Reliable Sources: Three theories why Omarosa's book is not a #1 best seller

By now, Omarosa Manigault Newman's book "should" be the #1 best-selling book in the country. Right?Th...

Posted: Aug 14, 2018 4:42 PM
Updated: Aug 14, 2018 4:42 PM

By now, Omarosa Manigault Newman's book "should" be the #1 best-selling book in the country. Right?

Think about it: She betrayed President Trump, called him a racist and questioned his mental health. She said he is "not well." She shared secret tapes from the White House on national TV. She said he should be impeached. She earned a presidential rebuke just like Michael Wolff's "Fire and Fury" did. But she hasn't enjoyed the same number of pre-orders.

Wolff's book became a runaway bestseller back in January. There were so many pre-orders, Macmillan struggled to keep pace. It was a great problem for the publisher to have. Suffice it to say, the publisher of Omarosa's book, Simon & Schuster, has not had that same problem.

On Monday, "Unhinged" finally cracked the top 10 on Amazon. Now it's publication day, Tuesday, and the book is stuck at #5, behind a book about the ketogenic diet and several others. On the Barnes & Noble website, it is #4. First, let's put that into context. Then let's dig into why it's not #1...

For comparison's sake...

Wolff hit #1 on the online charts as soon as "Fire and Fury" leaked, and the book stayed there for weeks.

More recently, several other Trump-related books have topped the charts. Two of his Fox News boosters, Jeanine Pirro and Gregg Jarrett, hit #1 with their respective books last month.

Weeks after launch, Jarrett is still in the top 10. On the other end of the spectrum, Rick Wilson's contribution to the resistance, "Everything Trump Touches Dies," peaked at #2 last week. Wilson had plenty of cable TV hits to plug his book, but he had nowhere NEAR the rollout that Omarosa has had. She has been soaking up press for four straight days. She has been on two of NBC's flagship programs, plus multiple MSNBC shows. She has been "trending." So what gives?

Here are a few theories

As I said on "Reliable Sources," I think Omarosa's book is a big deal. Any burn-the-house-down tell-all by a former White House staffer is a big deal. But parts of her book are simply unbelievable. There are basic mistakes and misstatements. So here are a few theories about the sluggish sales:

-- Minds are made up. Wolff's book was somewhat novel. It spurred serious conversations about Trump's fitness for office. People already had strong opinions about Trump back then, but opinions have hardened in the seven months since then... And there's more "Trump fatigue" now...

-- Omarosa doesn't have "fans." Yes, she is very well known. But not well liked. Her brand is about backstabbing, cheating, alienation. As Tyrus said on Fox Monday afternoon, "Omarosa is the most despised person in the free world." She doesn't have fans, she has haters. And haters don't spend $25 on a book...

-- She doesn't have credibility. Trump tweeted on Monday morning that the "fake news media" will be "working overtime to make even Wacky Omarosa look legitimate as possible." Far from it. Her past support for Trump and her other credibility problems have come up in practically every story and TV segment. Aside from the tapes, people have few reasons to believe her account...

By the way: Some of these factors also apply to Sean Spicer's book "The Briefing," which suffered underwhelming sales last month...

A version of this article first appeared in the Reliable Sources newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.

Trump's tweets did give her a boost...

This was a phenomenon that we all previously saw with Wolff's book and with James Comey's book: Mean tweets from President Trump goose sales.

On Sunday night, "Unhinged" was #17 on Amazon. On Monday morning, after Trump let loose, the book started climbing. I have no doubt that her "Today" show appearance helped with sales too. But the Trump tweets generated more news coverage and curiosity which in turn generated more pre-orders. Trump tried out a nickname for her -- "Wacky Omarosa" -- but so far it hasn't seemed to stick...

"There are not tapes"

As Kaitlan Collins said on "CNN Tonight," this is a presidential first: Trump spent part of Monday night denying that he has ever uttered the N-word. "I don't have that word in my vocabulary, and never have," he said, refuting Omarosa's claim about the existence of tapes.

Trump said that "Apprentice" boss Mark Burnett "called" to say there's no such tape. I reached out to Burnett, but didn't immediately hear back...

What's next on the TV tour

Simon & Schuster is a division of CBS Corporation, so "Unhinged" is a CBS product, but NBC offered the better "package" -- meaning, NBC promised her "Meet the Press," then "Today," then MSNBC. I think it made sense, given Omarosa's history on NBC's "Apprentice." Savannah Guthrie shined during the "Today" interview -- even after Omarosa told her to "calm down," and even after O claimed she had to leave for another interview -- Guthrie nailed the final Q, asking, "The book is called Unhinged...who does that refer to?"

Later in the day, Omarosa was on MSNBC's "Velshi & Ruhle" and "Hardball..." Plus the PBS "NewsHour." On Tuesday, she's on "CBS This Morning," Katy Tur's MSNBC program, and "The Daily Show." Let's see where she is on Amazon's best sellers list this time tomorrow...

O's other goals?

Apart from sales, Omarosa may be achieving other goals. If she really does believe Trump is unfit to be president, she's providing some more data points for the public. She says she has more tapes. On "Today," She said, "there's a lot of very corrupt things that are happening in the White House, and I am going to blow the whistle on a lot of this." On "Hardball," she implied that Robert Mueller's investigators had been in touch with her, saying, "If this office calls again, anything they want to see, I'll share."

But I'm hesitant to even share that quote because... again... her past lies and deceptions have come back to haunt her. If somebody tries to blow the whistle, but nobody believes the sound, are they really a whistleblower?

To be fair, Omarosa's book has accomplished a few things already... She has provoked newfound scrutiny into several subjects... Let's tick through them:

-- "Trump appeared to acknowledge on Monday something his aides have declined to confirm for months: that his White House had aides sign nondisclosure agreements," the NYT's Maggie Haberman writes. "The president made the statement in a post on Twitter about Omarosa..."

-- Jeremy Diamond's latest for CNN.com: "None of President Donald Trump's senior White House officials are black. Only a handful of his senior staff are of Latino, Asian or Arab descent, according to a CNN review of 48 senior White House officials. Instead, the President is being advised by a senior White House staff that is overwhelmingly white..."

-- CNN.com's big headline on Monday night: "White House paranoia deepens." Kevin Liptak says "aides are wondering who else might be using a recording device..."

-- When POTUS returned to the White House on Monday night, one of the shouted questions from the press pool was, "Have you ever used the n-word?" He did not respond to any of the questions...

The bottom line

David Axelrod tweeted: "Everyone says the @realDonaldTrump WH is like reality TV. But it feels more like the Jerry Springer Show, with unsympathetic, estranged friends and relatives learning of betrayals, throwing punches and chairs at each other..."

For the record, part one

-- Since POTUS didn't mention John McCain while signing the "John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act" on Monday, CNN's Jake Tapper did: "Since President Trump would not do it, let us here on 'The Lead' congratulate Senator John McCain and his family and thank him for his service to the country..." (Mediaite)

-- At that signing ceremony, POTUS patted himself on the back for not calling the press corps "fake." He said "I'm so proud of myself... I said to myself, I will not today in front of our great armed forces call them fake news..." (Contemptor)

-- Later in the day, at a fund-raiser that was unexpectedly open to cameras, Trump called fact-checkers "bad people" and complained about WaPo's Pinocchios... (Twitter)

-- Chris Cuomo keeps getting exclusives: On Monday night he interviewed "Manhattan Madam" Kristin Davis, a confidant of Roger Stone's, about her recent testimony to the grand jury in Mueller's probe... (Twitter)

Update on Thursday's editorial campaign

"We just passed the 200 mark," the Boston Globe's Marjorie Pritchard told me Monday night. That means more than 200 papers are planning to run editorials decrying Trump's anti-media attacks. Now some TV stations may be joining the effort, too. The RTDNA, which has 1,200 TV and digital members, called on members to participate in a Monday afternoon memo...

Will TV stations really join in?

NYU's Jay Rosen emails: "Put me down as a skeptic that very many — if any — TV stations will join in the criticism of President Trump Thursday. Vaguely worded statements about the glories of the First Amendment that fail to mention his attacks do not count. If I am wrong, I am happy to admit so publicly."

Read more of Monday's Reliable Sources newsletter here... And subscribe here to receive future editions in your inbox...

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