Washington read
n. The perusal of a book in a bookstore that consists of checking the index for references to oneself and reading only those parts of the book.

Example Citations:
MR. THOMPSON: Have you read this book?

MR. ARMITAGE: I'm the only honest person in Washington.

MR. THOMPSON: (Laughs.)

MR. ARMITAGE: I gave it the Washington read.

MR. THOMPSON: You looked in the index to see if your name was in it.

MR. ARMITAGE: And then what was said about me.
—James R. Thompson and Richard Armitage, "Panel IV of Day Two of the Eighth Public Hearing of the National Commission On Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States," Federal News Service, March 24, 2004

[Primary Colors] should have been just an insiders' guessing game fit for a "Washington read" — check the blurb, go to the index to see if you're mentioned. What a stunning trick, to make a brilliant and reflective novel instead.
—John Goulter, "Brilliant novel shadows the Clintons' rise," The Evening Post (Wellington, New Zealand), March 22, 1996

Earliest Citation:
There was the usual jesting about the "Washington read," which consists of a flip through the index in search of one's name. "I always thought what I'd do was list people in the index but not put them in the book," said former Carter press secretary turned political columnist Jody Powell.
—Mary Battiata, "Reliving the Campaign; Newsweek Fetes 'Quest for the Presidency'," The Washington Post, June 12, 1985

Notes:
When Richard Ben Cramer published his 1992 book, What It Takes: The Way to the White House, a blow-by-blow account of the 1988 U.S. presidential campaign, many people were surprised that, despite its 1,000-page bulk, it contained no index. In an interview with The New York Times, Mr. Cramer explained why:

"For years I watched all these Washington jerks, all these Capitol Hill, executive-branch, agency wise guys and reporters go into, say, Trover bookstore, take a political book off the shelf, look up their names, glance at the page and put the book back. Washington reads by index, and I wanted those people to read the damn thing."

Did it work? Not exactly, at least according to James D. Pinkerton, an advisor to the 1988 Bush-Quayle campaign. The Times reported that Mr. Pinkerton "had his secretary pre-read the book, combing it for any references to him."

Thanks to Gerry Howard for passing along this phrase.

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