Help Wanted: Harper Publishers Seeks Fact Checkers. Will Hire Immediately

Posted By on November 22, 2011

The bag is optional, but recommended for Mr. Marche.

The Montreal Gazette needs to hire some fact checkers. Or maybe it’s Harper publishers, one of the largest book manufacturers  in the world. You tell me who screwed up worse here.  It certainly wasn’t Michael York.

This new missive  by MG staffer Pat Donnelly, suggests that the “Anonymous writer should put a bag over his head.”  Donnelley supports this display of public prejudice by quoting Stephen Marche in his book How Shakespeare Changed Everything (2011, Harper): “Not a single PhD dissertation has ever been accepted from an anti-Stratfordian, just as no astronomy department grants PhDs to people who believe in the Ptolemaic system of heavenly spheres.”

As usual with the Montreal Gazette, ever since it apparently got browbeaten by the Shakespearean aristocracy over Kier Cutler’s magnificent critique of the off-key rhetoric of the Shakespeare Birthplace, what we’re getting  is a cliched bit of “intellectual history” coupled with wishful thinking, because neither Marche nor Donnelly can apparently be bothered to run their stories by fact checkers, or else think the public is too gullible or stupid to notice how far off the mark they are when they peddle such arrant nonsense. 

As usual, also, with the Montreal Gazette comments are not activated.

As far as I can tell, unless I’ve missed something, this has been the pattern at least since Cutler’s piece, which was the last of several MG  authorship related stories to run comments.

What does this pattern suggest about the way the MG feels compelled to control the discussion and use its corporate influence as an internet bullhorn to continue projecting the same tired disinformation?  Does the MG have an ombudsperson?  Apparently not. But it obviously needs one.

But, as one reader of an earlier version of this blog posting pointed out, it’s Harper, an affiliate of the world famous Harper-Collins, that really has egg on its face here.  Pat Donnelly trusted Harper’s fact checkers and they let her down. Were they sleeping? Or just hungover? Wait a minute, I’ll bet that Harper saved money by not even hiring any!

Such realities  just might attract the interest of Project Censored – not because of the pettiness of the MG policy but from the possible realization that this sort of intellectual laziness is the norm for the mainstream media’s treatment of the topic, whether they are in the business of publishing “news” or “books.”

Ergo, this post.

Pat, please wake up and smell the coffee. I’m sure you’re a perfectly nice, intelligent person who just happens not to be very intellectually curious and to have an exaggerated opinion of the reliability of corporate shills like Mr. Marche. But the sad truth is that there’s no use repeating Mr. Marche’s, um, creative appropriations of truth in public. It just makes you look bad.

We’ll tell Mr. Marche when he can remove the bag.  Maybe you can help by asking him (and Harper fact checkers) to repeat after us 17x: “Every Word Doth Almost Tell My Name” (Sonnet 76.7) and then

I will find
Where truth is hid, though it were hid indeed
Within the centre.


Nb 6/6/2015. Oops, another missing link. Looks like the Wayback machine will be needed for that MG story, just like so many other links that I am currently checking on this site in anticipation of many new readers, but have been abandoned by their supposedly professional sponsors.

I mean, isn’t The Montreal Gazette supposed to be a “paper of record” that Canadians, Montrealans, and the internet world in general can trust to safeguard its own history?

Apparently not.

Apparently they “lost” the record of Mr. Donnelly’s statements. It seems like it must have been them that did it, because there’s no trouble finding what Kier Cutler thinks, nor is Michael York running around the internet trying to erase what he said or put the bag of shame over his own head.

The address of William Neiderkorn’s 2002 New York Times article has changed, but you can still access it here. And, lo and behold, miracle of miracles! Even Mr. Donnelly himself is very visible still online.

The only thing that seems to be missing is the article in which he quoted the demonstrably erroneous and negligent, and possibly even libelous statement of Mr. Marche.

I know I said that Marche’s article made him and everyone else associated with it look bad.

I must have been right.

Since rather than try to argue back, the MG just removed the article. In fact, someone was working overtime at the MG to clean up the mess that Marche and Donnelly created – you can’t even find a copy of Donnelly’s article on the Wayback machine.

Go ahead, try it!  If you can, let me know how – teach me to fish.

I guess I can live with an MG decision to put Mr. Donnelly’s article out of its misery, if I can also get an apology.

And one for William Ray.
And one for Michael York.
And one for William Neiderkorn.
And one for Mark Anderson, Charlton Ogburn and Lynne Kositsky and a whole lot of other people who know who they are.
I could go on but the reader gets the point.
Otherwise we’re handing the case over to project censored with the hope they throw the book at that pair of pseudo-intellectual scoundrels.


About the author

Roger Stritmatter is a native liberal humorist who lives in Baltimore, Maryland. Contrary to rumor, he does not live on North Avenue. He does, however, work on North Avenue. A pacifist by inclination, one of his heroes is John Brown. But he thinks that Fredrick Douglass, another of his heroes, made the right decision. Stritmatter's primary areas of interest include the nature of paradigm shifts, the history of ideas, forensic literary studies, MS studies, renaissance literature, and the history of the Shakespearean question, the latter a field in which he has published extensively.


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In "From Crackpot to Mainstream"Keir Cutler, PhD, takes down the recent Shakespeare Beyond Doubt (OUP, 2013)

Criticism of Cutler's "Is Shakespeare Dead?": "A magnificently witty performance!" (Winnipeg Sun). "Highly entertaining and engrossing!" (EYE Weekly). "Is Shakespeare Dead? marshals startling facts into an elegant and often tenacious argument that floats on a current of delicious irony" (Montreal Gazette).