Donald Trump's explosive claim May 3 that Rafael Cruz may have known Lee Harvey Oswald in New Orleans before JFK's assassination in Dallas has since provided a case study in news coverage of sensitive issues.
Regardless of what one thinks of Trump, the reaction to his comments illustrate how he threatens the Washington establishment, including reporters and pundits who slant important news regarding the presidency. Trump showed also that he is careless at best in his commentary. He initially said the man in the photo below was Cruz, father of Texas senator Ted Cruz. Later, Trump falsely told CNN that he had merely wondered whether the man was Rafael Cruz.
Perhaps even more important, Washington insiders are beginning to share a view that candidates risk unprecedented exposure of their darkest secrets in a campaign that will be far more ruthless, unpredictable and momentous than the public can expect from controlled media. This is indicated by, among other things, a report May 5 by the experienced commentator Pepe Escobar, accessible via his Facebook account: How Trump Did It; The Outside The Box Gambit.
Update: Ted Cruz suspended his campaign after Trump trounced him in Indiana's primary by a 53-37 percent margin. Trump was winning also the vast majority of the 57 delegates at stake. In the Democratic race, Bernie Sanders upset Hillary Clinton 52-48 percent with most votes tabulated.
Escobar asserted that a major reason Cruz suspended his campaign was to stop criticism of his family's past. "Of course," added political commentator Joe Lauria, "Cruz also realized that after losing Indiana he would not be able to force a contested convention."
Let's start decoding this situation. In response to campaign efforts by Cruz on behalf of his son before the crucial GOP Indiana primary May 3, Trump said Cruz helped Oswald distribute pro-Castro leaflets in New Orleans three months before President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas in 1963.
“His father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald's being — you know, shot. I mean, the whole thing is ridiculous,” Trump said during a phone interview with Fox News, referring to the man in the necktie at center in the photo. “What is this, right prior to his [JFK] being shot, and nobody even brings it up? They don't even talk about that. That was reported, and nobody talks about it.”
"This is nuts," Ted Cruz responded in defending his father from Trump's charges as voting began during Indiana's crucial primary May 3. "This man [Trump] is a pathological liar....The man is utterly amoral. Morality does not exist for him."
With the stakes so high both in the JFK probe and the current election, the facts and reporting are worth exploring here in a report updated May 5 from our original coverage two days previous:
Federal authorities and the major media have always argued in essence that Oswald acted alone to kill JFK on Nov. 22, 1963. True, the establishment occasionally floats also oddball theories attributed to cranks and "conspiracy theorists."
But their core conclusion, right from the start, has been that Oswald killed JFK alone, as we reported in Major Media Stick With Oswald 'Lone Gunman' JFK Theory. Yet many serious researchers, law enforcement and scientific whistle blowers, and other suppressed voices have long argued that Oswald was a scapegoat who acted with others at a minimum, and may even have been innocent of killing either JFK or a Dallas policeman that day.
Critics of the 1964 Warren Commission draw on a vast array of evidence to show involvement, often compartmentalized by those who did not know the ultimate result of their actions, by rogue elements of government, business, the mob, and Cuban refugee community, with the result that Kennedy was replaced.
To hint at such a monstrous concept means career oblivion even now for prominent officials, pundits and academics. That has long been the case. Declassified 1960s documents show that the CIA orchestrated a campaign to discredit as "conspiracy theorists" those who suggested government misconduct in the JFK case and subsequent mysterious events extending to the present. We summarized the evidence in a 2014 column: Don't Be Fooled By 'Conspiracy Theory' Smears.
That pattern helps explain the instant attacks on Trump May 3 and absence of virtually any commentator willing to explore whether his comments might have a basis in fact worth exploring.
In contrast, investigative reporter Wayne Madsen first reported April 7 evidence strongly suggesting that Rafael Cruz was the mystery man photographed handing out literature on Aug. 16, 1963 in New Orleans. This as outside the International Trade Mart, a significant gateway to Caribbean and Latin America business.
New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison later unsuccessfully prosecuted the trade mart's leader, Clay Shaw, on claims that he was an intelligence asset who conspired to murder the president in a plot involving the president's opponents, including rogue elements of intelligence agencies, other federal authorities, and police.
Nonetheless, Madsen was careful not to conclude definitively that the mystery man in the photo was the elder Cruz. After Madsen's story was published he appeared on a New Orleans radio station that week to ask listeners for help in an ongoing investigation on the mystery man's identity. Similarly, Trump supporter Scottie Nell Hughes aptly told a CNN audience that Trump was raising questions about the photo and related research, and not accusing Ted Cruz's father of plotting murder.
By contrast, dishonest commentators are fudging all distinctions to ridicule and thereby suppress any further inquiry.
In the photo above by the late Johann Rush of WSDU-TV in New Orleans, Oswald is at front left in a white shirt and necktie. He stands next to man never publicly identified by the Warren Commission, center, and also in white shirt. They were handing out leaflets for the Fair Play for Cuba Committee outside the trade mart. The National Enquirer reported that it determined through photo analysis by experts that the man is Rafael B. Cruz, father of GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz.
The mainstream media -- major newspapers, wire services and broadcast networks -- have always been virtually unified in denunciations of Garrison and his team. Their message remains largely in place until today. Why? The reasons relate to a hidden history encompassing the CIA's empire-building and anti-Communist goals. These serve the agency's Wall Street and other elite controllers. Willing allies with the agency include the major media (whose ownership is, of course, part of "Wall Street"), the Cuban exile community, organized crime, and military contractors, all of whom are occasional allies, as we know know from declassified documents and books.
Thus Madsen's reporting represented a remarkable challenge to the government and media establishment and all who hope for career success within those career paths. He has not been alone in this, of course. More than two thousand books have been written about the JFK death building on the revelations of many whistleblowers, including from the CIA and law enforcement community. More recently, those amplifying questions about a possible Cruz connection to Oswald have included Indiana blogger and attorney Gary Welsh (found dead earlier this month, ruled suicide at age 53). The National Enquirer raised the profile in a cover story last week, and the McClatchy News Service published a balanced news story, and then came Trump's interview on Fox May 3.
We still do not know whether Rafael Cruz was passing out literature in New Orleans with Oswald. The circumstances suggest that Oswald and his fellow leaflet distributors were government assets, including natives of Cuba. Rafael Cruz has lived his life in largely mysterious fashion, despite publishing a memoir this year and many public appearances both on the campaign trail and as a pastor.
Our own Justice Integrity Project reporting through the years and more intensively since Madsen's scoop suggest compelling evidence that the elder Cruz was indeed part of Oswald's effort in New Orleans. Yet major media are now nearly unanimous in continuing the cover up of any thorough inquiry, which could readily be accomplished with in-depth interviews of surviving participants, release of suppressed documents or even a grand jury investigation.
Instead, Madsen (shown in a file photo) and the National Enquirer are now the targets of venom by both the mainstream media and those on alternative website whose chose tool is snark, not any demonstrable knowledge of the JFK or other political assassinations or sex scandals.
By contrast, Madsen with a three-part series in 2006 broke the story that House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) was a gay pedophile hiding his past as a lecherous high school wrestling coach. The mainstream ignore the series and now never gives him credit despite Hastert's guilty plea and sentencing. Similarly, the Enquirer has broken many major scandals covered up elsewhere and yet is automatically ridiculed even though it has almost never had to pay a verdict for defamation for wrong reporting.