We report, you dissect?

Ever since I read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas when it was published in excerpts in Rolling Stone magazine, I've always enoyed Hunter S. Thompson's stuff. I was sorry to see him go, and I especially wish he hadn't shot himself, because already his death is being spun as another indictment of evil guns.

And Thompson is being spun as a liberal icon.

Never mind that the guy hated iconology, resented the Trudeau cartoon of him, and above all, wasn't easy to pigeonhole. They'll pigeonhole him anyway.

This morning I saw a perfect example (by sports columnist Phil Sheridan) which got me off my ass enough to at least crank out a blog post. Excerpt:

But his best work was decades behind him. That may have something to do with Thompson's decision to take his own life at age 67. Maybe it was just inevitable, given his famous love of both guns and mind-altering substances.

And then there is this possibility: Thompson has named Ernest Hemingway as one of his own idols. Hemingway also started in newspapers, also wrote about sports. Hemingway also created a persona that became bigger and more well-known than his actual work. Hemingway also got to his 60s, his best work behind him, before shooting himself.

Just a thought.

Between his early, long-forgotten sports writing and his recent Web column, Thompson wrote about America. He liked to talk about the dark side of the American dream, and his work often was angered or disgusted by political corruption or hypocritical enforcement of drug laws. But the anger and disgust were fueled by more than ether, bourbon and amphetamines.

They were fueled by a belief in the American promise.

For those of us who believed along with him, who found the trail he blazed grown over and abandoned, there is some consolation.

Like most true originals, Thompson was a product of his time and place. There is no chance the celeb-obsessed Rolling Stone magazine of 2005 would have published the troubled and troubling work Thompson turned in back in the early '70s.

Imagine his coverage of the 1972 presidential campaign being dissected by faceless gotcha-bloggers.

OK stop right there! Here's one faceless blogger who is not about to dissect Thompson or his work. The guy was a great writer, and whether he was entirely accurate in all details is beside the point. His work can speak for itself.

And instead of dissection, why not stick to reporting? Instead of imagining Hunter Thompson's coverage of the 1972 presidential campaign being "dissected by faceless gotcha-bloggers," let's try to imagine something else.

Like, let's imagine Hunter Thompson's thoughts about Bill Clinton even being reported (much less "dissected") by at least one MSM reporter! I've seen plenty of references to what the man said about Nixon, and I have to admit, Thompson was quite adept at spotting the human dark side. It's what I like about him, for God's sake. And I don't have to agree with him to like his writing, not do I need to dissect. For starters, I have too much respect for the deceased.

So here's the unreported, undissected Hunter Thompson on Bill Clinton:

...one of my greatest tactical errors in politics... I don't want to go down in history or have my son read that his father endorsed Clinton two times.

I had no idea what a treacherous bastard he really is. I'm shocked he went so low. You'd think after grappling with Richard Nixon that you would know where the low road is, ... but Clinton's treachery is really sleazy. It's his character defects. I think Clinton will prove to be one of the great fascists of our time.

(I remember seeing the same quote in the Washington Times in the late 1990s, which was confirmed here.)

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: do not dissect the above!

Thompson's words must be left exactly as-is!

But speaking of dissection.... in light of the recent hubbub over the precise definition of "journalist," might it be worth asking whether Thompson would have survived journalistic dissection? I refer, of course, to that very pompous term I've seen tossed about by MSM journalists lately -- "credentials":

Thompson abilities as a writer and, more importantly, as a ruthless con man were evident early in his life. He was born July 18, 1937 in Louisville, Kentucky. As a youth, he had several run-ins with the law but was regarded as brilliant by his high school English teacher. Even then he wrote in a sardonic style and constantly attacked the status quo.

After graduating (which he did while in a jail cell, serving a six-week sentence for robbery while the rest of his fellow graduates were receiving their diplomas), Thompson enlisted in the Air Force and graduated from Scott Air Force Base in Belleville, Illinois. In 1956, he was assigned to Eglin Air Proving Ground in Pensacola, Florida. Eglin was where he first began in the field of journalism.

When he arrived, he discovered that the base's newspaper, the Command Courier, was looking for a sports editor. Since he didn't really fit in with armed forces "lifestyle", Thompson conned his way into the position by claiming to have a journalistic background. As Thompson wrote at the time, "The people who hired me didn't bother to check too closely on my journalistic background ... I've managed to keep them in safe ignorance for about a month now."

As a journalist, Thompson didn't need no stinking credentials.

And those who complain about his imaginary dissection at the hands of bloggers should remember that we're all part of the same anatomy lesson . . .


ADDITIONAL NOTE: While you're at it, I suggest reading Jeff Soyer's thoughts on Hunter Thompson's death. And via Glenn Reynolds, be sure to read Tim Blair's tribute. And, of course, James Lileks.

My dark side will really miss Hunter Thompson. Come to think of it, so will my light side....

posted by Eric on 02.22.05 at 08:16 AM


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference We report, you dissect?:

» February 22, 2005 from JasonColeman.com
Classical Values points out that neither the left nor right can lay legitimate claim to Hunter S. Thompson's legacy. I agree, and prefer to just consider him a very unique American. Reform protests in Lebanon and Egypt. OH yeah, and... [Read More]
Tracked on February 22, 2005 9:21 AM
» Hunter S. Thompson (1937-2005) from Done With Mirrors
I was going to root around in my head for two cents on the death of Hunter S. Thompson, but Classical Values went ahead and said everything I could say, better than I could. Bravo. [Read More]
Tracked on February 22, 2005 6:30 PM


Eglin Air Proving Grounds is/was NOT in Pensacola. It is a very large base covering the better part of three counties, and is generally considered to be near Valpariaso. Its ICAO call sign is even VPS. Valpariaso is roughly 50 miles (as the crow flies) East of Pensacola.

Rod Smith   ·  February 22, 2005 3:36 PM

There's a reason for the "liberal media's" downplaying of Thompson's recent remarks about Clinton, which has nothing to do with bias or ideology: when Thompson spoke about Clinton, he simply wasn't "news" anymore, and didn't arouse interest like he did in the '60s and '70s. His fifteen minutes were up, regardless of what he said.

The quote itself, dissected or not, shows why: he no longer had anything worthwhile to say, and his rhetoric simply blended in with all the rest of the Clinton-bashing nonsense that was all the rage among Republicans in the '90s.

Raging Bee   ·  February 22, 2005 4:46 PM

Speaking of expired cache, you may want to consider getting rid of that stupid "Communists for Kerry" logo. Backward R's are so Toys R Us! And while your brand of McCarthyism may be older than I am, that does not make it a "Classical Value."

Raging Bee   ·  February 22, 2005 4:49 PM

You're not gonna like me for doing this, but I dissected a quote from HST's last article after someone pointed out how far off the date was for a quote he gave. 1914 / Arch DUKE ferdinand

Stephen   ·  February 22, 2005 4:54 PM

Fear and Loathing was a sick book. Why did they have to butcher it for a movie?

Alexa   ·  February 22, 2005 8:14 PM


A mark or quality, as of distinction, individuality, or authenticity: "Federal courts have a certain cachet which state courts lack" (Christian Science Monitor).
A seal on a document, such as a letter.

A commemorative design stamped on an envelope to mark a postal or philatelic event.
A motto forming part of a postal cancellation.
A kind of wafer capsule formerly used by pharmacists for presenting an unpleasant-tasting drug.


A hiding place used especially for storing provisions.
A place for concealment and safekeeping, as of valuables.
A store of goods or valuables concealed in a hiding place: maintained a cache of food in case of emergencies.
Computer Science A fast storage buffer in the central processing unit of a computer. Also called cache memory .


Lacking or exhibiting a lack of tact; bluntly inconsiderate or indiscreet.

J. Case   ·  February 23, 2005 8:37 PM

How come no one defined McCarthyism?

Eric Scheie   ·  February 23, 2005 9:03 PM

J. Case, your verbage is outstanding. Have you recently been to a spelling bee? I hear that they're all the rage!

an admirer from afar   ·  February 23, 2005 10:19 PM

C’mon guys. At the end of the day, Thompson’s gonzo style amounted to a celebration of selfish, solipsistic, drug-induced navel-gazing, simply another variant of fashionable avante-garde provocation. Like many elements of the counterculture, Thompson seemed to represent an indefinite extension of teenaged rebellion. But guess what: Not everyone can be Dennis Hopper. Someone has to pick up the trash.

If Thompson were simply writing within the purview of Henry Miller's or Kerouac's universe (let's get high and drive across the country) that’d be one thing, but whenever Thompson tried to inject his opinion of real world events (e.g., politics) into his writing, something substantive within his stylized wittiness, it was nonsense of the Michael Moore variety. Can anyone really take an old, irresponsible, coddled, stoned-out hippie seriously on things like foreign policy, war, or presidential politics?

I don’t care how ‘cool’ he was, why bother wasting one’s time with tripe like: “Not even the foulest atrocities of Adolf Hitler ever shocked me so badly as these [Abu Ghraib] photographs did."

Dude, Hunter is so cool he thinks Abu Ghraib is more shocking than Auschwitz. Dude.

Dave L   ·  February 23, 2005 11:30 PM

"Like many elements of the counterculture, Thompson seemed to represent an indefinite extension of teenaged rebellion."

I've heard the same thing said of Ayn Rand.

Raging Bee   ·  February 24, 2005 9:51 AM

What little I read of Thompson seemed to follow a tired script I tried long ago: take a lot of drugs; blunder into a crowd of people who aren't sharing your high; get paranoid; brag/freak out about how "those people" are nothing but slavering untamed dangerous animals and you're lucky/brave/clever to get out of their clutches alive.

In that sense at least, HST was no better than a white racist who suddenly finds himself in "Darkest Africa" and wonders whether the dark-skinned heathen savages will boil him alive and eat him.

Raging Bee   ·  February 24, 2005 10:30 AM

Lets not forget that the man could WRITE. Who gives a shit about his politics, or what exactly he was on when he wrote his stories. His writing was entertaining, and (at least in the beginning) very fresh. Writing about the Hell's Angels without belittling or glorifying them...now that's got style! And what about his trips to South America and the Caribbean. Sure it wasn't the first time anyone ever did these things, but he did them with style. You may not like him or his politics...hell, he may not have even liked himself...but he told a good story, and his friends really seemed to like him. What more could you ask for? And he did something the Right half of America should have been happy about. Namely, he decreased the population of the world by only having one kid...isn't that what the Reaganites ask of drugged-out hippies?

On a personal note, y'all on the Right seem to have some real issues with winning. You've got the president, congress, and the supreme court, as well as many of our states. And yet, your newscasters on Fox continue to whine about the liberal bias against the Right. And O'Reilly's crying about every Left group in the country. Riddle me this, Bat-shit-man? If the vast majority of money is in the hands of white men (I don't know if there is anyone out there who will dispute this one...but go ahead and try), and the media is a money grubbing entity, and you are have the number one show in the world for the last two years, how come you won't stop shouting at everyone? I've got nothing...no money, no car, a paltry sum of an allowance that my boss gives to me each week...and I don't complain half as much...hell, I like being poor if I didn't have to hear about jerks who make over $10 a year and complain about how they're getting screwed by the Left...whatever...I'll go take a nap and come back to this post when I have more energy to rant.

Anonymous   ·  February 24, 2005 5:22 PM

ahem...$10 million, that is...

Anonymous   ·  February 24, 2005 5:24 PM

"...but [HST] told a good story, and his friends really seemed to like him. What more could you ask for?"

Wow, that's setting the bar really low! Any televangelist with an ounce of charisma could meet that standard. Hell, even Bush Jr. would pass that test.

Raging Bee   ·  February 25, 2005 9:45 AM

Regarding O'Really's crybaby routine, it should also be noted that he's been trying to accuse secular libruls, or Jews, or whoever makes him feel threatened, of trying to "cancel Christmas" and suppress the teachings of Christ.

More here:


Raging Bee   ·  February 25, 2005 11:36 AM

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