Fox News chief Roger Ailes is said to have called star Fox News host Bill O’Reilly “a book salesman with a TV show.” Though Ailes isn’t known for understating things, this particular judgment appears a bit mild, if last night’s edition of “The O’Reilly Factor” is any indication. It combined chest-beating self-congratulation with chest-beating self-promotion of the sort only possible on a show with no adult supervision.
In his “Tip of the Day” segment, O’Reilly noted that MSNBC host Chris Hayes had apologized to him for having taken out of context a comment that O’Reilly had made about the Confederate flag in the aftermath of the Charleston, S.C., massacre. “Now we accept Mr. Hayes’s apology and acknowledge the courage it took for him to do that,” the host said. “That kind of thing rarely happens in the media these days.”
With that, O’Reilly set himself up for a grand transition: “Case in point, Publishers Weekly magazine, which ignored one of the biggest books of the year — the upcoming ‘Killing Reagan’ — in its fall preview edition last week,” said O’Reilly, referring to the upcoming book with Martin Dugard on the 40th president (Henry Holt & Co.; release date: Sept. 22). His argument: Publishers Weekly dissed “Killing Reagan” for ideological reasons, as the staff of the publication is “heavily liberal.” Given the spectacular sales performance of last year’s O’Reilly-Dugard collaboration, “Killing Patton,” the failure to include “Killing Reagan” is “inexplicable,” charged O’Reilly.
Not trusting O’Reilly to faithfully convey the position of Publishers Weekly, the Erik Wemple Blog contacted Publishers Weekly. Spokesman Jim Milliot told us that the magazine received 11,753 submissions for the fall “announcements issue” and included just 750 of them in the preview — meaning that about 11,000 authors are upset with Publishers Weekly, Milliot quipped. “What we do is try to make it a range of titles,” said Milliot. “We leave out lots and lots of books.”
As to the charge that Publishers Weekly propagated this sinful omission for ideological reasons, the publication issued a statement last week, after O’Reilly first aired his gripes against the magazine. “For the record, we are fine with Ronald Reagan, and also are happy to know that our readers are aware of his existence and presidency. We’ve reviewed six books about Reagan and the Reagan era since January 2014.”
Milliot: “We cover books not politics.” In all, Publishers Weekly has reviewed 10 O’Reilly “products” over the years, including audiobooks, says Milliot. “Killing Reagan” will be the fifth in O’Reilly’s “Killing” series — and it’s stretching things a bit, too, considering that Reagan was not killed.
One other thing: Milliot says that Publishers Weekly received from Holt a book description with a certain omission. As shared by Milliot, here’s “all the information” submitted by the publisher to the magazine:
Untitled O’Reilly 2 by Bill O’Reilly, Martin Dugard (Sept. 22, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-1-62779-241-7).
Bold text added to highlight a problem for Publishers Weekly. “That was a major reason why it wasn’t included,” says Milliot. “We really strive to get books from all over the universe, but if you don’t submit the name of the book, that is definitely a strike against you.”
Patricia Eisemann, a spokeswoman for Holt, says, “Any embargoed book is held in the data base early on as ‘untitled.’ The book was not announced until the last week in May.”