Of course lodge brothers -- Perry's a political reporter for the National Observer -- can hardly be faulted for believing in the power of press, but to attribute the success or failure of every 1972 presidential candidate to the preternatural charms of the media, as he does here, is twaddle. According to Perry, the journalists made Muskie the frontrunner and then destroyed him; gave Lindsay bad ink and nipped his cosmetic bid in the proverbial bud; treated Triple H like ""somebody's aging uncle. . .you know, a bit of a bore"" and eventually knocked the old avuncular terrier out of the race. Ali that might stand up if it weren't for the fact that McGovern, who was liberally ignored by both the print and broadcast kingmakers, won his party's nomination (""Obviously, we underestimated the man we called, patronizingly, McGoo""), or the fact that President Waterbag, conservatively despised by the reporters (""Nobody in the Washington press corps, it seems, loves Richard Nixon""), won reelection by a landslide. Perry is quick to admit the fallibility of the press when in retrospect it erred -- ""We should be criticized for being mistaken so often, for being incoherent, for not telling the full story, for being so mechanical, for being rigid and old-fashioned"" -- but he's equally prepared to accept the lion's share of responsibility for the sinking of the good ship Eagleton. This is a mildly interesting book if you're after insider opinion about the respective ratings of David Broder, Johnny Apple, et al. as political savants; otherwise it's an exercise in syllogism -- which came first, Big Ed's boohoo fit in the snows of New Hampshire or the press account thereof?.