The Mueller Report is a hit!
According to The New York Times, the report, which was published by The Washington Post and Scribner, will debut at No. 1 on the paperback nonfiction bestseller list on Sunday.
Which is pretty remarkable! After all, the report is a 448-page long readout of a two-year investigation into Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 election. It is not, um, exactly easy reading. (Special counsel Robert Mueller and his team are able writers, but Stephen King they are not.)
And yet, here we are. People bought it – in droves. (The Mueller Report sits at No. 1 on the Amazon bestsellers list too – at least as of Thursday afternoon.)
But the real question is this: How many people actually read it?
Let’s start answering that question by looking at the senators on the Judiciary Committee, who questioned Attorney General William Barr about the report and his handling of it on Wednesday. Lots of them gave hints about just how much of the report they’d actually read. Here’s a quick summary:
- South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham (R): “I can’t say I’ve read it all, but I’ve read most of it.”
- Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin (D): “I’m just going to stand by what he has written and I ask others to read it as well.”
- Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono (D): “But when we read the report, we knew Robert Mueller’s concerns were valid and that your version of events was false.”
- New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker (D): “Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Barr, as I take a step back at this, I just really think we’re at a very sobering moment in American history that there is a considerable amount going on when you actually take time and read this whole report that shows that we’re sort of at a crossroad and I fear that we’re descending into a new normal that is dangerous for our democracy on a number of levels.”
- North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis (R): “And it was summarized in about a little over a 400-page document. Volume 2 was just under 200 pages as I recall. I’ve read volume 2 word for word and I’ve read most of volume 1.”
According to brand new CNN polling, the public is even less well-read when it comes to the full report. Just 3% of those polled said they had read “all” of the report while 10% said they had read “some” and 8% maintained they had read “a little” of it. Three-quarters of respondents – aka the honest ones – said they had read none of the Mueller report.
Here’s why I’m skeptical that even 3% of the population read “all” of the report. It’s been exactly 14 days since Barr released the redacted Mueller report on April 18. To have read all of it, one who need to read 32 pages a day every day between April 18 and today. Which, I am certain, some people did. Heck, some of the truly committed may have stayed up all night that first night it was released to read it.
But, 3% of the country means that 9.9 million(ish) of the 330 million US residents read the Mueller report in its entirety over the last two weeks. Which seems waaaaaaaaaay overly optimistic to me. Especially when you consider that 42,000 total copies of The Mueller Report sold last week, according to NPD Bookscan. I know lots of people read it online where it was free. But did millions of people read it there?
The point is this: Owning a copy of the Mueller report is, in some circles, like owning a copy of “Ulysses” by James Joyce, “Capital in the 21st Century” by Thomas Piketty and “My Struggle” by Karl Ove Knausgaard. All of these books are more talked about than actually read. Having them is a status symbol – a sign of elite cultural literacy. Whether you’ve actually read them is, for these folks, sort of beside the point.