The war between Fox News and the New York Times hits the bestseller list
Fox News loves to play the part of the victim. It's so touchy about how it is portrayed in the mainstream media that it can even turn what most people would see as a victory into a grievous slight. Now that even goes for what happens on the bestseller lists. The other day, New York Times political blogger Dalia Sussman reported that a trio of Fox News regulars--Mike Huckabee, Dick Morris and Frank Luntz--had something in common besides their desire to see Barack Obama end up as a one-term president: They'd all made the same New York Times bestseller list to be published March 20.
Huckabee's new tome, "A Simple Government," hit the No. 2 spot on the Hardcover Advice, How-To and Miscellaneous bestseller list, with Morris and co-author Eileen McGann landing at No. 3 with "Revolt!: How to Defeat Obama and Repeal His Socialist Programs" and Luntz, the ubiquitous Republican pollster, appearing in the No. 6 position with "Win: The Key Principles to Take Our Business From Ordinary to Extraordinary."
Sussman couldn't resist having a little fun with the news, drily noting that the election year-oriented books were joined on the March 20 list with such lightweight (so to speak) fare as "Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook," "The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss" and "Straight Talk, No Chaser: How to Find, Keep and Understand a Man" by the comedian Steve Harvey.
Apparently that's a sore point with Fox News. On "The O'Reilly Factor" Wednesday night, Bill O'Reilly warned darkly that there's "a war going on" between Fox News and the New York Times, claiming that the newspaper actually "changed their bestseller list" because Huckabee, Morris and Luntz had successful books. O'Reilly gave the floor to Morris, who said that having the books relegated to the less prestigious Advice and How-To... list of top-selling cookbooks and marital aids books would hurt sales, since bookstores feature nonfiction more prominently than how-to books.
The Times told Morris' publisher that there was no political agenda to the move--it was simply a revamping of the paper's bestseller lists. I tend to agree, since the book atop the latest Advice and How-To list is Peter Guber's "Tell to Win," which could easily make the cut on either the nonfiction or how-to list, since it falls somewhere in the gray area between showbiz memoir and self-help manual. It would also be hard to claim bias against conservatives when the Times' Nonfiction bestseller chart has memoirs by George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and Republican Sen. Scott Brown all comfortably perched in its Top 10 this week.
Greater literary minds than I will have to sort this all out. But after Morris finished griping to O'Reilly about the slight, we were treated to this marvelous snippet of dialog:
O'Reilly: "But your book isn't a how-to..."
Morris: "Of course not."
O'Reilly: "It's a political book."
At which point Morris, who hates to ever take issue with O'Reilly about anything, finally felt obligated to reveal that the subtitle of the book was, ahem, "How to Defeat Obama and Repeal His Socialist Programs." Oh, said O'Reilly, ever so momentarily chagrined, "so it is a how-to book." And with that, everyone laughed and went back to complaining about the New York Times again. At Fox News, misery loves company.
Photo: Bill O'Reilly, host of Fox News' top-rated "The O'Reilly Factor." Credit: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times