Erik Jendresen, writer and executive producer of the upcoming Nat Geo film "Killing Lincoln," says presidential assassin John Wilkes Booth could have been a modern-day "poster child for the Tea Party."
Jendresen spoke about the film, which stars Billy Campbell (left) as Lincoln, at the Television Critics Association winter press tour. The film is based on the book co-written by "O'Reilly Factor" host Bill O'Reilly, a noted supporter of many Tea Party ideals.
Jendresen stressed that Booth wasn't a madman, but held views that were fairly common at the time of the assassination.
"This is not the act of somebody who can be easily dismissed as a psychopath so that it's easy to understand: 'Oh, well, he was crazy.' No. It's more disturbing to find out who Booth was," Jendresen said. "This is a man who believed what still probably 20 percent of this country still believes. He could be a poster child for the Tea Party."
Asked if he thought Bill O'Reilly would agree with that assessment, he passed.
"I can't speak for Mr. O'Reilly," he told TheWrap. "I think that if you look at the sort of politics of the time, and a lot of the epithets that were being hurled at Lincoln, there was a feeling in the nation that's not dissimilar from what we've experienced in the past four years in response to Barack Obama – the sense of an imperial presidency or soundbytes about somebody who's going to proclaim himself king and take over."
"It's stunning to me to read some of the newspaper articles and some of the interviews of the time, some of the contents of the letters and memoirs from the time and some of the things that were thought about Lincoln in the South are so similar to … the dialogue today," he added.
Nat Geo was previously criticized by conservatives who felt that its film "Seal Team Six," about the killing of Osama bin Laden, amounted to a campaign ad for President Obama.
Contacted through Fox News, O'Reilly did not immediately respond to a request for comment.