Campaign 2000: What I Learned

A sojourn in politics showed me why the press is so often lazy and why telling the truth is not always the best policy

Journalists don't clap.

For 15 years, as a writer and reporter listening to politicians speak, I'd affected the universal pose of my brethren: a slightly bored indifference, perhaps jotting down a note here and there, raising an eyebrow, riffling through the prepared text in search of a quote--but never, ever clapping.

But there I was in Crystal City, Mo., on an overcast fall day in 1999, listening to a candidate I believed in, a candidate I had actually signed up to work for, a candidate who was uttering words I had helped write, and yet some magnetic force was...

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