Speaking of Halperin, my very favorite part of Boehlert’s Lapdogs is the extended takedown of The Note, which is excerpted here. It was a time, while the presiding administration was lying its way into a disastrous war, in which trivial non-scandals involving people vaguely associated with Bill Clinton were still seen as the most pressing issues imaginable by the Beltway media:
In the spring of 2005, a story came along that was so important, so history-altering that it threatened to revive a killer press instinct that had been dormant for the previous four years. Of course, it helped that it was a Clinton-flavored scandal: That May, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s former campaign finance director, David Rosen, went on trial for his handling of a 2000 fundraiser staged in Hollywood to benefit Clinton’s campaign for the U.S. Senate. Rosen was accused of hiding, or underreporting, $800,000 worth of costs. At the time, CNN political editor John Mercurio suggested that Rosen’s funny money trial “reminds people of Whitewater” and the “sleazy side of the Clinton administration that [Hillary] and the president are both trying to forget.”
Taking the lead in trumpeting the importance of the Rosen trial was ABC’s The Note. An inside-baseball daily tip sheet for a readership it has dubbed the “Gang of 500” (politicians, lobbyists, consultants, and journalists who help shape the Beltway’s public agenda), The Note is posted online every weekday morning and is widely viewed as the agenda-setter for the political class. On 14 different days between May 2 and 27, The Note posted cumulatively nearly forty links to Rosen-related articles, calling them “must-read.” A typical Note entry came on May 10, highlighting “The opening and closing paragraphs in Dick Morris’ New York Post column–perfectly explaining why the David Rosen story is going to be with us for a while.”
On the day before the Rosen verdict, The Note listed “Waiting for the Rosen verdict” as the number-one priority among the Gang of 500. The next day, a federal jury acquitted Rosen of any wrongdoing. How did The Note handle this news about the trial it had hyped? By ignoring it. The next edition of The Note included a long round-up of must-reads from the Memorial Day weekend. Rosen’s not-guilty verdict was not among them.
Halperin really earned his #1 spot on the hack list too.