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Andrea Chalupa

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The Nation and George Lois Speak Truth to Power

Posted: 08/16/2012 3:13 pm

Three months after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, a group of abolitionists in Manhattan founded The Nation, a magazine "to wage war upon the vices of violence, exaggeration and misrepresentation by which so much of the political writing of the day is marred." It sounds like they too had a Fox News menace. Unfortunately, the war continues, so The Nation has joined forces with the fearless George Lois.

Just how fearless? He wasn't afraid to challenge the political views of one of his biggest clients, Bobby Kennedy.

In 1964, as an unstoppable art director during the creative revolution sweeping Madison Avenue, Lois was tapped by Kennedy's U.S. Senate race in New York. "They'd seen advertising we did for Jacob Javits who was a Republican, but a good Republican," said Lois in his downtown apartment, a wonder of art including captivating and playful paintings of machinery by his wife Rosemary Lewandowski-Lois.

As Lois's ad campaign was helping Kennedy win his Senate race, these combustible personalities got into two explosive arguments over the war. Kennedy believed in the domino theory, that the war in Vietnam would stop the spread of communism; and Lois, a veteran who fought in Korea, America's first military industrial complex campaign, knew war.

After keeping in touch over the years, Lois got a call in 1967 from Senator Kennedy's office. When the secretary patched Lois through, and Bobby came on the line, the garrulous Lois jumped right into conversation. Kennedy cut him off, "'Shut up, George... quiet.'" Lois recalled him saying, "I'm about to go downstairs and say I'm against the war.'" Kennedy, according to Lois, ended the call with a warm Boston salute (aka expletive), and hung up the phone. Hear Lois's poignant retelling of the story and his spot-on yet brief Bobby impersonation in the video:

For a living legend who has seen and protested war, verbally boxed with a Kennedy, directed a music video for Bob Dylan, and seen dozens of his thought-provoking Esquire magazine covers on permanent display in the Museum of Modern Art, Lois has built a career and inspired a generation of greats by speaking truth to power.

Starting August 20th, The Nation will be running a weekly Lois ad featuring a Timeless Whopper -- a shameless lie and a close-up of the politician who told it, his or her face crowned with a Pinocchio nose. Cheney and Powell fooling the world into thinking Iraq had weapons of mass destruction? Pin the nose on the liar. Roger Ailes calling his network "fair and balanced?" The nose on Ailes has grown just a tad bit longer. Romney taking credit for saving Detroit? His nose is longer than a stretch limo. Bill Clinton "did not have sex with that woman?" You get the point.

In an age of corporate owned media, the non-profit weekly magazine has been "Reading Between The Lies" for 150 years, come 2015, says Lois. Beholden only to its readers and the truth, The Nation's celebratory anniversary campaign will feature liars on both sides of the aisle and picked from the latest head-shaking headlines.


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