Newly Public FBI Document Shows Agency Kept Close Watch on Gore Vidal

What Vidal said about FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was of special interest to the agency.

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Author Gore Vidal. May 25, 1987.
Author Gore Vidal. May 25, 1987.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation spent a decade keeping tabs on leftist political critic Gore Vidal, who died last year, according to newly released internal documents.

Vidal's FBI file, which is 35 pages long, shows the agency recorded criticisms the writer made of then-FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, a famously paranoid man who is believed to have kept files on hundreds of government officials and political leaders. The Vidal file was obtained by MuckRock, an organization that works for government transparency, and shared with U.S. News.

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One 1960 internal memo details a scene in which Hoover is ridiculed in Vidal's play "The Best Man." The memo is marked: "For information."

Another memo, written in 1962, notes that Vidal criticized Hoover in a radio interview for the FBI director's supposed persecution of communists. After World War II, Hoover focused much of his attention on rooting out communism in the U.S.

Click below to view the documents:

The file on Vidal begins in 1960, when the political writer unsuccessfully ran for Congress in New York, and ends in 1970, when he was chair of the anti-war People's Party.

Vidal's relationship with the White House also appears to have been of special interest to the FBI. One memo details an incident Vidal spoke of in an Esquire piece, stating that Robert Kennedy had asked Vidal to leave a White House party because the political writer was in an "alcoholically exuberant" state.

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That memo notes that Vidal's fingerprints were put through the criminal files and found to have no arrest record.

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