The Onslaught, Part2
November 18: an article on assassination researcher Dave Perry is published on the CNN website. Perry is asked to comment on some of the most prevalent theories, and dismisses them with the wave of his his hand, sometimes without any real foundation. The belief LBJ was involved, according to Perry, stems from the statements of Madeline Brown, who Perry doesn't believe. He ignores the mountains of other reasons to believe Johnson was involved. The writer of the article, Thom Patterson, reveals his own bias, moreover. He dismisses the thousands if not millions of people who know more about the assassination than himself by writing "Conspiracy theorists have been gathering to compare notes at special symposiums, like the one last month at Pittsburgh's Duquesne University. The event, which included Oliver Stone as a panelist, seemed more like a revival meeting at a Sunday house of worship than an academic conference, according to a reporter who was there. "Replace 'Amen' for 'That's right!' and it would have basically been a church," recalled Rebecca Nuttall."
The article does pull out a few surprises, however. It admits: "The conspiracy theories are still around because people don't know what to believe," said museum curator Gary Mack, who admits he's "not satisfied with the official story." It then reveals that Perry himself remains puzzled about what happened in Mexico City and still wonders about the CIA's involvement. No score.
November 18: While shopping at Target, I notice Jackie Kennedy's face on the cover of People Magazine. Inside is an exclusive excerpt of an upcoming book by Clint Hill on the assassination. (I thought he'd already covered this in his previous book Mrs. Kennedy and Me.) In any event, while reading through Hill's most recent account of the assassination, I notice something is missing: the second shot. In previous accounts, he swore by the recollections of his fellow agents, and insisted Kennedy and Connally were hit by separate shots, and that the single-bullet theory was nonsense. But here he hears a first shot, jumps off the follow-up car, and sees the bullet strike Kennedy's head as he is running toward the limo. There is no mention of a second shot, even to mention he didn't hear it. Did someone get to Hill? It later became public that the 80-something Hill and his 40-something co-writer, Lisa McCubbins, were not just business partners, but life partners, even though Hill was still married. McCubbins' influence seems obvious.
Score: Lone-nuts 52, Conspiracy Theorists 18.
November 19: The Los Angeles Times runs an article on Eugene Boone, the Dallas Deputy credited with finding the rifle in the school book depository. It starts out by discussing Boone's running to the grassy knoll and looking back in the train yards. It then relates: "I saw Pullman cars, and investigated one man who was working on the cars. He said he hadn’t seen anybody or heard the shots. I also talked to a man in the railroad control tower who said he didn’t see anyone run in, didn’t hear the shots." Well, this is interesting. The man in the control tower was Lee Bowers, who always claimed he'd heard three shots, with the second two bang bang. Boone himself had previously said the shots were bang bang. But strangely not here. When asked if he thought there had been a conspiracy, he responds "If there was a conspiracy, the conspiracy was getting Oswald in the right place at the right time to accomplish such a feat. The JFK film [by Oliver Stone] made a big deal about the tree in front of the sniper’s nest — it wasn’t a problem then. The branches barely reached the windowsill." Well, hell. It wasn't Stone who made a big deal about the tree but the Secret Service and Warren Commission, which concluded the tree would have obstructed a shot before frame 210.
Score: Lone-nuts 53, Conspiracy Theorists 18.
November 19: U.S. News and World Report features the question of conspiracy in the death of President Kennedy on the Debate Club section of its website. Four articles--by John Kelin, Michael Vollbach with Ronald Burda, Jefferson Morley, and Larry Sabato--argue that a conspiracy was likely, or is a known fact--and one--by John McAdams--argues that there was no conspiracy. Readers are allowed to vote yes or no on the articles. The yes on conspiracy articles by Kelin, Vollbach, and Morley receive yes votes by a ratio of greater than 2 to 1. The yes article by Sabato, where he says a conspiracy is likely but we'll probably never know, receives slightly more no votes than yes. The article by McAdams receives twice as many no votes as yes.
Score: Lone-nuts 53, Conspiracy Theorists 19.
November 19: An article appears on the website of the popular PBS program Frontline, in which the assassination is discussed by writers Don DeLillo, Edward Epstein, and Gerald Posner. The article is embarrassingly biased, as all three agree that studying the scientific and medical evidence in the case is a waste of time, and that the only way to understand what happened is to study Oswald. All three agree he killed Kennedy, and acted alone. Only Epstein believes he could have had some outside encouragement. The anti-science and anti-historical position of the three men is perhaps best illustrated by this passage from Posner:
"The evidence only leads us down a rabbit hole if we tend to look at it in its entirety and are overwhelmed by the accumulation of strange events and unusual characters. Instead, researchers need to approach each area of the case as separate but ultimately related investigations. For instance, science and technology can today answer many of the technical questions about the ballistics and medical evidence that the FBI was unable to address for the Warren Commission 40 years ago. By carefully examining the latest evidence, it is possible to reach definite and credible answers about how the assassination was carried out (only one gunman at Dealey Plaza, behind the president, firing from the same general area where Oswald was last seen by his co-workers only half an hour before the murder)."
Well, this is either some of the most ill-informed babble ever uttered, or a disgusting lie. In the past decade, the scientific evidence supporting the single-bullet theory, namely the HSCA's bullet lead and trajectory analyses, has been totally dismantled by a number of researchers and scientists, including yours truly. And then there's the bit about Oswald's last being seen on the sixth floor. Surely Mr. Posner--who likes to hold himself up as an expert on the Warren Commission's 26 volumes--knows that Eddie Piper was the last person to see Oswald before the shots were fired, and that he repeatedly and consistently told the authorities he saw Oswald on the ground floor.
Score: Lone-nuts 54, Conspiracy Theorists 19.
November 19: NBCnews.com features an article by Elisha Fieldstadt on the possibility Oswald killed Kennedy as part of a communist plot. It reports that author Brian Latell "doesn’t think that Castro directly ordered Kennedy’s death, but believes he had knowledge of Oswald’s plan and purposefully didn’t stop it." It then discusses the CIA's attempts on Castro and reports that author Edward Epstein believes "that Kennedy's plot to take out Castro was moving 'completely in tandem' with Oswald’s plot to kill Kennedy." It quotes Epstein: “If they had called off the plots against Castro, Oswald would not have shot Kennedy.” Ultimately, however, the article steps back from blaming Kennedy for his own death and lets the by-now tremendously over-exposed John McAdams have the last word. McAdams claims: "Whoever you dislike, you blame them for killing Kennedy.” By presenting one of the weaker conspiracy theories, and then allowing single-assassin theorist John McAdams to appear to be the voice of reason, the article is a score for the Lone-nuts.
Score: Lone-nuts 55, Conspiracy Theorists 19.
November 19: Newsmax.com unleashes a new documentary The Assassination of JFK: Case Closed? It presents vintage news footage at the outset and then pits a number of people suspecting a conspiracy, including Sherry Fiester, Cyril Wecht, Oliver Stone, and Roger Stone, against Gerald Posner. It makes a number of misleading mistakes along the way. As but two examples, it describes Oswald as an "ex-Marine sniper" when he had actually been a radar man who had never even received sniper training, and mentions that the assassination has become "booming cottage industry for conspiracy theorists" when the truth is that Oswald-did-its like James Swanson, Bill O'Reilly, Vincent Bugliosi, and yes, Gerald Posner, have made more money off the assassination in the past 2 decades than all the conspiracy theorists combined. While it allows Roger Stone to cite reasons for suspecting Lyndon Johnson's involvement in the assassination, it also allows Gerald Posner to have the last word, and claim the government and the mafia were too incompetent to pull off an assassination, and that no conspiracy theory can hold water if it doesn't include the "unstable" Oswald as a central figure. It ends with Posner suggesting that since conspiracy theorists can't offer a definitive answer as to what happened, it's time they simply give up. No score.
November 19: Smithsonian.com runs an article on Kennedy's autopsy. The article opens: 'In the last century, there are few events that have been studied with greater scrutiny than the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. But, that is the problem, according to author and History Channel personality Brad Meltzer. 'Put together all of the official investigations, commissions, reports, official reinvestigations, independent reviews of the evidence, journalistic inquiries, reenactments, documentaries, movies, literally thousands of books (fiction and nonfiction), not to mention countless off-the-wall and over-the-top websites, and you’ve got a situation that’s a perfect breeding ground for confusion, differing interpretations, allegations and refutations,” he writes in his latest book, History Decoded: The 10 Greatest Conspiracies of All Time." Ahh, yes. Everything was perfectly clear until people started pointing out how unclear it all was. No need to ask any of these people why they came to believe it was unclear. Uhh...hello. That's circular reasoning. If inconsistencies in the evidence lead a number of people to doubt a conclusion, and write about it, it is disingenuous, if not blatantly dishonest, to dismiss their doubts by claiming such doubts are to be expected when so many people write about something. As if the urge to write about one's doubts comes before the actual doubts...
Score: Lone-nuts 56, Conspiracy Theorists 19.
November 19: The New Republic resurrects a 12-21-63 article by Richard Dudman in which Dudman suggests there was a hole in the limousine's windshield, and Dr. Robert McClelland says the throat wound was an entrance wound. As Dudman wrote subsequent articles in which he (and McClelland) retreated from their positions, the choice to reprint this one, written before Dr. McClelland had been shown the autopsy protocol, is undoubtedly intriguing. While the readership of the New Republic is small, and the impact of an old re-print is questionable, this is nevertheless a score for the conspiracy theorists.
Score: Lone-nuts 56, Conspiracy Theorists 20.
November 20: DailyMail.com, one of England's premier news sources, runs an article on Marie Tippit, the widow of officer J.D. Tippit, purportedly slain by Oswald. It wears its bias like a badge of honor. Here is its title: "Widow of hero cop shot dead by JFK killer Lee Harvey Oswald reveals touching letter Jackie sent her a week later to share her 'inexpressible sympathy'." And here is its first paragraph: "The widow of the police officer shot dead by Lee Harvey Oswald after he assassinated President John F. Kennedy has shared the touching letter Jackie Kennedy wrote to her - and revealed how it made her feel that she was not alone." Real subtle.
Score: Lone-nuts 57, Conspiracy Theorists 20.
November 20: The Los Angeles Times runs a brief article on Marie Tippit, the widow of officer J.D. Tippit, purportedly slain by Oswald. The article is probably unfair in that it claims that among those attending an event in Dealey Plaza will be "Marie Tippit, widow of J.D. Tippit, the Dallas police officer shot and killed by Lee Harvey Oswald" and then explains "Tippit was in his patrol car when he came across Oswald, who was traveling on foot in the city's Oak Cliff neighborhood after Kennedy had been shot. The officer began to question Oswald. He then got out of his patrol car and was gunned down." And yet...the shooting of Kennedy and Tippit aren't necessarily connected, so I have to call this one no score.
November 20: The Los Angeles Times runs another article on the assassination in its entertainment section. Parading as a discussion of books, it is really another editorial for the Oswald-did-it-let's-now-get-over-it position embraced by the paper. Its author, Hector Tobar, relates how reading ONE book changed his mind on the assassination, and freed him from a 20-year long "conspiracy fever." The book? Case Closed, by Gerald Posner, which even Vincent Bugliosi admitted was a biased prosecutor's brief. The specific point that turned Tobar? That Oswald told his wife he could rationalize killing the racist, Kennedy-hating, fomenter of violence General Walker because his doing so would ultimately save lives... Yeah, that's it. That is essentially the position of the U.S. Government and most Americans--that it's okay to murder people if you think it will save lives--but Oswald's saying so--if he really said it--horrifies Tobar. He concludes "That conversation shed a clear light on the life of a small man with big dreams whose demented actions changed the course of American history. If I had not read Posner’s brave book (which ran counter to the conspiratorial conventional wisdom of its time), I would never have known about it."
Score: Lone-nuts 58, Conspiracy Theorists 20.
November 20: An article by Robert Kennedy, Jr. is published on the RollingStone.com website. It is a long and detailed discussion of his uncle's foreign policy, and underlying quest for peace. While ignoring the assassination itself, Kennedy does cite JFK and the Unspeakable by Jim Douglass, a book in which Kennedy's quest for peace is presented as the reason for his murder, as a credible book on his uncle's foreign policy.
Score: Lone-nuts 58, Conspiracy Theorists 21.
November 20: While riding with my wife in the car, I listen to KCRW--the local station for National Public Radio--and catch the end of an interview with writer David Stern, who visited Minsk, Russia in order to interview people who once knew Oswald. When I get home I get online and follow up on this and find an 11-18 article by Stern on the BBC's website. It concludes: "No-one I spoke to in Minsk believed that Oswald could have assassinated the US president. This proves nothing. It's human nature to believe only the best about your friends. Still it was somewhat unnerving to hear so many good things about a person whose name is associated with one of the most infamous acts of our era. I met one of Oswald's former workmates, Vladimir Zhidovich, at a local cafe. He, like everyone else, told me how Oswald was a "good guy" and he couldn't imagine him a murderer. As we parted, he asked a favour. If I ever go to Texas, he asked, would I lay some flowers on Oswald's grave, from him and the other colleagues at the radio factory? The request took me aback. I didn't know what to say. On the one hand, this was Oswald we were talking about - a man who may have slain a political leader and irrevocably altered world history. On the other hand, Zhidovich's appeal came from the heart. I still haven't made up my mind what to do." Well, this is most interesting. On the radio today Stern insisted that although he thought about it, he could never bring himself to put flowers on Oswald's grave. The show's host--I didn't catch his name--then launched into an extended discussion of conspiracy theories, and that, although most of them seem crazy, we know conspiracies exist so we can never fully discount them. Well, this is a pet peeve of mine. Whenever someone or some thing discusses the Kennedy assassination in the context of "conspiracy theories" they end up short-changing the one thing they won't discuss: the evidence. I am going to Dallas tomorrow at my own expense to discuss how the evidence regarding Kennedy's back wound has--from the very first--suggested more than one shooter, and how a study of this evidence proves there's been a cover-up. As a consequence I can only see this NPR piece as lone-nut nonsense lite.
Score: Lone-nuts 59, Conspiracy Theorists 21.
November 20: The latest offering on The Daily Beast website is one in which "experts pick the wildest conspiracy theories." Oh, good! Light entertainment. The "experts" are as follows: Vincent Bugliosi, Priscilla J. McMillan, Anthony Summers, Dean Owen, Mark Fenster, James Piereson, Jefferson Morley, John McAdams, Larry Sabato, Jim DiEugenio, Lamar Waldron, and Lance deHaven-Smith. While most of them go after the expected targets--Greer did it, Hickey did it, the body was altered--two (McMillan and Sabato) offer that it's ludicrous to suspect LBJ's involvement. Uhh, HOW is that, exactly? While this would normally mark the article as a score for the Lone-nuts, DiEugenio and deHaven Smith are allowed to turn it around and say the Warren Commission's theory was the wildest theory of all. No score.
November 20: NBCnews.com presents another article on the assassination. This one, by Evan Burgos, deals with speculation about the CIA's role in the shooting. It cites Robert Kennedy's initial belief the CIA was involved on some level. It then largely rejects this idea, citing Phil Shenon's and John McAdams' claim we have good reason to believe it was Robert Kennedy himself who picked former CIA head Allen Dulles to be a member of the Warren Commission. (The article fails to admit that there was basically one source for this, a manipulative character whose own tapes proved he lied about the formation of the Warren Commission--Lyndon Johnson). In any event, the article then turns a corner and admits "But even among pragmatists, some can’t ignore the notion of CIA involvement. 'I think it’s premature to rule out a conspiracy involving CIA people,' said Jefferson Morley, a former Washington Post reporter and the moderator of jfkfacts.com. 'It’s obviously very difficult to detect and it may not be there.'" It closes by noting "Morley does not subscribe to the idea that the CIA hatched an elaborate plan to kill Kennedy — only that it knew more about Oswald than it has ever acknowledged. 'Here’s the important thing, and I think it’s something that really gets lost in the relentless focus on 'was there a conspiracy,' Morley said. 'CIA officers were paying much closer attention to Lee Harvey Oswald than the CIA ever admitted.' He added: 'The question of whether that’s proof of a conspiracy or not, I think is a distraction from the simple fact that it’s true.'" Well, this is pretty disgusting, in my opinion. Morley is a "pragmatist" because he is more interested in the fact the CIA knew more than it ever admitted, than in whether or not this knowledge extended to complicity in the assassination. We can't rule it out, of course, but it's not really something "pragmatists" worry about. Pass me the barf bag.
Score: Lone-nuts 60, Conspiracy Theorists 21.
November 20: The Huffington Post publishes an article on former Senator Gary Hart, in which Hart discusses the Church Committee investigation of CIA activities, that led to his own sub-committee investigation of the Kennedy assassination, and its possible link to the CIA-Mafia plots on Castro. Hart notes that one witness they tried to talk to--Sam Giancana--was brutally murdered, and that one witness they did talk to--Johnny Rosselli--was even more brutally murdered. The article concludes: "Fifty years later, the danger of digging into cases such as Kennedy's assassination is not lost on Hart. In his chiding of the press and its failure to seize the opportunity to reveal the truth about Kennedy's death, he admits that revealing such a truth -- even as a journalist -- could have dire consequences. 'You risk your life because whoever killed these two guys is still out there,' Hart said."
Score: Lone-nuts 60, Conspiracy Theorists 22.
November 20: The Huffington Post runs a second article on the assassination, this one by Dr. Peter Cummings, the Massachusetts Forensic Pathologist who recently declared on NOVA (in so many words) that the top doctors in his field have been blowing smoke at the public since 1968. In this article, however, Cummings goes after a different target: conspiracy theorists like myself. He writes:
"I began my investigation like many other scientists of my generation -- I hit the web. I knew the autopsy photographs were online and I thought that after many years of training, I should be able to reach a reasonable conclusion after seeing them. The deeper I dug, the more confused I became. I spent a lot of time rotating images and squinting my eyes, struggling to make any valid deductions. It was obvious to me that the publicly available photographs and x-rays were not of the quality necessary to base a scientific opinion. In fact, very few of the photos could be interpreted.
I realized that much of the controversy surrounding the president's death is the result of the faulty application of forensic science. Today, with information available on the Internet, anyone can claim to be an expert. Pseudoscience runs rampant and people seem to have lost respect for actual research and standards of proof. Anyone with a website can pass him or herself off as an expert, often without any real education, experience or knowledge. The sanctity of the scientific method is paramount to arriving at honest conclusions and deriving the truth. It's by ignoring this process that apparent inconsistencies have bred the endless assassination conspiracy theories.
The truth has become buried in a quagmire of junk science and as a result, the underlying principles of this country, truth, justice and liberty for all, have been lost. Much more than John F. Kennedy died in November 1963; in many ways our nation died with him. America lost its innocence and became a different country overnight. In no other death in our history has the truth been more important.
I was privileged to have the opportunity to visit the National Archives and examine the original medical evidence. My visit underscored the fact that Internet research isn't enough -- nothing can replace viewing the actual artifacts. It's through a return to these basics that the scientific method works best. Science freed me of my preconceptions and allowed me to approach my investigation as if it were any other gunshot wound case: I made observations and took notes, and later after some quiet contemplation, I reached my conclusions. Over the course of this project I rediscovered the power of science and the absolute need to get it right so that the truth can be told."
Well, this is one of the most disappointing things I've ever read. I have no idea whether Cummings really believes all this, or whether someone got to him after his appearance on NOVA and told him he had to make amends. But either way, what he writes here smells of a deliberate distraction, an obfuscation.
Let's be clear about this... For 45 years, some of America's top forensic pathologists, taking their cues from Dr. Russell Fisher, have been telling the American public the autopsy doctors were wrong in that Kennedy was not shot low on the back of the head as described in the autopsy protocol, but four inches higher near the top of the back of the head. Now, here comes Cummings, on November 13, telling the public the civilian pathologists were wrong, and the military pathologists at Kennedy's autopsy were correct after all. This is HUGE. But does he acknowledge this in any way in his article, published November 20? NO. Instead, he goes on and on about how the images available online on websites such as this can't be relied upon, and are responsible for the many conspiracy theories destroying this country. What??? The majority of conspiracy theories don't rely upon the images at all, but consider them suspect due to their conflicting with so many of the witness statements. It's hard to see how clearer copies of what people believe to be fakes designed to fool them into thinking there was no conspiracy are gonna convince them there was no conspiracy. That's like claiming people wouldn't be scared of a man with a machete if only he carried a bigger knife...
So what, and who, is Cummings complaining about? He certainly can't be claiming that an inspection of the original materials will clear up all the questions. The doctors pushing that the bullet entered high on Kennedy's head, as he certainly must know, viewed the same materials as he did, and did not rely upon the images found online. So who, then? Well, it seems likely that he's mad about websites like this, in which people who are expressly prohibited from viewing the autopsy materials nevertheless make an effort to understand them, and come to the SAME CONCLUSION he did, namely, that the parade of forensic pathologists claiming the bullet entered near the "cowlick" were wrong.
Cummings' article is just bizarre. In order for SCIENCE (and his view of the truth he considers so important) to triumph he has to push his fellow scientists to take a look at the original evidence, and see for themselves that the Clark Panel on down have been blowing smoke about the location of the entry wound. But why would they do this, when he tells them there's no need for them to look at the evidence, as it only confirms what other scientists have already told them--that all those darned conspiracy theorists are off their rockers?
Score: Lone-nuts 61, Conspiracy Theorists 22.
November 20: CBS4 in Miami runs a story on Dallas Police officer R.C. Nelson, a former partner of J.D. Tippit's, and a brother to one of the station's employees. The story is picked up by CBS DFW as well. The interview of Nelson is cut so that some of the interview is only available on the station's website. In any event, the story consistently refers to Oswald as the man who murdered Nelson's partner, and his president. And Nelson is no better. He claims that upon his arrival in Dealey Plaza, a "motor jockey" told him both that "He was up there (pointing to book depository). I saw the rifle in the window when I looked up” and that “I saw Kennedy’s head blown off.” Well, this was almost certainly untrue, an amalgamation of two different officers at best. None of the "motor jockeys" in a position to see Kennedy's head get blown off stayed behind in the plaza, and none of those claiming to see a rifle in the window were police officers. And this was not the only bit on which Nelson's credibility was lacking. Apparently aware that the description given for the shooter in the school book depository was not specific enough for Tippit to stop Oswald, who was, after all, simply walking down a suburban street, he offered that in his opinion Tippit didn't stop Oswald, and that instead Oswald flagged him down, presumably just to shoot him, y'know, just because. And that wasn't the only strange offering from Nelson. He also claimed that Lieutenant Sam Pierce told him that Jack Ruby walked right past the car Pierce was driving on his way down the ramp into the basement to kill Oswald. Well, this is most interesting, seeing as Pierce testified before the Warren Commission and told them he'd known Ruby for years and that he hadn't seen Ruby that day. As the DPD conducted an intensive internal investigation to determine how Ruby got into the basement, moreover, Nelson's recollection, if true, would suggest both that Pierce lied when testifying before the commission, and that he, Nelson, helped cover up this lie by failing to tell his superiors or the commission what Pierce had told him. Actually, it's even worse than that. Nelson himself was in charge of guarding the main door entrance from City Hall. His claim Pierce told him Ruby walked down the ramp--when Pierce testified that he hadn't seen Ruby, even though Ruby's walking down the ramp was the official conclusion of the DPD and Warren Commission--smells more than a bit, and suggests that he, Nelson, was unfairly trying to point the finger at Officer Roy Vaughn, the officer charged with guarding the Main Street ramp. Well, why would he do that? Was Nelson trying to hide his own involvement? Or hide that his superior, Patrick Dean, the man charged with setting up the security of the basement, was suspected of helping Ruby into the basement, and failed a lie detector when questioned on this point by his own police department?
Still, maybe it's a whole lot simpler than that. Perhaps Nelson simply blurred Pierce's telling him that the DPD was gonna blame Vaughn and say Ruby walked down the ramp into Pierce's telling him he saw Ruby walk down the ramp. In any event, the story reflects a clear bias: Oswald killed Kennedy and Tippit, and no one helped Ruby sneak into the basement.
Score: Lone-nuts 62, Conspiracy Theorists 22.
November 20: ABCnews.go,com features an article entitled "9 People Who Witnessed JFK's Assassination." The main problem is the title--only two of the witnesses, James Tague and Hugh Aynsworth, were even in Dealey Plaza during the shooting. The other seven run the gamut of minor figures to major figures in the assassination story. Among the former are motorcade witness Jencye Gush, KLIF radio anchor and Oswald shooting witness Gary DeLaune, and Patricia Hall, who claims Oswald played with her when she was a kid. Among the latter are Parkland doctors Robert McClelland and Kenneth Salyer, Dallas detective James Leavelle, and Oswald acquaintance Ruth Paine. It's a mixed bag. Three of the witnesses--Tague, Hall, and McClelland--admit they believe there was more to it than Oswald.
More telling, however, is this. In keeping with other articles of this type: no actual research was conducted. Here, for example, is a section on Ruth Paine: "When he found a job at the Book Depository, Oswald visited Marina on weekends. But he showed up Thursday, Nov. 21, without warning, and then went into a black duffle bag in Paine's cluttered garage the next day and grabbed the rifle that would kill the president. "I am Quaker and I don't believe in firearms," the former school psychologist, now 81, told ABC News. "I wouldn't have wanted it there. I didn't' know until after the assassination." Marina was watching television with Paine when the president was shot. After the news reported shots from the Bookstore Depository, Marina seemed alarmed. "She went in the garage to look for [the rifle] and saw the black bag and thought it was there," Paine said. When police came and questioned her about a gun, Marina led them to the garage and found the empty bag. By then, her husband was in custody in connection to the killing of Officer J.D. Tippet."
Well, first of all, there was no black duffle bag--the rifle was supposedly stored in a green blanket. And second of all, it's Tipp-i-t, not Tipp-e-t. It's a weak article but apparently unbiased. No score.
November 20: Tom Brokaw talks about his upcoming special on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Typical mainstream TV stuff. Brokaw talks of interviewing Marie Tippit, "the widow of of the cop that Oswald killed." He complains of people blaming Dallas for the shooting, when "Dallas had nothing to do with it," as "Oswald was a misfit." Stewart then tries to make a joke about conspiracy theories "Well, he was one of the guys," while mugging for the camera. Brokaw then complains about the "circus of conspiracy" at Dealey Plaza, with people selling stuff from tables, God forbid. He makes no similar complaint, of course, about the Sixth Floor Museum selling stuff from the actual building from where he believes the shots were fired. He then lets on that "I'm personally persuaded it was Oswald." Yes, Tom, we know. Garbage in, garbage out.
Score: Lone-nuts 63, Conspiracy Theorists 22.
November 21: ABC's Good Morning America provides an exclusive look at that night's Discovery Channel program, JFK: The Lost tapes. I was unable to view this program.
November 21: The Bangor Daily News website features an article by Richard Dudman, a 95-year-old journalist whose 1963 articles on the assassination helped fuel the early critics, but who now accepts that Oswald acted alone. He writes: "I accept the Warren Commission’s conclusions on both issues, the windshield hole or blemish and the entry or exit wound in the throat. But skeptics continue to dwell on both matters, arguing that they both support the notion that one or more shots were fired from a position in front of the limousine. They contend that this throws into doubt the commission’s conclusion that Oswald, acting alone, fired the deadly shots from the sixth-floor window behind the limousine. This feeds the suspicion that there was a massive conspiracy and government coverup. My own belief, despite my doubts in those stressful days in Dallas, is that the fanciful conspiracy suspected by most critics would have had to involve the knowledge and participation of the Secret Service, the CIA, the White House staff, and, least probable of all, the president’s own brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy. The case should be closed, but it never will be. There are too many loose ends to be pursued. And, finally, a single weird nobody hardly seems adequate as the sole perpetrator of one of the most significant murders in American history. Some people will always keep looking for a more complex and satisfying solution."
Score: (needs to be added in)
November 21: The Boston Globe publishes an article on Dr. Peter Cummings, the local pathologist recently featured on NOVA, whose previous day's article on The Huffington Post seemed so disingenuous. The article reveals: “It was a single gunshot wound to the back of his head,” Cummings said without hesitation. “It was right where the autopsy doctors said it had happened.” And that's it. Neither the writer of the article, Kathy McCabe, nor Cummings, seems to know (or is willing to admit) that the last government panel consulted on the evidence concluded the damage to Kennedy's brain ruled out a wound in that location. In the eyes of this panel, then, if Cummings is correct, well, there would have to have been more than one shooter. But does McCabe follow up on this and ask the surviving members of this panel for comment? No, of course not. As always the press gets the story 100% wrong. Instead of treating Cummings' findings as the assault on the status quo that it is, McCabe and Cummings pretend his findings support the "official" story. The article continues: "With the X-rays and photos spread before him on a table, Cummings wrote notes about fracture patterns, lacerations, bruising, and other injuries to the skull. 'The quality is fantastic. Once I saw those photographs, it became very clear what had happened to President Kennedy . . . It was a single gunshot wound to the back of the head. Based on the fracture pattern, we can say there was no shot from the side or the front.'" Oh, my.
Score: Lone-nuts 64, Conspiracy Theorists 22.
November 21: The Macomb (Michigan) Daily presents an article on Dr. Werner Spitz, one of the consultants for the Rockefeller Commission, and a member of the HSCA Forensic Pathology Panel. Spitz, now 87, is interviewed and spews a lot of the same nonsense he's been spewing for decades. It was a single assassin, firing from behind. The head wounds were confusing because Jackie wouldn't let them cut the hair. The back-and-to-the-left movement of Kennedy after the head shot is an illusion, caused by the sudden acceleration of the limo. Garbage in, garbage out. What is it with doctors and journalists? Does having a license to practice medicine also entitle one to barf up nonsense, and have no one double-check it before publishing? I'm beginning to wonder.
Score: Lone-nuts 65, Conspiracy Theorists 22.
November 21: The (Burlington, North Carolina) Times-News publishes an article similar to the one on Dr. Spitz. It's an interview with a senior with ties to a government investigation--with no real insight beyond the comments of the interviewee. This one, however, is on Robert Blakey, the former Chief Counsel of the HSCA, who re-investigated the assassination in the 70's, and concluded a conspiracy was probable. For better and worse, Blakey sticks to his guns (both of them). He tells Times News writer Tom Jones (really?) that Oswald fired the fatal shots, and that one of these shots hit Kennedy and Connally. He actually goes beyond that, and says the single-bullet theory has been proven "beyond all reasonable doubt." And yet, Blakey, as ever, is a mixed bag. He cites eyewitnesses suggesting a shot was fired from the grassy knoll, and says he still stands by the dictabelt evidence indicating a shot was fired from behind the picket fence, and missed... He also discusses Oswald and Ruby's ties to organized crime, and the probability Ruby was ordered to silence Oswald. The article fails to reach a national or large regional audience and would be considered a no score for either side, if it were not for one fact: Blakey is a former government investigator admitting he believes there was more than one shooter.
Score: Lone-nuts 65, Conspiracy Theorists 23.
November 21: among a number of articles recalling Kennedy's impact on popular culture, the L.A. Times slips in an article on Dallas newspaperman Darwin Payne and his recollections of Kennedy's assassination. It has one interesting gaffe, or revelation, it remains to be seen--Payne claims he was shown the sniper's nest window by the DPD before they'd been told of the Tippit shooting--but is nevertheless a strictly Oswald-did-it article. It both defends the actions of the Dallas police and asserts the unknowable about Oswald. For but two examples: "The police chief and the city manager had determined that they would open this up to reporters as it usually was open to all these reporters because the world should know, the nation should know, that they had in custody the man who was obviously the assassin of the president" and "It was very shocking to know, and this is a realization that we’ve all had, that an individual, a tiny little person like Lee Harvey Oswald, could change the course of history with one demonic act."
An article by Pulitzer prize-winner David Horsey was equally dismissive. Horsey concludes: "Conspiracies work with precision in TV shows like “Scandal,” “24” and “Homeland.” They are wrapped in a grandiose cloak of history and power in Dan Brown’s paranoid thrillers. In the real world, though, conspiracies tend to unravel. Somebody squeals, somebody leaks, somebody betrays. We always find out – and usually because a conspiring collective of humans is bound to screw up. Any 50-year-old conspiracy to kill JFK would have to be an exception to that rule. For me, it is easier to accept that the truth is exactly what it has long appeared to be: A history-shifting tragedy occurred because one inconsequential misfit with a mail-order rifle got a clear shot."
Score: Lone-nuts 66, Conspiracy Theorists 23.
November 21: In addition to the articles cited above, the L.A. Times publishes an Op Ed piece on Kennedy's legacy by historian Richard Reeves. Although this piece reflects little bias regarding the assassination, it is notable for the fact its tag line reflects that Reeves is the "general editor of "The Kennedy Years: From the Pages of The New York Times." Now ain't that a coinkydink. An essay by Jill Abramson is published in the New York Times on this very same day. Its tag line reflects that "Jill Abramson is the executive editor of The New York Times. Her essay first appeared as the foreword to “The Kennedy Years: From the Pages of The New York Times,” edited by Richard Reeves and published by Abrams." So, make no mistake, this a co-ordinated bi-coastal promotion of the book, which is comprised almost entirely of old articles on the assassination.
It does have a brand new essay at the end, however: Why Americans Don't Believe the Warren Report, by Sam Tanenhaus. Tannehaus reports: "in the most thorough account of the alleged plots to murder the President, Case Closed, Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK (1994), Gerald Posner painstakingly examined the evidence and assessed--rather, dismantled--every proposed theory. Oswald 'was the only assassin at Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963,' Posner wrote. "To say otherwise, in light of the overwhelming evidence, is to absolve a man with blood on his hands, and to mock the President he killed.' Nonetheless, the conspiracists, as they have been called, pursued baroque and bizarre explanations." He then concludes: "Uncertainty is the hatchery of conspiratorial thinking. So often equated with delusion and paranoia, it actually rests on something quite different: a passion for order, a liberating explanation. The fevered connecting of dots, the ever-widening of nest of conspirators, helps satisfy our hunger to believe that even the most horrific deed is enfolded with the logic of intention and design. For many, Kennedy's death laid a dark curse on the land. It had become the sphinx's riddle. Whoever could solve it might restore innocence to a nation whose faith in its boundless futurity had been profoundly shaken." And that's it: the New York Times' last words on the Kennedy assassination... Posner was right. Those who continue to doubt him are "fevered" and "hungry to believe." There's no mention whatsoever of the many problems with Posner's book, nor that he'd been denounced by those sharing his view of the assassination and exposed as a serial plagiarist. Tanenhaus, and presumably Abramson, believes him. And the world should look no further.
Score: Lone-nuts 67, Conspiracy Theorists 23.
November 21: The URL for the latest article on the assassination on The Daily Beast website reads "The Only Books on JFK's Assassination You Need to Read." This short list, created by Allen Barra, is in reverse order, Oswald's Tale, Dallas 1963, Libra, The Death of a President, and Case Closed. They are all--not coincidentally--Oswald did it books. How insulting. I would bet most everything I have that this joker has never read The Last Investigation, Not in Your Lifetime or Someone Would Have Talked. Apparently, he takes solace in books in which Oswald killed Kennedy. Good for him. Now if only we can get him to take solace in books that look at all the evidence...about the things he doesn't like thinking about...like the problems with wound locations and the provable lies told by the Warren Commission, Johnson Administration, and House Select Committee on Assassinations.
Score: Lone-nuts 68, Conspiracy Theorists 23.
November 21: Oliver Stone strikes again. He gets an op-ed piece published on USA Today's website, in which he lists some of the reasons most suspect a conspiracy, and observes "Mainstream media have never given up telling us how superstitious or illogical the common people are."
Score: Lone-nuts 68, Conspiracy Theorists 24.
November 21: Ron Rosenbaum returns with an article on Slate.com regarding his most recent take on the Kennedy assassination. He still hates Kennedy supporters and conspiracy theorists, of course. He still believes Oswald acted alone, of course. But he now subscribes to Philip Shenon's "what if" and believes Oswald received some encouragement from Castro supporters in Mexico, and killed Kennedy as a response to Kennedy's trying to kill Castro. While attacking those who study historical documents and understand that the FACTS are that Kennedy WAS trying to start talks with Castro in 1963 and that the CIA WAS conducting assassination plots on Castro without the knowledge of Kennedy, and subsequently, Johnson, Rosenbaum writes "Oh, I’m sorry, I forgot: Most of the JFK conspiracy theorists, among them my brilliant but addled Yale classmate Oliver Stone, would have you believe that the saintly JFK was just about to begin a reconciliatory bromance with fellow peacenik Fidel, just about to get the U.S. out of Vietnam, just about to take down the military industrial complex, end the Cold War and subsidize healthy vegan meals for all schoolchildren, when he was killed in Dallas."
He proceeds to rant (ironically, considering he just revealed himself someone so fact-adverse he doesn't even trust the CIA Inspector General's report on the plots against Castro, which suggested Kennedy had never been told of the plots on Castro): "The real mystery about the assassination, to anyone who has spent time examining facts (and not playing games with names, making unsupported “connections” among BadPeopleWhoDidn’tLikeJFKAndThereforeMustHaveKilledHim), is not whether Lee Harvey Oswald fired the shots. But why he did it. What was going on in his mind, what was his motive? Did he have any assistance or encouragement from others? And if so, who? I had suggested here in Slate earlier this year that a new paradigm that focused on Oswald’s trip to Mexico City was developing among students of the assassination but until very recently—in a dialogue with Errol Morris—I had expressed doubt we’d ever know for sure. Now I’m not so sure about being not so sure. Now I think, with the Shenon book, we may have a plausible answer. Yes, that’s right, I’ve become convinced that, 50 years after the act, a real reporter—not some chat-room know-it-all—has through actual, on the ground, person-to-person investigation, through nonstop digging, tugging at the tangled heart of the mystery, brought us to the brink of answer. An achievement that, I believe, merits the Pulitzer Prize and the thanks of a grateful nation."
Well, this is pretty much nonsense. There is no new paradigm among "students of the assassination" in which Oswald's trip to Mexico is seen as suggesting his guilt. To "students of the assassination" the anomalies of this trip--the CIA's ever-changing story about recording Oswald on tape, for example, are indicative that he was involved in something bigger than himself, and most likely not guilty of shooting Kennedy. In sum, then, Rosenbaum's self-revealing hate letter to Kennedy and the research community/love letter to Philip Shenon is a score for the Lone-nuts.
Score: Lone-nuts 69, Conspiracy Theorists 24.
November 21: Politico.com publishes an article entitled "Journalists Relive Kennedy Assassination." I cross my fingers and hope it's not another article about Hugh Aynesworth. Well, that wish comes true. It comprises brief interviews with Robert MacNeil, Jim Lehrer, and Bob Schieffer. They all take the opportunity to tell us Oswald-did-it, of course. When asked about the Warren Commission (It's not surprising that almost every Oswald did it article ignores the HSCA), MacNeil responds: "It satisfied me because I never had the time or the inclination afterward to become an assassination student or an assassination buff. I have yet to see a bit of evidence that convinces me otherwise. I thought the Oliver Stone movie was ridiculous." MacNeil's former partner Jim Lehrer adds: "I was very skeptical at the time and it goes back to the very fact of, 'My God, it’s not plausible that one person acting alone could have gotten away with this’ and so I was one of thousands of reporters who were on the story afterwards trying to find out what happened. And, trust me, there were no Pulitzer Prizes to be won for saying that one person acted alone so we were all acting under the premise that it had to be a conspiracy. It was a foregone conclusion that they were going to prove that there was no conspiracy because, let’s say that Lee Harvey Oswald had gone to Russia and this was Russia-funded or that they directed the assassination of President Kennedy, that would mean we would have to go to war with Russia. Or if it was Fidel Castro, we’d have to bomb Havana. But I didn’t have any theories that replaced the single-man theory, shooter, and for the last 50 years, I’ve been waiting to hear that story that, OK, somebody on their death bed makes a confession that they were Lee Harvey Oswald’s driver or they helped him get the gun or whatever. That’s not happened and 50 years later, I’m pretty well satisfied that, with the absence of any provable information to the contrary, it was true that it was just one guy, Lee Harvey Oswald. And it was just unbelievable, but it happened that one man did it."
Bob Schieffer echoes Lehrer: "At the time, I pretty much accepted the Warren Commission’s conclusion. And I think they stumbled and bumbled their way to the right conclusion. But as the years have passed, we’ve come to understand that the way they went about this investigation, they could have done it in a much better way. But I think they came to the right conclusion. There’s no question in my mind that Lee Harvey Oswald was the shooter. I mean, this guy was a cold-blooded killer and what he did in the hours or so after the shooting were not the actions of an innocent man. He left there, he got on a bus, he went home and got his pistol and shot a policeman in point-blank range who had come up to him. That’s not the action of an innocent man. Then he ran off into a theater and they came and they followed him in there and when they finally captured him, he tried to shoot them. I always try to keep an open mind as to whether there may have been someone else involved in some other way. There’s no question that Fidel Castro knew that the Kennedy administration were trying to kill him and sabotage things in Cuba, but there’s never been any evidence that has been shown to me that I found conclusive that there might have been anyone other than Oswald involved."
Well, here it is once again, the recurring theme among so many members of the media: I was once open-minded that Oswald could have been working for the communists but never once accepted the possibility he had been set up. It seems fair from this to assume these men--accustomed to coming at truth through interviewing public officials--just don't have it within them to study EVIDENCE, and that they basically accept whatever evidence is put on the plate before them. I mean, have any of the old newsmen dragged out to tell their stories --MacNeil, Lehrer, Schieffer, Rather, Brokaw, Aynesworth, Allman, and Payne--expressed the slightest doubt about the most doubtful aspect of the Warren Commission's conclusions: the single-bullet theory? I don't believe so.
Score: Lone-nuts 70, Conspiracy Theorists 24.
November 21: A column by John Cassidy in The New Yorker defends John Kerry's recent acknowledgement that, although he felt comfortable with the conclusion Oswald was the sole shooter, he nevertheless still had doubts about his acting entirely on his own. Cassidy admits he has trouble buying that Ruby acted alone in killing Oswald, and acknowledges that the HSCA suspected he'd had help getting into the garage.
Even so, he writes: "Thirty-four years after the Select Committee’s report was published , the received wisdom about the case has changed dramatically. Since the 2007 publication of Vincent Bugliosi’s “Reclaiming History,” a mammoth takedown of the conspiracy theories, the respectable view has been that Earl Warren and his colleagues basically got it right. Perhaps they did, but, even now, that can only be considered an interim judgment. Come 2017, another set of official documents will be released, and, doubtless, there will be another wave of articles and books offering alternative histories.
That isn’t necessarily such a bad thing. Questioning the official version of history is a sign of democratic vigor, and, in this case, there’s still plenty to query. The horrific and endlessly fascinating forty-eight hours that brought together Kennedy, Oswald, and Ruby bequeathed too many puzzling details, weird coincidences, and shady characters for the doubters to stay silent."
While it's hard to call an article presenting Oswald as the sole shooter a score for the conspiracy theorists, Cassidy lacks the certainty of most holding this position, and seems to consider this issue far from closed.
Score: Lone-nuts 70, Conspiracy Theorists 25.
November 21: FoxNews.com picks up the previous day's MyFoxDFW.com article on assassination witness James Tague. It adds in, however, a quote from the recent article on Tague in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The article reports: "After more than 30 years of research into the shooting, Tague said he believes Oswald was innocent and that Kennedy was killed by a team of hit men hired by then-Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson. 'Finding this was no big deal, it’s like a crossword puzzle — you just got to start putting the pieces together,' Tague told TimesDispatch.com. 'Kennedy’s assassination was not a conspiracy, it was a coup.'”
Score: Lone-nuts 70, Conspiracy Theorists 26.
November 21: An opinion piece by Larry Sabato is published on the CNN website. Sabato begins by listing some of the problems with the Warren Commission. He even cites the CIA's obstruction of the HSCA's investigation. He then cites some of the evidence against Oswald, and slides quickly into LN territory. He writes: "After Oswald's first bullet missed the car entirely, the so-called "magic bullet" that struck JFK in the back was perfectly aligned to do substantial damage to Connally's body. And the final bullet that hit JFK in the head came from up and behind him, not the front. There is a reasonable physiological explanation for the actions of the president's body in the car once his skull was blown apart." In other words, he buys the Lattimer/Posner nonsense thoroughly debunked on this website. As Sabato's over-all point is that the case is far from closed, the article marks a slight score for the conspiracy theorists. But it's hard to consider it such seeing as he buys some of the most egregious nonsense spewed by the Lone-nuts.
Score: Lone-nuts 70, Conspiracy Theorists 27.
November 21: NBCnews.com pumps out its third article on the assassination in three days. This one is by Erin McClam, and is on why conspiracy theories regarding the assassination endure. Uh, oh! Get ready for some insulting psycho-babble. McClam claims: "Part of the lure for conspiracy theorists is the irresistible concentration of power that surrounded the crime — held by both the gleaming young president and the forces, from the Kremlin to within his very administration, that would have had a motive. But another part, say those who have studied the assassination and the conspiracy theories for decades, is the smallness of Oswald himself, the man blamed by the Warren Commission, the government’s first inquiry into the killing. 'It’s incredibly unsatisfying to believe that this guy, this insignificant person, could have done so consequential an act,' says Jeff Greenfield, who worked for Robert F. Kennedy and just released a book imagining how history might have played out had JFK lived." (Don't say I didn't warn you about the psycho-babble.) The article then reports that "Philip Shenon, a former reporter for The New York Times and author of a new book on the assassination, 'A Cruel and Shocking Act,' blames four men for spawning “conspiracy theories that are likely to plague us forever.” Among those faulted by Shenon is the slain president’s brother, Robert F. Kennedy, for publicly supporting the Warren Commission’s findings and denouncing the commission in private." Well, this is just shocking. I mean, RFK had private thoughts? McClam then moves on to the mob-did-it theory, and does a decent job of laying out some of the information in support of that possibility, courtesy author Lamar Waldron. She then cites John Kerry's recent acknowledgment he continues to suspect a conspiracy, and reports in closing "Kerry told Parade Magazine last week that 'after a certain period of time, and that period of time may well have passed, it is totally appropriate for a country like the United States to open up the the files on whatever history can … shed light on...I think that everybody would benefit.” While dismissive of conspiracy theorists McClam somehow manages to remain open to conspiracy theories. No score.
Months later, I realize that on this day NBC News.com features not one but two articles on the assassination. The second one is by Daniel Arkin. It is on Howard Donahue's theory Kennedy was killed by an accidental shot from Secret Service agent George Hickey. It features comments from Bonar Menninger, who first presented this theory in his 1992 book Mortal Error. The article mentions, of course, that this theory has recently been revived by Colin McClaren in his TV program JFK: The Smoking Gun. Surprisingly, the article mentions the theory without poking any holes in it, such as that most every researcher who has studied the eyewitness statements, photos, and films has concluded Hickey fired no shots that day. In some regards, then, this article shows a pro-conspiracy bias. By the end, however, it makes clear that this bias extends only to the possibility the government lied about the assassination, and NOT that there was an actual conspiracy to kill Kennedy. Here's how it closes: "As for Oswald, Menninger has no idea what motivated the man officially held responsible for Kennedy's assassination to fire a 6.5 mm Mannlicher-Carcano rifle from the sixth floor of the book depository, adding that "it's not germane to the ballistics analysis of the shooting" conducted by Donahue, who died in 1999 of complications of pneumonia. 'Was he a low-level intelligence operative? Perhaps. Was he set up? Perhaps," Menninger said. "But I don't know. There's questions there, but if you believe that the third and fatal shot was fired accidentally, it certainly diminishes the likelihood of a conspiracy.' The Warren Commission concluded in 1964 that Oswald acted alone."
The article suggests the government lied about Kennedy's death at the same time it suggests it didn't lie about who was ultimately responsible for his death. Confusing. It's hard to see this as a score for either side of the debate. No score.
November 21: The Guardian.com publishes a glowing review of the recent film Parkland that is both timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Kennedy's assassination, and more than a review. The reviewer--more like an editorial writer--Alex von Tunzelman--gives the film a B+ for entertainment and an A for history. He notes: "Parkland is based on Vincent Bugliosi's 1,600 page tome Reclaiming History, also released in a more manageable 700-page version called Parkland: Four Days in November. Bugliosi agrees with the verdict of the Warren Commission that Lee Harvey Oswald was a lone gunman, acting alone. Much of his longer volume is devoted to demolishing the conspiracy theories that have sprouted up. For many historians, Parkland's consistent focus on the known, supportable facts will be a huge relief. Viewers who aren't familiar with the case may find Oliver Stone's JFK a more compelling film, but historically speaking it is the most appalling load of old hogwash. Parkland, meanwhile, gets pretty much everything as close to right as we can currently know." He then continues: "There are thousands of documents on the Kennedy assassination yet to be declassified, and the most sober of historians would probably prefer to reserve final judgment until they can read them. So far, though, despite half a century of concerted effort by a legion of conspiracy theorists, no smoking gun has been found to prove any of the many and contradictory theories that Oswald did not fire the killing shot, or that he was part of a conspiracy. Admirably, Parkland restrains itself to telling you what it knows, not what you should or shouldn't think." The bias could not be more obvious, and the transparent ruse of writing a glowing "review" of a mediocre movie in order to attack conspiracy theorists on the day before the anniversary of the assassination, is just as obvious.
Score: Lone-nuts 71, Conspiracy Theorists 27.
November 21: The Oliver Stone film JFK is shown on HDNet. This is the grandest conspiracy movie ever made, and is on the minds of many as the anniversary approaches. So where is it? Why hasn't a more prominent network opted to show this movie? I mean, if we get A Christmas Story marathons every year on Christmas, why won't any major network show this film on the 50th anniversary of the assassination.
Score: Lone-nuts 71, Conspiracy Theorists 28.
November 21: JFK: The Lost Tapes premieres on the Discovery Channel. It tells the story of the shooting and immediate aftermath through a number of interviews (including yet another interview with Clint Hill), some rarely-heard tapes from Dallas, and some only recently made available tapes from Air Force 1. I was unable to view this program until the next April. Either this program had no real bias or my sense of outrage had dulled over time. No score.
November 21: The Lost Kennedy Home Movies premieres on H2. I was unable to view this program.
November 21: Turner Classic Movies shows 4 documentaries on Kennedy's presidency, and one on his death. The one on his death is Mel Stuart’s 1964 documentary Four Days in November, an Oscar-nominated chronicle of the assassination, that is basically a companion piece to the Warren Report.
Score: Lone-nuts 72, Conspiracy Theorists 28.
November 21: The Kennedy Assassination: 24 Hours After, a 2009 production, is shown on the History Channel 2 network. It traces the first 24 hours of Lyndon Johnson's presidency. While it has some insight into the political realities of the situation, and acknowledges Johnson lied about some of what occurred, the program is nevertheless a score for the Lone-nutters. Early in the program, when discussing the shooting itself, Steve Gillon tells the audience the first shot missed and that the second shot hit Kennedy and Connally. The program then recites the statements of Secret Service agents Roy Kellerman and Emory Roberts, and Kennedy buddy Dave Powers, regarding the fatal head shot. Now, none of these key witnesses thought the first shot missed, or that the second shot hit Kennedy and Connally. The program's using them to describe the third shot without acknowledging that they all believed the scenario pushed by Gillon on the program was nonsense is thereby misleading, if not downright dishonest.
But that's not the worst thing about the program. No, the worst thing about the program is its whole approach. It's not a program about Kennedy's death as much as it is a program about the beginning of Johnson's presidency. It looks at all of Johnson's moves as either his doing what he felt was right for the country, or doing what he thought he needed to do to win the approval of the Kennedy family. It never deals with the elephant in the room, even for a second. And that is that his behavior was manipulative and Machiavellian to the extreme, and exactly what one would expect from a man with a guilty conscience, trying to conceal his guilt.
This, by the way, did not go unnoticed. Some within the Kennedy entourage suspected Johnson's complicity in Kennedy's death from the beginning. Kennedy's secretary, Evelyn Lincoln, for example, put Johnson's name at the top of possible suspects on the plane back from Dallas. And for good reason. The program acknowledges Johnson's career had hit a dead end, and that he was miserable as Vice-President, but it fails to admit that both Congress and Life Magazine had just begun what would have been painful investigations into Johnson's affairs, and obvious corruption. No, instead, Gillon and the program's creators insist that the Kennedy family's behavior toward Johnson was largely unjustified. I mean, the program actually disapproves of Robert Kennedy's pushing past Johnson to escort Jacqueline Kennedy off Air Force One upon her return from Dallas.
Well, that's stupid in the extreme. Consider this: your brother, the president of a large corporation where you work, is murdered in front of his wife on a business trip put together by associates of the Vice-President of the company. She tries to bring her husband's body back from the trip on one of the company's private jets, but finds the Vice-President in the jet at the airport, demanding that she fly back with him. He then strong-arms her into standing next to him for a publicity photo designed to calm nervous stock-holders. You then find out he's called the media to witness the landing of the plane near corporate headquarters, so they can take even more publicity photos of him escorting her from the plane. Well, what would you do? Because I know any man worth his salt would run onto that plane and get her off before that selfish bastard made her pose for any more stinkin' pictures. And I know any man worth his pepper would punch Mr. Veep in the nose if he tried to stop you.
Score: Lone-nuts 73, Conspiracy Theorists 28.
November 22: The Associated Press, still around after 50 years of mis-reporting the Kennedy assassination, pumps out a nationally-syndicated story entitled "JFK, 50 Years Later: The day that Changed America." This story, written by Christopher Sullivan and Jamie Stengle, pretty much retells the official story--Oswald did it, etc, while citing some recent conversations with some of the witnesses. It is in the parsing of the recollections of these witnesses, then, that the story reveals its bias. It has Oswald wanting to reconcile with his wife, and then leaving his wedding ring with his wife, and then Ruth Paine claiming “My guess is that he did not expect to live.” But it never mentions, say, that the Oswalds had agreed to re-unite after the holidays. It has Oswald telling Buell Frazier that the sack he brought to work that morning contained curtain rods, but it fails to mention that Frazier also claimed this sack was far too small to have held Oswald's rifle, and was in fact the size of a bag holding curtain rods. It has Dr. Ronald Jones and Dr. Robert McClelland working frantically to save Kennedy's life, but fails to note they believed the throat wound they'd observed was an entrance wound, as it was far too small to have been an exit for a high-velocity bullet fired at relatively close range. And so on...
Score for the Lone-nuts.
November 22: Reuters publishes a "Factbox" article on the Kennedy assassination in which a number of quick quotes are presented to tell the story. It is picked up by The Chicago Tribune, among other papers. It ends with Gary Mack saying "Most people are not satisfied with the official story. But there is not enough evidence to support anything else." The clear implication is that sensible people therefore accept the "official story." Mack, of course, fails to tell us WHICH ONE, the one where the bullet enters the bottom of the skull and explodes out the top, or the one where it enters the top of the head (where no one saw an entrance on the skull) and explodes the skull.
Reuters also publishes an article by Jon Hersovitz and Marice Richter on the 50th anniversary events in Dallas. It acknowledges that conspiracy theories continue. But look how it closes: "Despite serious questions about the official inquest, and theories purporting that organized crime, Cuba or a cabal of U.S. security agents was involved, conspiracy theorists have yet to produce conclusive proof that Oswald acted in consort with anyone. Hugh Aynesworth, a reporter in Dealey Plaza 50 years ago who witnessed the assassination and also saw Oswald shot dead by Ruby, has spent a lifetime investigating the killings and debunking suspected plots. "We can't accept very comfortably that two nobodies, two nothings - Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby - were able to change the course of world history," he told Reuters." So there it is once again--the recurrent theme of the mainstream media's treatment of the 50th anniversary--conspiracy theorists are not only wrong, but congenitally wrong. The poor dears just aren't able to accept the truth, you see. As if the possibility the government killed the President or at the very least helped cover up his murder is more "comforting" than that Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby acted alone...
What self-important gibberish!
Score: Lone-nuts 74, Conspiracy Theorists 28.
November 22: an article on Tom Alyea appears in the Tulsa World. Alyea, the only news cameraman in the school book depository during the initial search of the building, maintains that the photos of the shell casings found in the depository were staged, and that many of the reports written by the officers in the building contained lies regarding the evidence. He insists that the lunch bag attributed to Bonnie Ray Williams was found on the fifth floor, not sixth, and that Capt. Fritz picked up the bullet casings found by the sniper's nest before they could be photographed. The article notes that Alyea calls this "the sixth floor scam." While Alyea's story is undoubtedly damaging to the official story, the writer of this article, Michael Overall, also lets us know where we should stand regarding Oswald's ultimate guilt. Overall notes: "Alyea, however, has little patience for conspiracy theorists who ask whether Lee Harvey Oswald really did it. "These guys who write to me 99 percent of their 'facts' are completely made up," he said. "They're not even asking the right questions."
The article is nearly as damaging to the Lone-nut position as the Conspiracy Theorist position. No score.
November 22: Little-read but highly influential magazine Mother Jones publishes an article by its Washington Bureau Chief, left-wing pundit and author David Corn, in which Corn says he started out believing Kennedy was killed by a conspiracy, but "as I spent more time investigating and reporting national security matters, I came to the realization that government officials, spies, and operatives tend not to be sufficiently competent to pull off the murder of a president (with a well-placed patsy as the fall guy!) and then mount a subsequent and wildly effective cover-up." Somehow, however, this leads him to conclude Oswald acted alone. He writes: "Five decades later, it's doubtful that the mysteries of the Kennedy assassination—including Oswald's motivation or motivations—will be fully resolved. The assassin was an odd and unstable fellow who never found a comfortable place in the Cold War world. He might not have fully understood all that drove him to shoot a president and shock a nation. So how can we? But if we're compelled to make sense of this history-changing and heinous act, then an obvious starting place is the not-too-secret secret war on Cuba. It may well be that John Kennedy, the charismatic leader who embodied a new era and a changing time, did die as the result of a conspiracy—a conspiracy that involved the most powerful men in the world and that originated in his own office in the White House. And if this is the closest we can get to the truth so many years down the road, it still offers an important—and painful—lesson that deserves attention: Once the dogs of war (or secret war) are unleashed, there's no telling where they will run."
Score: Lone-nuts 75, Conspiracy Theorists 28.
November 22: An interview with left-wing pundit and author Chris Matthews regarding the 50th anniversary of Kennedy's death is published n the Los Angeles Times. He is asked if the questions about Kennedy's death contribute to our fixation on his presidency. He replies:
"I’m not that person. I think we know what happened. No one’s come up with any evidence that really supports an alternative theory. They have questions, of course; they always will. I think part of it is in Shakespeare, the grand protagonist must be felled or challenged by a great protagonist, it can’t be petty, it can’t be a John Hinckley. All of the assassins throughout history have basically been pretty pathetic people. So the reality is so much different than the dramatic notion we all carry with us that it must be an Iago figure. It can’t just be some guy disillusioned from the Soviet Union who carries a torch for Castro.
I’ve written about this in a number of books. Oswald had a very consistent left-wing fanaticism about him. It’s not hard to figure. I always say to people who have some big conspiracy theory: Just tell me this: How come he had that job at the book depository way before they had the parade route that day? I’ve been working around government a long time, so I don’t have this spooky notion of the government or the CIA. I don’t think some dark forces are at work."
Score: Lone-nuts 76, Conspiracy Theorists 28.
November 22: The Time.com website publishes an article by Sixth Floor Museum Curator Gary Mack entitled "An End to Conspiracy? Rare Photo of Lee Harvey Oswald’s Arrest Suggests Why He’s Guilty." The title is misleading and the article is insulting. The photo in question shows an angry Oswald being manhandled by some angry cops as he is pulled from the Texas Theater, where he is purported to have pulled a gun on a cop. It doesn't "suggest why he's guilty." I mean, it just doesn't follow from this that he's guilty of killing Kennedy. What the photo does suggest, however, is what most people believing there was a conspiracy readily concede--that Oswald got into a fight with some cops at the Texas Theater.
So what's going on here? Does Gary Mack, a long-time member of the research community himself, really think a photo of Oswald with an angry look on his face is gonna change anyone's opinion? OF COURSE NOT! It seems clear, then, that the article was disingenuous and that Time's publishing it was not to report on this "rare" photo (which isn't even all that rare) but to tell the young and the under-informed that those believing there was a conspiracy are ignorant and would probably change their minds if they just looked at all the evidence and realized that Oswald was not some innocent martyr. Well, this just isn't true. Very few conspiracy theorists think Oswald an innocent lamb led to the slaughter. Some think he was a participant in the conspiracy. Some think he was an intelligence operative caught up in a much larger web. Some, including myself, even suspect he killed Tippit, but that this has nothing to do with his guilt in killing Kennedy, and everything to do with his realizing he'd been set up to take the fall for killing Kennedy, and wanting to elude this fate.
The article concludes: "Do innocent people take guns to the movies, assault a police officer and try to shoot him? Does an innocent person start a fight with an armed policeman, then act surprised and angry when the policeman and others defend one of their own? Such is the enigma of Lee Harvey Oswald, who spent the last 48 hours of his life denying he had shot anyone rather than taking credit for removing a president and a cop — two fathers cut down in their prime. Did he or didn’t he change history that day in Dallas, and doesn’t that one photograph graphically illustrate why so many remain unsure about the events that unfolded that day."
Well, this is more conciliatory, and admits that even after looking at the photo one can have doubts. This makes me suspect, then, that the title was written by someone at Time, and not Gary Mack, who himself continues to suspect a conspiracy. (I wrote Gary and he confirmed that he didn't write the title, but said that, even so, he had no problem with it.)
Score: Lone-nuts 77, Conspiracy Theorists 28.
November 22: Time.com publishes another article entitled: These 6 People are Still JFK Assassination Skeptics. While this sounds like a score for the Conspiracy Theorists, it really isn't. The 6 people on the list are Secretary of State John Kerry (a former Vietnam war protester), former Senator Gary Hart (a former darling of the left), John Cassidy (a writer for The New Yorker), Oliver Stone (a filmmaker known for his exotic views on American foreign policy), Jesse Ventura (a former professional wrestler and Governor of Minnesota, who later starred in a show about conspiracies), and Alex Jones (an outlandish radio show personality who either sees conspiracies everywhere, or has to close up shop). By choosing these six, the writer of the article, Denver Nicks, was effectively telling middle America that they needn't worry, because all those suspecting a conspiracy are people you probably shouldn't trust anyhow. I mean, why wasn't one academic--or scientist--named? The article could have named, for example, Kennedy's cousin Kerry McCarthy, Dr. Cyril Wecht, Professor Robert Blakey, Military Historian David Kaiser, former Washington Post journalist Jefferson Morley, and best selling author (and former New York City assistant district attorney) Robert Tanenbaum. By throwing Stone, Ventura, and Jones into such a small pool of "skeptics", and by saying "These people are still" skeptics, the writer was undoubtedly trying to communicate that sensible people now know better and have moved on. This was reinforced, moreover, by the introduction to the list, in which the following was presented: “Conspiracy theories remain popular because, let’s face it, they’re fun. Everybody loves a mystery, and simple solutions ain’t sexy,” Dr. Tom Stone, who teaches courses in the Kennedy assassination at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, told TIME. “Some people find them more comforting than the idea that one little man with a mail order rifle could bring down a big man and change the course of history.”
Okay, Dr. Tom. Tell Robert Tanenbaum that he suspects a conspiracy because it's fun. I dare you. I double-dog dare you.
Score: Lone-nuts 78, Conspiracy Theorists 28.
November 22: CNN.com publishes a little fluff piece by Tricia Escobedo: 5 Things You Might Not Know About JFK's Assassination. The 5 things are, of course, nothing new. The introductory paragraphs, however, report something new, which doesn't go unnoticed, as the article receives over 2300 comments, mostly negative. The first two paragraphs read: "It has been 50 years since President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas on November 22, 1963. Whether you were alive at the time or not, you probably know that Lee Harvey Oswald killed the President, only to be fatally gunned down by Jack Ruby two days later. You probably also know there are hundreds of conspiracy theories about who was behind the assassination, and whether Oswald was the lone gunman or if there was another shooter on the infamous grassy knoll." That many believe Oswald innocent of killing Kennedy is not only not mentioned, but hidden. Apparently, there is a lot Tricia doesn't know about JFK's assassination.
Score: Lone-nuts 79, Conspiracy Theorists 28.
November 22: The Washington Post releases a short interview on its website in which writer James Swanson discuses Oswald's purported attempt on the life of General Edwin Walker. Swanson points out the obvious--that if Oswald had gotten caught trying to kill Walker in April 1963 he couldn't have killed Kennedy in November 1963. But the way he does it is incredibly dishonest. In order to instill respect for Walker, and make Oswald's purported attempt on his life seem more demonic, and more like the kind of thing the killer of Kennedy would try to do, he never identifies Walker by name, and calls him simply "a U.S. Army general." Well this hides that Walker had long since been relieved of his duties for trying to convince his troops President Eisenhower was a communist sympathizer. And this hides that Walker had subsequently led anti-segregation riots against the U.S. Justice Department in which many U.S. marshals were injured, and innocent civilians were murdered. And this hides that Walker was behind the leaflets claiming President Kennedy was Wanted For Treason, which papered the streets of Dallas on the day the President was assassinated. So, no, Edwin Walker was not a "U.S. Army general" on the same side as Kennedy as suggested by Swanson, but a dedicated and dangerous right-wing zealot at war with the U.S. government and President Kennedy--and the exact opposite of the kind of person an American who would go on to kill Kennedy would be suspected of trying to kill. Swanson undoubtedly knows this, and his failing to share this information is inexcusable.
Score: Lone-nuts 80, Conspiracy Theorists 28.
November 22: The Daily Beast unleashes yet another article on the assassination. This one is by Malcolm Jones. It's on Hugh Aynesworth, the man who was everywhere in Dallas that weekend, blah blah blah. It seems Aynesworth can't get enough attention for what? Being so blinded by his contention Oswald and Ruby were low-life losers that he never stopped to look at the REAL evidence--such as the location of Kennedy's back wound--and find that, hey, something sure is fishy here? True to form, Aynesworth reserves his anger for those wrongly getting famous off the assassination. And true to form, he grossly exaggerates how many people have done this. He spews "I say honestly about these conspiracy people, some of their own husbands and wives wouldn’t pick ‘em up at the airport. But they come up with a conspiracy theory and suddenly they are somebody. They get on television, they get in the newspaper. I’ve seen it so many times. And of course you look at our society today—every week or so you see somebody that wants to be somebody, and they kill somebody, they maim somebody, they bomb somebody. And our society’s like that, everybody’s a wannabe. Not everybody, but many losers who can’t make it otherwise, I guess." Oh, the irony. Aynesworth witnessed Kennedy's assassination, but failed to figure out what building the shots came from, and stop Oswald (or anyone) from leaving the building. Aynesworth says he heard the shots, and that the last two were bang bang, but is apparently so bad at assimilating information that he still doesn't grasp that this means there was more than one shooter. And, to make matters worse, he was in the crowd when Oswald was shot, standing idly by when someone he knew personally, someone he knew didn't belong in the basement--Jack Ruby--shot Oswald. Aynesworth then set out to seduce Oswald's widow. So what, exactly, is Aynesworth famous for? Not being good at his job? Standing by when people get killed? Seducing widows?
Score: Lone-nuts, 81, Conspiracy Theorists 28.
November 22: The L.A. Times publishes an article on Barb Junkkarinen, a long-time JFK researcher with a balanced view of the assassination. The article is quite sympathetic to Barb (a friend) and doesn't hide the fact she's a conspiracy theorist. The article thereby presents a human view of the research community, without being condescending. This is rare indeed, and represents a score for the conspiracy theorists.
Score: Lone-nuts 81, Conspiracy Theorists 29
November 22: NBC's The Today Show devotes 7 minutes or so to promote its upcoming program Where Were You? on Kennedy's assassination. Former competing nightly news anchor men Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw are interviewed. Rather and Brokaw both claim they currently have no suspicions anyone outside Oswald was involved in the shooting, but that they remain open to the possibility he was working with others. Why, of course.
Score: Lone-nuts 82, Conspiracy Theorists 29.
November 22: And NBC doesn't stop there. NBCnews.com features a story on the 50th anniversary by Erin McLam. Her take on the 50th is entirely predictable. I wonder if writers like Ms. McLam even realize that what they are writing has been scripted, not by the government, but by a Washington insider mindset that just can't accept that the nation's supposedly best and brightest missed out on the story of the century, and finds it easier to believe it's everyone else who just can't accept reality.
"The government’s most recent investigation into the assassination of John F. Kennedy began in 1994. The Oliver Stone movie “JFK” was still fresh in mind, and almost four in five Americans believed in a conspiracy to kill the 35th president. The investigation, by the Assassination Records Review Board, was aimed at piercing the persistent secrecy that surrounded the crime. The board unearthed tens of thousands of records on the killing that had never been released. Which makes its chairman, John R. Tunheim, among the most qualified people alive to talk about what happened Nov. 22, 1963. His conclusion: Lee Harvey Oswald did it — and no one else. “I look back to the hard evidence of the case, the real evidence, the evidence admissible in court, and all of that points to Oswald acting alone,” Tunheim, who is now a federal judge, said this week from his chambers in Minnesota. Fifty years after the shooting at Dealey Plaza, the conspiracy theories of the assassination — variously blaming the mob, the CIA, Fidel Castro, a Secret Service accident, Lyndon Johnson and others — remain just that, theories. Questions linger, and some records still remain hidden or lost forever. And most agree that the work of the Warren Commission, the government’s best-known investigation into the killing, which blamed Oswald as the lone gunman, was seriously flawed. But no one has conclusively proved a conspiracy, Tunheim said. “People just don’t want to believe that a 24-year-old misfit that has had really an awful life, who has these pro-communist tendencies, difficulty navigating life, could publicly assassinate the leader of the free world,” he said. “That is still an astonishing fact to people. They want to believe that maybe there was something.” Most Americans still believe in a conspiracy, polls show, although they are broadly divided about which conspiracy to believe. But the ranks of the conspiracy theorists are shrinking."
Score: Lone-nuts 83, Conspiracy Theorists 29.
November 22: ABC presents live coverage of the JFK assassination 50th anniversary ceremonies in Dallas. While a number of speeches are presented, most of these discuss Kennedy's life, not death. A local bishop, however, makes a point of denouncing Oswald in his speech. Dallas' mayor, however, makes a speech in which he takes advantage of Kennedy's death to present a rosy view of modern Dallas. Hidden from the TV cameras, behind a police barricade, of course, are thousands of pesky conspiracy theorists, myself included. That politicians and historians will gather in front of cameras and commemorate the memories of murder victims, of course, isn't news. No, the real news story was that those actively keeping Kennedy's memory alive were locked out of Dealey Plaza, and that several of Kennedy's cousins were in attendance at the "conspiracy" convention down the street. Shame on Dallas. And shame on the major news outlets for failing to expose these "ceremonies" for what they were: a paid infomercial put on by the City of Dallas.
Score: Lone-nuts 84, Conspiracy Theorists 29.
Above: an example of what you weren't allowed to see on 11-22-13.
November 22: The Guardian website runs an article on the 50th celebration in Dallas. Mixed in with this article is a timeline of November 22, 1963. It presents Oswald as Tippit's killer, but notes that only half the people to see Tippit's killer ID'ed Oswald as such. More problematic is its treatment of the shooting of Kennedy. The article proclaims "A bullet strikes the president in the back of the neck as he waves, followed by a second shot to the back of the head (the number and direction of gunshots is a matter of hearty controversy)." Uhh, hello. No bullet struck Kennedy in the back of the neck--that was a myth started by the Warren Commission to help sell the single-assassin theory. This myth was disproved--what?--35 years ago?
Adding insult to injury is that The Guardian on this day also publishes an article from Los Angeles, by Rory Carroll, that is little more than a full frontal defense of the Warren Commission. It reports: "The CIA and FBI withheld information about Cuba and Lee Harvey Oswald from the Warren Commission into John Kennedy's assassination, one of the commission's surviving staff members has acknowledged. Nevertheless the inquiry did establish the truth, said Richard Mosk, a California court of appeal justice who served on the commission. He said the agencies' lack of full disclosure was unfortunate but did not alter the fact that Oswald acted alone...He had no doubt Oswald fired all three shots at the president's motorcade from the sixth floor of a school book depository overlooking the cavalcade's route through Dallas. 'He was a marine marksman. He was a hunter when he was a kid. When he was in Russia he practised with this rifle..It was a much closer distance than many people realised,' said Mosk, who has visited the depository. 'It was an easy shot. You have to see it to appreciate that. Even I would have had no trouble making that shot'...He regretted that a plaque at the book depository said this was where Oswald 'allegedly' shot the president. However books such as Vincent Bugliosi's 1,632-page opus, Reclaiming History, had helped restore public faith in the Warren Commission."
Well, geez, Judge Mosk is not telling us the truth, now is he? First of all, Oswald had a shotgun while in Russia, not a rifle, and was considered to be a bad shot by his fellow hunters. And that's not all. The FBI and Warren Commission not only found no evidence Oswald had hunted with the rifle purportedly used in the assassination, they were unable to find any evidence he'd fired at a target in the months leading up to the assassination.
And then there's the bit about Mosk being able to make the "shot." Well, this hides that no one thinks the 'shot" is all that hard to make; it's the firing three shots in 6 seconds at a moving target with the third one being the most accurate after putting the rifle together with a dime and not having practiced in months that is all that hard, and perhaps even impossible.
And then there's the bit about Bugliosi. While it's sweet that Mosk plugs his friend's book, the truth is that, no matter how hard Mosk and others of his ilk pretend Bugliosi's book made an impact on the public, the fact is that it was a total disaster with the public and only made an impact with Warren Commission apologists and the pundit class--people who can't allow themselves to realize that Bugliosi (one of their own) put out something that was every bit as one-sided and deceptive as the worst books put out by--gulp--conspiracy theorists.
Score: Lone-nuts 85, Conspiracy Theorists 29.
November 22: Here and Now, a National Public Radio program out of WBUR in Boston devotes 4 hours to the assassination. Most of the time is devoted to discussing Kennedy's presidency. Oswald is regularly referred to as the assassin. Historian Steve Gillon is interviewed and actually claims Ruby had no intention of killing Oswald, but he was just such an emotional guy he couldn't help himself, etc. No significant discussion of the doubts about Oswald's sole guilt is presented.
Score: Lone-nuts 86, Conspiracy Theorists 29.
November 22: Luke and Michael Haag, the father-son stars of the recent NOVA program pushing that the single-bullet theory makes perfect sense, etc. appear on the NPR program Science Friday. They make a number of questionable claims, including that the back-and-to-the-left movement of Kennedy after the fatal head shot was "explainable" via the neurological response proposed by Larry Sturdivan and/or the "jet effect" first proposed by Luis Alvarez. They make one mistake, however. When explaining why the two bullets they claim hit JFK behaved so differently, Luke Haag declares: "When this bullet struck his head, it fragmented and behaved very, very differently. It created a much larger what's called temporary cavity or splash effect, if you will, which is the reason why the head shot looks so dramatically different and is so much more catastrophic." Apparently, no one had told him that the "official" story pushed by Larry Sturdivan and the House Select Committee's Forensic Pathology Panel was that the bullet didn't actually fragment until after departing the skull, and striking the windshield frame. As they made this claim to explain the large skull fractures by the supposed exit, which would make no sense should the bullet have exited in numerous small pieces, moreover, Haag's explanation is at odds with the single-assassin conclusion. And yet, even so, the Haags' appearance on this science program reflects a Lone-nut bias.
Score: Lone-nuts 87, Conspiracy Theorists 29.
November 22: MSNBC pre-empts the Chris Matthews show, Hardball, to present an encore presentation of 2003's JFK: The Day that Changed America. As this program focuses on the shock most people felt to Kennedy's assassination, and then Oswald's murder, no real bias is demonstrated. No score.
November 22: Fox News broadcasts a story by James Rosen in which he interviews Jefferson Morley and Larry Sabato about the CIA's withholding of documents related to the assassination. The story exposes to a national audience that the CIA brought George Joannides out of retirement to help the House Select Committee on Assassinations locate the CIA officer in contact with the anti-Castro Cuban group Oswald fought with in New Orleans and that Joannides claimed he was unable to locate this person, and that a subsequent release of documents proved this mysterious person was...George Joannides. While some other talking head is brought on to say Oswald did it blah blah blah, the story is a clear score for the Conspiracy Theorists.
Score: Lone-nuts 87, Conspiracy Theorists 30.
November 22: an interview with Kennedy autopsy witness Richard Lipsey appears on C-Span2. This interview builds upon a November 2013 article on Lipsey in Country Roads Magazine, an 11-17-13 article on Lipsey in the Baton Rouge Advocate, an 11-20-13 article on Lipsey in The New Orleans Times-Picayune, an 11-22-13 interview of Lipsey on radio station WKRF. (These all reached a relatively small audience, so I'll count them as one) In all these articles and interviews, Lipsey is a zealous proponent of the theory Oswald acted alone. He cites Posner's Case Closed as the best book on the assassination. One problem is that Lipsey doesn't really know what he is talking about. This is demonstrated in this excerpt from the Country Roads article:
“It’s a simple fifty-yard shot that anybody could do with very little practice, but [he was] a marine [who] had shot thousands of rounds. His gun had a telescope on it. Bam, click, click; bam, click, click; bam, click, click. In eleven seconds, three shots are fired. Two hit the president and killed him. He puts the gun down and walks downstairs, right past his supervisor. Sixty seconds later the police run in and lock the door. Nobody can leave. They count heads; the only person missing is Oswald.”
As for Ruby, “He was one of those guys who like to hang around police stations. He’s friends with all the detectives and the police. He decides Oswald ought to be shot for killing the president. While he’s in jail he has cancer. There’s lots of opportunity for people to talk to him; he’s a dying man. Why not tell them [if there was a conspiracy]? But all he ever says is ‘The guy deserved to die, and I shot him.’ That’s where the story ends.”
Well, yikes, Lipsey overstates the case against Oswald in almost every sentence. 1) The head shot was about 90 yards, not 50; 2) Oswald practiced with a semi-automatic rifle while in the Marines, and not a bolt-action rifle like that used in the assassination; 3) the HSCA's experts determined that the rifle's scope was more hindrance than help; 4) the Warren Commission pushed that the shots were fired in as little as 4.8 seconds, far less than the 11 seconds pushed by Lipsey; 5) while the front door to the school book depository was blocked off by police within a few minutes or the shooting, there was a side entrance that was quite possibly not blocked off for hours; and 6) Ruby told reporters that he couldn't tell them all he knew, and even hinted that President Lyndon Johnson had been involved in the murder of President Kennedy.
But Lipsey's overselling the Oswald did-it scenario is not the only problem with these articles and interviews. Lipsey was a witness to the autopsy. He told the HSCA the doctors discussed a bullet entering low on the back of the head. He told them the doctors discussed two separate head wounds, and also recalled the doctors' inability to track the back wound into the body. His personal recollections, then, were at odds with the wounds as presented by Posner in his book. Lipsey had confirmed these recollections, moreover, in earlier interviews. But did any of those interviewing Lipsey for the 50th anniversary point this out, or ask him if he'd changed his opinions about what he'd overheard at the autopsy? No, of course not. They allowed him to say the autopsy showed the bullets had come from behind, and left it at that.
Score: Lone-nuts 88, Conspiracy Theorists 30.
November 22: WXYZ-TV in Detroit runs a story on Dr. Werner Spitz, the member of the HSCA's pathology panel discussed in the Macomb paper the day before. As discussed in chapter 13b of this website, Spitz is full of beans. The article on the WXYZ-TV website reveals where, to Spitz's ancient mind, the autopsy went wrong: "The pathologist who performed the autopsy also was inexperienced in analyzing gunshot wounds. He saw an abrasion around the wound on the front of Kennedy's neck, at the collar of his shirt. The pathologist knew abrasions formed around entry wounds. He didn't realize abrasions also form at exit wounds covered by fitted clothing. His initial belief that there was an entry wound on both sides of Kennedy's body led people to believe shots were fired from two locations. "There was only one location from where shots were fired," said Spitz." This is nonsense, of course. No one at the autopsy ever claimed to notice an abrasion on the neck, or even believe the neck wound an entrance.
And yet that's just the beginning. The article continues: "Dr. Spitz says the path of lead left inside Kennedy's body from the bullet also indicates that both shots came from behind." Well, this was more nonsense; no lead was found inside the body that would indicate the shot came from behind.
The article then took a turn for the weird: "He also says the drawings of pictures of JFK's wounds that were released were not as clear as the color photographs he saw. The artist was not a pathologist. She did not draw details that are important to pathologists. "The emotions of the moment impacted the drawing. It was not accurate," said Dr. Spitz." Well, geez. If Spitz was talking about the drawings released by the Warren Commission he's forgetting or concealing that these drawings were made under the direction of the pathologists--at the request of the Warren Commission--and that the artist was a male naval medical illustrator, and not an emotional girl. And if he was talking about the drawings released by his panel, well, then, he's also forgetting or concealing something, as these drawings were created by a professional medical illustrator, Ida Dox, under the direction of Spitz's close colleague, Dr. Michael Baden. I mean, really, how pathetic--blame it on the girl!
The article then closed: "Dr. Spitz spent the anniversary of Kennedy's death lecturing students studying pathology at Wayne State University and speaking to reporters about the historic day. It used to bother him as people accused the government of covering up what happened. He says people don't want to believe that a man like Lee Harvey Oswald could alone cause a nation so much grief. He wishes people believed the truth as he sees it after getting a look at confidential evidence. "This has nothing to do with conspiracies. This is a crazy guy who didn't like Kennedy," said Spitz." As if, after proving how little he knows about the assassination medical evidence--his supposed area of expertise--we should believe anything he has to say about Oswald...
Score: Lone-nuts 89, Conspiracy Theorists 30.
November 22: The New York Post runs an article entitled "Six Recollections of JFK's Assassination." Easy-peasy, right? Quote the witnesses accurately. Reveal no bias. But no. The writers of this article, Reuven Fenton and Bruce Golding, wear their bias like a badge. Before they even get to the witnesses, they proclaim "Fifty years after that awful event, those still alive say they remain haunted by their memories of Nov. 22, 1963, when gunman Lee Harvey Oswald brought down the curtain on Kennedy’s s modern-day version of Camelot." Yep. Oswald. Lone gunman. No doubt about it. They then move on to the witnesses. First up is Marvin Faye Chism, who hadn't been interviewed for a newspaper article since ... ever. The writers claim she was "watching from the sidewalk on Elm Street, right outside the Texas Book Depository, when Oswald opened fire from a sixth-floor window." This isn't true. She was watching from down by the Stemmons Freeway sign, which means her claim the shots came from "directly overhead" are in direct opposition to their coming from the sixth floor window. That's pretty bad. But the writers are just getting started. Next up is Austin Miller, who watched the shooting from the overpass. The writers fail to note Miller saw smoke on the grassy knoll just after the shots. They then maul Mary Moorman. They note that Moorman's famous photo showed the back of Kennedy's head being blown off, but nevertheless insist she "snapped the shutter on her Polaroid instant camera a split second after Kennedy was hit by the first of two bullets." This avoids like the plague that Moorman has long-claimed she heard a shot after the fatal head shot--a scenario at odds with the solution to the crime currently pushed on television. Next up is Bobby Hargis. Hargis, a motorcycle officer who'd been riding to the left of Kennedy's limousine during the shooting, famously stopped his bike and charged up the grassy knoll in the moments just after the shooting. Only not here. Apparently uncomfortable with this fact, the writers of this article claim "As chaos erupted, Hargis parked the bike and ran into the Book Depository looking for the shooter." Yeah, you got it. They made out as though Hargis' first thought was that the shots came from behind, when he'd actually thought they'd come from the right front of Kennedy. That's quite the switcheroo, eh? Thankfully, that's the worst of it, as the recollections of Tina Towner and Pierce Allman are presented without any obvious bias.
Score: Lone-nuts 90, Conspiracy Theorists 30.
November 22: Case Closed author Gerald Posner and Dr. Cyril Wecht are pitted against each other on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360. They mostly discuss the single-bullet theory, or, rather, argue about it. While Wecht is the doctor, and is both more passionate and more credible, Posner makes a few clearly false statements that go unchecked. After Wecht repeats his patented diatribe about the improbabilities of the single-bullet theory, Posner counters by saying that this was a 30 year-old argument, and that "dwindling numbers" of people believe Wecht, as all the advances in science in recent years support the viability of the theory. Well, this was not true. With the widespread rejection of Dr. Vincent Guinn's conclusions connecting CE 399 with the wrist fragment, the scientific community has actually distanced itself from the single-bullet theory. Perhaps, then, Posner had confused some of the misleading programs on the Discovery Channel with real science. In any event, while I suspect most viewers sided with Dr. Wecht after viewing this I think a significant minority ended up wondering if Posner wasn't correct, after all. I mean, if the latest science, yada yada yada... So I call this one a tie. No score.
November 22: Commander In Chief: Inside the Oval Office: “Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis” is shown on the Military Channel. I was unable to view this program.
November 22: JFK: In His Own Words is shown on HBO. It is an encore of a 1988 special. I was unable to view this program.
November 22: NBC presents a 2-hour program entitled Tom Brokaw Special: Where Were You? I was unable to view this program.
November 22: JFK: Seven Days That Made a President is broadcast on the National Geographic Channel. It is followed by the previously broadcast JFK: The Final Hours. While the first six days of the seven covered are covered just fine, the final day--the day of Kennedy's assassination--is covered via covering up. It's a sham. Oswald is described as an "unhappy loner." His guilt is not questioned. The program even depicts him unwrapping his intact rifle in the sniper's nest and taking aim. This avoids or covers up, take your pick, that the bag supposedly used to carry the rifle was inches too short to conceal the rifle, and that the FBI and Warren Commission presumed he'd actually brought the rifle into the building in pieces, and then put it together with a dime. The program's use of eyewitness Bill Newman is also misleading. Newman, under the influence of his wife--who has from the very beginning said she thought the first two shots were firecrackers--has long held that the first two shots were Bang-Bang, a second or two apart, not the five seconds or more apart proposed by most single-assassin theorists. Well, this program has him say Bang, and then cuts away. It's creators have cut off the second Bang. Shame shame shame.
Score: Lone-nuts 91, Conspiracy Theorists 30.
November 22: Bill Maher discusses the Kennedy assassination on his HBO program Real Time. He starts out by admitting that he finds the "magic bullet pretty suspicious." But he then moves in for the kill: "We need conspiracy theories for the same reason we need God: because we cannot accept that things are just random." Well, this spurred on discussion in which Paul Begala claimed JFK Jr. thought it a waste of his life to figure out who killed his dad, and where the BBC's Katty Kay agreed with Bill that people believing there was a conspiracy do so because they just can't believe that a "lone banal loser" killed Kennedy. Not one of these smug pundits can see the elephant in the room--that those not believing in a conspiracy, i.e., themselves, the pundit class, do so in part because they just can't believe that the newsmen and news media off which they feed completely flubbed the biggest story of the century, because they just didn't have the courage.
While Maher closes with a moving, and humorous, tribute to Kennedy, in which he compares him favorably to Reagan, the program is nevertheless a score for the Lone-nuts.
Score: Lone-nuts 92, Conspiracy Theorists 30.
November 22: The JFK Assassination: The Definitive Guide debuts on The History Channel. It features a variety of talking heads: Vincent Bugliosi, Gerald Posner, Max Holland and John McAdams on one side, and Jefferson Morley, Robert Groden, David Kaiser, Robert Blakey, and Cyril Wecht on the other. Right near the beginning, it makes a major mistake: it identifies William Newman as Robert Newman. Uh oh. The program does have some interesting poll numbers, however. It reveals that most Americans think Oswald couldn't shoot fast enough to do the shooting ascribed to him, which flies in the face of the common argument most people don't know anything of the evidence.
The first part of the program in which problems with the single-assassin theory are discussed is pretty good. The program then reveals that it's conducted its own 3-D re-enactment of Dealey Plaza and the shooting. I smell trouble. The talking head for the segments dealing with this re-enactment is Tom Stone, the purported author of On the Trail of the Assassins. Who is this guy? He was quoted in Time this morning and here he is again. I mean, what kind of a person steals the title of his book from Jim Garrison? Well, a quick Google search of Stone indicates that he is a professor of English, not history, and that Dallas-based Southern Methodist University nevertheless allows him to teach courses on the Kennedy assassination--which, no surprise, push a lone-nut agenda. This makes him the third academic to have such a relationship, of whom I am aware. There was Kenneth Rahn, an oceanographer, who was allowed to teach Oswald did it classes at the University of Rhode Island, and, of course, John McAdams, a political science professor, who is allowed to teach Oswald did it classes at Marquette University, and now Stone. There's also this: SMU has just hosted a panel discussion in which SMU professors asked questions of former Warren Commission counsel and staff. Stone, an English professor was a member of this panel. This raises a question: would these former counsel and staff have made an appearance at a university less-friendly to their cause? I think we know the answer.
Posner then spews that the back-and-to-the-left movement of Kennedy's head has been shown to be consistent with a shot impacting on the back of his head. The program then tells us that NONE of these theories are conclusive. They then move onto the dictabelt evidence, which I agree is problematic. Another poll is then revealed: 64% believe there was more than one shooter. But then there's Posner again. How he rates as a credible talking head is beyond me. His hair is clearly dyed and he looks a bit like an alien. The program then reveals a couple of polls: most Americans didn't know Oswald had defected to Russia, and didn't know Castro had threatened Kennedy. The number of people thinking Communists were behind the killing: 14%. They then move on to the CIA, and discuss the reasons for thinking it was involved. A poll shows that 42% believe Oswald worked for the CIA. Jefferson Morley and Robert Blakey are then allowed to talk of the D.R.E. and George Joannides. 83% didn't know Oswald tried to infiltrate the D.R.E. 81% think the CIA is hiding something. 23% think the CIA was behind the assassination. (Strangely, there is no discussion of Antonio Veciana and his claim he saw Oswald meeting with a CIA case officer.)
Bugliosi is then allowed to spew his nonsense about Kennedy being a hawk, so the CIA would have no motive in killing Kennedy. The program then goes to its 3-D re-enactment of the shooting, and the efforts of an actual sniper to re-create the shooting. This is horrible, as usual. First of all, they claim Kennedy showed no sign of being hit before coming out from behind the sign, and assume the last shot was the head shot. This first point is not true, according to the only panel of photographic experts to address this issue, and the second point is in opposition to the statements of the earliest and closest witnesses. They then have a sniper attempt to shoot a Carcano three times in 5.6 seconds. He shoots three times in 5.53 seconds. And achieves three hits. ON A STATIONARY TARGET! The program then reveals that 73% of Americans didn't know that multiple tests have shown that Oswald's rifle was capable of making the shots. Oy vey. A friendly discussion between the sniper who'd actually fired the shots and college professor Tom Stone is then presented. Stone thinks this proves Oswald fired the shots. The sniper disagrees, and points out that the actual circumstances in Dealey Plaza were far more difficult than he had just encountered.
The program then moves on to the Tippit killing. This leads to the Walker shooting, which is discussed without acknowledging that Walker himself said the bullet linked to Oswald's rifle was not the bullet fired at him. A poll is then shown. 86% of Americans didn't know that Oswald had supposedly tried to kill Walker.
The magic bullet theory is then discussed. Robert Groden is allowed to say that the trajectories don't align. They then cut back to Tom Stone (I told you I smelled a rat) who insists that conspiracy theorists are wrong, because they place "Connally in the limo directly in front of Kennedy, when in fact we know he was sitting about a FOOT to Kennedy's left." I kid you not!As he does this, moreover, the program rips off Dale Myers' dishonest animation by sliding the Connally figure over a foot in the car. This is just ridiculous. I mean, they don't even have their Connally figure turned to his right. The sniper then argues with Stone, and tells him he's never seen a bullet do the damage attributed to the magic bullet and remain so pristine. Stone then vomits forth the incredibly lame argument that the bullet wasn't pristine, which avoids like the plague that the upper three fourths of the bullet--the part that would be most likely to come in contact with skin and bone as it passed through two bodies--was pristine. The program then admits that only 29% of Americans think Oswald was the lone shooter.
The fringe theories are then discussed. Why? Greer did it. 2% of conspiracy theorists think this is true. Kennedy was killed because he was gonna reveal the existence of aliens? 3%. Umbrella Man's being involved? 8%. The Catholic Church? 2%. All other fringe theories? 14%.
They then move on to the not-at-all fringe theories. While discussing the possibility the military-industrial complex was behind the killing, John McAdams is allowed to pretend the historical record supports that Kennedy would have got sucked into Vietnam as readily as Johnson. 26% believe Kennedy was killed because of Vietnam. Next up is the medical evidence. McAdams is allowed to further pretend the Kennedy entourage was responsible for taking the body out of Dallas (as if Johnson had nothing to do with it.) McAdams and Holland then get to blame the crappy autopsy on the Kennedy family. Groden then claims he's complied a list of 82 witnesses to Kennedy's head wound. He says "Every single one of those says the exit wound on the President's head was in the rear (he motions to the far back of his head). It shows that the shot came from the right front, from the grassy knoll." Yikes. This is a gross exaggeration, at best. Posner is then allowed to make the valid point that the Parkland doctors weren't conducting an autopsy, but trying to save Kennedy's life. A poll is then revealed showing that 74% of American's didn't realize that the Parkland staff reported different wounds than the doctors in Washington.
Groden is now allowed to discuss the Katzenbach memo. He effectively counters McAdams. Posner and McAdams confirm that there are problems with the Warren Commission's investigation. A poll shows that 77% think there was a Government cover-up. Bugliosi then blames the archives for withholding documents, and says the Warren Commission was given a bad rap. Another poll is then revealed showing that 22% of Americans think the Government killed Kennedy. The mob-did-it theory is then presented. This part of the program is fairly well done. Blakey, Kaiser, and even Posner discuss the mafia/CIA connection and the possibility the mob wanted revenge on the Kennedys for Robert Kennedy's crackdown on their activities. 54% think the mob had the motive to kill Kennedy. Posner and Bugliosi then attack this theory--with Bugliosi naively or perhaps disingenuously claiming killing JFK would only have made RFK declare war on the mob. The program then turns its focus on Jack Ruby. McAdams insists without any proof outside the word of mobsters that Ruby's calling these mobsters before the assassination had nothing to do with Kennedy, and everything to do with a stripper's union. Bugliosi is then allowed to lie and say the HSCA found no connections between Ruby and the mob; he even says Ruby passed a polygraph when, in fact, the HSCA reviewed the polygraph performed for the Warren Commission and concluded 1) that it was not conducted properly and 2) Ruby lied about knowing Oswald. 74% think Ruby had close ties to the mob.
Blakey and Kaiser are now allowed to have their say, and explain why they think the mafia was behind the assassination. Kaiser refutes Bugliosi's lame claim that Bobby would have enacted revenge by pointing out that Bobby would be robbed of power once Johnson was president. (There is no mention of Johnson's ties to New Orleans mob boss Carlos Marcello, of course.) A poll is then shown. 27% believe the mob was behind the assassination. The mob is thereby crowned the winner. David Kaiser says he's encouraged by this. Posner and Bugliosi of course remain in denial. Bugliosi even says there's "not a speck" of evidence of mob involvement. McAdams then chimes in saying that the best evidence is "established science that goes back decades and has been thoroughly vetted in court." Well, heck, he's a poli-sci teacher. What does he know about evidence?
The results are clearly not what the program's creators wanted. Posner is then allowed to quote Peter Jennings quoting William Manchester about how people need something larger to explain the loss of Kennedy, and Holland is allowed to recite psycho-babble about how "it's no longer about the assassination, it's about ourselves." The poll is then revealed to have shown that men were more likely than women to believe in conspiracy, that non-whites were more likely than whites, that southerners were more likely than northerners, that those over 50 were more likely than those under 50, that those making under 100k a year were more likely than those making over 100k, and that those without a college degree were more likely than those with a degree.
Groden then talks some more about the 82 witnesses for a frontal head shot. Jeff Morley and Robert Blakey are then allowed to say that the public's skepticism springs from the evidence, to which Bugliosi is allowed to blither on that it's a very simple case that has been blown up into a very complex one, thanks to all those conspiracy writers and conspiracy books. He says the public has been "bombarded with pro-conspiracy propaganda, and it eventually takes its toll."
This program had some really bad moments, from both sides. It's probably no score for either side. And yet, any program in which Groden is allowed to say there are 82 witnesses for a frontal head shot--which doesn't immediately have someone pop up to correct him--has to be called a score for the conspiracy theorists.
Still, underneath it all is a curiosity: why wasn't Vice-President Johnson's possible participation even mentioned? Is there an unwritten rule at the History Channel holding that such things are not to be discussed?
Score: Lone-nuts 92, Conspiracy Theorists 31.
November 22: Lee Harvey Oswald: 48 Hours to Live premieres on the History Channel. The story is told by Steve Gillon, Gary Mack, Larry Sneed, Randy Roberts, and Dale Myers. It begins by showing Oswald kill Kennedy. It then shows him kill Tippit. It then acts as if there is still a doubt about the identity of Tippit's killer. Well, this allows them to act as though the program is an investigation, when it is really a rehash of the Warren Report and Myers' book on the Tippit killing. It's well done propaganda. In allowing the story to be told by these narrators, it allows them to say what Oswald was purported to have said in a mocking tone. It allows them to present statements purportedly made by Oswald when he was acting cool as a cucumber, as statements made by nervous, stuttering liar. Their hatred of Oswald is obvious. In comparison, Dallas Captain Will Fritz, who Buell Frazier insists was abusive to him on the evening of the assassination, is presented as a calm, kindly presence. The program then moves on to a discussion of the police line-ups without mentioning that they were not acceptable by today's standards, with a ripped-shirted and bruised Oswald forced to stand next to people who looked nothing like him. This kind of stuff goes on and on. The program reaches its nadir, however, about half-way through the program, when Dale Myers says Oswald put a long package in the back of Frazier's car, while the program shows a 3 1/2 foot package placed in the back of a car. This is about as deceptive as it gets. Buell Frazier, the only source for the size of the package as it rested in the car, was shown a package the size of a package needed to conceal Oswald's rifle, and insisted--and continues to insist--that the package Oswald threw into the back of his car was 50% or more smaller than this package. That's right. The FBI put this package, or "bag", onto the back seat of Frazier's car so he could judge whether or not it was the same size as the package he saw in Oswald's possession, and he INSISTED that it wasn't even close. The program shows this bag on the back seat twice, without noting that the size of this bag is based on nothing more than speculation by those who assume Oswald's guilt, and that the only witness to see this bag would say they were wrong. The program never admits that Fritz threatened Frazier and that Frazier wouldn't budge. The program never admits that Frazier passed a polygraph in which he claimed the bag was too small to hold a rifle.
It then builds up to Ruby's killing Oswald. Ruby leaves his dog in the car. He wires his money to a stripper. All the old familiar stories are spun to suggest Ruby's killing Kennedy was just a coincidence. They even have him head down the ramp into the basement without being seen. It was all dumb luck, of course. Once again, there is no mention of Sgt. Patrick Dean, the Dallas cop in charge of the basement's security whom even Warren Commission counsel Burt Griffin thought guilty of letting Ruby into the basement. They then get to the shooting itself. The program shows the TV footage of the kindly Captain Fritz--purportedly acting as Oswald's bodyguard--forgetting his duty and leaving his prisoner behind, just as Jack Ruby springs forward and shoots Oswald in the guts. Gary Mack excuses Fritz's dereliction of duty by saying Fritz was distracted by the car. This is just his speculation of course. Gillon then notes the irony of the same doctors who'd just tried to save Kennedy having to turn around and try to save the life of his assassin. Assassin, not accused assassin. Towards the end, Gillon sums it up: "I think we now know that Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated John F. Kennedy." Wrong. Steve. "We" know no such thing. He then admits "I don't think we know a whole lot more about why." The talking heads then speculate that Oswald was gonna try to make it back to Mexico, and then go on to Cuba...and that someone was gonna help him. Dale Myers then exonerates Ruby by claiming the timeline of his actions clears him of premeditation. He doesn't seem to get it that none of that stuff matters if Ruby had a contact within the Dallas Police. It is then pushed that Ruby actually thought he'd be greeted as a hero and released without spending a single night in jail. That Oswald did it as part of a conspiracy then gets another boost: Roberts relates that Fritz felt Oswald was too rational to have been a lone nut, and that someone--KGB, or maybe even an American intelligence agency--had trained him on how to withstand interrogation. He suggests that Fritz thought Oswald was indeed an agent of some sort. Gillon then builds on this and states that as long as we debate why Oswald did it, his ghost will haunt this country. Well, I'll be! There was a little conspiracy pepper mixed into this lone-nut stew after all.
Although the program ends up wondering if there hadn't been a conspiracy, after all, it's earlier conclusion Oswald acted alone--and the deceptiveness through which it sought to lead its viewers to share this conclusion--marks it as a score for the Lone-nuts.
Score: Lone-nuts 93, Conspiracy Theorists 31.
November 24: An article in the Boston Globe by Bryan Bender and Neil Swidey discusses Robert Kennedy's response to the assassination, and his deeply-held belief there was more to his brother's death than a lone-nut named Oswald.
Score: Lone-nuts 93, Conspiracy Theorists 32.
November 24: The Daily Beast unleashes its final assault on the sensible. This article, by Richard Woodward, starts out reasonably enough, and discusses the JFK assassination industry. It's actually quite refreshing in that it notes the large corporations who've made money off the books, magazines, and TV programs on the assassination, namely Life Magazine, Look Magazine, NBC, and CBS. It then drops a neutron bomb, which kills the truth without harming the facts. Woodward relates: "Only in the last decade has the labor and judgment of the Warren Commission and the FBI been appreciated again. They interviewed hundreds of witnesses, analyzed hastily written by forensic documents, and put together a coherent report in only 10 months--record time for a Washington panel. The wheel has turned, and the Report’s endorsed view of Oswald’s acting alone has once more become the standard interpretation." Oh, my! Where did he get this? Bugliosi? I'm not aware of a single historian gaining new-found respect for the Warren Commission. And a new appreciation for the FBI's handling of the assassination? LUDICROUS. J. Edgar Hoover's reputation is as bad as ever, and won't be on the rebound any time soon.
Score: Lone-nuts 94, Conspiracy Theorists 32.
November 24: On this morning's Good Day L.A. program, Fox News Los Angeles reporter Hal Eisner presents a clip from an interview with his old rabbi, Hillel Silverman, who just so happened to have also been Jack Ruby's rabbi in the aftermath of his murder of Oswald. While I miss the original broadcast, a video of the broadcast found on youtube and an article later found on the MyFoxLa website reveals that Silverman told Eisner the same stuff he's been spewing for decades. Eisner reports: "It is Sunday, November 24th, 2013. On Sunday, November 24th, 1963 Jack Ruby was near the Dallas Police Station, according to Hillel Silverman - Ruby's Rabbi - the Dallas strip club owner saw a crowd at the DPD. He walked over and because he knew a lot of officers, he walked right into the place. Silverman says Ruby always carried a gun because of the stuff that would happen at his strip club. Says Silverman, in an interview I did at his La Jolla condo a few days ago, Ruby told him he didn't know Lee Harvey Oswald was going to be transferred to County jail, but as he was he shot him. It was a fit of rage says the Rabbi. In the many jailhouse visits that would occur between Silverman and Ruby in the months that followed the Rabbi says Oswald's killer insisted he did it alone and there was no conspiracy. Fifty years ago today he Ruby killed Lee Harvey Oswald LIVE on TV. Why did he do it? Silverman, now 89, says Ruby told him he did it "for the American people" and so First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy didn't have to come back to Dallas for a trial." Oy vey! What goes unreported in the article, and the interview as presented on Good Day L.A., speaks volumes. First of all, Silverman barely knew Jack Ruby before Ruby shot Oswald, and there's no evidence Ruby ever asked to see him. Silverman showed up at the jail and asked to speak with him, and, reportedly visited him once a week or so for the next six months or so. That's it. There was no long-standing relationship. Period. As a result, there's no reason to believe Ruby ever felt comfortable enough to tell Silverman the truth about anything. Second of all, Silverman acted against Ruby's interests during this period. He was, amazingly, friends with Warren Commission attorney David Belin; apparently, they'd met in Israel the year before. Now this would be but a coincidence which in no way detracts from Silverman's credibility if it ended right there. But it didn't. Amazingly, Belin would subsequently brag, in his 1973 book You Are The Jury, that he'd convinced Silverman into pressuring Ruby to ignore the advice of his own attorneys and take a lie detector test in which he proclaimed he'd acted alone in killing Oswald. The Warren Commission, of course, reported that Ruby passed this test. The HSCA, however, hired a team of experts to study the results and they came to conclude that most of the test was improperly performed and of little value, but that, even so, some of the first questions asked Ruby were likely to have received an accurate response. They then revealed that Ruby had quite possibly lied on a couple of key points, including his having had a prior relationship with Oswald. Now, none of this was reported in this nice friendly interview of the reporter's former rabbi, who just so happened to have been Jack Ruby's rabbi, at least for a short while, etc. But, of course...
Score: Lone-nuts 95, Conspiracy Theorists 32.
November 25: A second article by Bryan Bender in the Boston Globe discusses the thousands of withheld records on the assassination, and asks the all-important question "What are they hiding?"
Score: Lone-nuts 95, Conspiracy Theorists 33.
November 25: The Akron Beacon Journal publishes an article on former Warren Commission attorney Burt Griffin. It is essentially a puff piece, telling Griffin's story and thoughts without any counterpoint. It begins: "Every time Burt Griffin hears a conspiracy theory about the assassination of John F. Kennedy, he sighs and shakes his head. It’s been 50 years, he wants to shout in frustration. Fifty years for someone to break ranks. Fifty years for some co-conspirator to trade information in order to get out of a jam with authorities. Fifty years for some vengeful girlfriend to squeal on a lover. Fifty years for some secret document to be unearthed, some new photo to be revealed, some surprise confession to be announced. It hasn’t happened because Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone when he shot and killed the president in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, and Jack Ruby acted alone when he killed Oswald two days later, Griffin said. He speaks with confidence because he was immersed in the investigation. He spent eight months of 14-hour days working for the Warren Commission, the presidential committee charged with putting together the story of those shocking events. 'I’m very disappointed that we haven’t put it behind us,' said Griffin, a former Cuyahoga County judge who lives in Shaker Heights." It later claims: "Griffin is proud of the work he and his colleagues did. And while other commissions have been assembled to reinvestigate the case over the years, the original conclusions have always held up. 'None of us knew each other before we went to work there, and we were all determined to find a conspiracy,' he said. 'If anybody was going to try and cover it up, we would have walked out. I’ve even said to people, if I could have found a conspiracy, I would have been the senator of Ohio instead of John Glenn.'" (This passage is wrong on every count. First of all, the HSCA said a conspiracy was likely so, no, the Warren Commission's conclusions have not held up with the "other commissions." Second of all, many of those on the commission and its staff DID know each other. The commissioners were all acquainted, with McCloy, Dulles, and Warren running in the same elite social circles. Warren also knew Rankin, Jenner, and Ball. Rankin also knew Redlich. And Willens knew Specter. And I'm sure I'm forgetting a couple. Griffin also avoids that his partner in the investigation, Leon Hubert, did walk out, or at least threatened to walk out. And then there's Griffin's claim the political advantage was in finding a conspiracy. This is silly to the extreme. I mean, is there anyone who really believes a charisma-challenged congressman like Gerald Ford and an arrogant lawyer of Jewish ancestry like Arlen Specter would have become the President of the United States and a five-term Senator from Pennsylvania, respectively, if they hadn't played ball with the Justice Department and J. Edgar Hoover and pushed that Oswald killed Kennedy? I doubt it.) The article then says of Griffin: "Frankly, he takes it personally that a majority of Americans still suspect there was a conspiracy and that the Warren Commission was hiding something. An Associated Press poll this year said 59 percent of Americans thought Oswald did not act alone. 'It’s sad,' he admits. 'People write all these books about conspiracies, but you’ve got to have a conspiracy to sell a book, right?' On the other hand … 'It’s been 50 years and nobody has proven there was a conspiracy,' he said. 'That’s my validation.'" (Well, yikes, this passage is also wrong wrong wrong. Many of the most profitable books--at least for the author--and probably all of the most profitable TV shows have pushed that there was no conspiracy. And then there's that last bit--Griffin's belief Oswald's sole guilt has been validated because no one else has "proven" anyone else was involved? Are you kidding me? If no one "proves" a magician's cutting a woman in half was a trick, should we then accept it as a miracle? Of course not. The LIKELIHOOD that something happened is, and always will be, a factor in our acceptance that it did happen, whether or not it is ever "proved" to have happened or not to have happened. Yes?)
Score: Lone-nuts 96, Conspiracy Theorists 33.
November 26: Skeptic Magazine editor Michael Shermer gets an op-ed piece published in the Los Angeles Times in which he pretty much insults the majority of Americans. He writes: "A poll this month found that 61% of Americans who responded still believe that JFK was the victim of a conspiracy, despite the fact that the preponderance of evidence points to Lee Harvey Oswald as the lone assassin. Why do so many people refuse to accept this simple and obvious conclusion? The answer: psychology." He then shows that he, too, has taken a college psychology course by identifying "cognitive dissonance" (the American people's inability to recognize the obvious), "monological belief system" (the American people's willingness to fit the assassination into a worldview in which evil powers dominate), and "confirmation bias" (the American people's aligning the evidence to fit what they believe rather than following the evidence to its proper conclusion) as three factors in our widespread delusion. He never discusses the EVIDENCE, of course, beyond that HE believes a "preponderance of evidence" suggests Oswald's sole guilt! Well, this is actually kinda funny. Apparently, Shermer doesn't realize that a "preponderance of evidence" is a term used in civil trials and that having a "preponderance of evidence" is insufficient to find guilt in a criminal trial, which requires guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. So, yeah, in his rant on how stupid we all are for not believing Oswald's sole guilt, the amateur psychologist Shermer made a Freudian slip and suggested that he too believes the case against Oswald insufficient to find him guilty. OOPS!
Score: Lone-nuts 97, Conspiracy Theorists 33.
November 26: While shopping at the local Costco, I decide to check out the books section. It has three books on the assassination, all lined up together: Bill O'Reilly's Killing Kennedy. Philip Shenon's A Cruel and Shocking Act, and James Swanson's End of Days. All three are lone-nut books. I check out Swanson's book and find it is almost as crappy and deceptive as O'Reilly's book. He discusses Buell Frazier's claim Oswald told him he had curtain rods in the package he brought to work. He discusses Frazier's and Frazier's sister's recollection this was a long package. And he discusses Oswald's supposed claim this bag held his lunch. He then offers that Oswald lied about this to hide that Frazier and his sister had said it was a long bag. And that's it. He lets the reader assume this "long bag" held Oswald's rifle. He hides from them that the ONLY witnesses to see this bag in Oswald's possession--Frazier and his sister--claimed (and continued to claim, at great personal risk) that the bag was TOO SMALL to hold the assassination rifle. He then shows his readers the FBI's picture of a bag supposedly removed from the building, and leads his readers to believe that this is the bag Frazier saw Oswald bring into the building. Well, this is called LYING. Frazier refused to identify this bag as the bag he saw in Oswald's possession. He, in fact, swore to the opposite--that it was NOT the bag he saw in Oswald's possession.
And that's but one of Swanson's many deceptions. Some are more subtle than others. In the photo and exhibits section at the end of his book are a number of drawings demonstrating the single-bullet theory, and Oswald's escape from the sniper's nest, etc. Swanson fails to tell his readers that he "borrowed" these drawings from Gerald Posner's book Case Closed, and that Posner "borrowed" these exhibits from a prosecution brief against Oswald put together by Failure Analysis Associates, a team that had similarly prepared a defense brief for Oswald, using different drawings. Swanson was aware, no doubt, that researchers reading his book would immediately recognize the problem with his use of these exhibits, and their association with Posner, who was denounced by the head of Failure Analysis Associates for pretending these exhibits had been created for his book, and were objective representations of the evidence. But Swanson did it anyhow. Perhaps he was unaware that these drawings' depiction of Connally's jump seat as residing six inches inboard of Kennedy's seat had long been exposed as a hoax by, among others, yours truly, and that the inaccuracy of the six inch claim had long been acknowledged by animator Dale Myers, the greatest perpetrator of the hoax.
If I remember the headlines, Swanson was awarded a million dollar advance for this horsecrap, this Killing Kennedy Lite. No one-not even the fiercest lone-nutter--can possibly believe Swanson did any research beyond putting lipstick on the Warren Report and Bugliosi's book. So where's the outrage? Where's the New York Times editorial denouncing the likes of O'Reilly and Swanson as vultures picking at Kennedy's bones?
Score: Lone-nuts 100, Conspiracy Theorists 33.
November 29: The little-watched channel C-Span 3 broadcasts 4 hours of programming from the October Passing the Torch Conference in Pittsburgh. At one point, during the Q and A session of former HSCA Counsel Robert Tanenbaum, yours truly rises up and asks a question. Now this is provocative programming! Ha.
Score: Lone-nuts 100, Conspiracy Theorists 34.
Throughout November?: On December 17, I decide to check Netflix to see what movies on Kennedy or his assassination are on its current playlist. It's slim pickin's. No JFK, No Executive Action, No old TV movies on Kennedy. Not even Ruby. I see one program, however, that I can't remember watching. It's called Kennedys' Home Movies, and was first broadcast on The Learning Channel, in 2011. Narrator Stockard Channing tells the story of the Kennedy family while their home movies and news footage are presented on the screen. When discussing the assassination, news footage is shown. The program then cuts to Jack Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald. Channing reports "The day before Jack's funeral, the assassin met his own end." She then assures the viewer: "After investigating, the Warren Commission would rule out a conspiracy." Well, this was quite the overstatement. The Commission did not rule out a conspiracy. It declared instead it couldn't find one. There's a difference.
Score: Lone-nuts 101, Conspiracy Theorists 34.
Throughout November?: On December 20, I check Amazon Prime to see what Kennedy-related programs and movies they have to offer. They have a number of programs as rentals, but only one is free with Amazon Prime. It is a 45-minute documentary entitled Mugshots--Did Oswald Act Alone? While it is supposedly a new program, it is in fact old interviews packaged to look like a new program. Perhaps the original program was only recently finished? In any event, it features approximately 20-year old interviews with writer John Davis (claiming the mob was behind the assassination), Marita Lorenz (claiming Frank Sturgis and E. Howard Hunt were involved in the assassination), Mark Lane (claiming Lorenz was credible), Robert Groden (claiming shots came from the front, and that witness Lee Bowers was murdered), Walter Rachelle (claiming Bowers said he saw two shooters on the knoll), "Ben Jones" (Penn Jones, claiming Bowers told him the same thing), and Dr. Charles Crenshaw (claiming the head wound was on the back of the head and that the shot must have come from the front). The only counter to their claims is a 1990's version of Gerald Posner, sitting in a studio watching their interviews on a monitor, and saying there isn't a shred of evidence, etc. Posner's TV-Q, his believability, is lacking. The self-satisfied smirk on his face makes Oswald's supposed smirk look innocent by comparison. It seems no coincidence, then, that many of the shots of Posner come from over his shoulder while he is watching the statements of others. The show is a score for the conspiracy theorists.
Score: Lone-nuts 101, Conspiracy Theorists 35.
Throughout November?: On December 22, I go into my local CVS Pharmacy to pick up a prescription. I look over at the magazine rack and see...From The Secret Files of the National Enquirer: The Kennedy Assassination. Well, I can't help but take a look. It's an 82-page magazine with no advertisements. It's formatted like an encyclopedia--with topics ranging from A to Z. While many errors of fact are presented, and many conspiracy myths are repeated, a number of the topics are presented in a more straightforward and honest fashion than can be found in the supposedly responsible press. While part of me wants to call this sad fact--that the National Enquirer (a tabloid if there ever was one) is the only national publication presenting the reasons most conspiracy theorists suspect a conspiracy to the public--a score for the Lone-nuts, the not-so-sad fact is this: many of the most impressionable Americans read the Enquirer with an open mind.
Score: Lone-nuts 101, Conspiracy Theorists 36.