It occurred on July 9. Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) book, “The Time For Truth,” sold more than all but two books on The New York Times bestsellers list, according to Mediaite. Additionally, conservative firebrand Ann Coulter and Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly are on the list, which makes the optics of this situation look worse for the Times. The publication countered by saying they saw evidence of “strategic bulk purchases” that warranted Sen. Cruz’s omission from the list (via Reuters):
New York Times spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades Ha said the company stands by its statement on Thursday that Cruz's book did not meet the standards for its bestseller list, "which includes an analysis of book sales that goes beyond simply the number of books sold."
"In the case of this book, the overwhelming preponderance of evidence was that sales were limited to strategic bulk purchases," the statement said.
Of course, the Cruz campaign denied the allegations. Yet, things were made worse when HarperCollins, Cruz’s publisher, released a statement and evidence of their own, which debunked the Times’ claim about strategic purchases last Friday (via BuzzFeed):
HarperCollins Publishers has investigated the sales pattern for Ted Cruz’s book A TIME FOR TRUTH and has found no evidence of bulk orders or sales through any retailer or organization.
When questioned about the omission of A TIME FOR TRUTH from its bestseller list, the New York Times told Politico, “In the case of this book, the overwhelming preponderance of evidence was that sales were limited to strategic bulk purchases.”
A TIME FOR TRUTH ranked high on other publishing industry bestseller lists including Nielsen Bookscan (#4), a subscription service that tracks the vast majority of book sales in America, The Wall Street Journal (#4) and Barnes and Noble (#7). All these outlets omit bulk orders books from their rankings.
Still, the Times remained defiant, along with the Cruz campaign making allegations that the publication isn't being truthful (via Politico):
Eileen Murphy, the Times spokesperson, said Friday that the paper was standing by her initial claim that the "overwhelming preponderance of evidence was that sales [of Cruz's book] were limited to strategic bulk purchases." Murphy did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding the Cruz campaign's statement.
In her initial response, Murphy said the Times had "uniform standards that we apply to our best seller list, which includes an analysis of book sales that goes beyond simply the number of books sold." She later added, "Our goal is that the list reflect authentic best sellers, so we look at and analyze not just numbers, but patterns of sales for every book."
The Cruz campaign called Murphy's initial explanation "cryptic," and her later claims about bulk purchases "false."
Now, Amazon says something isn’t right about the “strategic bulk purchases” claim. Oh wait; they said there was “no evidence” of “unusual bulk purchase activity” at all:
On Sunday, an Amazon spokesperson told the On Media blog that the company's sales data showed no evidence of unusual bulk purchase activity for the Texas senator's memoir, casting further doubt on the Times' claim that the book — "A Time For Truth" — had been omitted from its list because sales had been driven by "strategic bulk purchases."
"As of yesterday, 'A Time for Truth' was the number 13 bestselling book, and there is no evidence of unusual bulk purchase activity in our sales data," Sarah Gelman, Amazon's director of press relations, said in an email.
Amazon's findings match those of HarperCollins, the book's publisher, which said Friday that it had "investigated the sales pattern" for Cruz’s book and found "no evidence of bulk orders or sales through any retailer or organization." Moments after that announcement, Cruz's campaign issued a press release accusing the Times of lying and calling on the paper to provide evidence of bulk purchasing or else formally apologize.
Someone isn’t being upfront–and the culprit isn't Amazon, HarperCollins, or Ted Cruz. The ball is in your court, New York Times.
*Post has been updated.