The first ex-president to publish a memoir during his lifetime was James Buchanan, who retired from public service in disgrace in 1861, leaving behind a nation torn apart by slavery and impending secession from the southern states. Buchanan’s untitled memoir was appalling, according to presidential historian Craig Fehrman, author of Chief Author: The Untold Story of Our Presidents and the Books They Wrote. “Buchanan is definitely the worst presidential memoir I’ve read,” Fehrman Recount Smithsonian magazine. “It’s mostly James Buchanan who tries to blame everyone except James Buchanan for the war and its aftermath.” The kicker: It was terrible, but it sold.
Fittingly Buchanan sets the precedent now reaching his climax with Donald Trump, his successor to the title of worst president in American history. In the publishing world, Trump is considered untouchable, even though his post-White House memoir would undoubtedly top the bestseller and generate a godsend for the publisher reckless enough to touch it. Never before has a modern president struggled to close a cushy pound deal after stepping down, but as always, Trump first scored another despicable one. Members of the Big Five publishing houses see his memoirs as a third rail, fearing that such a book would be closer to a work of fiction than to memoirs. Keith Urbahn, President and Founding Partner of the Creative and Literary Agency Javelin, Recount Politics, “Any editor daring enough to acquire Trump’s memoir is looking at a fact-checking nightmare, an exodus of other writers, and a staff uprising.”
Trump, for his part, complaints write “the book of all books” and insist that his memoirs have prestigious contenders. In a statement last Friday, he said he had received and rejected two offers “from the most unlikely of publishers“; in a second statement on Monday, he said: “Two of the biggest and most prestigious publishing houses have made very substantial offers, which I have rejected.” Senior sources among the Big Five tell Politics that none of these offers have been extended. Speculation abounds that the “most unlikely of editors” could include All Seasons Press, a brand new publisher whose mission is to “publish the best writers, politicians and experts in the conservative movement”. Founded by publishing veterans Louise Burke, who tried unsuccessfully to publish Milo Yiannopoulos under a Simon & Schuster imprint, and Kate Hartson, who was fired of Center Street after posting Trumpworld figures such as Donald Trump Jr. and Jeanine Pirro, All Seasons Press has already lined up books by Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and Trump’s adviser, Peter Navarro. Alexei Woltornist, who co-founded Axios and worked in Trump’s Department of Homeland Security, Recount The New York Times, âThe Conservatives take seriously the establishment of our own parallel infrastructure. We cannot count on people hostile to our ideas to continue to host us.
In the wake of the Trump administration, publishing has become an island of inappropriate toys for Trumpworld figures. Former Vice President Mike Pence has received the most splashy book deal, signing with Simon & Schuster to write two memoirs for more than seven digits, which would have “grated” Trump and led thousands of objectors to circulate a petition demanding that Simon & Schuster stop signing agreements with Trumpworld alumni. Other prominent members of the administration whose books are slated to appear on the shelves include Councilor Kellyanne Conway, former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, former Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, former Attorney General William Barr and former first son-in-law Jared Kushner.
Publishing has always relied on best-selling books to fund limited edition titles from lesser-known writers, but where best-selling conservative books once meant titles from ideologues like Ann Coulter, it now means memoirs of millions. dollars by elders of a hateful and dangerous presidential administration, who feel no loyalty to the truth or to the facts. This business model has always been precarious at best, but now it is entering the realm of malicious profit, with moral and financial stakes higher than ever. All of this brings us to a question: in 2021, what use is the genre of political memoirs? Political memoirs can and should exist, but the current iteration of the genre functions like the Wild West, where even disgraced politicians under criminal investigation can treat the publication as a pulpit of intimidation for lies, with a big check as a reward.
Publishing works on a long-outdated assumption: that politicians are entitled to seven-figure book contracts, no questions asked. These books are sale aggressively, with sales jumping 60% between 2019 and 2020, but at what cost? Books are too often written by ghosts, factually inaccurate and, quite simply, Wrong. They offer little insight, analysis or introspection; rather, they are celebrations of a politician’s accomplishments, justifications for mistakes, or efforts to control historical records. Some political briefs, written by the outer circle of a politician’s henchmen, are almost unnecessary. Like Fehrman noted from presidential briefs, “It’s a genre where a lot of good writers have lost track, focused too much on settling scores or on each person’s list in a meeting.” If publishers are to reap the colossal profits that these books can generate, they ultimately owe their readers due diligence to ensure high standards of quality, usefulness, and truthfulness.
It is time to end the assumption that all prominent politicians have something to say, no changes are required, up to seven digits and hardcover for $ 27.99. Sure, well-edited political books have value, and the publication should welcome voices from both sides of the aisle, but Democrats and Republicans should both be subject to rigorous fact-checking. Anyone who will not accept a good fact-check should consider their right to a mainstream book contract as lost. That said, convincing the publishing industry to invest in fact checking will be a tough climb; inasmuch as Squire investigation revealed, publishers rarely agree to fund fact-checking, and even more rarely require it as a barrier to publication. Convincing the Conservatives to submit to fact-checking or hike will be even more difficult, but politics must go both ways, for the good of the American public. It remains unclear whether A promised land, Barack Obama’s bestseller, has been fact-checked; it’s just as concerning as the complete abdication of fact-checking with Trumpworld’s briefs. Until fact checking becomes an industry standard, this wave of half-baked political books, “Collect your seven-figure lead and take action” will continue to plague public life. . These are not significant contributions to the historical record, as some claim, but rather, they are mercenary volleys motivated by profit to any semblance of shared objective reality. In an age of vicious lies, it’s more important than ever that publishers take and maintain a firm stand on the blameless (no pun intended) truth.
In Trump’s statement on his alleged high-profile publisher offers, he went on to say of the Big Five, âDoes anyone really believe they’re above making a lot of money? Some of the biggest sleezebags [sic] on earth run these companies. No morality, no nothing, just the essential. And they certainly wouldn’t admit it until the fact. But after the fact, they’ll just stand by and say, âLet’s go. “
This may be the first true thing he says.
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