"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
-Oscar Wilde
Brilliant at Breakfast title banner "The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
"...you have a choice: be a fighting liberal or sit quietly. I know what I am, what are you?" -- Steve Gilliard, 1964 - 2007

"For straight up monster-stomping goodness, nothing makes smoke shoot out my ears like Brilliant@Breakfast" -- Tata

"...the best bleacher bum since Pete Axthelm" -- Randy K.

"I came here to chew bubblegum and kick ass. And I'm all out of bubblegum." -- "Rowdy" Roddy Piper (1954-2015), They Live
Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Swiftboating Goes Mainstream
Posted by Jill | 6:32 AM
Mainstream as in the front page of the New York Times and the ad sections of some progressive blogs, that is.

Swiftboater nutjob Jerome Corsi has a new book out about Barack Obama that ought to feed nicely into the fears of those "hard working Americans....white Americans" that Hillary Clinton talked about during her campaign. The book attempts to paint him as a stealth Islamofascist.

Now, books like this are nothing new. Regnery Press has been printing them for years. Apparently Regnery saves a ton of money on factcheckers, because the swill that this particular publishing house dishes out always seems to have missed that part of the editing process. But now the smear book has hit the big time, with this one being published by an imprint of Simon & Schuster whose chief editor is Mary Matalin. And just as in 2004, when a similar book about John Kerry, DID sway enough people to make a difference, this book is likely to do the same.

Simon & Schuster is no stranger to wingnuttia. I've written before about my days in the 1980's, working there as an editorial assistant for Erwin Glikes, one of the most respected editors of wingnuts. He went on to manage The Free Press at Macmillan, which published David Brock's book about Anita Hill, and then after Glikes' death, like Brock himself, that imprint switched sides.

I never understood how such a nice man could publish people like Norman Podhoretz, Allan Bloom, Dinesh D'Souza, and other titans of the neocon World o'Lunacy. I also never understood why someone who fancied himself so staunch a conservative managed to surround himself with young liberals, which the three of us who reported to him were. But I have no doubt that if Erwin were alive today, he would have had no qualms about publishing Obama Nation.

So the smear-the-liberals genre has transcended Regnery Press and its shady methodology of buying bestseller status through its network of its own book clubs and through wingnut talk show host web sites, and into the world of mainstream publishing and the front page of the New York Times -- which even admits that much of the book is horsepuckey:

Significant parts of the book, whose subtitle is “Leftist Politics and the Cult of Personality,” have already been challenged as misleading or false in the days since its debut on Aug. 1. Nonetheless, it is to make its first appearance on The New York Times best-seller list for nonfiction hardcovers this Sunday — at No. 1.

The book is being pushed along by a large volume of bulk sales, intense voter interest in Mr. Obama and a broad marketing campaign that has already included 100 author interviews with talk radio hosts across the country, like Sean Hannity and G. Gordon Liddy, Mr. Corsi said on Tuesday.

The publisher is Threshold Editions, a division of Simon & Schuster whose chief editor is Mary Matalin, the former Republican operative turned publisher-pundit. And it is a significant, early success for Ms. Matalin’s three-year-old imprint, which is also planning to publish the memoirs of Karl Rove, President Bush’s longtime political guru. Threshold says it has undertaken an extensive printing effort for anticipated demand, with 475,000 copies of “The Obama Nation” produced so far.

“The goal is to defeat Obama,” Mr. Corsi said in a telephone interview. “I don’t want Obama to be in office.”

He said he was planning to aid several conservative groups that intend to run advertisements against Mr. Obama this fall, though he would not name them.

Mr. Corsi, who has over the years also written critically about Senator John McCain, Mr. Obama’s probable Republican opponent, said he supported the Constitution Party presidential nominee, Chuck Baldwin, and had not been in touch with McCain aides. He called his reporting on Mr. Obama, which he stands by, “investigative,” not prosecutorial.

Ms. Matalin said in an interview that the book “was not designed to be, and does not set out to be, a political book,” calling it, rather, “a piece of scholarship, and a good one at that.” She said she was unaware of efforts to link it to any anti-Obama advertising.

And I am Marie of Rumania.

Interestingly, the article does mention Cliff Schecter's book The Real McCain but snarkily notes that Schecter's book only has 35,000 copies in print and did not make the bestseller list. I guess we know which cocktail parties the editors of the Grey Lady and Jim Rutenberg, who wrote this article, attend -- and they aren't the ones at Cliff Schecter's house. Funny how a mainstream publishing house will allow a poorly-sourced book about a black Democratic candidate, but would never deign to touch a well-sourced book about a Republican. Of course, Simon & Schuster IS owned by Viacom, which is headed by Sumner Redstone. Redstone fancies himself a liberal Democrat, but he vociferously supported George W. Bush in 2004, saying:

"I look at the election from what's good for Viacom. I vote for what's good for Viacom. I vote, today, Viacom.

"I don't want to denigrate Kerry," he went on, "but from a Viacom standpoint, the election of a Republican administration is a better deal. Because the Republican administration has stood for many things we believe in, deregulation and so on. The Democrats are not bad people. . . . But from a Viacom standpoint, we believe the election of a Republican administration is better for our company."

Isn't it nice to be able to manipulate the discourse in an election simply by virtue of heading up a company that includes a major book publishing imprint, a major television network, numerous cable networks (and don't let the presence of Jon Stewart fool you; he's only there to make you think Viacom has no agenda and because he makes money for Sumner Redstone) and movie studios.

As for the presence of the ad on progressive blogs, there is an ad server that many of the alpha dog blogs feature, which places the ads right in the content of the blog, instead of on the sidebar. I know you've seen them. I visited one high-traffic blog last night and there was an ad for this book staring me right in the face. Now, I'd like to make a living from blogging as much as the next person, but I think we need to draw the line someplace. This book is getting quite enough help from the corporate media, I don't think we need to add to the money going into Jerome Corsi's pocket and that of Mary Matalin. I realize that one doesn't get to pick and choose with ad servers like this, but as someone who is of the generation that younger people always accuse of "selling out", all I have to say about this particular compromise of principle for lucre is, "Pot, meet kettle."

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share
Blogger D. said...
Political science fiction. I see.

And I assume running a disclaimer about an ad on one's site is not according to Hoyle. Although I suppose if one called the book in question "poetry" that would cut sales and still be inaccurate.

Some mornings snark is not enough.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Matalin wouldn't know scholarship if it bit her.


Blogger Steve said...
That's the last straw. I'm burning all my Carly Simon CDs, today. Belay that; I'm melting all my CS CDs today.

Blogger Pat said...
Everybody's trying to ignore what Corsi did in the four years since "Unfit". It's pretty interesting. He wrote a book about the nutty North American Union theory (that Bush was planning to merge the US with Canada and Mexico). He also endorsed the 9-11 Truthers in an interview with Alex Jones, the nutbar survivalist radio host:


Anonymous Anonymous said...
I'm trying to find some way to make sure Obama benefits from this. I'm encouraging everyone to buy The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama (link to ebooks version). If Obama sees a spike in book sales, I think that sends out a great message. Corsi should not be the only one milking $$ from this circus.

Blogger jurassicpork said...
Simon and Schuster does indeed employ some nutjobs, Jill, only my experience is at the other side of the desk.

My last literary agent submitted my sci-fi novel, which used a smallpox outbreak simply as a plot device, to Bob Mecoy at S&S.

He suggested to my agent that I expand the smallpox angle from beyond the confines of a plot device. This was back in 1996-7, when The Hot Zone was big.

In other words, he wanted me to be the ninth or tenth to do something second. And the prick didn't even offer me or my agent a contract. He just wanted me to rewrite a novel that was still in the swim with other major publishers to make it a clone of a bestseller.

I hope Mecoy still isn't working there when my next agent starts schlepping American Zen to the same publishing houses. Because I have a feeling that I'll get a ration of shit for the political statements that my liberal protagonist makes and I can see Mecoy leading the charge. I'll tell them all to go fuck themselves and forego a contract rather than compromise my principles. Hell, it's not even a political novel.

Where was I again?

Oh, yeah. Simon and Schuster hires whackjobs.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Maybe it's a good thing that Corsi's steaming pile of manure is in the liberal blogs - lest we forget.

Long after we would move on, they'll be trying to make one lie after another from Corsi's steaming pile of manure true by virtue of ad nauseum repetition.

I know it's tiring, but as long as those ads are running, we should keep our side going to. Otherwise, in two months this will have gone straight to, "Everybody knows that Obama ________".

Anonymous Anonymous said...
To call Allan Bloom a "titan" of the neocons and lump him in with such beasts as D'Souza and Podhoretz displays a grave ignorance and unfortunate misunderstanding of his work. I recommend reading the opening essay of his later book, "Giants and Dwarfs."

"Obama Nation" is a pathetic and disgusting smear campaign, but to spend time whining as you've done in this post is unproductive. In the time it took you to write this, you could have read three chapters, I'm certain.

It would be great if you could read the book and report back on the numerous inaccuracies and trite nonsense it undoubtedly contains.