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Thank God for Pete Hamill. Just when you thought journalism’s franchise on moral bankruptcy had eclipsed even that of lawyers and politicians, tabloid veteran Hamill has surfaced to champion the media’s repressed virtue. News Is a Verb is a 100-page rant against the shoddy state of American newsprint, opening with the industry’s slobbery treatment of Monicagate. But throughout, Hamill insists we’re all just underestimating each othernewspaper people, who “want desperately to do good, honorable work” and whom Hamill labels “the best Americans I know,” and readers, who Hamill says feel “patronized” when reading celebrity journalism. But if shallow, gossipy newspapers are just a product of underachieving, then why, when Hamill “resigned” as editor of the New York Daily News in 1997, had its circulation dropped by 30,000 in the past year? And why did the raunchier New York Post’s circulation rise by 10,000 during the same period? Ask him yourself when he reads at 7 p.m. at Borders, 18 & L Sts. NW. Free. (202) 466-4999. (Amanda Ripley)