NY Times ‘Triggered’ by Trump Jr.’s Book: How Did We Let It Become a Best-Seller?

November 22nd, 2019 2:33 PM

The New York Times is officially “triggered” by Donald Trump Jr.’s book of the same title somehow hitting #1 on the paper’s own best-seller list. Reporters Alexandra Alter and Nicholas Confessore posted Thursday: “R.N.C. Spent Nearly $100,000 on Copies of Donald Trump Jr.’s Book -- ‘Triggered,’ published Nov. 5, topped the best-seller list thanks in part to a big order from the Republican National Committee.”

It’s ironic that after years of controversy, the Times finally recognized problems with its best-seller lists-- but only when a book by Donald Trump Jr. claims the top spot. Suddenly manipulating the sacred lists is offensive. Alter and Confessore skip over the black-box nature of how the paper itself rigs its best-seller lists, which conservatives suspect with good reason to be stacked against conservative books and in favor of liberal ones:

When Donald Trump Jr.’s new book “Triggered” appeared at the top of the New York Times best-seller list this month, a debate erupted over how and why it had claimed the No. 1 spot.

The next sentence may explain the paper’s sudden aggrievement:

The book, a broad attack on his critics, Democrats and the news media, was published on Nov. 5. The following week, it topped the list. But some skeptics noted that Mr. Trump had gotten a boost from his father’s Twitter feed and from the Republican National Committee, which emailed supporters the day the book came out, asking them to purchase signed copies and touting it as the book the “left doesn’t want you to read.”

Others noted a tiny dagger symbol that appeared next to the title on the list, indicating that bulk purchases of the book had boosted its ranking. (Of the 10 nonfiction hardcover titles currently on The Times’s best-seller list, “Triggered” is the only one featuring that symbol.)....

“We haven’t made a large bulk purchase, but are ordering copies to keep up with demand,” Mike Reed, an R.N.C. spokesman, said two days after the fund-raising email promoting “Triggered” was sent. “Each book is sold to an individual who supports the Republican Party.”

But a financial disclosure form filed to the Federal Election Commission showed that the R.N.C. paid $94,800 to the bookseller chain Books-A-Million on Oct. 29, a week before the book went on sale. Disclosures filed by the R.N.C. indicate that the payment was for “donor mementos.”

The reporters throw a single line in about the paper's own suspicious "secet sauce" style of book ranking:

It is difficult to know for sure how many copies of Mr. Trump’s book were sold through bulk orders, whether to the R.N.C. or other groups. The Times does not disclose the methodology behind its best-seller lists, and the dagger symbol only indicates that at least some bookstores reported bulk sales.

Alter and Confessore tried hard to make the RNC’s standard gamesmanship sound beyond the pale:

While it’s not uncommon for books to be sold for fund-raising purposes by Republican and Democratic committees, the R.N.C.’s “Triggered” purchase is unusual in that the committee is promoting a book written by a candidate’s son who isn’t a politician and isn’t running for office.

There was another leftist wrinkle to the attack on Trump Jr.:

According to a report last month by The Independent Florida Alligator, a student newspaper of the University of Florida, a fund-raising consultant working for the R.N.C. and President Trump’s re-election campaign also helped arrange a paid speaking engagement on campus in early October for Donald Trump Jr. (The consultant told The Alligator that she had been helping the president’s son in a “personal capacity.”)

The Times is doing all it can to make trouble for Trump Jr., including running an op-ed by Zachariah Chou, a senator in the student government at the University of Florida. Chou ran a failed campaign for student body president against Michael Murphy earlier this year and is now trying to have him impeached. Sound familiar? Chou’s gripe? That Murphy was “using student fees to advance his own expressed political beliefs” when he invited Trump Jr. to campus. (Using student fees to advance liberal political beliefs has of course never happened in the history of higher education.)

NewsBusters has compiled a long list of conservative complaints over the years against the Times’ suspiciously opaque best-seller list, raising questions about why some authors make it and some don’t.

The best-selling Justice On Trial by Mollie Hemingway and Carrie Severino, about the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation, shot to #1 on Amazon, but Sean Davis at The Federalist claimed the Times ignored actual nationwide sales data to depress the rankings not just for that book, but radio host Mark Levin’s latest book on the corruption of modern journalism, while hyping low-selling books by liberals like MSNBC journalist Joy Reid and Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett.

The Times has long been suspected of playing games with conservative authors to keep them off its Best Sellers lists, from Ted Cruz to Dinesh D’Souza to David Limbaugh to journalist Kimberly Strassel and her book about...the suppression of free speech!