Sean Hannity, Michael Savage and Dick Morris, conservatives all, have produced some of this year's most popular books. Big publishing houses are practically falling over themselves to bring new conservative titles to market. President Bush is moving up in the polls, and the Republicans have at least an even chance of holding on to control of the House and the Senate come November.
So why are conservative authors feeling so beleaguered?
At a forum in Manhattan this week sponsored by American Compass, a direct-mail book club specializing in conservative viewpoints, authors and commentators deplored the lack of attention being paid to their point of view. Alleging a sort of liberal conspiracy to keep conservative authors from getting their books to the reading public, conservative authors said they had been forced to turn to scrappy, little-known alternative publishers.
"I find it disturbing personally as well as professionally that there is a need for a conservative alternative," said Cal Thomas, the syndicated columnist and talk-show host.
And yet, when something like Air America comes along, they scoff because the marketplace has proven that there's no market for a liberal point-of-view on the airwaves, otherwise there would be a million liberal imitators of Rush Limbaugh saturating the dial. But when the free market is applied to them...
The notion that conservative authors cannot gain access to publishers, bookstores or the best-seller lists seems to crumble under close scrutiny, however. Although the best-seller lists have been dominated this year by more left-leaning books, like "Against All Enemies," by Richard A. Clarke, the former counterterrorism chief for Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, a look further back reveals a different picture.
Since the beginning of the Bush administration, 18 of the 30 best-selling political hardcover books - among them "The O'Reilly Factor" by Bill O'Reilly, "Treason" by Ann Coulter and "Let Freedom Ring" by Mr. Hannity - have promoted conservative themes.
Ten of those 18 books were brought to market by divisions of big publishing houses, including Broadway Books and Crown, imprints of Random House; Warner Books, part of Time Warner; and ReganBooks, a division of HarperCollins, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation and which has published, among other conservative authors, Mr. Thomas.
"It's a little bit facile of our author friends to suggest that they've been ignored or dissuaded,'' Stuart Applebaum, a spokesman for Random House, said in an interview. Among Random House's authors is Ms. Coulter, whose forthcoming book is "How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must).'' "I don't think there's any great conspiracy'' against conservatives, he said.
Going further back only adds to a picture of strength among conservative authors. On Election Day 1996, the top-selling political book was "Slouching Toward Gomorrah" by Robert H. Bork (ReganBooks).
So there's not a conspiracy? Maybe they're just bad writers? Nah...
"There has been a bias," said L. Brent Bozell III, a commentator and syndicated columnist, whose new book, "Weapons of Mass Distortion: The Coming Meltdown of the Liberal Media," was published in July by Crown Forum, a new imprint of Random House geared toward conservative readers. [Doesn't the fact that he's being published by one of the "big boy" houses disprove his theory? Why do I hear an echo of Bill O'Reilly yelling "Shut up!" somewhere in the back of my head? -ed.]
"For years and years and years it was really just one publisher of conservative books, Regnery," he said of the publishing house, which began in 1947. "Others had gotten into it on a smaller scale, but the big boys didn't find it, for whatever reason, acceptable or didn't find it noteworthy or just didn't see the commercial value in conservative books."
Oh. I get it. That's what this is all about.
Translation: Regnery pays shit. We want more money.
When a conservative tells you about an inherent "bias," in something, he wants more money. It doesn't matter whether he deserves it or not. If he did, he'd probably get it.
I love it, though. People say that there should be an increase in the minimum wage and they're called socialists, communists, anti-capitalists, and destroyers of the American way of life. Overpaid hack writers want more money than their publisher wants to pay and suddenly they're seeing conspiracies everywhere.
When the facts are stacked against you, make up shit.