The New York Times upgraded the classification of Mike Huckabee’s new book Friday, one day after Newsmax detailed complaints that the paper was politicizing its best-sellers rankings to the detriment of Fox News contributors.
Huckabee’s new best-seller “Simple Government” will move from the Times’ “Advice, How-To and Miscellaneous” list to its more popular and influential “Non-fiction” best-sellers list, Times spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades Ha tells Newsmax.
“We consider titles on a case-by-case basis, and the decision involves a multiplicity of factors, which in turn can lead to a change in our categorization,” says Ha. “As it happens, ‘Simple Government’ by Mike Huckabee will now appear on the non-fiction list.”
Ha was responding to complaints detailed by Newsmax
from political strategist Dick Morris, who accused the Times of manipulating its best-seller list to keep conservative authors connected to Fox News out of the prime categories
The Times list set to be published Sunday, up until yesterday, had Morris’ “Revolt: How to Defeat Obama and Repeal His Socialist Programs,” Huckabee’s “Simple Government,” and Dr. Frank Luntz’s business book “Win” in the “Advice, How-To and Miscellaneous” List.
“What do those authors have in common?” Morris complained. “Just one thing: Huckabee, Morris, and Luntz are all Fox News contributors.”
Morris claimed the Times’ “ghettoization of the Fox News books” to its How-To list comes directly from Executive Editor Bill Keller’s disdain for Fox News and its audience. Keller has been widely quoted saying regular viewers of Fox News are “among the most cynical people on planet.”
“The New York Times is once again showing its liberal bias in overtly politicizing the best-sellers list,” Morris says. “Now, it's not just the news that's way over left, it's the best-sellers, too.”
The politicization of the Times’ list could have a profound impact on sales, Morris adds. Once the new list is published, many booksellers won't put “Revolt!” in prime retail positions with the other nonfiction best-sellers. Instead, Morris complains, they’ could be relegated to the shelves of self-help, marital advice, and diet books.
Ha called Morris’ characterization of the Times list inaccurate. “There is no policy or campaign to shunt conservative books onto the “advice, how-to, and miscellaneous” list,” she tells Newsmax. “The decision about which of our several lists is most appropriate for a title is made jointly by our news surveys department, which closely studies sales, and book review editors.”
Established in 1942, The New York Times Best-Sellers list employs a secretive methodology involving the survey of more than 3,000 bookstores and 20,000 retail outlets in order to come up with its weekly list of hot reads. The list heavily influences both consumer purchasing and retail display of books, according to a 2005 Stanford Business School analysis. The system is far from perfect. Authors have had success in the past gaming the list by making concentrated purchases of their own books at select stores known to report to the Times.
The New York Times added the Advice, How-to and Miscellaneous category in 1985 when a glut of self-help and instructional books began crowding out the general nonfiction list.
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