A former New York Times reporter looks at the personalities of the elite within the Washington press corps. ""In order to more nearly understand the news from Washington,"" Collier writes, ""you must more nearly understand the life of the person who tells you what the news may be. News is a point of view. What's news to me may not be news to you."" Amen. But Collier's name-dropping, guidebook to Washington restaurants where he lunches with his subjects, and his often self-indulgent writing reveal little about where these journalists are coming from--ideologically or personally. When Collier does hit the mark, however, the vignettes are quite telling. He dissects Washington Post interviewer Sally Quinn; Sander Vanocur, who got too close to the Kennedys to maintain his journalistic detachment and is now genteelly down and out; Art Buchwald, whose unhappy childhood is so at odds with his present zany image and satiric bent; and investigative reporter Clark Mollenhoff's seduction into politics. Collier's story of his own attempt to become a television reporter is priceless (he flopped his TV screen test). Still one wonders how useful it is to know how Rowland Evans butters his toast, how Dan Rather sings in the shower to deepen his voice, columnist Carl Rowan's poker philosophy, or Jack Anderson's religious thinking. There is a tremendous amount of padding and the occasional flashes only reinforce the feeling that he didn't even get at the really good gossip.