Feminist Author Naomi Wolf Realizes During On-Air Interview That A Portion Of New Her Book Is Factually Wrong

It was an embarrassing moment for the writer.

Naomi Wolf (L) and Abrahm Ludwig attend the Skoll Closing Dinner at the High West Distillery during the 2011 Sundance Film Festival on January 27, 2011 in Park City, Utah.
Jamal Countess / Getty Images

It was an embarrassing moment for the writer.

An author realized during an on-air interview that a portion of her book is inaccurate because of her mistaken interpretation of a historic legal term, The Hill reports.

Naomi Wolf, a progressive writer who first came to prominence in the early 1990s as a major proponent of the third wave of the feminist movement and later went on to serve as a political adviser to both Bill Clinton and Al Gore, was speaking to BBC Radio about her newly published book Outrages when she realized something was amiss. Her book centers on gay rights and laws in the 19th century. In one portion of the book, Wolf mentions that “several dozen” men were executed because of their sexual orientation.

One of the men mentioned by Wolf is someone named Thomas Silver who was “executed for sodomy” in 1859. But while Wolf contended in her book that Silver, like many other men of his time, was being executed for being gay, BBC Radio host Matthew Sweet pointed out to her that she had based that portion of her book on a misunderstanding of the historic legal term “death recorded.” According to him, “death recorded” was a legal term introduced in 1823 to help judges, and had nothing to do with executions.

“I don’t think you’re right about this. [Death recorded] doesn’t mean that he was executed. It was a category that was created in 1823 that allowed judges to abstain from pronouncing a sentence of death on any capital convict whom they considered to be a fit subject for pardon,” Sweet informs Wolf.

“I don’t think any of the executions you’ve identified here actually happened.”

Wolf is understandably stunned by this revelation and after a pause lasting a few seconds, Wolf agrees that it is a matter which needs to be investigated. You can hear the exact exchange between them in the tweet below.

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Although it was an embarrassing moment for the writer on-air, the good thing that seems to have come out of all this is the fact that Wolf gets the opportunity to issue corrections in Outrages before the book releases next month. After her radio interview led to further research, Wolf took to Twitter to address the issue. She clarified that the book will be updated with the new findings, and also mentioned some of the corrections. However, she maintained that the overall essence of her book has not been compromised because of her inaccurate representation of a legal term.