Publisher Rejects Fellow Soldiers' Book on Bowe Bergdahl, Because 'the Right' Might Use It 'Against Obama'

Remember all those books that the publishing houses rejected during the eight years before Dear Leader took office because they might get used by "the Left" to hurt George W. Bush? No you don't, because it didn't happen.

But now, things are different. Fellow soldiers of released 5-year Taliban captive Bowe Bergdahl are trying to publish a book on their side of the "he was a deserter" controversy. A divison of publishing giant Simon & Schuster has rejected their submission. That isn't necessarily unusual, but the contents of a rejection letter from one of the publisher's representatives certainly is.


At Yahoo News (HT Hot Air), Michael Isikoff, formerly of NBC, Newsweek and the Washington Post, revealed some of what Sarah Durand, a senior editor at the S&S division Atria Books, wrote in an email to one of the soldiers' agents (bolds are mine):

Inside the Bowe Bergdahl book proposal: Soldier's platoon mates speak out

BoweBergdahlWide

While the U.S. Army weighs whether to bring charges against Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was freed earlier this year after spending nearly five years as a Taliban captive in Afghanistan, six of his former platoon mates are shopping proposals for a book and movie that would render their own harsh verdicts.

A draft of their book proposal, a copy of which was obtained by Yahoo News, depicts Bergdahl as a "premeditated" deserter who "put all of our lives in danger" — and possibly aided the Taliban — when he disappeared from his observation post in eastern Afghanistan in the early morning hours of June 30, 2009.

But the political furor over Bergdahl's release from Taliban captivity — the result of a U.S.-Taliban deal to swap five Guantanamo terrorism suspects in exchange for Bergdahl's freedom — is complicating the book's prospects. Agents for the soldiers say that some publishers have balked, in at least one case out of fear that the project would bolster conservative criticism of the Obama administration.

"I'm not sure we can publish this book without the Right using it to their ends," Sarah Durand, a senior editor at Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, wrote in an email to one of the soldiers' agents.

"[T]he Conservatives are all over Bergdahl and using it against Obama," Durand wrote, "and my concern is that this book will have to become a kind of 'Swift Boat Veterans for Truth'" — a reference to the group behind a controversial book that raised questions about John Kerry's Vietnam War record in the midst of his 2004 presidential campaign. (Durand did not respond to requests for comment. "We do not comment about our editorial process," said Paul Olsewski, vice president and director of publicity at Atria.)

When did a big publishing house decide to become a gatekeeper guarding against the wide release of a book critical of a sitting U.S. President? Based on Ms. Durand's rejection letter, it looks like the answer is "January 20, 2009." Now an important part of the mission at Atria Books is making sure it doesn't publish anything which could be used "against Obama."

Ms. Durand is so paranoid about Obama's opposition that she capitalized "Conservatives" and "the Right." Does she check under her bed every night to make sure "Conservatives" aren't hiding there?

As to her analogy to "Swfit Boat Veterans for Truth" — ma'am, the SwiftVets told the truth, and that's why the left, apparently including you, despises them so much to this very day. If the soldiers' account of the Bergdahl situation is as accurate as that of the SwiftVets, it will make public important and necessary facts.

Here's more from Isikoff's story, providing some perspective from the soldiers:

... "There was no way we were going to sit down and be quiet while Obama was calling him a war hero," said Evan Buetow, Bergdahl's former team leader, in an interview with Yahoo News. "We're just trying to tell the truth. It's not my fault this would make Obama look bad."

"We didn't politicize this," added Cody Full, Bergdahl's former roommate. "They brought his parents out at a White House Rose Garden ceremony and presented him as a hero. … Why wouldn't you just have a quiet press release? Why do you have to have a big parade? You don't do that for the parents who have kids who have died in Afghanistan."

... In setting up the interviews and preparing the book proposal, the soldiers have been advised by consulting firm Capitol Media Partners. A principal there, Richard Grenell, is a former Bush administration official at the United Nations who worked briefly as a national security spokesman for 2012 GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The connection has prompted critics to charge from the outset that the soldiers' critical depiction of Bergdahl has been tainted by politics.

But Grenell said that his partner, Brad Chase, who happens to be a Democrat, has been handling the soldiers' account.

The soldiers are right. In an incredibly tone-deaf calculation — likely because the White House doesn't have enough common-sense people who understand the military on board — President Obama chose to politicize Bergdahl's release from captivity because he thought it would generate a flood of goodwill.

The charge that the soldiers' work is "tainted" by conservative involvement, apparently not even true, is the last refuge of people who want the rest of the world to discount the truth.

If Ms. Durand's attitude is any indication, those who have accused established publishing houses of being dominated by left-wing political ideology and a fevered desire to protect leftist politicians and officials don't need to worry about making such accusations any more. That's because they're no longer accusations. They're clearly true.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.