Skip

Gaming the New York Times
May 4, 2010 5:31 PM   Subscribe

Imagine: your book, a bestseller. A fishy Amazon gift card scheme run by "ResultsSource" apparently helped California Gubernatorial Candidate Steve Poizner get his book to #5 on the New York Times Bestseller list. Reporting by This American Life and Capitol Weekly

One college student in San Diego named Matthew Donnellan says he was confused when he received a copy of Mount Pleasant. Donnellan got more confused when he looked to see who paid for it.

…[He] noticed that his name and address were listed not only as the recipient but as the buyer on the invoice. Wanting to make sure his credit card number hadn’t been stolen, he called Amazon. The Amazon representative he reached told him the book was purchased with a gift card — and that card had also been used to buy copies of "Mount Pleasant" for 249 other people, all of whom had first names that began with "M."
posted by thisisdrew (24 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Is this at all unusual? My impression was that some "bestsellers"---especially political memoirs---are purchased wholesale in vast quantities by sympathetic organizations to give away to contributors in order to juke the book's stats.
posted by Bromius at 5:40 PM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


My impression was that some "bestsellers"---especially political memoirs---are purchased wholesale in vast quantities by sympathetic organizations to give away to contributors in order to juke the book's stats.

Yes. But Poizner had denied he had done this, and the method they used appears tailored to not look like a bulk purchase, since statistics for bestseller determination try to avoid counting bulk purchases.
posted by Jimbob at 5:43 PM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Palin did something similar...
posted by HuronBob at 5:46 PM on May 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


My impression was that some "bestsellers"---especially political memoirs---are purchased wholesale in vast quantities by sympathetic organizations to give away to contributors in order to juke the book's stats.

My impression was that people who comment on MetaFilter have taken the time to read the linked articles:
This is interesting because leading entities that rank book sales make an effort not to count bulk sales in their rankings. The idea is to prevent promotions companies and authors from buying a bunch of copies and forcing their book onto best-seller lists. Sales that appeared to go to individuals through a retailer like Amazon, however, would be counted. Those are the kinds of sales that determine a book's sales figures and ranking.
posted by stefanie at 5:47 PM on May 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


Poizner

Well, I guess we know what happened to the last guy...
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 5:54 PM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Poizner came off as such a tool on that TAL episode. Just a complete dickhead.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:57 PM on May 4, 2010 [8 favorites]


Seconding mr_roboto. I'm still fuming over that TAL show. What an entitled dink.
posted by biddeford at 6:46 PM on May 4, 2010


Yes, that was such an appalling story on TAL. Californians — this guy isn't a credible candidate, is he? There's no chance that he'll win, right?
posted by enn at 6:58 PM on May 4, 2010


Yeah, that TAL was pretty terrible (I mean he was - not the reporting). Just the disconnect between what he claimed and what people who lived there reported was unbelievable. What (everything else) is he lying or just clueless about?

And the thing is, this just seems common now with (mostly republican, but "mostly") politicians and their operatives. It's totally fine to just BLATANTLY lie. No worries no problems with that. And, generally, no journalists call them on it.
posted by mkim at 7:12 PM on May 4, 2010


Well, I guess we know what happened to the last guy...

He hardly knew 'er!
posted by Evilspork at 7:15 PM on May 4, 2010


Poizner was down against Whitman something like 40% in March polling. During April, that gap dropped down to 20%. That's a pretty good leap, but it's also still a pretty big gap remaining, and my guess is that he'd have to go even more negative against Whitman than he already has (and personally, I think the ads on both sides have been pretty negative and annoying) and if the primary gets anymore like that I think they're going to damage whoever wins. So my guess is that Poizner's big gains are done and it'll be Whitman getting the nomination.
posted by weston at 7:19 PM on May 4, 2010


BTW -- can anyone link or point to the audio of the episode of TAL with the Poizner interview? I'm having trouble finding it...
posted by weston at 7:28 PM on May 4, 2010


It's the first segment of the urban legends episode (audio at the Stream Episode link).
posted by enn at 7:31 PM on May 4, 2010


Bay Area people: Last weekend on KQED, the noon broadcast was the True Urban Legends show that included the Poizner takedown, but the 10 p.m. broadcast, confusingly, was Return to the Scene of the Crime. Was it just a coincidence that the very next night KQED was running a very hyped debate between Meg Whitman and Poizner?
posted by purpleclover at 7:42 PM on May 4, 2010


Poizner's book is so larded with bullshit it should come with a dust cover made of toilet paper.

Here's the Google street view of the high school in Poizner's book, the school he described as "inner city."

Disclaimer: I live nearby (since '91) and it was an average middle- and working class suburb then and it's an average middle- and working class suburb now.
posted by jamaro at 7:59 PM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I attended Mount Pleasant during the semester that Mr. Poizner taught there. I wasn't in his class that semester (darn, missed it by a year), but I did know who he was.

I'm not sure I can describe the level of frustration that I feel toward him, and not even because he exaggerated the state of the school (which he did-- the most scared I have ever been on that campus was on my first day, when a boy talked to me). Most of all, I am offended by how condescending and hypocritical he is. Throughout this ordeal, Poizner has claimed he had nothing but confidence in his students and an earnest desire to help them succeed. At the same time, Mr. Poizner has taken a very harsh stance on illegal immigrants.

I would hazard to guess that in Poizner's semester-long class of about 30 students, at least 1 student was illegal; at least 3 had a parent that was illegal; and at least 75% had a close friend or family member who was illegal. This part of San Jose is at the convergence of three neighborhoods: a standard white-bread suburbs division of white-collar/blue-collar San Jose residents; Alum Rock (many Hispanic immigrants), and Little Saigon/Lion Plaza (many Vietnamese immigrants). My wild guess of MP demographics, skewed by personal bias: 30% hispanic, 40% Vietnamese or Pacific Islander; 30% black, white and South East Asian.

I don't understand how someone who claims to care about the students at this school could ever take a stance on immigration so directly targeted against them. It's bizarre, and it makes him the meanest kind of liar.

MP was safe, but it was different from his predominately white version of San Jose. To Poizner, different meant scary. There was no danger at the school. However, the predominately non-white demographics of the school made him expect the school to be dangerous.

I know that he gave us a lot of money and that some of the student groups I participated in benefited from his donations. I also know that MP is rife with problems that TAL glossed over and that Poizner gave light. MP should be described as below average. But I don't appreciate his duplicity.
posted by samthemander at 9:00 PM on May 4, 2010 [7 favorites]


I pray for Poizner to win the nomination -- he is far easier to beat than Whitman.
posted by incessant at 9:14 PM on May 4, 2010


samthemander, I want you to know that in that TAL segment, your school and its students came off very well. Polzner came off as a royal douche.
posted by angrycat at 9:32 PM on May 4, 2010


I think you overestimate Whitman, incessant. She's a rank amateur.

Here's the Google street view of the high school in Poizner's book, the school he described as "inner city."

Jesus Christ. Those houses across the street are, what, $350,000 properties?
posted by mr_roboto at 10:24 PM on May 4, 2010


About that, yeah. Zillow says $325-400K. S. White is a busy street, houses a block away average higher.
posted by jamaro at 10:33 PM on May 4, 2010


Poizner is fucking scum. Every time I see one of his TV ads I want to punch the TV.

"inner city."
And you know who uses the term "inner city?" People in 1974 and fucking racists.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:53 PM on May 4, 2010


"And you know who uses the term "inner city?" People in 1974 and fucking racists"

What.
posted by MuffinMan at 3:39 AM on May 5, 2010


It's only tangential, but here's still more recent news of political interests gaming the New York Times.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:03 AM on May 5, 2010


I think you overestimate Whitman, incessant. She's a rank amateur.

She is an amateur and I'd bet on Brown instead of her. But I also got a chance to listen to her on a KQED/CommonWealth Club broadcast at the end of March, and I have to say I was surprised. She was well-spoken and while she certainly sang some Republican notes, it wasn't the usual minimalist tea-party insanity. In fact, by the end, I was carrying the impression that in the event she is elected governor, she might well be more or less competent, though I don't know if she'll be transformative.

And this isn't to say I'll vote for her or that I think most people will. Her significant Wall Street connections are a significant problem for me. I'm almost to the point where I'm ready to start picking candidates based solely on which one receives smaller campaign contributions from the Finance and Insurance industry. I think that if those connections become at all an issue during the campaign, she'll sink.
posted by weston at 11:05 AM on May 5, 2010


« Older Alert the BNP   |   The George Clooney of FPPs Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post