Charles C. Johnson has been having a bit of a moment ever since he reported on the much-disputed allegations that Sen. Thad Cochran’s (R-MS) campaign paid off black voters in the Mississippi Republican primary.
Johnson has reveled in the spotlight, name-dropping all the conservative luminaries who have picked up the story and touting a spike in people viewing his Twitter profile.
He also apparently attempted to leverage the newfound attention to his advantage as part of a book deal he’d signed.
In a characteristically self-aggrandizing tweet on Wednesday night, Johnson said that he would “announce which major publisher is publishing my next book with sizeable advance” the next day.
Tomorrow I will announce which major publisher is publishing my next book with sizeable advance. #justablogger
— Charles C. Johnson (@ChuckCJohnson) July 2, 2014
As promised, Johnson revealed on Thursday that he had inked a deal with St. Martin’s Press, an imprint of MacMillan, to write a book about his “research skill set and stories.”
ANNOUNCEMENT: I’ve signed a book deal with St. Martin’s Press re: my research skill set and stories… #mssen
— Charles C. Johnson (@ChuckCJohnson) July 3, 2014
TPM reached out to Johnson for details about the deal, and he provided his email correspondence with Sara Thwaite, an editorial assistant at St. Martin’s Press. Johnson said he doesn’t recall when exactly his agent suggested the idea for the book, but speculated that it was proposed “like a month and change ago.”
The emails, with the subject line “Viral moment,” show how Johnson attempted to use the attention to expedite pre-order sales for his book, which is to be titled “Oppo Man.”
The details of the book itself illuminate how Johnson, who has threatened to deploy his “research team to build an oppo file” on a prominent GOP operative, seems to be transitioning from conservative journalist to partisan researcher.
“My stuff is being mentioned all over the net,” Johnson wrote last Friday to Thwaite. “It makes a lot of sense to put up a pre order option.”
Thwaite responded on Monday, requesting links where Johnson’s work had been mentioned. She added that it’s “highly unusual” to offer a pre-order option this long before a book’s release.
Johnson dutifully provided a Google news link to a compilation of stories on the bribery allegations.
“I know it’s unusual [to offer a pre-order option] but it’s been mentioned on Fox repeatedly today, Breitbart, Mississippi media,” Johnson wrote in his response on Wednesday.
He had another pressing question in that email.
“Do you know when you guys will be sending the check? Not sure about it. Thanks,” he wrote.
Thwaite, who did not respond to TPM’s request for comment, got back to Johnson the same day. She assured him that it’s “a definite possibility to have a pre-order option,” but not until 299 days before the publication date. Because “Oppo Man” is “tentatively” scheduled to be published on July 7, 2015, Thwaite said the “pre order date will be around September 11 of this year.”
Thwaite also provided a draft of the book’s catalog copy.
In Oppo Man, Charles C. Johnson offers his first-hand account of navigating the often blurred lines of opposition research and journalism, and explores how it has, in many ways, become the new standard of politics. Known as “o” or “oppo,” opposition research is commissioned by Republicans and Democrats alike, whether by candidates, groups, or private citizens. It was used by the Founding Fathers in their campaigns, and it is used in today’s world. The stories developed by opposition researchers often appear, uncredited, on the front pages of newspapers, on major television and public radio, on the Internet, and in campaign advertising.
Charles C. Johnson is a leading researcher and journalist who has written for major national newspapers and magazines. In Oppo Man, he reveals what he and a loosely-created network of cohorts do; some ethically, others less so, and how their research is doing the work that investigative journalists once did.
A fascinating, controversial account of a little-known world, Oppo Man will tell the stories behind many of the most famous political scoops and scandals, and break news on previously-untold research.
After he provided TPM with the emails, Johnson issued a warning.
“By the way, all conversations I have with reporters I post so please dot (sic) mess with me,” he wrote.
Below, screenshots of Johnson’s emails with Thwaite.