Few presidents can resist the temptation to publish a score-settling memoir and bask in the hoopla, TV bookings, and cultural kerfuffle that accompany the event. Witness the parade of sycophants lining up to press their noses freshly into Barack Obama’s boots upon the occasion of his new book. So Donald Trump’s memoir will be received with equal enthusiasm, right?
Wrong. Though Trump’s inevitable memoir, like his barnstorming speeches, figures to be far more entertaining than most of its kind, leading publishing executives, understanding that their staff consists disproportionately of cosseted young’uns who prefer living in a bubble to engaging with reality, are already hinting that they won’t touch such a book. If Trump shows up with a book proposal in hand, lots of New York City’s snootiest publishers are going to respond by pulling up the drawbridge and lobbing rotten eggs out the windows.
Let them! America’s hatred is Trump’s oxygen. Unlike Obama, the man doesn’t drink or smoke, he just mainlines the world’s disapproval. He’s already proved the single biggest boon to publishing since Johannes Gutenberg. Anti-Trump tell-alls have effectively become their own genre, with his own niece Mary’s hit-job selling 1.35 million copies in its first week. A memoir by Trump himself would hold the unusual position of being snapped up with equal alacrity by both fans and detractors.
The wokesters who represent a small percentage of the country but make eccentric campus-style demands to shun people they find disagreeable increasingly drive decision-making among corporate executives. But that merely creates big opportunities for new competitors who are OK with making money off the nearly 74 million Americans who voted for Trump. Just as Fox News Channel became by far the most popular cable-news outfit by breaking out beyond the liberal bubble, today new free-speech app Parler is growing rapidly as a competitor to Twitter. Business news reporter Maria Bartiromo recently switched to the new platform, and brought one million followers with her. Joe Rogan, the podcaster who endorsed Bernie Sanders but welcomes a far broader range of voices to his show than network-TV chat show hosts, today enjoys much more influence than Jay Leno or David Letterman ever did, and was rewarded for his free-range conversations with a $100 million Spotify deal.
Right-wing commentator Ben Shapiro is the kind of guy who probably won’t be invited to host “Good Morning America,” yet he has built a media empire including bestselling books, the second-most popular podcast in America, a radio show and The Daily Wire, which in just five years has become one of the leading conservative news sites with millions of visitors a month.
And, despite being staffed mostly by progs, even the big five publishers, such as Simon and Schuster, realize that (in Michael Jordan’s immortal words) “Republicans buy sneakers too.” S&S has a conservative imprint, Threshold Editions, which publishes Rush Limbaugh’s books, and rakes in profits. Penguin Random House’s conservative imprint, Sentinel, publishes the likes of Mike Huckabee and Christian intellectual Rod Dreher. At Hachette, Center Street publishes Donald Trump Jr., Jeanine Pirro and Newt Gingrich. Yet if all of the mega-publishers are dumb enough to turn down a Trump presidential memoir, it’ll make little difference to the marketplace overall: Capitalism finds a way.
Conservative publishers such as Regnery stand ready to snap up a Trump book and have themselves a huge laugh in the process. “I’m hoping they will stand by their principles and not get involved,” Regnery president Thomas Spence told the Times, licking his lips at the prospect of adding Trump to his list. Let liberal dorks starve themselves while conservatives feast. Liberals may hate viewpoint diversity, but capitalism rewards it.
Kyle Smith is critic-at-large at National Review.
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