterday, World Net Daily posted David Barton’s defense of his discredited book The Jefferson Lies. This is in preparation for a January release of the WND edition. The WND posting appears to be the same 40 page response he wrote in early 2013 in reaction to publisher Thomas Nelson’s decision to pull the book from publication due to historical errors.
The promotional material for the book promises a rebuttal to critics. If this 2013 document is that answer, WND might want to correct the errors in it. A good place to start would be with the story that Simon & Schuster plans to publish the book. In 2013, Barton claimed that Simon & Schuster planned to publish The Jefferson Lies. Yesterday, Barton and WND claimed the same thing:
BartonWNDSS
 
I asked Simon & Schuster earlier this year if there was any truth to this claim and the publisher’s representatives said the book would not be published by them.
I wonder if WND will correct this error.
The recycled spin continues on the WND book description. The original promotional material referred to Barton’s critics as “ a few dedicated liberal individuals and academics.” Now the WND book description calls usbloggers and a handful of non-historian academics.”
This effort to obscure the response of historians, Christian and otherwise, to Barton’s work is a farce. The Jefferson Lies was voted “least credible history book in print’ by readers of the History News Network. Dozens of Christian historians wrote both Family Research Council and Focus on the Family in 2013 urging them to remove Barton’s work from their web pages. If WND editors cared about accuracy, they could just read their own website. In the article WND published yesterday, there is a reference by Barton to his Christian historian critics.

Only four of the ten scholars contacted by Richards actually provided any critiques of my work: Glenn Moots, Glenn Sunshine, Greg Forester (sic), and Gregg Frazer. Of these four, only Frazer specializes in religion and the American founding, but his critique did not even address The Jefferson Lies, and it is not clear that he even bothered to read itInstead, he watched and criticized a twenty year old video entitled America’s Godly Heritage.

Moots, Sunshine, Forster and Frazer are all historians and they are all Christian (Frazer’s critique of America’s Godly Heritage — which is still commercially available — can be read in an earlier blog post). As I have demonstrated previously, there are more than a handful. Obviously, WND is hoping to cover up the facts. 
A large part of Barton’s response in his WND article is to bash me, as if what team he thinks I am on matters. It is a sign of a weak argument when you spend little time on the facts and a lot of time on the personality of the person bringing the facts. The effort also appears to be designed to distract readers from the fact that I have a co-author — political science scholar Michael Coulter — and have published the work of numerous Christian historians on this blog (e.g., here).
The new narrative being promoted by WND is that Thomas Nelson pulled Barton’s book because of “political correctness.”
bartonWNDPC
Yes, it was shocking that Thomas Nelson did the right thing. And it is shocking that some Christians try to create an alternative reality in order to sell books and gain political power.
 
 

Found: A National News Organization that Called David Barton America's Historian

Yesterday, I posted an ad calling David Barton “the most recognized Christian historian in America.” In that post, I noted that Barton says in his bio that “a national news organization has described him as ‘America’s historian.’” That Barton has never named the organization made me skeptical. I also have searched for the source without success.
Until now.
A reader sleuthed out the source and it makes sense for Barton to keep it vague. While other sources may have referred to Barton that way, Janet Porter did so in a 2007 World Net Daily column, titled: “Why I Like Mike for GOP Bus Driver” about Mike Huckabee. Porter wrote:

America’s historian, David Barton, told me last week, “It would be easier to take over the Democratic Party than to start a third party.” He’s right. “But what about faith?” asked a proponent of this losing strategy.

She may not have been the first to use that designation but WND might be the “national news organization” Barton mentions in his bio. Given the goofiness that website is known for, I can see why Barton would not want to get specific. Also, the “news organization” didn’t refer to him that way, Janet Porter did.
America’s historian, really?
 

AFA Journal Compounds Dubious Claim that David Barton Was Vindicated in Court

David Barton’s vindication campaign is getting some traction among far right publications.
The newest American Family Association Journal ran a brief summary of the December 2014 World Net Daily article. The AFA article concluded with this unsubstantiated sentence: “Barton has also won legal judgment against others who published lies about his veracity and his ministry.” See below.
AFAjournalBarton
While Barton did settle out of court with his accusers on the white supremacy charges, he dismissed the person who questioned his veracity (W.S. Smith) from the suit in April of 2012. To date, Barton has not published any judgment relating to his historical claims. John Aman, the author of the World Net Daily article on Barton’s suit, said a Texas judge ruled that statements about Barton’s historical claims were “false and defamatory.”

Barton also won in court against W.S. Smith, a self-described atheist who published an online article in 2010 calling Barton “an admitted liar” whose “books have been picked apart time and again and exposed as fallacious.”

Smith was a no-show throughout the lawsuit, disappearing shortly after Barton sued him in September 2011. Barton’s legal team hired a private detective and published notices in Texas newspapers statewide in an unsuccessful attempt to find the elusive writer.

Smith disappeared after he boasted, in an email to Huffington Post columnist Chris Rodda that he was “happy to meet” Barton in court “because the truth in [sic] on my side.”

“If this is what you want, Mr. Barton, then let’s do it,” Smith said. “Bring it on. Bring it on. Bring it on. The path you’ve chosen will lead only to your embarrassment and ruin.”

Three years later, a Texas court found Smith’s assertions about David Barton both false and defamatory.

So far, Mr. Aman is standing behind his story. I informed him that Parker County, TX public records disclose that W.S. Smith was dismissed from the suit in 2012. Aman responded that Mr. Barton was the source of his information about the disposition of the suit. Aman provided no response to the Parker County, TX records.

At issue are the claims that “Barton also won in court against W.S. Smith” and “a Texas court found Smith’s assertions about David Barton both false and defamatory.” According to the Parker County TX records, Smith was removed from the case. The only names on the settlement are Jennings and Bell-Metereau. I call on World Net Daily, John Aman and David Barton to produce court documents showing a win against W.S. Smith and a finding that Smith’s claims were “both false and defamatory.”

Of course, even if a judge wrote those things, it wouldn’t place David Barton on the Oral Roberts University basketball team, or make his denial of progress toward an HIV vaccine true. It wouldn’t change the fact that he omits parts of quote from America’s founders that don’t align with his views, or that the Consitution doesn’t quote the Bible verbatim.

 

The website that cried wolf: World Net Daily and death panels

Today, the far right website, World Net Daily, is accusing the President of using the Food & Drug Administration drug approval process as a way to ration health care via “death panels.”  As evidence for the claim, this front page story by Greg Koprowski states that “new drug approvals declined dramatically last year” citing a drop in such drug approvals from 25 in 2009 to 21 in 2010.

Although website claims the article is “breaking news,” the other evidence offered is a quote from a July 27, 2010 letter to FDA official Dr. Richard Pazdur from Senator David Vitter (R-LA) writing in support of the anti-cancer drug Avastin.  The FDA recently made a recommendation to remove the breast cancer indication from the Avastin drug label. In the letter, Senator Vitter worries that the approval process may signal the beginning of treatment rationing.

I spoke with Sandy Walsh at the FDA who called the claim that the FDA was using cost as a measure of approval “absurd.” She also noted that recent approvals are in line with past years.  As a review of FDA data demonstrates, she is correct.  For perspective, here are numbers of new medicines approved by the FDA from 2000 to the 2010 estimate.

2010 – 21 (estimated)

2009 – 25

2008 – 24

2007 – 18

2006 – 22

2005 – 20

2004 – 36

2003 – 21

2002 – 17

2001 – 24

2000 – 27

Mr. Koprowski called the drop from 25 new drugs in 2009 to a “mere 21 new drugs in 2010” a dramatic decline. Not at all. An examination of the approvals over time tells a different story. Clearly, Obama’s FDA is keeping pace with the record of the Bush administration.

Regarding Avastin, the maker of the cancer fighting drug is appealing the decision but it is simply wrong to assume that the FDA decision was based on cost considerations. The FDA panel that voted 12-to-1 to recommended the action consisted of physicians and patient advocates. FDA spokesperson Erica Jefferson told me that “no political appointees were involved in the decision-making” adding that “most of the reviewers have been with the agency close to 15 years.” Moreover, the decision was endorsed by the National Breast Cancer Coalition, which said about the action, “We applaud the FDA for responding to the scientific evidence in the face of significant political and public pressure.”

By reading WND, one would never know the rest of the story. Selective reporting is just one reason to question crying wolves at WND. Enter the Medicare death panel scare.

In late December, World Net Daily published an article that said the Obama Administration was slipping death panels back into Medicare via a regulation defining patient-physician discussions of advance directive planning. Yesterday, the Obama administration rescinded that rule, in part because of the misinformation campaign waged by social conservatives.

Judie Brown of the American Life League was quoted as saying:

Nothing good can come of this,” said Judie Brown, the president of American Life League. “This will affect everybody’s parents and grandparents and preborn babies, and it will not affect anybody for the good.

She added ominously:

Congress must step up to cancel the regulation, Brown added. “If not, a death certificate is written for an awful lot of elderly people.”

Ratcheting up the rhetoric, Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver told WND that the Medicare regulation was not just a death panel, but a “super death panel,” saying

When you have the government mandating this end-of-life counseling, they’re conscripting doctors to do end-of-life counseling on a massive scale. It will be the equivalent of a super death panel. Elderly patients will get confused and will end up signing documents without having a clue what they’re signing, and they will sign away care they might really want.

As I noted in a previous post, claims that the just rescinded Medicare regulation required doctors to persuade senior citizens to refuse care are just false. The new regulation was an extension of a definition of advance care planning which remains a part of the initial Medicare visit, a provision that was added by Congress in 2008. That bill was passed via override of a President Bush veto. The veto however, had nothing to do with end-of-life counseling, but rather concerns over cost. As far as I can find via search engines, there was no outcry from conservatives then over the end-of-life provision. No one cried death panels then.

As an administration official told me yesterday, Medicare does not prescribe any conversation between patients and physicians about end-of-life issues. Patients are free to use pro-life resources and advance directives to plan their end-of-life care. The only reason the definition was included was to alert physicians that these conversations are important. There is neither a separate reimbursement for advanced care planning now nor would there have been if the rule, rescinded yesterday, would have remained viable.

In the case of the advance care planning regulation, the scare tactics worked. The Obama administration backed off of a reasonable definition of advanced care planning, a practice that pro-life groups actually recommend to their constituents. However, hysteria and spin won out over good policy. In the case of FDA approvals, it is clear that there is no trend specific to this administration. At what point, do readers realize that those crying death panels are crying wolf?