What Is It About 'This Town'?

Connor Simpson
What Is It About 'This Town'?

There's a book coming out soon called This Town, written by The New York Times Magazine's Mark Leibovich, and it includes some very interesting tidbits about Washington power players that you may or may not care about. In case you do care, here are the best ones. 

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Over the last 36 hours or so, the self-promotion machine for This Town kicked into full-swing, albeit a little early. The embargo for This Town pieces wasn't set to lift until today, July 4, but it was already on sale at an airport bookstore Wednesday afternoon, a little less than two weeks ahead of its July 16 release date. So items about the book were posted slightly earlier than expected, with Poltico's Dylan Byers and the Washington Post's Chris Lozada publishing different takes. (One a summary of interesting bits, the other a review.) But it didn't really matter in the end, anyway, because Leibovich was also dropping his massive, nine page tell-all New York Times Magazine cover story late last night, too. It was an excerpt from the book detailing the real, complete story behind how former Rep. Darrell Issa spokesman Kurt Bardella got fired for forwarding emails to Leibovich. The book covers the self-obsessed, egomaniacal back-patting and back-stabbing that dominates the Washington political media complex, where reporters and flacks and power brokers mingle and maul in equal measure. No one is safe, from the Clintons to the President to the David Gregory to the Politico guys to whomever else has been deemed important within those circles. Everyone is using you to get further up the food chain. Washington is exactly like Veep and West Wing, only somehow even worse. 

In that way, the story of Bardella is the best barometer to judge whether or not you'll care about or enjoy This Town. The Post's Lozada called Bardella's story, the part of the book covered in the excerpt released today, "among the most gripping portions of This Town." It's probably not a good sign, then, that I fell asleep for fifteen minutes around page four of the Times' excerpt. 

That passage may only interest you if you're a very devoted follower of Washington's inside-baseball media coverage. But there are plenty of other interesting bits in the book that could make you chuckle if you at least passively follow American politics and the major journalists who report on such things. You may not know Bardella, but you're familiar with the power players on the Hill and the aides who appear on the Sunday talk shows to cover their boss's butt when things get hot. For those people, Lozada has condensed every blogable bite into a single paragraph

Here’s how some Leading Thinkers came out: In “This Town,” we’re told that Chris Matthews and Matt Lauer have joked that David Gregory would rub out a few colleagues to advance his career. That Bill and Hillary Clinton are convinced that Tim Russert disliked them, and that they’re not wrong. That Harry Reid has “observed privately to colleagues” that John Kerry has no friends. That West Wing types suspected Valerie Jarrett had “earpiece envy” after David Axelrod got Secret Service protection, and so arranged the same for herself. And that when a national security official suggested that Obama shouldn’t skip the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner on the weekend of the Osama bin Laden raid because the media might get suspicious, Hillary Clinton looked up and issued her verdict: “[Expletive] the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.”

For the record, Clinton said "Fuck the White House Correspondents' Dinner." We know this because Byers revealed it, too, and there were plenty of blog posts written about that very detail yesterday. These are the best headlines about the bold-faced names in This Town, all condensed into a single paragraph. Hopefully Lozada saved you some time. Now go buy the book, if you're still interested.