Last week, Media Mob wondered whether Simon & Schuster Inc. would be taken to task for allowing Threshold Editions, its conservative imprint, to publish The Obama Nation, Jerome Corsi’s bestselling hit job on the presumptive Democratic nominee.
In the front of this week’s New Yorker, Hendrik Hertzberg does exactly that. "On a foundation of small, medium-sized, and extra-large falsehoods," Mr. Hertzberg writes, "’The Obama Nation’ erects a superstructure of innuendo, guilt by (often nonexistent) association, baseless speculation, and sinister-sounding but irrelevant digression."
He goes on to say that Mr. Corsi’s last book—Unfit for Command, re: John Kerry—was published by Regnery, a publisher whose "sole raison d’être… is the promulgation of hard-right politics," while this new one, he notes, comes from the much more mainstream Simon & Schuster. Something about this does not add up, Mr. Hertzberg suggests:
Corsi is, or ought to be, a marginal figure, but Mary Matalin, the editor-in-chief of Threshold Editions, is not a marginal Republican. She is a former chief of staff of the Republican National Committee, and she served in the current Administration as an Assistant to the President, the White House staff’s shiniest title. Nor is Simon & Schuster—which, seventeen years ago, gave a book contract to a young man who had been elected the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review—a marginal publisher. But its standards have evidently slipped now that, along with CBS, MTV, and Paramount, it is part of Sumner Redstone’s National Amusements, Inc.
Mr. Hertzberg stops just short of saying S&S should have prevented Obama Nation from coming out, but it seems pretty clear that he believes the company should be required to stand behind its contents. Unclear whether he thinks this is a controversial opinion or a totally intuitive one, but the fact is, it’s a thing people in the publishing industry are pretty sharply divided on and there’s no totally easy answer. More on that in the print edition of this week’s Observer if things go as planned.