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Read This: Winners and Losers Edition

Newark Mayor Cory Booker (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Good afternoon, everyone. Much as we suspected, that whole Conan O'Brien-Cory Booker feud was probably ginned up for publicity -- but it's boosting Booker's profile more than O'Brien's ratings.

The whole thing started a few weeks ago, when O'Brien made a crack about Newark, and Mayor Booker's new health care plan: It's "a bus ticket out of Newark," O'Brien joked. Booker retorted via YouTube and Twitter, and, well, the media hype machine spun. Writes Lisa de Moraes:

The press began to hyperventilate that Booker and Conan were breaking new ground, merging old media and new, Twitter meets TV, blah, blah, blah.
"What they're doing is a very standard promotional thing. Obviously it's cooked up. Obviously it's tied to [Booker's Sundance Channel series] 'Brick City,' " noted one veteran late-night pundit (who insisted on anonymity in case his next job might be at NBC).

Booker's popularity seems to have soared, but the ratings haven't: "Conan's numbers haven't moved an inch -- even on the night he scored the Clinton appearance," de Moraes writes. "During the second week of the TV season, when the faux feud was in full throttle, Conan averaged 2.7 million viewers, about 2 million fewer than Jay Leno attracted as host of the same show the second week of the previous TV season."

Elsewhere in today's Style section: Bill and Melinda Gates are giving $10 million to the Smithsonian. The new doc about LeBron James is a winner. Jason Horowitz profiles Anita Dunn. And Dave McKenna reviews Kiss.

By The Reliable Source  |  October 15, 2009; 12:57 PM ET
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