More Scarlet R
From Publishers Weekly: After repeating his mantra—"it's not what you say, it's what people hear"—so often in this book, you'd think that Republican pollster Luntz would have taken his own advice to heart. Yet in spite of an opening anecdote that superficially attempts a balanced tone, the book as a whole truly reads more like a manual for right-wing positioning.
"Okay," I thought, "one negative review dissing an author's politics does not make a good argument for believing that there is leftist bias in Publishers Weekly's reviews. I'll look further and see what else I can find." So I looked up Orson Scott Card's Empireto check out his review:
From Publishers Weekly: Right-wing rhetoric trumps the logic of story and character in this near-future political thriller about a red-state vs. blue-state American civil war, an implausibly plotted departure from Card's bestselling science fiction (Ender's Game, etc.). When the president and vice-president are killed by domestic terrorists (of unknown political identity), a radical leftist army calling itself the Progressive Restoration takes over New York City and declares itself the rightful government of the United States. Other blue states officially recognize the legitimacy of the group, thus starting a second civil war. Card's heroic red-state protagonists, Maj. Reuben "Rube" Malek and Capt. Bartholomew "Cole" Coleman, draw on their Special Ops training to take down the extremist leftists and restore peace to the nation. The action is overshadowed by the novel's polemical message, which Card tops off with an afterword decrying his own politically-motivated exclusion from various conventions and campuses, the "national media elite" and the divisive excesses of both the right and the left.
Hmmm...this seems to be a pattern--if the author leans at all right, his book is given a pretty negative review summarizing the book as "right wing." What happens to the Publishers Weekly's review when the author leans left? Miraculously, their book is suddenly engaging and intriguing! Here is a review of Eric Alterman's, What Liberal Media?: The Truth About Bias and the News.:
From Publishers Weekly: While the idea that a liberal bias pervades the mainstream media has been around for years, it gained new currency with the 2001 publication of Bernard Goldberg's Bias and its 2002 successor, Ann Coulter's Slander. Alterman (Sound & Fury; Who Speaks for America?; etc.) now seeks to debunk the notion and goes so far as to argue that bastions of alleged liberalism like the Washington Post and ABC News "have grown increasingly cowed by false complaints of liberal bias and hence, progressively more sympathetic to the most outlandish conservative complaints." He largely succeeds: whatever your politics, Alterman delivers well-documented, well-argued research in compulsively readable form. His chapter on business journalism, for instance, is a thrill-ride through the excesses of late 1990s optimism and the subsequent crash in stock valuations and mood. But he also counters that while the economy was peaking, major media outlets virtually ignored traditional left-wing issues like labor rights, which had been neglected, and income inequality, which was growing. In contrast, he says, the media fawned over chief executives while almost totally failing to confront corporate fraudsters. Alterman also observes that the center of American politics has shifted to the right in the last several decades, which he attributes to efforts by conservative think tanks and their financial backers. Whether readers agree with Alterman or not, his writing on the business of opinion making is eye-opening. This book will be required reading for anyone in politics or journalism, or anyone curious about their complicated nexus.
Well, you get the idea--I won't bore you with more reviews--but I wonder, is the Scarlet R rearing it's ugly head in the book reviewing world? Surely not!
Oh, and a Disclaimer: This is not a scientific sample--the negative reviews for right leaning authors and positive ones for left leaning authors are based on my observations only and not on scientific fact. If there is anyone out there who wants to do such a study--go to it and email me the results. Or do the experiment yourself and see if you can find a Publisher's Weekly review that is glowing over a right leaning political book or very negative towards a left leaning book and drop a line in the comments.