Too Bad, So Sad: Stelter’s Second Anti-Fox Book ‘Network of Lies’ Flopped at the Bookstore

News & Politics

Colby Hall, the founding editor of left-leaning Mediaite.com, reports that Brian Stelter’s new Fox-trashing book Network of Lies is selling well below expectations, like a Disney blockbuster. It’s a dud! 

Published on November 14, Stelter’s book sold 3,807 copies in its first week, according to Nielsen BookScan. Those numbers are down 82% from his previous book about Fox (Hoax), which saw first-week sales of 20,832 in August 2020, according to BookScan.

Mediaite has learned that Stelter’s latest will not make the New York Times bestseller list. As of publishing, it is currently ranked 6,638th on Amazon’s Best Sellers list, despite his numerous appearances on cable news and several podcasts, including Mediaite.

Stelter has been on CNN and MSNBC and PBS and NPR and NewsNation and Univision and a plethora of podcasts to plug his “epic saga” — we’re still waiting for the NewsBusters Podcast, come on, pal — but it’s not moving the needle.

Hall tried to soften the blow by saying Michael Wolff’s anti-Fox book did even worse in its first week in September, and Stelter’s return to CNN airwaves was “seamless.” And hey, “there is always the lucrative route of optioning the rights for a miniseries on Apple+ or some other streaming platform,” as Stelter’s book Top of the Morning was optioned by Apple. 

This came despite New York Times book reviewer Dwight Garner gushing over this “thrilling account” two weeks ago, even claiming Stelter’s latest Fox-trashing tome “reads like one of Bob Woodward’s mightier books.”

In Garner’s gaze, Stelter is basically Dudley Do-Right: “He’s like a Canadian Mountie who has stumbled upon a gerbil-stomping ring. For Stelter, journalism might be a humble calling, but it is a patriotic and noble one. It burns him to see its ideals perverted.” Garner really, really hates Fox:

Fox News, at this point, resembles a car whose windshield is thickly encrusted with traffic citations. Yet this car (surely a Hummer) manages to barrel out anew each day, plowing over six more mailboxes, five more crossing guards, four elderly scientists, three communal enterprises, two trans kids and a solar panel….

His Fox News is a nightly Russell Stover assortment of ginned-up grievances and predictions of cataclysm and collapse. The network delivers insinuation instead of reason, in this account, irritable gestures instead of journalism, a great deal of voice and little of mind. Fox News is biased against expertise and culture. Its hosts patrol and destroy, as white blood cells do in the body, any hint of sequential reasoning. They deliver the kind of shallow and primitive totalitarian propaganda that George Orwell, in 1984, called prolefeed. In Network of Lies it is a dead-end grotto of the human spirit…..

Democrats are led by the brain, the old saw goes, while Republicans are led by the gut. This has, by and large, been a healthy balance in America. But what happens when the Republican gut becomes merely colon, rectum and anus, this book asks, and hot filth pours from it? Reading Stelter, I was reminded of a tweet that made the rounds a few years ago: “Fox News did to our parents what they thought video games would do to us.”

Liberal journalists think of themselves as the souls of civility, but a feisty opposition clearly spurred Garner into what can literally be called a “s–t fit.”

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