Media Matters, but I don’t!

Last week was a pleasant enough week, blogging-wise, because I experienced an Instalanche over at Likelihood of Success. Why should you care? Because that brief (not unprecedented) moment of attention resulted in yet another lesson about the way the left sees the role of truth, media and the American way.

I had commented on a story, mentioned by Instapundit, about how pathetically poorly Nancy Pelosi’s book was doing. I noted the following:

The sad part for Pelosi is that the practice by which publishers bestow massive donations on their favored politicians via utterly unrecoverable publishing “advances” was barred by the House of Representatives. Therefore she could not get even a fraction of the phenomenal sweetheart advance paid to then Senator-elect Hillary Clinton for her various scribblings — which, while they were bought by many, still did not come close to earning out the advance paid by a publishing industry supposedly beset by economic crisis.

After Glenn Reynolds picked this up and added it as an “update” to his item, naturally it got a little more attention, and was picked up by the New York TimesOpinionator blog.

A couple of days later, George Soros‘s Media Matters took matters into its own hands, linking to the piece and huffily insisting that the Hillary Clinton book did, in fact, earn out its advance — making it the exception that proves the rule, but an exception nonetheless.

Now, here’s how the New York Press article I had quoted to support my claim explained its conclusion that, nonetheless, Senator Clinton’s book deal was unusually sweet:

Last reports are that Living History sold 1.2 million copies, and bookstores are reporting that sales in the last couple weeks have dropped way off. It seems she could sell a million and a half by year’s end–but not much more. There’s really no way they could have expected it to, which means that Simon & Schuster effectively altered the ratio of publisher/author earnings for Clinton. Hillary didn’t get just 15 percent, the maximum percentage that authors earn in royalties; she got a million to a million and a half more than the 15 percent would have yielded.

This is money that, under the standard ratio, Simon & Schuster would have pocketed. At the median 12.5 percent royalty, under which Clinton earns $3.50 per book, her cut is $5,250,000-and the advance of $8 million represents an overpayment of almost $3 million.

Proceeds from sales of foreign rights and paperback rights have also ratcheted up the book’s total earnings, and counted against the advance. Still, it doesn’t add up when Living History is compared to another bestseller by a prominent politico that spent weeks on the New York Times best-seller list a few years back (Living History has been on the list for six weeks). This author didn’t take an advance at all and instead was paid royalties as the sales of the book went through. He was paid, it was assumed, at the same rate as Hillary-15 percent, though his book was a few dollars cheaper-$24, not $28.

But his total take from the book was $2.5 million, according to a source. This is almost a third of Hillary’s eight million. There’s no doubt about it; Simon & Schuster took a pay cut on Hillary Clinton.

Still and all, the Press acknowledged that this was a deal that the Simon & Schuster had every legal and moral right to make, and I certainly wouldn’t suggest otherwise.

What’s cute is how Media Matters gets to this point, and how it deals with its conclusion. Here’s an excerpt from the Media Matters piece:

New York Times staff editor Tobin Harshaw, in an August 7 post on The Opinionator blog, uncritically quoted conservative blogger Ron Coleman’s assertion that Sen. Hillary Clinton has not “come close to earning out the advance paid by” Simon & Schuster for her 2003 autobiography, Living History. But according to the Times’ own reporting, sales of the book have covered Clinton’s advance.

And so on. Now, on the right sidebar, there’s a section that says, “TAKE ACTION!” and then sets forth the New York Times‘ contact information. It suggests that readers outraged by this slight to the literary merit of Senator Clinton’s pearly pen write directly to Public Editor Clare Hoyt, without explaining why readers don’t contact the author of the Opinionator piece, Tobin Harshaw.

That’s bad enough, but they also don’t suggest contacting the “conservative blogger” himself! That is probably because in the world of Media Matters, the story is that the Times is guilty of political treason — reporting the “wrong side” of a story on which it should, by right, have been on the “right side.” So “TAKE ACTION!” screams Media Matters. Keep fellow travelers in line!

As to the guy who arguably got the story wrong in the first place? Not only is he merely a blogger — he’s a conservative, and not even remotely interested in the truth. Don’t bother with him! We’re not interested in presenting the whole of a story, or facts contrary to the party line, and we assume he isn’t, either. Because for Media Matters, the only reason this stuff matters is to figure out (often at the cost of quite a bit of flop sweat) which side you’re on.

Ron Coleman’s Likelihood of Success blog experiences occasional moments of mattering a little bit. His intellectual property law blog, LIKELIHOOD OF CONFUSION:®, is something else altogether, although not everyone is successful at not confusing the two.

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