Hunter S. Thompson is known for many things. The famous coverage of the 1972 presidential campaign: Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail is one of them. Let’s see what he would have to say about D. Trump.
A Dark, Yet Beautiful Mind
Hunter was born into a middle-class family in Louisville, Kentucky. He was a writer, a journalist, a husband and father, a troublemaker and an addict. He also became the literary voice of a whole generation. With books like: Hell’s Angels, Kingdom of Fear, The Rum Diary and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, he wrote himself into the hearts of millions. Hunter also wrote in-depth about the Hippies of San Francisco. This was often referred to as “an observation on the 1960’s counterculture.”
He first got attention from Hollywood in 1980 when Bill Murray portrayed him in the semi-biographical movie Where the Buffalo Roam. In 1994, he met with Johnny Depp who then later famously portrayed him in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which resulted in a lifelong friendship with Hunter. In this case, lifelong ended on February 20, 2005 when Hunter took his own life. He shot himself in his home in Woody Creek, Colorado. But Hunter would not be Hunter if he hadn’t some final word(s). The police report stated that in his typewriter was a piece of paper with the date and a single word: “counselor”.
Sean Penn once said: “Whenever I got stuck on something or was dealing with current politics, I could always go on speakerphone with a drink in my hand and call up Woody Creek.” — John Cusack said in an interview: “Any call I got between 12 and 6am was either Hunter or bad news, sometimes both. Now, if my phone rings at 4 in the morning, it’s always bad news.” After Hunter died, Johnny Depp organized his funeral by fulfilling Hunter’s last wish: The Cannon. His ashes were fired from a 153-foot tower with a cannon on top of it. The tower had the shape of his signature Gonzo Fist.
Gonzo Journalism and Politics
In 1970, Hunter wrote an article entitled The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved for the Scanlan’s Monthly Magazine. This was the article where he first used the techniques of Gonzo journalism. A style that he would keep for the rest of his life. Anyone who reads Hunter knows that he is about a lot more than sex, drugs and rock-and-roll — although it is him who gets credit for introducing all three of those to the mainstream journalism.
Hunter was unwilling to just observe the wrongdoings of politicians. He wanted to create a newer, better politics by exploring a more radical prospect. His New Left activism not only resulted in a campaign to become the Sheriff of Pitkin County, Colorado in 1970, it led to a once-in-a-lifetime presidential campaign coverage for the Rolling Stone Magazine in 1972.
I moved to Washington and began covering the ’72 presidential campaign. As far as I was concerned, there was no such thing as “off the record.” The most consistent and ultimately damaging failure of political journalism in America has its roots in the clubby/cocktail personal relationships that inevitably develop between politicians and journalists. I had never covered a presidential campaign before I got into this one, but I quickly got so hooked on it that I began betting on the outcome of each primary.
This gives you a pretty good understanding of what Hunter thought about political journalism. It was the beginning of an unprecedented, personal fight against what he hated the most: Richard Nixon.
“There is no such thing as objective journalism”
The rules were pretty clear from the beginning. (R) Richard Nixon vs. (D) George McGovern and Hunter S. Thompson. He went on to become a fierce critic of Nixon during the campaign, throughout his presidency and afterwards. Hunter described Nixon as a man who “could shake your hand and stab you in the back at the same time.” Further he said: “He was a swine of a man and a jabbering dupe of a president.”
Hunter continued to attack Nixon after McGovern lost. Maybe because he never understood how the American people could vote for such a “crook”, or maybe simply because to him, Nixon was the human reincarnation of the devil. After Nixon passed away, Hunter wrote A scathing obituary of Richard Nixon where he expressed his thoughts about Nixon for one last time.
He was scum. Let there be no mistake in the history books about that. Richard Nixon was an evil man. Evil in a way that only those who believe in the physical reality of the Devil can understand it. It was Richard Nixon who got me into politics, and now that he’s gone, I feel lonely. He was a giant in his way. As long as Nixon was politically alive — and he was, all the way to the end — we could always be sure of finding the enemy on the Low Road. There was no need to look anywhere else for the evil bastard. He was utterly without ethics or morals or any bedrock sense of decency. Nobody trusted him and honest historians will remember him mainly as a rat who kept scrambling to get back on the ship. Some people will say that words like scum and rotten are wrong for Objective Journalism — which is true, but they miss the point. It was the built-in blind spots of the Objective rules and dogma that allowed Nixon to slither into the White House in the first place.
One thing is clear: Hunter would have hated today’s political situation, he would have loved the activism though. The result would have probably been the funniest, most honest and most disturbing book about politics ever. But what has this to do with Donald Trump? Well, read the article again, replace Nixon with Trump, and you have the answer to what Hunter would have thought of Donald Trump.