The New York Times’ War on Ted Cruz
Not all political manifestos are worth reading; most frankly aren’t worth picking up. Candidates vying for high office peddle books penned by ghost writers to capture some cash and, more importantly, media attention. But whatever the motive behind the publishing or quality of the writing, one would hope that bestseller lists would accurately reflect when a book written by a politician is garnering some noteworthy sales.
Thursday evening, Dylan Byers of POLITICO broke the news that The New York Times is refusing to place Sen. Ted Cruz’s new book, “A Time for Truth,” on its bestseller list. The list is a coveted ranking of books cataloged by popularity of sales. Byers reported:
“The New York Times informed HarperCollins this week that it will not include Ted Cruz’s new biography on its forthcoming bestsellers list, despite the fact that the book has sold more copies in its first week than all but two of the Times’ bestselling titles, the On Media blog has learned.”
Byers reports that the publisher contacted the Times asking why the book wasn’t included, and was simply told that it didn’t meet some unspecified criteria for inclusion. “This book didn’t meet that standard this week,” a spokesman for the paper said.
Over on Twitter there was chatter that the Times didn’t include Cruz’s book because it doesn’t calculate bulk sales. Theoretically, one person – or a campaign – could buy thousands of copies of a book and inflate sales so the book appears on the Times‘ list. There is no verification of that hypothesis at this time, however.
It wouldn’t be unusual for The New York Times to include a politician’s book in its bestseller list. In fact, the paper has a long history of including books written by political figures who were on their way to a national campaign or in the midst of such a campaign when their book made the list.
In 2006, then-U.S. Sen. Barack Obama’s book “Audacity of Hope” made #1 on the Times‘ bestseller list even though it was widely known Obama was beginning to eye a national bid for office.
Also in 2010, Sarah Palin’s “America By Heart” managed to secure the #2 place on the list, and while Palin didn’t run for national office in the 2012 cycle, she was certainly a highly polarizing political commentator at the time.
In 2012, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio had his book “American Son” listed by the Times even as his name was frequently mentioned among those of other national GOP stars with a political future.
Closer to the current cycle, Dr. Ben Carson’s “One Nation” made the Times‘ list in August of last year, and in February of this year Gov. Mike Huckabee’s “God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy” commentary on politics and culture made the Times‘ list at #7.
All that said, the paper has a long history of including books closely related to national political aspirations of one sort or another, so why it is excluding Sen. Ted Cruz’s book is unclear. Even the paper itself refuses to explain what sort of metric the book isn’t meeting that would deny it a spot on the bestseller list.