Today's political tempest in a teapot comes courtesy of the decision by the New York Times to leave presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz's newly released book, A Time for Truth, off its bestseller list. Based on just sales, the book should have been up near the top of the list, selling more than 11,000 copies on its first week. But it's nowhere to be seen.
In response a spokesperson for the New York Times told Politico that "the overwhelming preponderance of the evidence was that sales were limited to strategic bulk purchases." That is to say, the books were not purchased by those who want to read it, but rather in an organized effort just to get the title on bestseller lists.
To that, both HarperCollins (who published the book) and Cruz's campaign say "Hogwash." HarperCollins said in a statement they've investigated and found no signs of bulk, organized sales and pointed out that other outlets have listed Cruz's book as a top-seller, even though they also omit bulk book purchases.
Cruz's campaign has called the Times' explanation a "blatant falsehood" and is demanding the Times provide evidence to back up its claim or apologize.
It's not completely beyond the pale to think politicians seeking publicity make various concerted efforts to get their new books some attention by making them appear popular. It has certainly happened before.
But by booting Cruz from the list, the Times has reinforced culture war battle lines, with conservatives accusing the Gray Lady of bias, while Salon, for example, emits a Nelson Muntz-style "Ha! Ha!" in the general direction of the Cruz campaign.
Cruz may get the last laugh, though, if the publicity for getting booted from the list actually prompts more conservatives to buy the book who wouldn't have bothered otherwise.