The New York Times is generally loathe to dignify conservative-leaning books with an official review.
That stance is getting dicier these days, especially since the newspaper’s own nonfiction bestseller chart is chockablock with conservatives luminaries like Michelle Malkin, Dick Morris and Mark Levin.
President Barack Obama has only been in office for roughly eight months, but he’s already inspired multiple conservative bestsellers.
Marji Ross, president and publisher of Regnery Publishing, isn’t surprised by the newspaper’s stance against these like-minded books.
“Very rarely do they review conservative books,” Ross says. “What they sometimes do is mention a book that is conservative on their “Inside the List” feature. It’s a way to defend themselves against the accusation they ignore these books.”
The New York Times did see fit to print reviews of major liberal books from Michael Moore (Dude, Where’s My Country?), Eric Alterman (What Liberal Media?) and Al Franken (Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them) but has yet to examine the aforementioned right-leaning bestsellers.
Having one’s book reviewed in The New York Times meant something up until recently.
“Traditionally, most publishers and authors are very eager to get in the New York Times to review their books,” Ross says.
Now, readers take their cues from talk radio and the Internet.
“People tend to trust what they hear on talk radio rather than what they might read in the New York Times,” she says. “They develop a relationship with a talk radio show and what the host likes and is interested in.”
“They wouldn’t have been interested in her at all if not for the huge surge of interest in the book,” she says, adding Matt Lauer on the “Today Show” barely kept himself in check while allowing Malkin to expound on her book’s arguments.
Ross doesn’t fear left-leaning interviewers tearing into Regnery authors.
“Our authors are almost always folks who can hold their own in a debate. They can defend their point of view in hostile territory,” she says.
Roger Kimball, publisher of Encounter Books and author of Tenured Radicals: How Politics Has Corrupted Our Higher Education, says his company stopped sending its books to the New York Times last year. The paper rarely analyzed its product, and the few times it did the reviewer trashed the tomes in an ugly fashion.
Yet the newspaper saw fit to call What Liberal Media? The Truth About Bias and the News by The Nation’s Eric Alterman “impressively researched and documented.”
“The Times has always been a liberal newspaper, and that’s fine,” Kimball says. “Increasingly, it’s a paper whose entire coverage has been determined by ideological litmus tests.”
Book readers seem to care less and less about what the newspaper thinks of a particular book, he says.
“You can do very well without the imprimatur of the New York Times,” he says. “The dirty little secret is that the Times doesn’t matter anymore, or it matters less and less. Many other outlets beat the Times to the stories and provide much fuller coverage.”
A chapter in Harry Stein’s new book, I Can’t Believe I’m Sitting Next to a Republican, is dedicated to the culture wars flaring within the publishing industry. Republican recalls how mainstream publishing houses turned down future smashes like Bernard Goldberg’s Bias simply because they couldn’t relate to its themes — or preferred not to even try.
Kimball says the recent surge in conservative book sales means people are starting to realize the full extent of “Hope and Change.”
“The relationship between the individual and the state is up for re-negotiation in this country,“ he says.
President Obama promised a fundamental transformation of this country, he says, which presently stands as the wealthiest, most militarily powerful and freest country on the globe.
“Which of those things would you like to change?” he asks.
“That burgeoning awareness accounts for the popularity of these books,” he adds. “The grassroots concern and irritation you see at town hall meetings across the country, the spontaneous eruptions from ordinary citizens — our very basic freedoms are being negotiated away.”
Ross agrees, saying the tidal wave of conservative best sellers reveals “a hunger in the marketplace for books reflecting what the majority of Americans are worried about,” she says, a movement that isn’t solely conservative in nature.
“They feel they have no voice in Washington, no voice in the political power structure, and they’re looking for an alternative,” she says.
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