In December, Tony Lyons, the president of Skyhorse Publishing, pitched Roger Stone on reissuing an old book with a new, anti-Russia-probe introduction as a way for Stone “to set the record straight, clear his name, reach a wider audience and make some money.”
Now the book, republished in February with the new title “The Myth of Russia Collusion,” has put Stone in legal jeopardy. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson has demanded that he explain how the books squares with the gag order she imposed in the case.
Emails that Stone filed in court Monday have put in the public spotlight Skyhorse Publishing, which has previously mostly gotten attention in the book industry for its print-everything model of publishing.
They show both the negotiations around the project as well as his attorneys panicking after realizing that the book’s publication might “break the order,” as Stone attorney Grant Smith wrote in one Feb. 21 email.
In another message five days later, Stone attorney Bruce Rogow wrote with greater urgency, saying that “the mere publication of the new portions of the book could land Roger in jail for contempt of the judge’s order.”
“We are trying to establish data points and provide legal advice,” he wrote. “I can not give you more information without violating the attorney client relationship at the moment. I need this immediately.”
Stone may be the first Skyhorse author whose book might land him in jail, but he is not the only far-right conspiracy theorist swept up in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe who has published with Skyhorse. Jerome Corsi — a former Stone pal who backed out of a plea deal with the special counsel — has published two books with the company. Another Skyhorse author, Ted Malloch, is a conservative London-based writer whom Stone allegedly tried to use as a conduit to WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange.
Malloch’s 2018 book, “The Plot to Destroy Trump,” was published just weeks after he was detained and questioned by FBI investigators as part of Mueller’s probe — an episode Skyhorse used to promote the book. Malloch declined to comment for this story.
Corsi, meanwhile, praised Skyhorse for its willingness to publish outside the mainstream, as well as for its speedy turnaround time.
“They specialize in getting books out quickly and on the shelves,” Corsi told TPM.
It’s not just that feature that has made Skyhorse the go-to publishing house for the fringe characters whose names have become better known due to the Russia probe. The company’s approach is to publish books on a wide variety of topics that may be able to find a niche audience.
However, Skyhorse is not driven by any particular political slant, but rather by publishing “anything they can sell,” Jim Milliot, a journalist who covers the publishing industry, told TPM.
“They’re certainly not wedded to left or right. They’re wedded to trying to sell their books,” said Milliot, who is the editorial director of Publishers Weekly and who profiled the company in 2016.
When asked why his publishing house has become a favorite among Trump allies in the Russia probe, Lyons argued that the company publishes authors across the political spectrum. He brought up that Ralph Nader and former U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman (D-NY) are also Skyhorse authors
“In many cases we publish books on the same topics from both [perspectives],” Lyons told TPM. He pointed to specifically “The Plot to Hack America: How Putin’s Cyberspies and WikiLeaks Tried to Steal the 2016 Election” and “The Plot to Scapegoat Russia: How the CIA and the Deep State Have Conspired to Vilify Putin” — both books put out by Skyhorse.
“We published both sides of that same story,” he said.
Skyhorse is also planning to publish Mueller’s report — assuming that it is released publicly — with an introduction by Alan Dershowitz, a law professor who has lingered in the Mueller-sphere through his commentary without becoming directly involved in the probe.
In a phone interview with TPM, Dershowitz also brought up the company’s ability to put out books quickly.
“I do a book that comes out on Thursday, usually it contains material from last Friday,” Dershowitz said.
Lyons started the company in 2006 after working for his father’s publishing house, Lyons Press, and other publishers. He aggressively acquired the assets of other companies, including some that had gone into bankruptcy, to build Skyhorse to the size it is today. It has 57 employees and 8,600 books in print, according to Lyons.
“They are one of the larger independent publishers in the country,” Milliot said.
Its offerings go beyond just politics, current events and conspiracy theories.
The books it is publishing or is about to publish include: cases for and against impeaching Trump; an “animal rights” memoir by Bridget Bardot; an Alexander Hamilton-inspired romance novel; guide for men on “how to evolve and thrive in the age of Trump, mansplaining and #metoo;” and a book about climate change politics that scored a blurb from actor Leonardo DiCaprio.
The company will flood the zone around historical events — and dredge up fringe theories about those episodes in the books it published.
One of Corsi’s books was titled “Hunting Hitler: New Scientific Evidence That Hitler Escaped Nazi Germany.”
A 2013 Wall Street Journal story described the publisher as issuing eight JFK conspiracy-themed books in one year, with 17 reprints.
Journalist David Wayne, who co-wrote “Hit List: An In-Depth Investigation into the Mysterious Deaths of Witnesses to the JFK Assassination” with Law and Order: SVU actor Richard Belzer, told TPM he was “impressed with [Lyons’] uncanny knack of identifying topics that resonate with readers.”
Joe Diamond, a freelance erotic writer who published “Around the World In 80 Lays” in 2008 with Skyhorse, told TPM he was happy they were willing to take “a niche book.”
“My only complaint with them is I wish they had done more marketing and given it more PR muscle, I was hoping to get the book on Howard Stern,” he added.
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