Important note from Quin Hillyer: The following column is by a superb reporter of my acquaintance, Dexter Duggan, who for years has been calling me for quotes for well-researched articles of his at the Catholic publication The Wanderer. Every time I have dealt with Duggan, he has been meticulously thorough and careful, and I trust him always to get both my words and my context correct.

As he explains below, he has, quite provably, been the victim of having the words and thoughts of others — people he quoted by name — attributed instead to him. Of course a reporter quoting others is not the one to whom that other person’s thoughts should be attributed. As a committed, traditionalist Catholic, Duggan is particularly upset that beliefs counter to his Catholic orthodoxy have been attributed to him.

When Duggan could find no satisfaction for his demands for correction, he asked me where he could get a rebuttal published. Not knowing who else would take up the cause of an unrelated third party, I offered him space here to make his case. If those he mentions here want equal space to counter-rebut, with specific proof for their case, I hereby offer it to them. I thus open this as a neutral forum, with my only endorsement of Duggan’s specifics being my experience for years of Duggan always getting his facts right in dealing with me. I do believe that an apparently wronged man deserves a chance to make an honorable self-defense. Without further ado, then….

The made-up tales of historian Hitchcock

By Dexter Duggan

When we hear of the coverup being worse than the offense, we may think of Watergate in the 1970s. Well, today a coverup to shield a well-known historian’s outright falsehoods reveals dismaying institutional corruption in our ethically disreputable age.

Neither the international academic publisher Taylor & Francis,  the “global Catholic television network” EWTN, two Catholic educational bodies In St. Louis, Mo., nor media outlets in a position to act would do anything public to investigate or correct the inexplicable falsehoods that historian James Hitchcock, Ph.D., conjured in his book Abortion, Religious Freedom, and Catholic Politics. Taylor & Francis sold this book for around $100 a hardcover copy to universities (were taxpayers bitten?), as well as at a lower paperback price.

Hitchcock’s phony tales defaming me didn’t hinge on matters of opinion up for debate, but falsifying plain facts. Supposedly simply citing my published articles in The Wanderer, the U.S.’s oldest weekly national Catholic newspaper, founded in 1867, Hitchcock published a book dripping deception. When challenged, he fell silent.

A veteran instructor at two Catholic institutions, Hitchcock shockingly charged me with what amounted to mortal sin in Catholicism. When we both were contributing editors at the National Catholic Register decades ago, he favorably had cited some of my writing, but his book presents me as holding quite an opposite viewpoint at that time and years later. Yet Hitchcock never contacted me before publication in late 2016 to try to reconcile this, or even to inform me that he was going to press. Almost everything he wrote about me on 20 pages listed in the index is false or seriously misleading.

Amid a blizzard of errors on p. 69 alone, Hitchcock claimed that I was among “Paleoconservatives” wanting “to persuade pro-lifers to transcend their narrow outlook and support a wider agenda.” Although Sen. Barry Goldwater “showed himself to be fanatically pro-abortion,” I allegedly “considered the pro-abortion Goldwater worthy of unqualified support.” Which would be a mortal sin for a practicing Catholic like me.

For two years Hitchcock hasn’t acknowledged strong criticisms I’ve written against his errors nor has he attempted to defend them – or even replied to my letters directly to him. His publisher has continued to brush off my criticisms while offering no explanation of his errors.

One Hitchcock tactic was to treat what I reported as the expression of my own words, no matter whom I quoted or what the topic. Surely a historian used to drawing from numerous sources knows better than to err this way, but Hitchcock seemed to have almost entirely forgotten the professional method.

Hitchcock attributed directly to me, as if these were my own words, statements by plainly identified Arizona conservative activist Rob Haney (twice), former California Cong. Robert Dornan, Virginia political strategists Gray Delany and Zach Werrell, New Zealand conservative activist Trevor Loudon, California black activist Ted Hayes, and, in a very garbled way, Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

I wrote some articles that the historian claimed didn’t exist, and he misrepresented plainly reported material to conform to his assertions. With his strong bias, Hitchcock said that the pro-life issue wasn’t crucial to The Wanderer and said that the paper did all it could to discredit the Republican Party — but he omitted the GOP when I mentioned it in a positive way. It’s not possible to catalogue his barrage of hokum within a single opinion article, so a few samples must suffice.

Consider this typical egregious example. In December 2015 I reported on a talk that Californian Hayes gave on the importance to blacks of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Hayes made a passing reference favorable to Manhattanite Donald Trump, so down in the 27th paragraph of my article I wrote: “U.S. blacks ‘are moving toward Donald Trump’ because they recognize ‘he’s speaking more to our interests’ on the 14th Amendment, Hayes said.”

However, Hayes and his talk entirely disappeared under Hitchcock’s hand. The historian wrote on p. 172: “Blacks too, Duggan said (Dec. 17 [2015]), were opposed to immigration and would flock to Trump’s banner.” Hitchcock got the speaker wrong, the verb wrong (moving, not flocking), and misrepresented Hayes’ reference to illegal immigration as being only about “immigration.”

On p. 154 Hitchcock wrote: “Duggan reported (Jan. 27 [2010]) that Tea Partiers and other true conservatives in Arizona were ecstatic over newly elected Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts.” Hitchcock immediately added, in parentheses: “(Brown was pro-abortion.)” “True conservatives” is a term designating those who look down their noses at pro-lifers.

In fact, my Jan. 28, 2010, front-page article in The Wanderer was about the annual meeting of the Arizona Republican Party’s Maricopa County precinct committeemen on Jan. 16. Certainly some Tea Party Republicans were present, which I reported while I made plain this was an official GOP gathering, not some conservative offshoot’s.

I quoted explicit criticism by two activists present against Massachusetts Democrat pro-abortion extremist Martha Coakley. She was running in the Bay State’s special election three days later, on Jan. 19, to fill the late Sen. Edward Kennedy’s U.S. Senate seat. But Hitchcock ignored negative comments about pro-abortion Coakley while he claimed that Republican Brown was “newly elected” three days before election day.

I didn’t even mention Brown until the last two paragraphs of this 44-paragraph story. At this point I characterized his Jan. 19 victory not as a triumph for abortion from liberal Massachusetts voters, but as a repudiation of “nationalized socialist Obamacare.”

My coverage that allegedly focused on pro-abortion Arizonans cheering for a supposedly already-victorious East Coast politician was, simply, fictionalized by Hitchcock.

Hitchcock would reach deep into Wanderer articles to pluck a remark. By reading so far, he surely learned the content and context, but still he misrepresented it. In the 46th paragraph of a 48-paragraph article I wrote about Congress’ December 2015 Omnibus spending bill, I quoted Arizona activist Haney saying: “It has reached the point where the Republican base believes that they have nothing to lose, and will even vote for a Democrat in order to get rid of a heretic Republican.” But Hitchcock wrote on p. 172: “Duggan (Jan. 7 [2016]) thought conservative Republicans were so outraged at party leaders that they might even vote Democratic.” Haney simply disappeared.

When I quoted Haney in the 30th paragraph of a separate article as he strongly criticized Sen. John McCain, Hitchcock omitted Haney and said these were my own words. Immediately before Haney, I had quoted a conservative activist, Arizonan Constantin Querard, defending McCain’s motivations. Hitchcock didn’t like that I used a balanced approach, so Querard disappeared.

When a historian blames a journalist for the words of somebody else whom the journalist is quoting, that historian has abandoned his profession and become a fabulist instead.


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