Home Store In Memoriam Deborah Newsletter Forum Topics Blogfeed Blogroll Facebook MySpace Contact Us About

O'Reilly Whines About the NYTimes Book Reviews

Reported by Melanie - August 10, 2004 -

A Newshound Editorial

During Bill O'Reilly's appearance with Paul Krugman Saturday (August 7, 2004) on Tim Russert's CNBC show, O'Reilly whined that though at least one of his books has appeared on the New York Times' best seller list, the Times has never actually reviewed any of his books. O'Reilly used that fact as more proof that the New York Times is biased.

I submit there might be another reason involved in the Times' refusal to review an O'Reilly book.

Everyone knows that book publishers send authors out on promotional tours. Authors appear, almost simultaneously it seems, on morning, noon, and evening television and radio programs. They travel the country doing book signings at book stores and they appear on local lunchtime news shows. Then, they fade away, hoping that word of mouth and whatever print advertising their publishing house does for their book will send it onto the best seller list.

In the case of books published by Fox personalities, however, they've got a decided advantage. They have their own 24-hour cable news ntework on which to advertise. They not only advertise their own books on their own programs, but their books are often promoted on Fox shows other than their own. I've seen Fox authors appear on a companion Fox show, talking about their book as a "guest" of the show. The advertising megaphone of Fox News (and News Corp., which is usually the parent company of the Fox employee's book publisher) is tremendous, so any rise of a book written by a Fox anchor onto the best seller list is somewhat artificial. It doesn't necessarily rise to the best seller list because it's a great book and friends are telling friends about it, it rises to the best seller list because Fox pushes it day after day after day. (See News Corp. Hegemony for specifics.)

Maybe part of the Times' policy is to review books that work their way onto the best seller list because of great buzz, and increased sales due to the uniqueness of the book, not because of sales numbers alone. In the case of O'Reilly and other Fox anchors, I contend their books sell in numbers enough to reach the best seller list largely because of the promotional advantage of Fox News, not necessarily because they're books worth reviewing.