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"Publishers Weakly"

Norman Podhoretz's new tome, World War IV: The Long Struggle against Islamofascism, hasn't even appeared in bookstores yet and it's already been slammed. Book buyers surely know that Amazon.com regularly offers book reviews from Publishers Weekly that accompany monographs for sale. Although Publishers Weekly doesn't advertise itself as a lefty outfit, a quick perusal of its reviews of political books demonstrates that it's determinedly anti-conservative.

Here, for example, is the Publishers Weekly précis of Mr. Podhoretz's forthcoming work:

One of the few proud neoconservatives remaining, Podhoretz offers an impassioned defense of President Bush's foreign policy, gleefully attacking those on the left and the right who harbor suspicions that Bush fils is less than infallible. Convinced that we are in the middle of the fourth world war (the Cold War was the third), he attempts to steel us for the years of conflict to come. But Podhoretz's argument falls flat because of his refusal to face difficult realities in Iraq. He insists that the media has resolutely tried to ignore any and all signs of progress and repeatedly asserts that those with whom he disagrees are committed to seeing the U.S. fail in Iraq in order to enhance their professional reputations. Even in describing how the events of September 11 drew America together, Podhoretz cannot resist partisan sniping: [E]ven on the old flag-burning Left, a few prominent personalities were painfully wrenching their unaccustomed arms into something vaguely resembling a salute. Podhoretz's take-no-prisoners writing style will delight his partisans while infuriating his ideological opponents, whom he brands as members of a domestic insurgency against the Bush Doctrine.
From the very first line of this hit-job, you can tell that the anonymous reviewer maintains distinct hostility to Mr. Podhoretz's point of view. After all, the opening claim that Mr. Podhoretz is "[o]ne of the few proud neoconservatives remaining" seems dubious. It's as if the reviewer believes that the American Enterprise Institute has just closed shop.

But perhaps, you might think, Publishers Weekly's negative review pertains to the obviously polemical character of Mr. Podhoretz's forthcoming tome. Maybe the magazine treats all partisan books in this manner.

Well, then, just take a gander at Publishers Weekly's take on Eric Alterman's screed What Liberal Media? The Truth about Bias and the News:

While the idea that a liberal bias pervades the mainstream media has been around for years, it gained new currency with the 2001 publication of Bernard Goldberg's Bias and its 2002 successor, Ann Coulter's Slander. Alterman (Sound & Fury; Who Speaks for America?; etc.) now seeks to debunk the notion and goes so far as to argue that bastions of alleged liberalism like the Washington Post and ABC News "have grown increasingly cowed by false complaints of liberal bias and hence, progressively more sympathetic to the most outlandish conservative complaints." He largely succeeds: whatever your politics, Alterman delivers well-documented, well-argued research in compulsively readable form. His chapter on business journalism, for instance, is a thrill-ride through the excesses of late 1990s optimism and the subsequent crash in stock valuations and mood. But he also counters that while the economy was peaking, major media outlets virtually ignored traditional left-wing issues like labor rights, which had been neglected, and income inequality, which was growing. In contrast, he says, the media fawned over chief executives while almost totally failing to confront corporate fraudsters. Alterman also observes that the center of American politics has shifted to the right in the last several decades, which he attributes to efforts by conservative think tanks and their financial backers. Whether readers agree with Alterman or not, his writing on the business of opinion making is eye-opening. This book will be required reading for anyone in politics or journalism, or anyone curious about their complicated nexus.

Alterman's book, we should add, is riddled with dubious arguments that only a fellow ideologue could find convincing. It also routinely engages in ad hominem cheap shots against conservative journalists and intellectuals. Ah, but Publishers Weekly thinks it's an "eye-opening" must-read.

These examples could easily be multiplied. Publishers Weekly loves Norman Finkelstein and loathes Dore Gold. It esteems Rashid Khalidi and detests Bruce Bawer.

Why must such a partisan outfit be treated as the go-to publication for short reviews? Why read Publishers Weekly when you can just pick up a copy of The Nation instead? At least The Nation is honest about its politics.

(Note: The crack young staff normally "weblog" over at "The Hatemonger's Quarterly," where they, in typical Publishers Weekly style, are lauding Michael Moore's Stupid White Men as a landmark work of Western culture.)


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Comments (16)

"His chapter on business... (Below threshold)

"His chapter on business journalism, for instance, is a thrill-ride through the excesses of late 1990s optimism and the subsequent crash in stock valuations and mood. But he also counters that while the economy was peaking, major media outlets virtually ignored traditional left-wing issues like labor rights, which had been neglected, and income inequality, which was growing. In contrast, he says, the media fawned over chief executives while almost totally failing to confront corporate fraudsters."

Gee, ya don't suppose the media was so forgiving of "corporate fraudsters" and the lack of prioritization to "labor rights" and such because of who was in office do you ? I know, I know, it's soooo obvious that it goes w/o saying. I just had to get it in there. Can't ever seem to win a caption contest so I had to self promote somehow...or maybe I'll just try posting on my blog one of these years. Hmm...

Publisher's Weekly... (Below threshold)

Publisher's Weekly and Editor & Publisher went PC lefty years ago.

Not terribly surprising, since the population of those in book and newspaper publishing has migrated left over the last half-century or so.

The good news is that nobody pays them any mind. They're the sort of publications some leave on their desks so visitors know they get them, but are never picked up until replaced by the next issue.

Just a question, has any ri... (Below threshold)
Etain P:

Just a question, has any right wing / conservative book, no matter how obscure, ever gotten a positive review from Publisher's Weakly? Has any political book that wasn't explicitly leftist gotten a positive review?

"Any organization not expli... (Below threshold)

"Any organization not explicitly right-wing over time will become left-wing." -- Robert Conquest.

What irritates me is the ac... (Below threshold)
kim:

What irritates me is the academic journalists who argue that objectivity is impossible, so they no longer even teach to strive for it.

That's the pathology.
======================

"Has any political book ... (Below threshold)
LAB:

"Has any political book that wasn't explicitly leftist gotten a positive review?"

You mean like this "non-positive" review of a book that focuses on the elite democratic corporate system that tried and failed at smearing the President's stats?:

"Democrats raised an unprecedented level of funds in their attempt to elect John Kerry to the White House, and not just through contributing to directly to Kerry's campaign. Led by George Soros and his multimillion-dollar donations, money flowed to liberal groups like MoveOn that tried to push hard on President Bush's record."

It's "Weekly", BTW. HQ was playing on words with this one review in the subject matter.

LAB,What a dork.(a... (Below threshold)

LAB,

What a dork.(and everyone in the leftist congregation said, "Yeah, but he's our dork.")

Pudge, do you even know wha... (Below threshold)
LAB:

Pudge, do you even know what side you are on? As I said before, I am a conservative/centrist. If you had bothered to pay attention to my comment, I was just answering his question.

I was responding to him only, so butt in somewhere else if you're going to be so rude. "Dork", indeed, Bozo. Learn some manners.

P.S. The book review in my... (Below threshold)
LAB:

P.S. The book review in my comment above exposes the corruption of the corporate left, but you didnt bother to read it. I'll forgive you for now...

I kinda think he meant Kerr... (Below threshold)
kim:

I kinda think he meant Kerry's the dork. Or Soros. It's easy to be misunderstood on the internets. It is possible to write such that you can always be understood, but not in this universe of probabilities.
=======================

Exactly kim, to whatever it... (Below threshold)

Exactly kim, to whatever it was that you said.

Thank you, Kim, for clarify... (Below threshold)
LAB:

Thank you, Kim, for clarifying. My apologies for the misunderstanding, Pudge.

Accepting for the sarcastic... (Below threshold)

Accepting for the sarcastic sounding reply to kim, the entirety of my last post was gobbled up by this here site somehows. No doubt, the place is crashing under the load of all those Caption Contestants checking on the final results. Anyways, the rest of it was an even snarkyer retort to LABs' comment, "It's "Weekly", BTW. HQ was playing on words with this one review in the subject matter." ,to which much frivolity and merriment was made. Don't have a photographic mem unfort, and as u can c, groing tired uv tiping enway. Suffice to say, your comment was taken as vare persumpchewus. I may be stupit compred to your massive intilect, but i gets plays on words, and i fancys as much is the tendency of my fellow yokels here at wizbangs on the internets (h/t to kim -nice touch, i jes loves that word) When help uderstandin sumpthin is wantid, It'll be asked for, until then, jes leaves me in the darkness of my, not as smart as you, mental dugeon. Made it this far w/o you, will take my chances the rest of the way. And hey, lighten up mon, we aint curin' cancer here. For the most part, no one even cares what is said here, accptin' for the ones sayin' it and respondin' thereof.

What are you talking about,... (Below threshold)
LAB:

What are you talking about, Pudge? No one said you were stupid and I didn't think Kim sounded sarcastic either. Is that what actually happened? I was really apologizing to you, and that is how you respond? Sheesh! You make me wonder.

Wait its not weakly? Thank ... (Below threshold)
Etain P:

Wait its not weakly? Thank you for your informative post, LAB. I have been duly chastised.

"Podhoretz's argument falls... (Below threshold)
Tim in PA:

"Podhoretz's argument falls flat because of his refusal to face difficult realities in Iraq. "

Which choice truly "faces the diffcult realities in Iraq" -

a) Cut and run from a mission most of them voted for and to hell with the consequences, for domestic political gain and/or because it's easier, or

b) Finish the job you started and help leave those poor people better off than they started.

"It's too hard" especially falls flat on its face when you consider that from the very beginning, the foreign insurgents counted on - and predictably received - the very things the left has since done, as the mechanism by which they'd try to win. They simply cannot defeat us militarily or politically without the whiny blowhards in our own congress.




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