According to the AP article, "Rosenblat's believers included not only his agent and his publisher, but also TV talk show host Oprah Winfrey, film producers, journalists, family members and strangers who ignored, or did not know about, the warnings from scholars that his story did not make sense."
Related news were also listed in today's Publishers Lunch, which talked about the repercussions of this fabricated tale in a children title. This 12/29/08 edition of Publishers Lunch tells us that, "Lerner Publishing Group, also duped into publishing Herman Rosenblat's fake Holocaust love story in the children's book ANGEL GIRL (released this September), is recalling the book. The company is "issuing refunds on all returned books" and "no longer offering the book for sale."
This is a financial hit to the publisher...at a time when publishers are having to watch the bottom line more than ever. And, by default, it's also a hit to authors everywhere wanting to get their manuscripts to press. Publishers Lunch quotes the author of the recalled Lerner Publication title as saying, "throughout the development of this book, the Rosenblats reviewed my manuscript and assured me of the authenticity of the details of their story. Unfortunately, I, like many others, am disappointed and upset to now learn of Herman's fabrications."
Regardless of who's to blame for yet another publishing misstep, with the Rosenblats being the primary culprits on this one, the result is the same and it's not a good one. The AP article is right when it states that, "Publishing, the most trusting of industries, has again been burned by a memoir that fact-checking might have prevented."
Whose responsibility is it to vet information sources prior to acquiring or publishing a manuscript? I always thought it was the author's responsibility. The literary agent and publisher can and probably should require backup research from the author. But must they now add the role of detective to their already overloaded job descriptions? What could the various gatekeepers within the publishing world have done to guarantee that what they were hearing from the Rosenblats was true information? Write back and let me know what you think.