Publishers say that responsibility for errors and fabrications ultimately must lie with the author. “It would not be humanly possible to fact-check books the way magazine articles can be fact-checked, just because of length,” said Robert A. Gottlieb, the renowned editor who worked at the publisher Alfred A. Knopf and The New Yorker magazine, which has a celebrated fact-checking department.Ouch. But a fair point! We tend to take as fact anything published, in a way we don't necessarily believe, say, Wikipedia (which is the greatest invention of our time), when binding up someone's suppositions doesn't in fact make them true, even before blind faith gets involved.
But in many recent cases publishers did not seem to ask basic questions of authors, accepting their versions on almost blind faith.
And, to be realistic, is it really worth the expense to have an expert fact check every non-fiction book that comes out, when only a fraction of those titles will be commercially successful and actually have an informed readership? From a publisher's standpoint, I really doubt it, as it would eat into some probably already pretty slim profit margins. And, as was the case of Jayson Blair, for many titles that rely on interviews, most of what you have to fact check with are the notes of the writer, which, if fabricated, are completely useless (without re-doing an interview).
Life's hard, reader types.