FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was so thin-skinned about the bureau that he personally responded when comedian George Carlin poked fun at the FBI on TV, according to documents obtained by Newsmax under the Freedom of Information Act.
Carlin, best known for the “Seven Dirty Words” routine that figured in a 1978 Supreme Court obscenity case, died in June 2008 after a career featuring routines so virulently anti-establishment that Hoover would have been appalled.
His FBI file contains a letter from a viewer in Cocoa Beach, Fla., complaining about Carlin’s comedy routine on “The Carol Burnett Show” on May 4, 1970, and calling his “take-off” on the FBI “a flagrant display of poor taste.” The letter was highly complimentary of the bureau and Hoover.
A copy of the letter was also sent to Hoover.
An FBI memorandum written several days later stated: “The Director has received a copy of a letter” that “refers to Miss Burnett’s television program . . . in which a guest, George Carlin, did a ‘take-off’ on the FBI, the Director, and the ‘ten most wanted’ . . .
“The Director has inquired: ‘What do we know of Carlin?’”
The memorandum disclosed that the only information on Carlin in the FBI’s files concerned criticism of his appearance on Jackie Gleason’s TV program.
On the same date the memo was written, Hoover sent a letter to the Cocoa Beach viewer stating: “I do want to express my thanks for your kind remarks and expressions of confidence. It is always good to know that we have the support of such staunch friends as you.”
Carlin’s file also contains material relating to his Jan. 25, 1969, appearance on “The Jackie Gleason Show,” including a letter sent to the show by a viewer in Dallas who complained about Carlin’s remarks about “crime and the Department of Justice.” Again, a copy was sent to the FBI.
An FBI memorandum was written in response. It referred to Carlin as “an alleged comedian.”
The memo stated that Carlin “referred to the Bureau and the Director in a satirical vein. His treatment was in very poor taste and it was obvious that he was using the prestige of the Bureau and Mr. Hoover to enhance his performance.
“As an example, he commented on one occasion, ‘I’m J. Edgar Hoover. I have just come back from a stakeout with [former Attorney General] Ramsey Clark — that is, a cookout in the back yard.’”
The memo asserted that Gleason himself “thinks that the Director is one of the greatest men who has ever lived.”
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