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Zito, Tom

Date: Thu, 17 Jan 2002 19:15:35 -0500

Tom Zito

As the rock critic for the "Washington Post", he interviewed Bob Dylan on 16
Jan 1974. During the interview, when asked as to why he wasn't participating
in benefit concerts for politicians, Bob Dylan replied: "George McGovern
wasn't starving. He just wanted to be President." Bob Dylan later requested
that this quote not be used in the published article, but Tom Zito
ultimately decided to include it.

Paul West, in Chapter 4 of "Knockin' on Dylan's Door: On the Road in '74",
describes the incident as follows.

(In Washington, Dylan wasn't in a mood to talk to any reporters, after reading a Washington Post article by Tom Zito, who had interviewed Dylan in Boston, early on the morning of January 15th. Zito asked Dylan about the Bangladesh concert and why Dylan didn't do any political benefits. "There were millions of people starving in Bangladesh," Dylan replied. "George McGovern wasn't starving. He just wanted to be President." He continued: "Actually, maybe the problem is that I don't like the Democratic-Republican system. I like monarchies, kings, and queens." (After the interview, Zito said, Dylan approached him in the hotel hallway: "Gee, do you think you could scratch that stuff about McGovern? It wasn't right for me to say it." Zito proceeded to include the McGovern quote and reported Dylan asking him to cut the material. ("That wasn't the agreement we made before the interview," Zito said, "that he'd have approval of what I wrote." Questioned further, Zito said there was no "agreement" of any sort made before the talk, but that "I felt I had to use it. I felt it was one of the few questions where be said something more than one sentence, something that came from inside him.")
- Paul West: "Dylan in Atlanta: "Great to Be in Joe-jah!" in "Knockin' on Dylan's Door: On the Road in '74" (New York : Pocket Books, 1974. ISBN: 671786822), pgs. 57-58
From: ( Subject: 1974 interview (was Re: American Spectator, etc.) Newsgroups: Date: 1997/07/27 Seth Kulick wrote: > > And at least if we want to count on what > he said back in 1974, he gave an interview in which he put down McGovern > for "just wanting to be president", or something like that, but then > asked the reporter not to print that because he thought McGovern had his > "heart in the right place", although these are not exact quotes. > Pretty close, though. A guy from the Washington Post named Tom Zito (I think) asked Dylan why he wasn't doing benefit concerts like some of the California rockers had been doing for politicians (Jerry Browne, for instance). And Dylan answered, "George McGovern wasn't starving, he just wanted to be president." Later he apparently felt bad about that and asked Zito not to use that quote because, as you said, McGovern's "heart was in the right place." This turned into an interesting story, because Zito did use the quote, and Dylan got pissed off and refused any more interviews on that tour. For my money Zito's choice was fine, in that he used the McGovern quote but also the disclaimer, making it clear what Dylan's feelings were -- which you proved by quoting the story in this context. Of course, Dylan is also free to decline interviews for any reason he wants, and if he took offense, that's fine too. But I seem to recall reading in Rolling Stone or somewhere back then that journalists in later cities on the tour were highly annoyed at Zito; and even then I thought they were out of line. Probably most of them would have chosen to use those quotes just as Zito had done. -- Bob G.
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