Longtime FBI head J. Edgar Hoover, subject of a much-anticipated biopic this fall, became obsessed with discrediting a Los Angeles Times reporter he believed was preparing a story asserting that Hoover was gay.
A Times article published Monday says that in the early 1970s, prize-winning investigative journalist Jack Nelson reported on various abuses by the FBI but was not concerned with Hoover’s sexuality. While there have been many claims that Hoover and close friend Clyde Tolson were lovers, Hoover always denied he was gay.
Still, convinced that Nelson was going to characterize him as gay, Hoover limited the Times’ access to information and complained about the journalist to a variety of sources, calling him an excessive drinker, “a mental case,” and “a lice-covered ferret.” Hoover died in 1972, and Nelson continued to have a distinguished newspaper career, eventually becoming Washington, D.C., bureau chief for the Times. He died in 2009 at age 80.
Rachel Maddow referred to the matter on the “Debunktion Junction” segment of her MSNBC show Monday night, noting among other things that ferrets do not get lice. Watch here.