Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday's Favs

(Note: every Friday I'll post a favorite rant from the archives)

from June 22, 2009


Not-so-Sweet Lou

Forget the Bushes -- the Romneys might have done the father/son boogaloo in the White House.

If it wasn't for Lou Gordon, that is.

It's a shame that we have grown a whole generation of people who have no idea who Lou was.

Lou Gordon was a media tyrant, in that he put you on his show and sweated the truth out of you under those big TV lights in the WKBD, channel 50 studios.

He made 60 Minutes look like child's play, at times.

Gordon was a Detroit icon, back in the 1960s and '70s. He hosted The Lou Gordon Show on Sunday nights, and when my parents let me stay up to watch it, I usually got an eyeful.

He would bring on everyone from the silly to the serious, and often they ended up the same way: grilled, with marks on their back.

Uri Geller, the reputed mentalist, came on one night and purported to bend spoons. Until Lou humiliated him and exposed him as a fraud.

Lou would get his guests so angry that a familiar scene was said guest ripping off his microphone and stomping off the set -- including Alabama Governor George Wallace, one night.

That's the stuff I especially liked as a kid.

One night, Lou was going to have different reps from different utility companies on, and two of them showed up and one didn't -- yet Lou kept the empty chair on the set the whole show, to constantly remind us that someone was too scared to appear.

Not that I blame that person for taking a pass.

Lou Gordon was a grizzled old journalist whose eyes you couldn't pull the wool over. He saw through the phonies and didn't take just any canned answer at face value.

And it was Lou who derailed, indirectly, George Romney's presidential bid, in 1968.

Romney, the governor of Michigan at the time, went on Lou's show to talk about his experiences in Vietnam, from where he recently returned.

Lou asked him, basically, why Romney had changed his stance, from being pro-war to more anti-war.

"Well, you know, they do a great job over there," Romney said, of the military and the U.S. government's propaganda effort.

"When I came back from Vietnam, I just had the greatest brainwashing that anyone could get. Not only by the generals, but by the diplomatic core."

Uh-oh.

A presidential candidate...brainwashed?

Romney's words, too. Not Lou's.

Lou only provided the rope. George did the rest.

Needless to say, the comment gained legs and ended up destroying Romney's chances to become dog catcher, let alone president.

The "brainwash" remark is among the most infamous in U.S. political history--certainly in the TV age. The moment ranks up there with Senator Ed Muskie and his crying jag when he defended his wife's honor in 1972, as far as torpedoing a presidential bid before it really got started.

Lou's assistant on the show was his wife, Jackie, who screened the calls and was seen on set frequently.




Lou Gordon was also a newspaper columnist and that's where he got most of his journalistic chops.

As one person described him, "He was fearless. I don't think Lou cared if anyone liked him or not."

Lou passed away in 1977, leaving us far too soon -- not that his targets would agree.

For more info about Lou's show, courtesy of his son's company, click HERE.

Here's the clip with George Romney:




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