It's hard to match the schadenfreude that comes from reading a headline like "Conservative Authors Sue Publisher" particularly when the publisher is the odious Regnery and mewling plaintiffs are "authors" like Jerome R. Corsi, Lt. Col. Robert (Buzz) Patterson and Richard Miniter -- men who have collectively penned such memorable tomes as Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry (Corsi), Dereliction of Duty: The Eyewitness Account of How Bill Clinton Compromised America's National Security (Patterson) and Shadow War: The Untold Story of How Bush Is Winning the War on Terror (Miniter). But as good as the headline is, the actual story of what drove the hit-man wing of the conservative party to court is even better.
The authors are suing because Regnery sells lots of books to book clubs at discounts for which they pay their authors lower royalties. Worse, whimper the plaintiffs, Regnery is a big conglomerate with interests in the very book club to whom they're doling out the cheap books. Really. That's what they're complaining about? Wasn't vertical integration and the concentration of corporate power is precisely what the conservatives have championed all these years? Let's remember that these are the folks who lobbied to break down the walls between investment and commercial banking, end traditional limitations on corporate ownership of multiple media outlets in the same market, and eviscerate all forms of governmental regulation that might level the playing field between workers and corporations.
As satisfying as the headline is, a topper comes in eighth paragraph of Motoko Rich's achingly straight NYT coverage. In it Mr. Minitner whines with no sense of irony whatsoever "Why is Regnery acting like a Marxist cartoon of a capitalist company?" Gosh? I don't know, maybe because your publisher is actually....um...a capitalist company. Who knew the swiftboaters were such wimpy whiners when it turns out that because of unequal bargaining power they struck stupid deals?
Now let's be clear -- I'm all for decent royalty schemes, heck I'm on strike now seeking a fair deal, but what I object to here is the hypocrisy. In their suit the authors literally argue that in "reducing royalty payments, the publisher is maximizing its profits and the profits of its parent company at their expense." Um, yes. Are you stupid? That's what corporations do. And just in case you missed it, while you've been loudly selling out millions of American workers while ravenously sanctifying the notion of the almighty corporation, this is what those corporations have been doing to those millions of workers -- exactly what you'd hoped -- maximizing value for it's shareholders at the expense of it's laborers. You asked for it, you got it. This is a hell of your own making. One you've inflicted on millions of American who actually need rather than feel entitled to the money. So instead of suing like a hypocrite, why do you just go home and deposit your paltry royalty check -- as far as I'm concerned what you wrote wasn't worth the paper it was printed on to begin with.