I can’t help myself, I love Lyndon Johnson


Fifty years ago, the Smothers Brothers were the gutsiest show on television. By today’s standards, they were very mild but they were critical enough of President Lyndon Johnson that Johnson called William Paley, the head of CBS, to complain, leading to this story I heard on NPR.

On their final show, Dick read a letter he and Tom had gotten from former President Johnson. These days, President Donald Trump responds to Saturday Night Live skits with angry tweets. Back then, former President Johnson, reflecting on his treatment by the Smothers Brothers, responded by writing: ‘It is part of the price of leadership of this great and free nation to be the target of clever satirists. You have given the gift of laughter to our people. May we never grow so somber or self-important that we fail to appreciate the humor in our lives.’


6 thoughts on “I can’t help myself, I love Lyndon Johnson

  1. I don’t recall the Smothers Brothers having a “last show”. They were taken off the air after a long term fight with CBS brass over censorship and the Johnson administration put a lot of pressure on the CBS President about the show. What source are you citing where they read this message from Lyndon Johnson? The quote itself doesn’t sound like anything he would say, but I am just requesting a citation on the quote. Thanks.

  2. Your blog is the only site in which I’ll read the comments. So civilized, so reasoned.

    As for Lyndon Baines Johnson, I’ll add that I had the best Chicken Fried Steak of my life in his hometown, have visited the family homestead and his Presidential Library. All courtesy of living in Austin.

    1. Thanks, Laura. I’ve only been to one presidential library (Clinton, which was a disappointment), but I would love to see both Truman’s and Johnson’s.

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