J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Saturday, June 04, 2016

Legends and Lies to Be Broadcast 5 June

Fox television is promoting a couple of upcoming shows based on the American Revolution. Sort of.

The Fox News Channel has a series called Legends & Lies, and its second season carries the subtitle The Patriots. The accompanying book by David Fisher has the full title Bill O’Reilly’s Legends and Lies: The Patriots, spotlighting the show’s executive producer and host.

The first episode of the new season, debuting tomorrow night, is titled ”Sam Adams & Paul Revere—The Rebellion Begins.” The network says it “tells the story behind the ‘Sons of Liberty,’ who start the fight for American independence leading to the infamous historic Boston Massacre.”

In the short preview for the series, you can hear O’Reilly narrate how Dr. Joseph Warren “enlists militiaman Patrick Dawes and three others to join Revere.”

Now I would have thought this show was meant to dispel legends and lies, not spread new misinformation. Dr. Warren sent William Dawes out of Boston with the same message as Paul Revere. I have no idea what “three others” O’Reilly might refer to. (There were other alarm riders in the countryside, but Dr. Warren had no contact with them. Dr. Samuel Prescott spent some time riding with Revere and Dawes, but that was their improvisation, not Warren’s plan.)

Errors on such easily researched facts don’t bode well for the Fox News treatment of Samuel Adams.

But things could be worse. This fall Fox’s entertainment channel will air a situation comedy titled Making History. It shows two Massachusetts college professors traveling back to 1775, one to find a girlfriend and the other to keep history running right. One man is bearded, which should scare children in 1775, but no one notices. The other man is a history professor, yet doesn’t stop to think that being black will limit his influence in a slave-owning society. I’ve seen a preview of this one, too, and it’s so bad I won’t even link to it.

But it could make Legends and Lies: The Patriots look better.


Anonymous said...

One should never underestimate FOX News when it comes to distortion.

Steve MC said...

Just when I'm beginning to recover from the History Channel's "Sons of Liberty."

Karen A. Chase said...

I find it disappointing, but not surprising given it is Fox and O'Reilly, that this series might be fraught with problems with regard to the history. Even as a fiction writer, I've tried to build my latest manuscript primarily on facts, using fiction to fill holes where the historians debated over why something did/didn't happen, or had not yet discovered a plausible explanation. But, that is why I chose fiction and it will likely say "a novel" on the cover. A series posing as factual doesn't, and shouldn't, have the leeway I do. Sounds like they should have called it "Legends and Liars."

Bob Belvedere said...

I lasted about twenty minutes into the first episode and couldn't take it anymore.

It should have been entitled 'Creating New Lies'.

I've spent the past three years reading about Samuel Adams and working through the four volume Writings Of... edited by Harry Alonso Cushing, and I was appalled at the portrayal of Mr. Adams.

In, I assume, trying to make The Founders into comic book heroes, History and Fox are doing a grave disservice to the Truth.

Both productions were insulting.

PS: Enjoying your book very much [Zombie Samuel Gore 2016!].

J. L. Bell said...

Thank you! (Samuel Gore's little brother Christopher would bring experience in government.)