Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Unmentionable: Best-Selling Conservative Books and the Networks that Ignore Them

Research reveals a glaring imbalance in network coverage of liberal best-sellers and comparable conservative titles.
By Matt Philbin and Zoe Ortiz | September 8, 2009
Culture and Media Institute

The most coveted real estate in the publishing industry is a space on The New York Times Best-Seller List. The list, compiled in a survey of thousands of book retailers, is a weekly reflection of what the American public is interested in reading. Since the 1940s, authors whose works make the list have been assured of even more books sales and a shower of publicity.

But not when those authors or their books are conservative. In such cases, the three broadcast networks greeted them with silence at worst and skepticism at best.

During the first six months of 2009, 25 books that can be described as “liberal” or “conservative” appeared on the New York Times Hardcover Nonfiction Best-Seller List. More of those books (14) were liberal, but conservative authors enjoyed a combined total of 95 weeks on the List. Liberals had 80. At this writing Michelle Malkin’s “Culture of Corruption” had been on the list for four weeks, and was currently at No.1.

But no matter how commercially successful conservative books and authors have been, they were slighted by the three broadcast networks. The most glaring evidence of bias against conservative books was the networks’ complete neglect of the single most successful book on the list, radio host Mark Levin’s “Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto.” Levin’s book spent 12 weeks at No.1, and as of this writing had yet to fall out of the top 10.

The Culture and Media Institute analyzed how ABC, CBS and NBC covered those 25 hardcover nonfiction best-sellers, and found that the networks gave liberal books and authors dramatically more (and more favorable) coverage than their conservative counterparts. Of the 11 conservative authors on the list, just four received any coverage on the networks.

On the other hand, the networks covered 11 out of 14 liberal authors. Of the three not covered, one was not an author in the conventional sense – it was President Obama, and the “book” was his January 20 inauguration speech.

When authors appeared on the networks for interviews, conservatives received markedly different treatment than liberals. From Matt Lauer calling Elizabeth Edwards’ book “stirring,” to Harry Smith telling Ann Coulter, “You have this kind of sophomoric sort of simplistic kind of view of so many things,” hosts made it clear where their ideological sympathies lay.

Liberty, Tyranny and Silence

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