- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 6, 2002

If there's one thing the capos of the New York publishing houses should be reading these days, it's the bottom line.

And the big news at the cash registers is this: Not a single book on the prized New York Times nonfiction best-sellers list denigrates America, past or present. Not a single book argues that we need to turn all guys into misty-eyed, politically correct wimps. Not a single book celebrates the achievements of communism, socialism, Stalinism, Leninism, Maoism, Taoism or even Clintonism. Not a single book argues that the values of the cave-dwellers are the moral equivalent of our Western values, only different. And not a single book can be described as "poignantly delicious," or by any of the other code words or fab phrases so dear to the literary high and mighty.

No, the big news is that the nonfiction best-sellers list, where "rankings reflect sales," is dominated by full-blooded conservative titles, the literary equivalent of red meat.

At the end of January, Nos. 1, 4, 7 and 9 on the Times list were featured offerings of the Conservative Book Club. The other six books of the top 10 were nonideological: biographies of John Adams and Teddy Roosevelt, the autobiography of long-time General Electric CEO Jack Welch, two September 11 photo-essay collections, and a "copiously illustrated" explanation of our universe by pop physicist Stephen Hawking.

In the age of President Bush, it seems, Norman Mailer and Susan Faludi are out, and Bill O'Reilly and Pat Buchanan are in.

Interestingly, the No. 1 book on the nonfiction list on Jan. 27 and still No. 1 on Feb. 10 was Bernard Goldberg's "Bias," which explains what most Americans already suspected: that network "news" is slanted.

That's right. Dan Rather, that good-old-boy from Texas with the solid citizen salt-and-pepper hair, sees the world differently than Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, pundit-in-chief Cal Thomas, and the head of the Heritage Foundation. And yes, his liberal views occasionally color the way CBS presents the news. But that hasn't stopped "Bias" from selling big.

The No. 9 book on Jan. 27 was also media-related, "The No Spin Zone" by Fox News Channel's resident straight-shooter, Bill O'Reilly, host of "The O'Reilly Factor."

No. 4 on the list, "The Death of the West" by Pat Buchanan, argues that promiscuous immigration in recent decades the influx of millions of Third World newcomers, many living here illegally, some (we now know) determined to harm us is part of a global phenomenon.

And No. 7 on the list (down one notch, to No. 8, on Feb. 10) was the late Barbara Olson's "The Final Days," examining the excesses of the Clinton White House, even as the president was packing his bags.

Though they will never admit it, New York publishers have always had a blind spot when it comes to conservative books. Authors and would-be authors hear the same excuse again and again: Conservative titles don't sell.

It's a self-fulfilling prophecy, because they don't sell when they don't get made. And don't get marketed. And they don't get made and don't get marketed if the people in charge (after all, none of their friends would be caught dead reading a conservative title) are convinced they won't sell.

It may be a long shot, but perhaps the sound of cash registers ringing up big sales for these four will change things. Now that would be "poignantly delicious."


Edwin Feulner is the president of the Heritage Foundation.


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