Last weekend, the New York Times handed Ted Cruz the kind of gift Presidential candidates rarely get from a pre-disposed media entity: a chance to watch them faceplant spectacularly, and then use their now-prone-on-the-sidewalk body as a bridge over the gutter.
For days, the Cruz campaign has been arguing with the NYT over the NYT omitting Ted Cruz’s book from their bestseller list, despite evidence that Cruz’s book sold more than enough copies to put it at number three on the list. The NYT claimed that Cruz purchased copies of the book in bulk to pad sales numbers, though both Cruz’s publisher and several other booksellers disagreed. Thanks, in no small part, to that back-and-forth, it seems Cruz sold more than enough books to land himself on the NYT bestseller list this week, regardless of the NYT’s “evidence” of bulk books sales.
Times spokesperson Eileen Murphy said that the newspaper made no changes to its selection process, and so the fact that Cruz’s book is being included now suggests a rise in individual purchases, spurred by his public battle with the paper.
“This week’s NYT best seller list was arrived at using the same process as last week’s – and the week before that,” Murphy wrote. “That process involves a careful analysis of data, and is not influenced in any way by the content of a book, or by pressure from publishers or book sellers.”
Both HarperCollins, the book’s publisher, and Amazon, the largest Internet retailer in the country, said last week that they had found “no evidence” that bulk purchases drove the book’s sales numbers. On Friday, Cruz campaign spokesperson Rick Tyler accused the Times of “obvious partisan bias,” and called on the paper to reveal its methodology or else publicly apologize.
The Times has resolutely stood by its claim, and has refused to reveal its methodology on the grounds that doing so might threaten the integrity of the process.
Now, follow what I’m saying here. If the NYT used the same methodology as last week, assuming the NYT isn’t lying (which is, I know, a stretch), that means that Cruz sold more books this week than he did even with the “bulk purchase” the NYT claims he made. So how can that be? What could possibly have happened between last week and this week that would have skyrocketed Cruz’s sales so much that he’d land on the list? Could it be that he used the fight with the NYT to spur on book sales, thus epically trolling the NYT’s staff itself, turning evidence of liberal bias into a campaign cash cow?
I’d be willing to bet on the theory, at least. It makes it more satisfying, somehow, to know that the NYT’s best efforts to keep Ted Cruz off their pages completely backfired on them. But it also demonstrates that Ted Cruz knows how to use bad publicity to his advantage, and that’s something of a strong suit.