November 11, 2019

Cancel culture cited in tepid sales of Mark Halperin’s new book


Still from Dumb and Dumber (New Line Cinema, 1994)

“Cancel culture,” a neologism that has been gaining ever accelerating traction in the last two or three years, has been cited once again in completely nonsensical manner.

The term, which situates itself hazily somewhere between “deplatforming” (a form of political activism that sets out to specifically deny someone’s access to and employment of an institutional or media platform) and “public shaming” (which involves massive public condemnation and humiliation of a targeted figure) has been cited in the disappointing sales of Mark Halperin’s new book How to Beat Trump: America’s Top Political Strategists On What It Will Take.

Mark Halperin, whose book was published by Regan Arts last week, was fired by Showtime Networks and NBC News in October 2017, in response to multiple allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct. According to BookScan, this new book sold just 502 copies in its first week. His 2010 book, Game Change, co-authored with John Heilemann, sold 57,291 copies in its first week.

His publisher, Judith Regan, who was “ousted” from HarperCollins in 2006 shortly after acquiring O.J. Simpson’s book, If I Did It, excoriated “cancel culture” in response to the disappointing sales. According to Regan, these days “everyone is condemned to death or to a lifetime of unemployment on an accusation that’s 12 years old,” as quoted in the Washington Post.

Halperin, who is not dead and just published a book, hasn’t made a statement about the sales, but regarding his alleged misdeeds has said: “I wasn’t a perfect person when I made these mistakes. I’m not a perfect person now. I’m happy to be judged by perfect people.”

The perfect people appear to have spoken.



Athena Bryan is an editor at Melville House.