[Originally posted at Bene Diction Blogs On, June 18, 2010]
Marci McDonald and her book are continuing to get press coverage...but one possible upcoming story would not the be sort of thing that any author would want to see.
My former editor and colleague Terry O'Neill confirms that he has had his legal counsel send a letter to Radom House formally asking for a retraction and apology for an egregious mistake in The Armageddon Factor. I explained how, in my opinion, Terry had a valid complaint with McDonald's coverage of him in her book, in a post which explains what's at issue.
I don't know how far he plans or wishes to go in seeking redress, and I can't speak for him, but I do know that having your lawyers issue a formal complaint in writing to a publisher is the first step in any eventual libel suit.
I don't want to say whether Terry would want to sue another journalsit for libel. But, even if he were the type to settle for an apology and retraction--as I think he is--that could still cause problems for McDonald and her book. I am guessing here, but aside from causing embarrassment, would books have to be pulled off shelves and then re-issued in a new corrected printing? I don't know.
I've mentioned my own sympathies...but anyone might foresee storm clouds ahead here.
Ezra Levant mentioned this this morning on his blog, but I think that he "buried the lede".
Those who appreciate McDonald's work, however, would be pleased to know that she and her book are getting more helpful publicity.
We hear second-hand from McDonald, as she is paraphrased in a update by Lloyd Mackey on the CanadianChristianity website.
Mackey notes that the first chapter of The Armageddon Factor was reprinted at the website of the online Group Citizens Rallying to Unseat Stephen Harper (CRUSH):
....[C]RUSH reproduced the book's first chapter from the publisher's website without the author's knowledge. When McDonald learned, at the end of a busy cross-country book promotion tour, that her book was linked to the website, she asked the site managers to post a disclaimer. The disclaimer says: 'The author wishes to make clear that this does not mean she endorses CRUSH or its aims.'
A little later in his column, he has this to add:
....McDonald assures me that she has never had any partisan associations, and that she has written stories – some of which have been posted on the Walrus website – that have been critical of Liberals as well as Conservatives.
In other updates...the progressive Vancouver free paper The Georgia Straight has an item on former George W, Bush advisor Karl Rove's upcoming visit to Charles' McVety's Canadian Christian College during the G-20 meetings in Toronto. Rove will be meeting with various "faith and business leaders" at the school, notes a press release quoted by the paper. The Straight would naturally be concerned about a figure of the American right meeting with Canadian christian conservatives and McDonald's book is quoted in the article, allowing the reporter to cite Rove's ideological sympathies to ministers such as John Hagee.
There are three new reviews of The Armageddon Factor online. The Winnipeg Free Press' review is critical, as is one by a senior fellow at a Calgary think tank on his blog. Another reviewer, Robert White in yesterday's Guelph Mercury also has misgivings about the book. White's concerns with her premise might be influential, as the veteran journalist is the "Ontario editor" of the Christian Week newspaper.