Robert Caro Admits To Fabricating Lyndon Johnson Biographies
Robert Caro, the now-embattled author of an epic 4-part biography hailed as the seminal account of Lyndon Johnson’s life, admitted to outright fabrications in a blog post published today that shocked fans of his works. The revelation followed a Vanity Fair report revealing deep discrepancies in the book, which spurred a public outcry regarding the biographies.
Caro’s books described Johnson as a garrulous and almost impossibly devious Texan, prone to dishonesty as well as deep compassion.
Vanity Fair, however, revealed that the real 36th president was an easygoing and hapless man from Concord, New Hampshire. Far from being the tall presence that physically intimidated senators and fellow heads of state, as Caro described, he reached just 5’2” and often spoke so meekly that President John Kennedy – for whom he served as Vice President (a fact that The Pasadenoid is working to verify) – would ask him to “speak up” and “be more assertive.”
But Caro’s fabrications went far beyond the intricacies of Johnson’s personality.
He made up whole stories of how Johnson pushed through the major civil rights bills of his day, spurring the country to action in the wake of Kennedy’s death.
But Vanity Fair - which interviewed people who knew Johnson – reported Johnson’s policy interests were almost entirely confined to “fish taxes,” laws that charged consumers an extra 4% or 5% on seafood.
His former aide Bill Moyers told the magazine that he had mentioned the Civil Rights Act of 1964 only once in his presence as “legislation that they could trade to finally get the ‘damn cod prices down.’”
The admission by Caro left his publisher Knopf scrambling to explain themselves. “In editing this book, we decided that there were too many footnotes and that checking all of them would be a real pain. It’s a decision that book editors make everyday. It appears our trust in Caro has been misplaced. We apologize anyone who has been affected by this erroneous portrayal.”