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Morton Downey's swastika


Maybe it's unfair to include Morton Downey, Jr., on a website about bogus hate crimes since the man never admitted that he faked this incident, but nobody anywhere on Planet Earth thinks that he didn't fake it. If his momma was alive, even she would have doubts.

And what's more, the Morton Downey swastika is so iconic as a fake that people bring it up every time there's a bogus hate crime involving a swastika. "Oh, look, she pulled a Morton Downey, Jr." people will say.

Morton Downey, Jr., was a shooting star who blazed across television's firmament in the late 1980's as an abrasive, profane, rude, obnoxious television talk show host. Imagine Jerry Springer with less class. (I know, I know, that's like imagining the end of an infinite line.) He would yell at his guests, yell at his studio audience, flip his middle finger at the television cameras, whatever he thought would fascinate viewers. This kind of shtick was new back then—now it's normal fare for the one billion reality shows that dominate television.

Downey's show started in the fall of 1987, was a bona-fide hit all through 1988, and was suffering in the ratings and close to dead by the middle of 1989. That's how quickly the American public got sick of him. By the fall of 1989 he was desperate to save his show from cancellation.

That's when he staggered out of a San Francisco International Airport bathroom with a swastika scrawled on his face and a story about being attacked by neo-Nazis who attempted to shave his head.

(Shave his head? Why? If a skinhead shaves your head, does that automatically infuse you with an affection for Adolf Hitler? I don't get it.)

Anyway, because the police could find no corroborating evidence, and because there was a young teenager present who saw nothing resembling a gang of head-shaving Nazis, and, most importantly, because the swastika was painted on his face backward as though he did it to himself in a mirror, well, world opinion was pretty much unanimous that he faked the incident to derive sympathetic publicity in the hope that said publicity would save his television show.

It didn't. The show was cancelled a couple months later.


3/11/01 - - Morton Downey, Jr - Talk Show Host

3/13/01 - CBS News - Morton Downey Jr. Dies - Mort's Bio

Wikipedia - Morton Downey, Jr.

Posted from Reno, Nevada, USA

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