Who Do You Trust?

Written by Gene Lyons for Salon.com

After two weeks of manufactured hysteria over the Nigerian “underwear bomber,” our esteemed national political media happily returned to their primal missions: inane partisan bickering, phony racial controversies, sexual innuendo and adolescent backstairs gossip.
I refer to the ubiquitous publicity attending the release of Mark Halperin and John Heilemann’s book “Game Change,” reportedly an insider account of the 2008 presidential campaign by the largely anonymous aides and consultants who lost it. Observing virtually the entire “Gang of 500” — as Halperin’s clubby Internet rumor sheet The Note calls its audience — going ape over the fool thing you could almost hear them emit an audible sigh of relief.
Enough tedium about healthcare, jobs, taxes, financial regulation and foreign affairs. Back to what really matters to these fops and courtiers: what Newsweek’s Howard Fineman called “tweetable nuggets.” As so often happens, Fineman speaks for them all: “A long analysis of the demographics of the electorate is not going to get you an HBO movie,” he said. “But the tawdry psycho-drama of the Edwards’s and a racist crack by Harry Reid will.”
Hollywood gossip columnists Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons had nothing on these two. Everywhere you looked — “60 Minutes,” CNN, NBC, even BBC America — the authors were on television dishing the dirt: Psst, Cindy McCain hates her husband. Psst, Elizabeth Edwards is a highfalutin’ witch. Psst, Hillary can’t trust Bill out of her sight. Psst, Sarah Palin’s a “mentally unstable” moron, and get this, Bill Clinton’s also secretly a redneck bigot. Details at 6 and 10.

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