Simon & Schuster EP: Reading a Candidate’s Book Like ‘Taking That Person to Bed With You’

NYU Panel.jpg
From left to right: Jacob Weisberg, editor-in-chief of Slate; Jonathan Alter, senior editor and columnist at Newsweek; Ana Marie Cox, Washington editor of; and David Rosenthal, executive vice president and publisher at Simon & Schuster.

From Obama’s much-YouTubed “Yes We Can” speech and Hill and Bill’s Sopranos spoof to the unprecedented and unfiltered blog commentary, election coverage is relentlessly everywhere, all the time.

“It is the best of times and the worst of times,” said Newsweek columnist and senior editor Jonathan Alter, addressing a question on the ever-expanding media universe at last night’s NYU event, “Publishing and the Election: The Books, the Blogs and the Bold New Media Tactics.” “I say let a thousand flowers bloom, as long as there aren’t a ton of weeds popping up in there too.”

We joined about 150 people at the university’s Greenberg Lounge to catch a banter-infused discussion moderated by Jacob Weisberg, Slate‘s editor-in-chief and recent New York Times bestselling author. Alter’s fellow panelists included David Rosenthal, executive vice president and publisher at Simon & Schuster, and self-proclaimed “snarky” blogette Ana Marie Cox, Washington editor of and founding editor of the political blog “Wonkette.”

So what’s the best way to filter out the media muck and get to know the candidates more personally? For Rosenthal, it’s curling up under the covers and spending some one-on-one time with each of them. “When you take a candidate’s book to bed with you, you’re basically taking that person to bed with you,” he said. “It’s very intimate.”

While the panelists said that it would be next to impossible to become president without having published a book, Alter pointed out that because “talk is cheap and reporting is expensive,” it’s more likely that people will get their election fix from “someone sitting at home in their pjs” rather than old-fashioned media.

— Kathryn Carlson