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Touting itself as the “the nation’s leading conservative publisher,” 1 Regnery Publishing was founded by Henry Regnery in 1947 in Chicago. Initially affiliated with the University of Chicago’s “Great Books” series, Regnery eventually became a leading publisher of old-guard, conservative writers such as Russell Kirk, James Burnham, and William F. Buckley. In 1993, conservative Eagle Publishing bought Regnery, which now specializes in mass-market, right-wing attack journalism, with its books frequently targeting Democratic Party figures like the Clintons 2 and lambasting the influence of liberals on American culture and politics—and frequently becoming bestsellers. 3 Its authors include Newt Gingrich, William Bennett, Ann Coulter, Dinesh D'Souza, David Horowitz, Laura Ingraham, Dennis Hastert, Dore Gold, and Mitt Romney. Journalist Nicholas Confessore characterized Regnery as the “lifestyle press for conservatives, preferred printer of presidential hopefuls, and venerable publisher of books for the culture wars.” 4
Regnery has been an important publisher of books promoting the George W. Bush administration’s “war on terror” policies, publishing everything from apologias for Donald Rumsfeld to fear-mongering about the activities of “jihadi warriors” in the United States. 5 Titles have included Michelle Malkin’s In Defense of Internment (2004), which argues that criticism of the Bush administration’s detention of terror suspects is based in part on flawed arguments that the internment of Japanese during World War II was racist 6; Endgame: The Blueprint for Victory in the War On Terror by Thomas McInerney and Paul Vallely (2004), which according to Regnery argues that “a bloodthirsty foe” like radical Islam cannot be “confined to particular nations—and thus cannot be defeated solely through conventional warfare against enemy states” 7; and Iran-Contra veteran Oliver North’s War Stories: Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003), which defends the Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq. 8
In 2008 Regnery published two books that fanned fears of Islam and justified the U.S. invasion of Iraq and war on terror using the clash of civilizations language of Bernard Lewis and Samuel Huntington: Mark Steyn’s America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It, and Mark Sieff’s The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Middle East. According to Regnery, in America Alone, Steyn, a writer for the right-wing Washington Times and the National Review, “proclaims the unspeakable, yet undeniable truth: the Western world is falling prey to the unrelenting tide of radical Islam, demographically and ideologically. And if we don’t do something soon, one day we'll wake up to the end of the world as we know it: the end of church bells, replaced by the muezzin’s call to prayer. The end of free speech, replaced by strict, religious-based censorship. The end of liberty and justice for all, replaced by Sharia law.” 9 In The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Middle East, according to Regnery, Sieff “navigates every politically correct roadway, busting myth after myth as he leads us on a journey through one of the world’s roughest neighborhoods.” Sieff argues that “Bush Sr.—not Bush Jr.—should have invaded Iraq”; “Islamic fundamentalism isn’t ancient—which is why it’s so dangerous”; and “President Bush’s quest for Israeli-Palestinian peace is misguided.” 10 Earlier, in 2005, Regnery published The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) by Robert Spencer, who directs JihadWatch.org. According to the publisher, Spencer argues that “Muhammad did not teach ‘peace and tolerance’—he led armies and ordered the assassination of his enemies”; “the Crusades were not acts of unprovoked aggression by Europe against the Islamic world, but a delayed response to centuries of Muslim aggression”; and “jihad continues today: Europe could be Islamic by the end of the twenty-first century.” 11
In 2004 Regnery published Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out against John Kerry, by John O'Neill and Jerome Corsi, which spotlighted charges against Kerry's Vietnam service record made by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a right-wing veterans group set up to attack the Democratic presidential candidate. The book took aim not only at Kerry’s military service (despite lacking access to his service records), but also at his antiwar activism after returning from his tours of duty. Despite being heavily criticized for distorting Kerry’s military service, Unfit for Command became a New York Times bestseller and helped derail Kerry’s campaign. 12 In mid-2008, Regnery announced that it intended to publish The Case against Barack Obama, by National Review writer David Freddoso, in August 2008.13 Regnery president Marjory Ross told Politico reporter Jonathan Martin, “I think it’s critically important that the country gets a clear and honest view of who is running and what they stand for—warts and all.… With Unfit for Command, like The Case against Barack Obama, we believe the media has whitewashed the candidate.”14
Regnery announced in February 2008 that it had signed a contract with Erik Prince, CEO of the controversial military contractor Blackwater Worldwide, to publish a book tentatively titled We Are Blackwater in late 2008.15 A news release about the contract stated that the book is to be “the only insider's account of the controversial company that has supplied bodyguards and support-and-rescue personnel to hot spots around the world, including the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq. Prince, a former Navy SEAL, will reveal how he created Blackwater, refute criticisms of the company, and take the reader on thrilling Blackwater missions into hostile territory, from rescuing teenage missionaries in Africa, to helicoptering wounded Marines to safety, to inventing, testing, and manufacturing armored vehicles to better protect our troops in the field.”16
Other high-profile Regnery authors include businessman and former presidential candidate Steve Forbes, and Kenneth Timmerman, executive director of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran. In 1999, during the presidential primary campaign in which Forbes was a Republican contender, Regnery published Forbes’s A New Birth of Freedom, which highlighted his policy positions on everything from defense spending to economic policy and education reform. In the book, Forbes criticized the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and the decrease in percentage of GDP spent on defense, among other things.17 In 2002 Regnery published Timmerman’s Shakedown: Exposing the Real Jesse Jackson, which was well received by many on the Right and panned on the Left. In a review of the book for the Nation, Patricia Williams wrote: “In Timmerman's rendition, [Jackson] is a bloated monster of evil impulses and global appetites, a ‘dangerous fool,’ ‘a David Duke in black skin’ who ‘drifts off into mumbo-jumbo’ ‘like a Halloween ghoul’ while ‘mau-mauing’ corporations that ‘think it is cheaper to buy protection’ from the ‘race industry’ he has purportedly milked dry. The distance between the real Jackson and Timmerman’s gargoyle is inhabited by myth, stereotype, unsubstantiated accusation, illogic, and careless innuendo.”18
Regnery’s parent company, Eagle Publishing, says it is “dedicated to conservative and pro-American ideals.”19 Eagle was founded in 1993 (the same year it bought Regnery) by Thomas L. Phillips, the founder and president of the multimedia firm Phillips International. Phillips has served on the board of advisors of the conservative Claremont Institute, has been a sponsor for the Ronald Reagan Leadership Program, and is a member of the Republican National Committee’s Regents Program.20
Eagle Publishing board members include Alfred Regnery, son of the founder of Regnery Publishing and a board member of the American Foreign Policy Council; Thomas Fuentes, a director of the Claremont Institute and chairman of the Republican Party of Orange County, California; and Pat Sajak, host of the TV show Wheel of Fortune.21
In late 2007, several Regnery authors sued Eagle Publishing, charging that the company’s business practices, including selling discounted books to clubs, depleted the authors’ royalties. In their lawsuit, the authors—Jerome R. Corsi, Bill Gertz, Lt. Col. Robert (Buzz) Patterson, Joel Mowbray, and Richard Miniter—claimed that by selling discounted books and giving titles away to book clubs, Eagle was attempting “to avoid or substantially reduce royalty payments to authors.”22
Although the lawsuit was eventually dismissed,23 it shed light on what some observers claim has been a technique by right-wing publishing houses to artificially boost their sales figures and thereby get books placed on best-seller lists. In an interview with the New York Observer, former Bill Clinton aide Sydney Blumenthal said, “What I think the key question is for Ann Coulter and all these other right-wing writers is, why is there a dagger in the New York Times best-seller list next to their books?” That symbol, which appears next to some books on the list, means “that some bookstores report receiving bulk orders.” In other words, explained Blumenthal, “someone is buying their books in bulk to put them on the best-seller list. These are bogus best-sellers.… I want to know why [Ms. Coulter] won't come clean and explain which rich right-wing sugar daddies are putting her on the best-seller list.”24
1. Marji Ross, “About Regnery,” Regnery Publishing Inc, http://www.regnery.com/about.html.
2. See Chip Berlet, “What is Past is Prologue: Regnery Publishing and Clinton,” Political Research Associates, September 30, 1999, http://www.publiceye.org/conspire/clinton/Clintonculwar8-38.html#P714_189875.
3. “Regnery Publishing—Hot Releases,” Regnery Publishing, http://www.regnery.com/new/new.html; Brian C. Anderson, “Culture Clash,” Los Angeles Times, November 23, 2003.
4. Nicholas Confessore, “Hillary Was Right,” American Prospect, November 30, 2002.
5. See, for example, Rumsfeld’s War (2004) by Rowan Scarborough and Onward Muslim Soldiers: How Jihad Still Threatens America and the West (2003) by Robert Spencer.
6. “Book Details: In Defense of Internment,” Regnery Publishing, http://www.regnery.com/regnery/040802_defense.html.
7. “Book Details: Endgame,” Regnery Publishing, http://www.regnery.com/regnery/040412_endgame.html.
8. “Book Details: War Stories,” Regnery Publishing, http://www.regnery.com/regnery/031210_warstories.html.
9. “Book Details: America Alone,” Regnery Publishing, http://www.regnery.com/books/americaalonepb.html.
10. “Book Details: The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Middle East,” Regnery Publishing, http://www.regnery.com/books/pigmiddleeast.html.
11. “Book Details: The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam,” Regnery Publishing, http://www.regnery.com/books/pigislam.html.
12. “Will Conservative Media Swift Boat Apologists Now Apologize?” Media Matters, August 20, 2004, http://mediamatters.org/items/200408200008.
13. Jonathan Martin, “First Obama Attack Book in the Works,” The Politico, June 23, 2008.
14. Jonathan Martin, “First Obama Attack Book in the Works,” The Politico, June 23, 2008.
15. “Regnery Signs Book Deal with Blackwater's Reclusive CEO,” Human Events, February 4, 2008.
16. “Regnery Signs Book Deal with Blackwater's Reclusive CEO,” Human Events, February 4, 2008.
17. Ronald Brownstein, “Forbes, McCain Writing Show How They Want to Measure Up in 2000,” Los Angeles Times, September 6, 1999.
18. Patricia Williams, "The Enemy Within," Nation, June 27, 2002.
19. “Eagle Publishing, Corporate Information,” Regnery Publishing, http://www.regnery.com/eagle_manage.html.
20. “About the Claremont Institute,” Claremont Institute (Web Archive), http://web.archive.org/web/20070524054535/www.claremont.org/about/pageID.286/default.asp; “Eagle Publishing, Corporate Information,” Regnery Publishing, http://www.regnery.com/eagle_manage.html.
21. “Eagle Publishing, Corporate Information,” Regnery Publishing, http://www.regnery.com/eagle_manage.html.
22. Motoko Rich, “Conservative Authors Sue Publisher,” New York Times, November 7, 2007.
23. “Author Ordered to Repay Advance After Breach of Contract,” Human Events, March 12, 2008.
24. Gabriel Sherman, “Sid’s Bid,” The Transom, New York Observer, August 3, 2003.
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