Funny Reason Nixon picked His Nemesis, Hunter S. Thompson, to Be the Only Reporter to Ride with Him

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Hunter S. Thompson, the creator of Gonzo Journalism, was chosen to ride with his self-described nemesis Richard Nixon during the 1968 election. The reason? Nixon felt like talking football, and Thompson was the only journalist who knew anything about the sport.

### The Good Doctor’s recollection of that car ride:

“Actually, I suspected he didn’t know football from pig-hustling and that he mentioned it from time to time only because his wizards had told him it would make him seem like a regular guy. But I was wrong. Nixon knows pro football. He’d taken Oakland and six points in the Super Bowl, he said, because Vince Lombardi had told him up in Green Bay that the AFL was much stronger than the sportswriters claimed. Nixon cited Oakland’s sustained drive in the second half as evidence of their superiority over the Kansas City team that had challenged the Packers in 1967 and had totally collapsed in the second half. ‘Oakland didn’t fold up,’ he said. ‘That second half drive had Lombardi worried.’ I remembered it, and mentioned the scoring play – a sideline pass to an unknown receiver named Bill Miller.

Nixon hesitated for a moment, then smiled broadly and slapped me on the leg. ‘That’s right,’ he said. ‘Yes, the Miami boy.’ I couldn’t believe it; he not only knew Miller, but he knew what college he’d played for. It wasn’t his factual knowledge of football that stunned me; it was his genuine interest in the game. ‘You know,’ he said, ‘the worst thing about campaigning, for me, is that it ruins my whole football season. I’m a sports buff, you know. If I had another career, I’d be a sportscaster – or a sportswriter.’
I smiled and lit a cigarette. The scene was so unreal that I felt like laughing out loud – to find myself zipping along a New England freeway in a big yellow car, being chauffeured around by a detective while I relaxed in the back seat and talked about football with my old buddy Dick Nixon, the man who came within 100,000 votes of causing me to flee the country in 1960.”

From: “Presenting: The Richard Nixon Doll (Overhauled 1968 Model)”, Pageant, July 1968.

Of course this isn’t news to we Gonzo Journalists who have read all of Hunter’s work, most notably Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 and The Great Shark Hunt in this instance. But it is still fun and entertaining to talk about. Plus, just look at him swimming in that Nixon mask. Hilarious.

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“Funny Reason Nixon picked His Nemesis, Hunter S. Thompson, to Be the Only Reporter to Ride with Him”