On Today: NYT Editor Feebly Tries to Explain Away Success of Conservative Books

During a Norah O'Donnell report, on Friday's Today, about how well books written by the likes of Sarah Palin, George W. Bush and Glenn Beck are selling, the New York Times' Jenny Schuessler rationalized the only reason conservative books are outpacing liberal ones is because "conservatives have some really strong media personalities" like Beck and Bill O'Reilly " that have a platform that they can promote their books from."

There's just one flaw in that piece of logic, something O'Donnell failed to point out, liberals including her fellow NBC colleague Keith Olbermann, who has a nightly "platform" on MSNBC, routinely put out books that flop. At the time of publication of this article Olbermann's Pitchforks and Torches, just released in October, is currently ranked at 3,997 on Amazon.com.

O'Donnell began her piece highlighting how both Bush and Palin's books are competing with each other on the New York Times Bestseller list as she hyped: "Call it Bush versus Palin, and the winner? President Bush is number one" and then later added that it wasn't just right leaning politicians that were burning up the book charts, but that conservative radio and TV talkers were holding their own as well, which led to a soundbite from Schuessler suggesting they were moving book sales simply because they were on the airwaves.

NORAH O'DONNELL: It's not just the politicians peddling their books, it's the cable TV titans too.Glenn Beck's Broke ranks number seven, Jon Stewart's Earth hits number eight. And Bill O'Reilly's Pinheads and Patriots falls to number 14. These conservative authors tend to outsell liberal ones.

JENNY SCHUESSLER: Well I think that conservatives have some really strong media personalities that have a platform that they can promote their books from.

The following is the full O'Donnell story as it was aired on the December 3 Today show:

MATT LAUER: Now to a battle between two of the biggest names in the Republican Party, former President George W. Bush and Sarah Palin. They're duking it out, not on the campaign trail, but on the bestsellers list. NBC's Norah O'Donnell has more on this one. Norah, good morning to you.

[On screen headline: "Bush Vs. Palin, Political Heavyweights In Bestseller Battle"]

NORAH O'DONNELL: Hey good morning, Matt. You can call it the battle of the books, if you want. President George W. Bush versus Sarah Palin and in that match-up Bush gets top billing. Two book-selling behemoths. Former President George W. Bush on Facebook.

GEORGE W. BUSH: Plus, I mean the truth of the matter is I'm shamelessly marketing! I hope people read my book.

O'DONNELL: Former Governor Sarah Palin in Iowa.

OFF-SCREEN VOICE: Any chance you're closer to an announcement on running for President?

SARAH PALIN: No, not any closer.

O'DONNELL: Call it Bush versus Palin, and the winner? President Bush is number one, leading Sarah Palin to tweet, "just heard America By Heart is #2 New York Times bestseller list, behind President Bush's good book, so thanks for sharing inspiration."

JENNY SCHUESSLER, NEW YORK TIMES: President Bush is selling at a much faster pace. He's sold almost I think 400,000 copies in his first week.

O'DONNELL: Palin draws huge crowds on her book tour.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: She's just a breath of fresh air.

O'DONNELL: But America By Heart is no Going Rogue. Palin's first book was off the charts, number one for weeks, selling a whopping 2.2 million copies. But this time Palin didn't do Oprah. Other Republicans possibly eyeing the presidency, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee also have books but not blockbusters.

HOWIE KURTZ, THE DAILY BEAST: But if there is a book primary among Republican potential candidates Sarah Palin is running away with it. She is killing the competition the way she hammered that halibut on the boat to death.

MITT ROMNEY ON THE TONIGHT SHOW: But did you see what she did to the halibut the other night?

O'DONNELL: And it's not just the politicians peddling their books, it's the cable TV titans too.

GLENN BECK: The panel is back!

O'DONNELL: Glenn Beck's Broke ranks number seven, Jon Stewart's Earth hits number eight.

BILL O'REILLY: The O'Reilly Factor is on!

O'DONNELL: And Bill O'Reilly's Pinheads and Patriots falls to number 14. These conservative authors tend to outsell liberal ones.

SCHUESSLER: Well I think that conservatives have some really strong media personalities that have a platform that they can promote their books from.

O'DONNELL: But don't count out the current president in the book race. President Obama is number one on the children's book list for Of Thee I Sing, a letter to his daughters. And some interesting perspective, while it took Bush and Palin two weeks to sell a million books, it took the novelist Dan Brown just one day to sell that many. And Matt, what about Al Roker's book? I want to know where's my copy?

LAUER: Well you just helped him again right there. There, you want to say the name more? You can, you can boost him. You can push him over the top.

O'DONNELL: Go Al!

LAUER: Alright Norah, thanks very much.

—Geoffrey Dickens is the Senior News Analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.