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Saturday, March 19, 2011
Newsmax Baselessly Takes Credit for NY Times Bestseller List Change
Topic: Newsmax

A March 17 Newsmax article by Chris Gonslaves details Dick Morris' allegation that "The New York Times is politicizing its powerful best-sellers rankings to keep conservative authors who contribute to Fox News off of the most influential part of the list." It's a powerful allegation, but it lacks substance.

Morris' specific complaint is that new books by himself, Mike Huckabee, and Frank Luntz -- "all Fox News contributors," he points out -- appear on the Times' how-to book list instead of the main nonfiction list. Not only does he offer no evidence of liberal books appearing on the nonfiction list instead of the how-to list, he ignores the fact that the subtitle of his new book is "How to Defeat Obama and Repeal His Socialist Programs," which sure sounds like a how-to title. He also fails to offer sales figures that would prove his point.

It's also undermined by the fact that, as Gonslaves points out, 'The Times doesn't seem to have a problem with conservative authors in general," as evidenced by the presence of books by George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and Scott Brown on the nonfiction list. Of course, those, unlike Morris' book, are narratives, not how-to books.

When Huckabee's book popped up on the nonfiction list the next day, Newsmax immediately took credit for it, with Gonslaves touting the change in a March 18 article and how it came "one day after Newsmax detailed complaints that the paper was politicizing its best-sellers rankings to the detriment of Fox News contributors." Needless to say, Gonslaves offered no evidence of any link, merely embracing the correlation-equals-causation fallacy.

In a separate article, Gonslaves trotted out Morris' reaction to the change, in which he insisted that "the New York Times is playing favorites, which is almost worse than consigning all of the conservative books to the How To list in the first place." Again, Morris offers no actual evidence to prove his point.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:31 AM EDT

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