Then There Was That Day When Gerald Ford Half-Strangled A Reporter…

1029chaseford.jpgIn 1974, Daily News bureau chief Tom DeFrank heard some surprisingly frank words from a pre-presidential Gerald Ford:

One afternoon, DeFrank found himself alone with the veep — Ford’s press secretary had fallen asleep next door. Ford was taking hits from Nixon loyalists who thought he wasn’t sufficiently supportive. “Dick Nixon knows I’ve been loyal,” Ford groused. “Why do they do this?” DeFrank blurted his opinion: Nixon supporters were angry because he was finished and Ford would become president. “You’re right,” Ford blurted back. “But when the pages of history are written, nobody can say I contributed to it.” Ford instantly realized his words would make headlines and tried to take them back. “You didn’t hear that,” he said, then walked around the desk and grabbed DeFrank’s tie, telling him he couldn’t leave until they had an understanding. After a tense silence, he said, “Write it when I’m dead.” “Okay,” said the terrified reporter.

DeFrank didn’t report his encounter with VP Ford until it was published in his memoir — which is coming out this week.

We’ve gotta say, Tom has more restraint that nearly any other reporter in the world — why didn’t that story come out after, say, Jimmy Carter‘s inauguration?