A new thing by me and fellow Torontoist-ist Patrick Metzger, debating the properness of Ontario Human Rights Commissioner Barbara Hall’s condemnation of Maclean’s for publishing an excerpt of Mark Steyn’s shitpile book America Alone is up at Torontoist.
As regards Steyn, I will say this:
Maclean’s calls Steyn “one of Canada’s most celebrated journalists.” If I was going to compile a list of Canada’s most celebrated journalists, Steyn doesn’t even make top ten, for starters. Let’s be blunt, here: Mark Steyn is a creature of the right wing who owes much of his success to their patronage. (In fairness, Steyn does indeed possess a natural talent for comic writing, but sadly lacks any skill at analysis whatsoever, making his work read much like a dumbed-down version of P.J. O’Rourke.)
America Alone spent one week on the New York Times bestseller list (week of November 5th – it placed fourteenth). It is worth noting that Steyn’s book was published by Regnery Publishing, which routinely all but gives away its books to conservative book clubs (including the Conservative Book Club, owned by Eagle Publishing, the same conservative media group which owns Regnery) in order to both evangelically spread the right-wing message and to inflate sales of the book (only one dollar at the Conservative Book Club, by the way). Steyn of course is predictably against subsidizing culture, at least when it’s government doing it. (Warning: Steyn’s column on C-50 is, much like his larger body of work, witty without actually being knowledgeable about the situation at hand.)
Of course, even if we ignore the papering of the sales of Steyn’s book, his “bestselling book” got one week at a low position on the NYT bestseller list, two months after its release, which frequently implies a release of all collected sales figures by the publisher to the list.
In short: calling Mark Steyn a bestselling author is kind of like calling Mario Mendoza a professional baseball player: it’s true, but if you’re gonna brag, there are better ways to do it.