In our roundup Tuesday of some of the most embarrassing news conferences held by members of Congress, a list inspired by Rep. Steve Cohen’s recent oddball event in which he explained to the media why he had deleted a tweet to pop icon Cyndi Lauper, it seems we missed the granddaddy of them all.
Our apologies for not bringing you this gem sooner: Back in 1974, an upstart magazine called New Times published a cover story identifying the 10 dumbest members of Congress. The scathing story, written by the magazine’s Washington correspondent Nina Totenberg, bestowed upon Virginia Republican Sen. Bill Scott the dubious distinction of being the very dumbest.
Totenberg’s story was blistering.
And how did the esteemed gentleman from Virginia respond? Why, he decided to address the Fourth Estate, of course, holding a small news conference in his office to deny the report. “Obviously not true,” he told the journalists.
He also said he planned to sue the magazine for libel, but later explained that he might not because he feared he would lose, thus proving that he was, in fact, Congress’s dimmest bulb. The event was made all the funnier by the fact that the news conference seemed only to elevate the original magazine story to national attention — and to provide a punch line for the decades.
A hat tip to the Loop fans with excellent memories who wrote to us recollecting the vintage Scott spectacle.
And an even bigger thanks to Cohen. When we’re tempted to trot out the old lament that “they don’t make ‘em like they used to,” he reminds us that they, in fact, do.
Check out the original Washington Post story here: