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Ted Cruz hits the jackpot: A book war with the New York Times

Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Perhaps the only thing better for Sen. Ted Cruz's 2016 candidacy than seeing his book on the New York Times bestseller list is seeing the New York Times refuse to include it.

Politico reported Thursday night that Cruz's (R-Tex.) new book, "A Time for Truth," would be left off of the paper's bestsellers list. It does appear on the Publisher's Weekly list for the week, identifying that 11,853 copies were sold, landing it in fourth place between books from former Playboy bunny Holly Madison and enthusiastic facial-expression-maker Aziz Ansari.

At first, the reason that Cruz wasn't being included weren't clear. A spokesperson for the Times simply told Politico that the paper has "uniform standards that we apply to our best seller list, which includes an analysis of book sales that goes beyond simply the number of books sold. This book didn't meet that standard this week."

Eventually, though, the Times told Politico that "the overwhelming preponderance of evidence was that sales were limited to strategic bulk purchases" -- in other words, someone bought a lot of copies of the book so that Cruz would make it onto the bestseller list. Or, to put it more bluntly: Someone gamed the system.

Cruz's publisher denies that. In a statement to Buzzfeed, HarperCollins said that it had "investigated the sales pattern for Ted Cruz’s book" and "found no evidence of bulk orders or sales through any retailer or organization." It went on to note that Nielsen Bookscan excludes bulk sales from its figures, which resulted in the 11,800 number above.

You will not be surprised to learn that the news of Cruz's omission was met with either gloating or fury directed at the liberal media, depending on observers' political leanings.

For example:

Update, 4:00 p.m.: Cruz joins the fight. In a statement to Politico, spokesman Rick Tyler said, "The Times is presumably embarrassed by having their obvious partisan bias called out. But their response — alleging 'strategic bulk purchases' — is a blatant falsehood. The evidence is directly to the contrary. In leveling this false charge, the Times has tried to impugn the integrity of Senator Cruz and of his publisher Harper Collins."

If you're curious, that 11,800 in sales is substantially lower than the 86,000 first-week sales of Hillary Clinton's "Hard Choices" -- though that was backed up with a healthy public relations blitz. (It's closer to Clinton's fourth week, when she sold 17,000 copies.) It's also lower than the sales of Mitt Romney's 2012 book, "No Apology," which did 42,000 in sales in its first week.

Here is a prediction! The Times will soon include Cruz's book on its list, in part because the negative (or, depending on how you look at it, positive) publicity will help goose sales. When Costco axed Dinesh D'Souza's book from its shelves last summer for poor sales, the resulting outcry ensured so much demand that Costco quickly restocked it.

In which case Cruz gets the conservative cred of being blackballed by the Times and the PR bonus of being a Times bestseller. Win-win.