While Timothy Leary’s 1970 escape from a minimum security prison in California with the aid of The Weathermen is the stuff of countercultural legend, recently released Federal Bureau of Investigation files reveal a lesser-known detail of the incident: Leary’s ruthless trolling of then Governor Ronald Reagan.
Last month, we kicked off a crowdsourcing campaign to explore Ronald Reagan’s 30,000-page Federal Bureau of Investigation file. So far we’ve received nearly 100 submissions, and we wanted to highlight a few of the most interesting finds so far.
With the recent launch of both our book of Federal Bureau of Investigation files and a crowdsourced effort to analyze Ronald Reagan’s 30,000-page file, we thought it would be the perfect time to answer one of the most frequently asked questions we get here at MuckRock: How do you even begin to tackle these huge releases?
Ronald Reagan’s decades-long association with the Federal Bureau of Investigation - from his early days as an anti-Communist informant in Hollywood to the law and order governor of California to President of the United States during Iran-Contra - is attested to in his 30,000-page file, recently released to Emma Best. Due to the size and scope of the historical material contained in these pages, we’re using our new Assignments tool to start a crowdsourced project to hone in on the most interesting finds buried in the Bureau’s margins.
Last week, we took our first look into Ronald Reagan’s recently released Federal Bureau of Investigation file and how it documented the close personal friendship between Reagan and Director J. Edgar Hoover. However, a section of the file from a decade earlier reveals a much less auspicious first encounter between the Gipper and the G-Man, with Hoover repeatedly turning down a starstruck Reagan’s offer to guest star on General Electric Theater.