Fact & Fiction

  • Getting the Facts Straight About Midterm Elections

    by Rick Shenkman

    Updated 11-2-06 Usually in off-year elections the party holding the presidency loses seats in Congress. Why? This is mainly because in the midterm elections the weak candidates who rode in to victory on the coattails of their party's presidential candidate two years earlier find it difficult to win when running for election on their own. In the 2002 off-year elections in George W. Bush's first term Republicans confounded many pundits by succeeding in adding to their majoritie

  • A White House Tea and Michelle Obama

    by Betty Boyd Caroli

    Eighty-one years ago this summer, an African American woman from Chicago’s South Side—just a couple miles from where Michelle Robinson Obama grew up—made national headlines.  Her

  • Sorry George, the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence Was Probably a Myth

    by Damion Pechota

    On July 3rd an article by respected journalist George Will appeared in the Washington Post, called "Independence Days," about the citizens of Mecklenburg County in North Carolina declaring independence from Britain on May 20, 1775--more than a year ahead of the Continental Congress. As wonderful and patriotic as this appears, the story of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independ

  • The Real "Obama before Obama"

    by Daniel Sauerwein

    Recently, HNN ran a breaking news story published by the Washington Post entitled “The ‘Obama before Obama’ ” by Kevin Merida.  The article begins with the story of the purportedly first African American elected to public office, John Mercer Langston, who was from Virginia and was elected township clerk in Brownhelm, Ohio in 1855.  Merida also discusses Langston’s other achievements, including being founder of the future Howard University Law School.After a brief look at Langston’s life, Merida then weaves it with stories of black leaders in Louisa County, Virginia, where Langston was born in 1829.  He also discusses some locals’ views about Barack Obama’s rise to become the Democratic nominee for President.  The article focuses on the progress from Langston to Obama and is a good piece overall.Unfortunately, there is a major error regarding the historical record with this article.  Based upon two encyclopedias dealing with African American history, HNN has learned that John Langston was not the first African American elected to public office.  Indeed, there were two men before him.

  • Disney's Hidalgo: A New Hollywood Low

    by Anthony B. Toth

    Response of Anthony B. Toth to John Fusco (posted 2-28-04)The irony is too delicious to pass without comment: the screenwriter whose "based on a true story" horse race that never took place rises in florid indignation and calls my column, "slanted and poorly researched." Please. Mr. Fusco should get off his high horse.But let me address the complaint. At issue is the following sentence: "Nowhere in the site is Fusco or Disney mentioned, and in fact Fusco has attempted to hide his connection with the site. The sleaze is piled higher than horse manure."First, some background. When frankhopkins.com went live, before the release of Hidalgo, the site was relatively small, with just a few pages. It included (and still includes) the following:According to the U.S. Remount Service Journal of 1936, [Frank Hopkins] competed in and won over 400 long-distance races, including a legendary 3,000-mile endurance ride across the Arabian Desert in 1890 on his mustang stallion, Hidalgo.An upcoming Walt Disney movie is to be based on his legendary adventures in the saddle.

  • Does Ann Coulter Know What She's Talking About?

    In her latest book, Treason, Ann Coulter, turning conventional history on its head, claims that Joe McCarthy was the victim of a witch-hunt. Does she know what she's talking about? Below are excerpts from comments about her book. But first we begin with a statement by Coulter herself. Ann Coulter, Author of Treason (2003)The myth of "McCarthyism" is the greatest Orwellian fraud of our times. Liberals are fanatical liars, then as now. The por

  • He Has Gassed His Own People

    by HNN Staff

    "Saddam Hussein is a man who is willing to gas his own people, willing to use weapons of mass destruction against Iraq citizens. "--President Bush, March 22, 2002"As he said, any person that would gas his own people is a threat to the world."--Scott McClellan, White House spokesman, May 31, 2002

  • Did Truman Really Oppose the Soviet Union's Decision to Enter the War Against Japan?

    by D.M. Giangreco

    The following letter was sent to the Journal of Military History, which published a shortened version. To the Editor:The old saying tells us that “you’re never too old to learn” --- and it’s true! Reading David T. Fuhrmann’s review of Tsuyoshi Hasegawa’s Racing the Enemy: Stalin, Truman, and the Surrender of Japan (JMH 69, October 2005), I realized that my first impressions of the book were all wrong. Although the reviewer found Racing the Enemy “balanced and thoroughly documented,” I’d originally been appalled at the unnerving regularity with which Hasegawa’s copious footnotes implied that something exists in a document when it simply did not --- but that has all changed.What I now realize is that I was expecting too much when I assumed that Hasegawa would actually produce real evidence that President Truman had embarked on a desperate race to defeat Japan with nuclear weapons before the Soviet Union could enter the Pacific War. Being overly picky, I was put off by what appeared to be gross misrepresentations of Truman’s words through use of ellipsis in accounts like the following of Truman’s first meeting with Stalin at Potsdam:

  • The Fictitious Suppression of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle

    by Christopher Phelps

    When a small, Tucson-based publisher of anarchist and atheist literature called See Sharp Press issued a new edition in 2003 of Upton Sinclair’s famous novel The Jungle, it was not especially remarkable. Editions of The Jungle, from the scholarly to the mass-market, are abundant. Generations of readers have been transfixed by the misery of the novel&

  • 7 Myths About Islam

    by Timothy R. Furnish

    One of the few positive effects of 9/11 has been renewed American interest in Islam and the Middle East. Unfortunately, much of the information disseminated in the media about those topics is ignorant and misleading. This is unfortunate because any hope that the predom

  • What Do W. and Woodrow Wilson Really Have in Common?

    by Derek Catsam

    President Bush is presiding over what is fast becoming a foreign policy disaster. The war in Iraq is a quagmire. The Iraqi constitution faces an uncertain future. American policy appears to be based on sloganeering, but most of America's global problems can be attributed to another factor: the administration's failure to plan before it acted. The failure is not unprecedented. Not since the end of the Cold War has an American president thought through what the international role of the

  • Did Hitler have Jewish Soldiers?

    by Bryan Mark Rigg

    Adolf Hitler is thought to have made war on all Jews, even people who were only "partly Jewish." Mr. Rigg in his new book calls this assumption into question.Throughout Hitler's political career, he made several exemptions from his ideology. Whatever Hitler had written into decrees was always subject to alteration at his discretion. Hitler granted thousands of Mischlinge (partial Jews) exemptions from the provisions of his racial laws.Some have claimed that Hitler made exemptions for Mischlinge because of his own "Jewish" past. Since this issue was raised frequently during discussions of this study, it is explored in some detail. The facts seem to indicate that Hitler feared his paternal grandfather was Jewish. As Dr. Fritz Redlich, psychiatrist and author of Hitler: Diagnosis of a Destructive Prophet, said, "Hitler was mixed up about his descent. He was definitely scared about the possibility that he had a Jewish grandfather." However, no documents have survived to confirm or deny this allegation.

  • Military: The Wrong War

    by Thomas Fleming

    When the Muslim terrorists struck on September 11, uncounted numbers of reporters and television commentators rushed into print and sound comparing the awful consequences to Pearl Harbor. Never has so much verbiage been wasted on a comparison which makes no sense -- and is still leading people astray, building up false expectations of winning a war based on this non-resemblance. Some reporters pointed out the difference between Pearl Harbor and 9/. The Japanese attacked military men, not civ

  • Remember Watergate?

    by Rick Shenkman

    Remember Watergate?That was the scandal which brought Richard Nixon down after it was disclosed that he or his minions, among other things: spied on Edward Kennedy, played a dirty trick on Edmund Muskie, broke into the Democrat's national headquarters, planned to break into McGovern headquarters, compiled an enemies list, ordered the IRS to audit political opponents, arranged for illegal wiretaps, faked diplomatic cables to implicate John Kennedy in the assassination of South Vietnam's Ngo Dinh Diem, offered clemency to keep some witnesses quiet, paid other witnesses hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep them quiet, destroyed evidence, plotted the fire bombing of the Brookings Institution, and schemed to kidnap leading student radicals so they wouldn't disrupt the Republican National Convention in 1972.That, anyway, is Watergate as most Americans-and historians-remember it. That is not, however, how many right-wingers do.

  • Ann Coulter's Betrayal of the Anti-Communist Historians

    by Stephen Schwartz

    Normally, I would have no interest in the writings or talk-show appearances of Ann Coulter, and I will stipulate that I have not read her latest contribution, a volume titled Treason. However, I have felt myself drawn into the controversy over the book, because of its reliance on scholarship analyzing, and based on, the Venona traffic. This, as a wider section of the public will now come to know, is a series of several thousand clandestine Soviet intelligence messages

  • Did Nixon Approve the Watergate Break-In?

    by Keith Olson

    STATEMENT BY THE RICHARD NIXON LIBRARY AND BIRTHPLACE FOUNDATION[Released July 30, 2003]In recent days, the Associated Press, Reuters, the Scripps Howard New Service, and others have published statements by Jeb Magruder in which he accused President Nixon of authorizing the Watergate break-in during a telephone conversation with John Mitchell on March 30, 1972. According to these press reports, Mr. Magruder makes the charge during a PBS documentary being