New York Times denies bias against conservative authors during intense shareholder meeting, advocate says

The New York Times leadership denied allegations of bias against conservative authors among the paper’s prestigious Best Sellers list when publicly confronted at the paper’s 2018 Annual Meeting of Stockholders at The New York Times Building on Thursday morning.

Attorney Justin Danhof, a conservative shareholder advocate, told Fox News that he confronted Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and his son, publisher A.G. Sulzberger, directly over what he called a lack of transparency regarding the paper’s Best Sellers list – which is often the industry standard for whether or not a book is regarded as a success.

“The motto of one of your primary competitors, the Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post, is ‘Democracy Dies in Darkness.' When it comes to this company’s best-seller list, it’s truth and process that are dying in the darkness,” Danhof said he read from a pre-written question after identifying himself as general counsel at the National Center for Public Policy Research.

Danhof says he accused the Times of refusing to explain its policies for selecting best-sellers and issuing simple, blanket statements when called out for bias against conservative authors. He says he offered several examples of conservative authors and publishing companies who have been left off or dropped down the prestigious best-seller list.

“Without transparency, those denials are meaningless,” Danhof said.

Danhof says he then accused the Times of hiding behind “a secretive process and stable of liberal staffers” before finally asking a question.

"Without transparency, those denials are meaningless.”

- Justin Danhof

“Without revealing anything proprietary, will you commit to an independent audit of your policies for selecting best-sellers to evaluate whether the political biases of the selectors have influenced the process? And will you make those findings public?” Danhof told Fox News he asked.

Danhof told Fox News immediately after the meeting concluded that leadership denied any bias, pointing to conservative journalist Bill O’Reilly often being on the list as evidence. Danhof said that when he suggested an independent audit, the Sulzbergers said it was an interesting idea and something to think about before moving on.

The New York Times did not respond to multiple requests for comment and confirmation.

Danhof told Fox news that he could “feel the tense liberals around him” as he confronted the Times’ leadership, but added that the crowd was more respectful than he anticipated considering it was what he considered overwhelmingly liberal. 

Danhof also told Fox News that the Times handed out buttons that said, “The truth has a voice,” and the paper’s top executives were heard joking that President Trump wouldn’t be a fan of the message.

Examples of the alleged bias that Danhof rattled off include what he calls the paper’s refusal to list Jordan Peterson’s “12 Rules for Life,” despite the book being No. 5 on Amazon's best-seller list, making it among the most popular in the nation.  A true crime story published in 2017 about the horrors of the abortion practices and convicted criminal Kermit Gosnell is also absent from the list and Danhof thinks it’s because it doesn’t fit the paper’s pro-abortion position.

Major conservative publishing house Regnery severed ties with the Times’ best-seller list because of persistent anti-conservative bias and Mark Levin accused the Times of lying about his book sales in order to drop it down the best-seller list.

“Political views held and expressed by authors have no bearing on our rankings. NYT’s nonfiction lists feature books from authors across ideological spectrums. Authors who identify as conservative perform as well as authors who identify as liberal on our lists,” the paper’s communications department recently tweeted.

The Times’ communication department’s official Twitter account also recently unloaded on conservative author Dennis Prager following as essay Prager wrote claiming the paper intentionally left his book off the list. Prager claimed the “Times best-seller list almost never includes overtly religious books,” but the communications department fired back in a series of tweets.

“NYT’s best-seller lists are based on a detailed analysis of book sales from a wide range of retailers in locations across the U.S. Each week we provide our readers the best assessment of what books are the most broadly popular at that time,” the Times tweeted during the take down directed at Prager.

Danhof is no stranger to confronting powerful business leaders during shareholder meetings. He recently made headlines when he confronted Disney CEO Bob Iger at a shareholder meeting. Danhof told Iger that some of Disney’s recent decisions were “strange when trust in media is at an all-time low” and referred to Disney’s ESPN as a “24/7 anti-Trump tirade channel.” He also asked about ABC News host Joy Behar’s anti-Christian remarks on “The View,” which she eventually apologized for.

Ironically, the paper that is all about transparency didn’t provide any audio or video of the event.

Brian Flood covers the media for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter at @briansflood.