BOB GARFIELD: Ralph Nader -- hater of all things corporate and conglomerate -- has a new book out. It's called The Good Fight: Declare Your Independence and Close the Democracy Gap. The irony, as Eric Boehlert pointed out in his recent Salon story "Strange Alliance," is that Nader's book is being published by a Harper Collins imprint, and Harper Collins is a property of the media conglomerate News Corp which is controlled by Rupert Murdoch, the arch-conservative mogul notorious for deploying his troops for Republican causes. Eric, welcome back.
ERIC BOEHLERT: Thanks for having me.
BOB GARFIELD: Let's talk about Regan Books for a moment. That's the Harper Collins imprint publishing Nader's book. What does it normally publish?
ERIC BOEHLERT: Well, they publish a, a wide variety. On the political front, they do an awful lot of conservative, and they do an awful lot of Fox personality books. They do Sean Hannity. They do lots of Murdoch writers on the right. But to be fair, they have a wide spectrum. Michael Moore's -- not his previous book - the one, but the one before that, was out on Regan Books.
BOB GARFIELD: I guess congratulations are in order to Regan Books to support a diversity of opinions and not to let ideology get in the way of its publishing decisions, right? Congratulations.
ERIC BOEHLERT: Right. Absolutely.
BOB GARFIELD: But that's not what your piece said. [LAUGHTER]
ERIC BOEHLERT: Yeah, I mean it would just sort of be ironic if Ralph Nader, from the left, opponent to corporate influence in government as well as a critic of media consolidation, signed a book with a Murdoch imprint. I mean that in and of itself would be sort of ironic, but you could say well, if "Ralph Nader wants to be published in a serious way, he's going to make a deal with a corporation." But the other thing that's going on is Rupert Murdoch does have a history of using his book publishing contracts as a way to sort of "reward" political allies, and the suspicion is, is Rupert Murdoch trying to give Nader, you know, a healthy media platform so he can do harm to John Kerry's campaign?
BOB GARFIELD: Ah ha. The "vast right wing conspiracy."
ERIC BOEHLERT: [LAUGHS] Right.
BOB GARFIELD: Now you, [LAUGHS] -- you do connect the dots in your piece, but I must say the dots are mighty far apart. [LAUGHTER] I guess I can see why it would be sort of fundamentally hypocritical of Nader to take money from a corporation he has called a "conglomerate rat," but I mean do you have any evidence that Nader is in some way playing ball with Murdoch and that he is seeking to be rewarded for it?
ERIC BOEHLERT: No. No, and you know, his spokesman said if you listen to Ralph on the campaign trail, he's still very critical of corporate America, and he's still critical of media consolidation. But, I mean the suspicion is not that Rupert Murdoch gave Ralph Nader a book contract, and Ralph Nader decided not to talk about corporate welfare or media consolidation. The idea is he would talk about all the things he always talks about, but you know, we'll give him a platform with the media, and we will help him sort of spread his word, and if by chance he happens to siphon some votes that arguably determine the election, all the power to him. But you're right. I mean this is not a quid pro quo. It's just another sort of curious example of why are Republican groups sending out emails to get Nader on the ballot? Why are Republican sort of fat cats donating to his campaign? Why are Republican media companies suddenly interested in publishing his book? So it, it's sort of curious. It is, as we say, a strange alliance.
BOB GARFIELD: But there remains the inconvenient little fact of the Michael Moore book about, you know, Stupid White Men.
ERIC BOEHLERT: Right.
BOB GARFIELD: If push came to shove, and you had to say well I think this is an explicit attempt by Murdoch to support Nader's candidacy because it will help the Republicans or that it's just Regan Books behaving the way Regan Books behaves and looking to make money on another piece of political non-fiction, if your life depended on it, [LAUGHTER] which, which would you really think is what's going on here?
ERIC BOEHLERT: It's impossible to tell. I mean you know, Rupert Murdoch obviously didn't know that this book got signed, but as we've seen with Fox News, this isn't a top-down organization. Everyone sort of knows the rules of, of engagement when it comes to politics at News Corp and everyone sort of understands where that ship is going. The other thing you mentioned -- the Michael Moore book -- and so did I -- you know, as Salon wrote at the time that that book came out only after Michael Moore accused Regan Books of trying to censor a couple of chapters that it deemed was too negative towards George Bush in the light of the 9/11 attack. This came out a few months after that. You know, even when they publish someone on the left, they, they have run into these hurdles in terms of accusation of censorship and things like that. And the other thing I would just note is Ralph Nader's previous book, which came out after the 2000 election when there was probably the most interest in him, sold about 45,000 copies, so there's almost no way that publisher made a profit, so it's interesting that Murdoch would be interested in Nader as an author after what most people would consider a rather modest showing at the bookstores in 2001.
BOB GARFIELD: All right, Eric. No smoking gun. No corpus delicti, even. But it's a pretty good mystery. Thanks very much.
ERIC BOEHLERT: Sure, no problem.
BOB GARFIELD: Eric Boehlert's story "Strange Alliance," is available on Salon.com. He joined us from the studios of WBGO in Newark, New Jersey.