Recall, first of all, what a bizarre situation we in the Johnson White House had on our hands back in 1964. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was sending us a constant stream of unsupported allegations from "anonymous informants" about people in the administration (and others) rumored to be gay.
In those days, this was no small matter. The mere accusation was sufficient to end a career. Several years earlier, as I worked one afternoon at the Senate Office Building, I heard the crack of a gunshot one floor above as a United States senator committed suicide over his son's outing. I have never forgotten that sound.
I asked C.I. about that. I didn't know a sitting senator had ever taken their own life. (C.I. says there were at least four who have.) The one Bill Moyers is chatting about is Lester Hunt and he died in June of 1954 and "I find that story strange for a number of reasons, but Moyers was an intern for LBJ that summer."
I asked, "Is this hidden history? Why didn't Moyers mention the senator's name?" C.I. suggested that Moyers mentioning the name -- naming the victim -- would have underscored how wrong what Moyers did a decade later was. And, no, this was hidden history. C.I. suggested I check Wikipedia, which I did and here it is:
In July 1953, Hunt's twenty-year-old son was arrested for soliciting prostitution from a male undercover police officer in Lafayette Square. Republicans learned of this and delivered a blackmail demand in early 1954: Hunt was to retire from the Senate and not run for re-election; furthermore, he was to resign from the Senate immediately, so the Republican governor could appoint a Republican to run as an incumbent. If Hunt refused, Wyoming voters would be informed of the arrest of Hunt's son. On June 8, 1954, after some vacillation, Hunt announced that he would not seek reelection, citing a kidney ailment. Eleven days later, he shot himself in his Senate office. Although The New York Times attributed Hunt's suicide to "apparent despondency over his health", journalist Drew Pearson published a column stating that Senators Styles Bridges (R-NH) and Herman Welker (R-ID) had delivered the ultimatum to Hunt.