Two new big non-fiction books rapped for inaccuracies, but only one lawsuit

The British biography:

Carol Hughes says unauthorised biography by Jonathan Bate, shortlisted for Samuel Johnson prize, is riddled with factual errors.

Source: Ted Hughes’ widow criticises ‘offensive’ biography | Books | The Guardian

The American (sort of) biography:

Jeanine Pirro has been accused of printing falsehoods in her coming book on Mr. Durst, the peculiar scion of a New York real estate family.

Source: Suit Claims Ex-Prosecutor Disregarded ‘Truth and Accuracy’ in Book on Robert Durst – The New York Times

You’ll notice that the British biography of poet Ted Hughes, no matter how “offensive” to Hughes’s widow, is not tagged with a lawsuit.


The estate has demanded an apology for what it called “significant errors of fact, as well as damaging and offensive claims”. It is also seeking retractions and an undertaking that the alleged mistakes will be amended.

Not so with Jeanine Pirro’s book on Robert Durst:

A lawsuit filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan on Thursday against Ms. Pirro by her original collaborator, Lisa DePaulo, claims that Ms. Pirro had “little regard for truth and accuracy” as she directed the writer to “describe events and circumstances that never occurred and to aggrandize” Ms. Pirro’s “role in the story at the expense of the truth.”

Ms. DePaulo claims in the suit that she expressed her concern to Ms. Pirro that inaccurate information could taint Mr. Durst’s pending murder trial in Los Angeles, and that Ms. Pirro’s response was curt: It was her book, not Ms. DePaulo’s.

Oh, so it’s not the Dursts who are suing Pirro! Not yet, anyway:

Ms. DePaulo is not the first person to challenge Ms. Pirro’s account. In July, a lawyer for Douglas Durst, Robert’s younger brother, wrote to the former district attorney and her publisher warning that he would sue them if Ms. Pirro persisted in making factual errors or defamatory remarks about the Dursts.

So back to Lisa DePaulo’s lawsuit, and we learn:

Ms. Pirro’s agent, David Vigliano, scoffed at the lawsuit. “Lisa DePaulo is a disgruntled former employee,” he said on Thursday. “She was fired for nonperformance. She’s doing this for the money and it’s sad.” The publisher also disputes Ms. DePaulo’s account.

I’m really bored with that “disgruntled former employee” cliché. It does nothing to rebut the allegations. Let me point out, probably not for the first time, if an employer’s treatment of an employee gets to a lawsuit, you can bet the employee is “disgruntled.” I mean, folks, that’s why he or she is suing.


The lawsuit claims that Ms. Pirro subsequently breached a contract to pay Ms. DePaulo an additional $28,750 for her work and for the use of exclusive interviews and materials that predated their collaboration.

I’m sniffing an undisclosed settlement with a confidentiality clause coming up.

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