Hardly any of this fall's crop of television shows about President Kennedy are new or otherwise interesting enough to watch, according to a comprehensive survey Nov. 8 by the Washington Post's TV critic Hank Stuever.
But Stuever's survey contains clues that he and his newspaper cannot be trusted on this survey.
"We still don’t know what made Oswald do it," the critic wrote, "but we sure know a lot about his last two days alive."
By such opinionated words with scant cited support, the Post shows that its critic lacks the curiosity, knowledge, or intellectual courage that might have made the topic interesting to him or to his readers. Seventy-one percent of the public disbelieve the "Lone Gunman Theory" documented by the Warren Commission in 1964, according to a recent poll by the History channel in advance of its special documentary scheduled for Nov. 22.
Other polls have shown smaller majorities of Americans with similar doubts. Significant but rarely reported evidence exists also that Oswald was on the government payroll as a likely double-agent, and may not have shot anyone.
The Post's treatment of TV shows provides an apt complement to the Justice Integrity Project's previous Readers Guide report on new books about the JFK assassination.
On Nov. 6, our project published Disputes Erupt Over NY Times, New Yorker, WashPo Reviews of JFK Murder. That column showed that the Washington Post is among the leading print publications that self-censor their treatments of the 70 new books this year focused, at least in part, on the assassination. As the landmark 50th anniversary of the murder approaches on Nov. 22, most of the TV shows are respectful memories of the overall presidency, as in the family photo at right, or watered-down coverage of the assassination.
Therefore, no one should be surprised that Stuever's newspaper -- which has been an enthusiastic supporter of the Warren Commission findings from the start -- would marginalize in its TV coverage those whose films and documentaries undercut conventional wisdom.
Newspaper self-censorship is self-reinforcing because TV producers need corporate go-aheads for financing. At many stages thereafter, their story-telling impulses to win viewers conflict with corporate realities, including federal regulation of parent companies and affiliates.
The column below examines more deeply these TV shows about the Kennedy era -- and why critics like Stuever pooh-pooh the results.
Consider the common complaint that the JFK murder, its solution and even his presidency have scant relevance to current events.
Stuever fostered that theme by writing that the whole topic is tiresome. Further discussion needs to end, he opined.
"Nothing to see here folks, just move along," as police at a crime scene typically say.
I've heard those words (or something close to them) early in my career as a newspaper reporter, particularly in the early 1970s when I covered the "night police beat" for the Hartford Courant in Connecticut. In those days, police and reporters often knew one another personally and reporters for dailies held special cachet because we covered nearly everything, day-in, day-out. So, I often was able to bypass the police barriers, look around a murder scene itself, or even get a photo or few words with detectives.
This was much like the reporters who surrounded Lee Harvey Oswald at the Dallas police station before Jack Ruby shot Oswald two days after the JFK killing.Those were the priorities -- not just for me, but for many other reporters working daily deadlines. Street shootings and, later in my career, drug and Mafia hits get everyone's attention in the news business, as do those dying in wars, terror attacks, and major accidents.
The Post critic Stuever was right about one thing. Leaving out the substance and the spice makes the meal unappetizing.
Stuever shared his perspective in two columns.
His second, under the dismissive title, Where to start with all this JFK stuff on TV? Here, provided a schedule and guide "to some (most?) of the JFK-related shows on TV this month — with our critic’s recommendations."
That useful report, excerpted below, listed 15 shows broadcast between Nov. 8 and Nov. 22. It recommended five of them. One of those recommended included the first show, JFK: The Final Hours by the National Geographic Channel, with narration by Bill Paxton.
The show had memories from Clint Hill, the Secret Service agent assigned to guard the first lady -- and one of the major heroes among government employees, according to scholars of the alternative history of the murder. Hill, shown below left in a photo from his new memoir Five Days in November, was one of the few among the ranks of his peers who immediately took visible steps to try to act according to official procedures by running up to the car of the stricken President Kennedy and First Lady, as indicated by the photo at right.
Yet a full description of his role and that of others would take viewers and readers deep into mystery. One, for a start, is how a man in street clothes could catch up to the JFK car after a president had been shot. Another is why Kennedy's normal Secret Service contingent was left behind at the Dallas Airport. Two who could have provided cover via a human shield against shooters are shown in this video clip being pulled off that traditional duty. The one on the right waving his hands looks more than a little perplexed and disturbed.
To begin to examine these ideas in depth can lead to uncomfortable realms for viewers, government officials, and news organizations alike.
Nonetheless, it's a murder that should be re-evaluated no matter where the evidence leads.
In later parts of this series, you'll see statements by authorities of great stature who argue that the federal government has never really tried to get to the bottom of the murder. Strong evidence exists, for example, that Oswald, an ex-Marine, was a double agent who was on the federal payroll and being set up for a fall -- and thus was a "patsy," as he claimed before he was shot.
Before we delve more in depth into that kind of alarming material in this series, let's examine the statement by Secretary of State John Kerry Nov. 8 suggesting that Oswald did not act alone.
That seems intriguing and newsworthy, given Kerry's stature and long experience, which includes meeting JFK before his death and emulating early on use of the initials "JFK" in Massachusetts politics.
Further review of Kerry's words indicate, however, that they are close to conventional wisdom in elite government and media circles. Kerry merely opined that Oswald was likely influenced by his previous experiences as a defector to Russia. Kerry did not claim that any organization actively assisted Oswald.
By those words, Kerry, a visibly stiff former Skull and Bones member at Yale and Purple Heart winner in Vietnam, projected an image of being open-minded -- without rocking the boat. That kind of stance is the definition of what government officials, among themselves, call a "limited hangout" that provides a small amount of information that satisfies the media's occasional appetite for more.
Another recent development was a "docu-drama" produced by the National Geographic Channel for cablecast on the evening of Nov. 10.
The one-dimensional portrayals showed, among things, a malevolent, shifty and thorough despicable Lee Harvey Oswald, a former defector to the Soviet Union, focused on assassination to advance his fanatic ideologies. To illustrate his character, the film showed him as continually abusive to his Russian-born wife, Marina, the mother of their young daughter. Oswald slaps her hard in the face at one point in the docu-drama when she has the temerity to ask him about his secretive ways.
I do not claim to be an expert on every aspect of Oswald's life or on the details of this production. But I do know that the National Geographic video channel has a more complex ownership structure than the iconic non-fiction magazine. Thus the television fare might seem as rooted in fact as the magazine but on occasion is subject to the incentives of the popular marketplace, including the inputs from the stakeholders at the Rupert Murdoch financial empire.
Furthermore, there are experts who have argued in books and elsewhere that Oswald, an ex-Marine, was a likely double agent operating under U.S. government approval at many times, including during his ostentatiously pro-left activities that are precisely the kinds of activities that both fanatics and double agents undertake. Also, strong evidence exists -- to be examined later in this series -- that U.S. officials faked evidence compiled two months before the shooting that Oswald was corruptly involved with Cuba.
Additionally, I know that researcher Dick Russell, author of the must-read On the Trail of the JFK Assassins, is among those who have interviewed the widow Marina Oswald, Russell reported that she believes her late husband was innocent of the JFK death, albeit confused and otherwise way over his head by his complex role. Russell is among those who suggest that Oswald operated as a supposedly lone wolf but with deep associations in the background.
Shortly after the National Geographic docudrama Nov. 10 I wrote the Oswald Innocence Campaign to clarify the movie's slapping scene. Is there a record, I asked, of Oswald slapping Marina Oswald that way?
"Marina Oswald visited Oswald's grave twice a week for quite a while," responded Ralph Cinque, the campaign's founder and director and organizer of a conference on the topic Nov. 22 in Santa Barbara, CA. "Would she have done that if he abused her? In her first public interview about a year after the assassination, she said that she loved him. I don' t know if he ever slapped her. But I do know he was not the monster and sick twisted person they are making him out to be."
All of this persuades me that this murder remains an open case that still needs to be solved in court -- starting with the court of public opinion.
For that, the public needs more information. Stayed tuned.
Justice Integrity Project Readers Guide To JFK Assassination
* Denotes major articles in this Readers Guide series
At right is a photo by this editor in Dallas showing Dealey Plaza. The Texas Book Depository Building where Oswald worked is behind the row of trees. The car in the center lane is near the location of President Kennedy's limo at the time of his fatal shooting.
- Project Launches JFK Assassination Readers' Guide, Oct. 16, 2013.
- Project Provides JFK Readers Guide To New Books, Videos , Oct. 26, 2013. This is a list of new books and films in 2013.
- Project Lists JFK Assassination Reports, Archives, Videos, Events, Nov. 2, 2013. Leading video, events and archives from the last 50 years. *
- Disputes Erupt Over NY Times, New Yorker, Washington Post Reviews of JFK Murder, Nov. 7, 2013. *
- Self-Censorship In JFK TV Treatments Duplicates Corporate Print Media's Apathy, Cowardice, Nov. 7, 2013.
- 'Puppetry' Hardback Launched Nov. 19 at DC Author Forum on ‘White House Mysteries & Media,' Nov. 19, 2013.
- Major Media Stick With Oswald 'Lone Gunman' JFK Theory, Nov. 27, 2013. Self-censorship.
- JFK Murder Scene Trapped Its Victim In Kill Zone, Nov. 30, 2013.
- JFK Murder, The CIA, and 8 Things Every American Should Know, Dec. 9, 2013. The CIA implicated itself in the cover-up, according to experts who have spoken out. *
- JFK Murder Prompts Expert Reader Reactions, Dec. 19, 2013. Reactions to our Dec. 9 column.
- Have Spy Agencies Co-Opted Presidents and the Press? Dec. 23, 2013. *
- Don't Be Fooled By 'Conspiracy Theory' Smears, May 26, 2014. *
- Experts To Reveal Secrets of JFK Murder, Cover-up at Sept. 26-28 DC Forum , Sept. 5, 2014.
- Washington Post Still Selling Warren Report 50 Years Later, Sept. 22, 2014. *
- JFK Experts To Explode Myths, Sign Books In DC Sept. 26-28, Sept. 24, 2014.
- Former Cuban Militant Leader Claims CIA Meeting With Oswald Before JFK Killing, Sept. 27, 2014. *
- JFK Readers Guide: Assassination Books, Reports, Oct. 15, 2014. *
- Former U.S. House JFK Murder Prober Alleges CIA ‘Lied,’ Seeks Hidden Records, Oct. 18, 2014. *
- The JFK Murder 'Cover-up' Still Matters -- As Does C-SPAN's Coverage, Nov. 11, 2014. *
- JFK, Nov. 22 and the Continuing Cover-Up, Nov. 24, 2014. *
- JFK Assassination Readers Guide To 2013-14 Events, Nov. 28, 2014. *
- CIA, Empowered by JFK Murder Cover-up, Blocks Senate Torture Report, Dec. 1, 2014. *
- Nearly Too Late, Public Learns of Bill Moyers’ Conflicts Over PBS, LBJ, Jan. 2, 2014.
- Why Bill O'Reilly's Lie About JFK's Murder Might Matter To You, March 17, 2015.
Selected JFK Television Films (October-November 2013) (Washington Post Analysis and Listing)
Washington Post, JFK anniversary on TV: Stale shows and a nation stuck in a freeze frame, Hank Stuever, Nov. 7, 2013. Hank Stuever is The Washington Post’s TV critic and author of two books, “Tinsel” and “Off Ramp.” Why do we keep reliving Nov. 22, 1963, in an onslaught of stale 50th-anniversary shows?
Washington Post, Where to start with all this JFK stuff on TV? Here, Hank Stuever, Nov. 7, 2013. A guide to some (most?) of the JFK-related shows on TV this month — with critic’s recommendations. Here’s a quick viewing guide to some of the Kennedy-related TV documentaries and specials airing this month, with Post TV critic Hank Stuever’s recommendations denoted by a “★.” [Editor's Note: The words below are Stuever's.]
★ JFK: The Final Hours, Friday, Nov. 8 at 8 p.m., National Geographic Channel. Narrated by Bill Paxton, an intriguing replay of Jack and Jackie’s trip to Texas, featuring several interviews with people who met them and also a lot of memories from Clint Hill, the Secret Service agent assigned to guard the first lady.
Fox News Reporting: 50 Years of Questions — The JFK Assassination. Saturday, Nov. 9 at 9 p.m., Fox News Channel. Discussion hosted by Bill Hemmer.
Killing Kennedy. Sunday, Nov. 10 at 8 p.m., National Geographic Channel. Dull and clunky. Saved by Will Rothhaar’s nervy performance as Lee Harvey Oswald — a poor man’s Ryan Gosling!
★ American Experience: JFK. In two parts — Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 11 and 12 at 9 p.m., WETA and MPT. Producer and Director Susan Bellows, right. The big kahuna of this year’s Kennedy documentaries — a full biography and examination of his presidency. Lots of footage you’ve seen before; some you haven’t. A good start for those born after 1980 or so; a reverent review for those who remember it all vividly.
Capturing Oswald. Tuesday, Nov. 12 at 10 p.m., Military Channel. Looks at the fast scramble by Dallas police officers and feds to find the Kennedy assassin (and cop-killer). Interviews, recollections and the whole tick-tock account.
★ Nova: Cold Case JFK. Wednesday, Nov. 13, 9 p.m., WETA and MPT. Father-son ballistics experts run experiments in the desert to see whether the Warren Commission’s findings pass their plausibility tests.
★ JFK: One P.M. Central Standard Time. Wednesday, Nov. 13, 10 p.m., WETA and MPT. News junkies will dig this “Secrets of the Dead” episode, narrated by George Clooney, about how the news from Dealey Plaza and Parkland Hospital was broken and confirmed by reporters in Dallas and New York — up to and including CBS anchor Walter Cronkite’s live announcement that Kennedy had died.
★Marching On: 1963 Army-Navy Remembered. Thursday, Nov. 14 at 8 p.m., CBS Sports Network. Recounts the somber but healing football game — postponed after Kennedy’s assassination — that helped coax a nation back to normalcy.
JFK: A President Betrayed. On-demand beginning Nov. 14, DirecTV. Narrated by Morgan Freeman, a look at Kennedy’s efforts to avoid armed conflict and reign in the nuclear-arms race, while fending off the hawks around him who wanted to drop bombs. This one’s for those with DirecTV who can never hear enough about the Cold War.
Kennedy’s Suicide Bomber. Sunday, Nov. 17 at 8 p.m., Smithsonian Channel. Here’s a weird one most everyone forgot: A man drove to Palm Beach hoping to kill president-elect Kennedy in December 1960 with a car bomb.
The Day Kennedy Died. Sunday, Nov. 17 at 9 p.m., Smithsonian Channel. A thorough examination of routes, schedules, trajectories, eerie details and Zapruder close-ups.
★ Letters to Jackie. Sunday, Nov. 17 at 9 p.m., TLC. Tenderly examines a handful of the 800,000 condolence letters the first lady received in the days after the assassination, read aloud by celebrities.
The Lost JFK Tapes. Thursday, Nov. 21 at 7 p.m., Discovery. Features some new audio recordings and testimonies from those who saw it happen in Dallas.
JFK Assassination: The Definitive Guide. Friday, Nov. 22, at 8 p.m., History. (Executive Producer Carl H. Lindahl.) Whodunit? (Besides Oswald.) A roundup and breakdown of all the theories and unsolved mysteries of what happened at Dealey Plaza and then, two days later, when Jack Ruby shot Oswald. A survey reveals what Americans today think most likely happened, based on their, uh, vast expertise.
Lee Harvey Oswald: 48 Hours to Live. Friday, Nov. 22 at 10 p.m., History. We still don’t know what made Oswald do it, but we sure know a lot about his last two days alive.
MARINA: Oswald didn't kill ANYONE. YouTube.
Other Fall 2013 TV and Cable Treatments
Update: JFK Facts, Who found Oswald’s wallet? Bill Simpich, April 21, 2014. The story of the murder of Dallas police officer J. D. Tippit on November 22, 1963, took an unexpected twist this past year. A TV newscast showed footage taken by the local ABC affiliate WFAA-TV on that date more than 50 years ago. In the film, Dallas police captain Pinky Westbrook can be seen handling a wallet at the scene of Tippit’s murder. It appears to be the wallet of the accused assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald. What makes the film footage remarkable is that for 50 years, authorities have said that the wallet was not found until about an hour later when Dallas police detective Paul Bentley removed the wallet from Oswald’s back pocket shortly after taking him into custody at the Texas Theatre, several blocks away from where Tippit was gunned down. FBI agent Bob Barrett, who was at the scene of Tippit’s murder and is still alive, now calls Paul Bentley’s story “hogwash.” The wallet is important because its contents connected Oswald to the guns used in the murder of President Kennedy and Officer Tippit, shown in a file photo. The WFAA story last fall said that the wallet mystery had been “settled.” Reporter Jason Whitley interviewed retired FBI analyst Farris Rookstool who conducted an investigation of the two wallet stories. Rookstool concluded that the wallet seen in the 1963 footage is an exact match with the Oswald wallet now at the National Archives in College Park Maryland. Rookstool shows that the circular snaps, metal strips, and a zipper over the cash compartment are identical in both instances. Rookstool says the wallet proves that Oswald killed Officer Tippit about 49 minutes after President Kennedy was shot and killed in downtown Dallas a mile and half away. There’s another possibility: The wallet was planted at the Tippit murder scene.
JFK: The Smoking Gun. Reelz, 2013. This is based on Mortal Error: The Shot That Killed JFK, a 1992 non-fiction book by Bonar Menninger reporting a theory by sharpshooter, gunsmith and ballistics expert Howard Donahue that a Secret Service agent accidentally fired the shot that actually killed President John F. Kennedy.
Fox News, The Kennedy Assassination: Conspiracy or Murder? Geraldo Rivera, Nov. 9, 2013. Author Mark Lane: "I don't believe Oswald was involved at all." Who, then? "The Central Intelligence Agency. I don't have the names of the guys."
USA Today, TV specials remember Kennedy's assassination, Lorena Blas, Nov. 7, 2013. A list of programs that mark the 50th anniversary of the president's shooting.
Nov. 10: National Geographic Channel's movie Killing Kennedy, based on the book by Bill O'Reilly and starring Rob Lowe, airs Nov. 10 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. But it's not the only special marking the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination. Here are more programs to check out:
Nov. 7: JFK: A President Betrayed (DirecTV's Audience Network, 8 p.m. ET/PT; DirecTV on Demand, Nov. 14) Morgan Freeman narrates this film, featuring interviews with historians, journalists, advisers, officials and staff to Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev, including journalist and author Evan Thomas; former RFK special counsel ambassador William Vanden Heuvel; and Sergei Khrushchev, son of the former Soviet leader.
Nov. 8: JFK: The Smoking Gun (Reelz Channel, 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and midnight ET/ 9 p.m. PT) A re-broadcast of a documentary, inspired by the book from veteran police detective Colin McLaren, who spent 4½ years on the forensic cold-case investigation of JFK's assassination and believes he has found the smoking gun that killed the president.
Nov. 11-12: American Experience: JFK (PBS, 9 p.m. ET/PT) Two-part documentary from the PBS franchise examines the different facets of Kennedy's life and his evolution as a politician.
Nov. 12: Capturing Oswald (The Military Channel, 10 p.m. ET/PT) Documentary focuses on the accounts of Dallas Police Department homicide detectives and officers who were involved in the case of the presidential assassination.
Nov. 13: Nova: Cold Case JFK (PBS, 9 p.m. ET/PT, times may vary) The PBS science series looks at what modern science and technology might reveal about the shooting in Dallas and the investigations.
Nov. 16: As It Happened: John F. Kennedy 50 Years (CBS, 9 p.m. ET/PT) Anchored by CBS news veteran Bob Schieffer and produced by the team at 48 Hours, the special focuses on the four days that changed America and gives a portrait of the Kennedy presidency and family.
Nov. 17: The Day Kennedy Died (Smithsonian Channel, 9 p.m. ET/PT) Kevin Spacey narrates a minute-by-minute account of the death of a president in this special that draws from rarely seen film, photos and eyewitness accounts of that day in Dallas. Preceded at 8 ET/PT by Kennedy's Suicide Bomber, which puts the chilling story of Richard Pavlick in the spotlight. He tried to kill President-elect Kennedy in Florida in December 1960.
Nov. 17: The Assassination of President Kennedy (CNN, 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET)
Nov. 20: Costas Tonight Special — No Day for Games: The Cowboys and JFK (NBC SN, 11 p.m. ET) A look at the assassination through the eyes of the 1963 Dallas Cowboys and 1963 U.S. Naval Academy quarterback Roger Staubach.
Nov. 21: JFK: The Lost Tapes (Discovery, 7 p.m. ET/PT) Tapes from Air Force One and testimonies from those on the ground that day, including Clint Hill, the Secret Service agent responsible for protecting Jackie Kennedy, offer a insight into what happened.
Nov. 22: JFK Assassination the Definitive Guide (History, 8 p.m. ET/PT) This program takes a look at the more than 300 conspiracy theories about the killing of JFK, collectively pointing to 42 groups, 82 assassins and 214 people who may have played a role.
Nov. 22: Tom Brokaw Special: Where Were You? (NBC, 9 ET/PT) Hear from people who were in Dallas and how the tragedy changed our sense of vulnerability.PBS, Interview: G. Robert Blakey, Nov. 19, 2013. Notre Dame law professor G. Robert Blakey is a recognized expert on organized crime and an authority on the JFK assassination. He is the author of the 1981 book, The Plot To Kill the President, and in the late 1960s he campaigned for and helped write much of the anti-racketeering legislation that would usher in the demise of the Mafia. As chief counsel to the 1977 House Select Committee on Assassinations, [following replacement of its original counsel, deputy and committee chairs] Blakey led the investigation into President Kennedy’s assassination, reexamining the evidence with a new forensics panel. The committee found that there was a “probable conspiracy,” suggesting that parts of the Mafia and/or certain anti-Castro Cuban groups “may have been involved.” This interview was originally published in 1993. A decade later, Blakey revised his initial praise for CIA cooperation to state that experience showed the cooperation was not as great as he had thought.
Related News Coverage
Washington Post, Five myths about John F. Kennedy, Larry J. Sabato, Nov. 13, 2013. Larry J. Sabato is director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. His latest book is “The Kennedy Half-Century: The Presidency, Assassination, and Lasting Legacy of John F. Kennedy.” Myth: Fifty years later, we know everything we’ll ever know about Kennedy’s assassination. Even a half-century later, we don’t have the complete story. This is because many government documents remain classified and hidden. Reputable groups and individuals have estimated that there are 1,171 unreleased CIA documents concerning Nov. 22, 1963. The Center for Effective Government has even claimed that there may be more than 1 million unseen CIA records related to Kennedy’s assassination. No one can close the book on this subject without examining them. The Assassination Records Collection Act, signed by President George H.W. Bush in 1992, requires that all remaining documents about the Kennedy assassination be released by Oct. 26, 2017. The next president will rule on any requests from the CIA and other agencies that materials be withheld or redacted after 2017. Under the law, the president can do so only if there is “identifiable harm to military, defense, intelligence operations, or conduct of foreign relations, and the identifiable harm is of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in disclosure.”
Broadway World, History to Premiere Two Specials Commemorating JFK Assassination, 11/22, Staff report, Oct. 15, 2013. Fifty years after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, about which conspiracy theories still run rampant, there appears to be one thing most Americans now agree on: that shooter Lee Harvey Oswald was telling the truth. According to an eye-opening national survey conducted by History 74% of Americans believe that Oswald was the fall guy for a larger alternate theory. That's just one of the eye-opening findings revealed in "JFK Assassination: The Definitive Guide, a provocative two-hour special that premieres Nov. 22. History polled thousands of Americans -- the most expansive survey on the Kennedy assassination ever attempted, and the first in nearly a decade, representing citizens of every state and covering a wide range of ages and ethnic, economic and educational backgrounds -- to learn exactly what the country does and doesn't believe regarding the shooting on that fateful day in Dallas and who was responsible. Public skepticism of the so-called "Lone Gunman Theory," supported by the Warren Commission in 1964, is shockingly high. A total of 71% of Americans polled now don't believe that explanation. The show explores the myriad alternative theories that Americans find more plausible. It's an entirely new way to look at the assassination: through the eyes of the American people.
Pittsbugrh City Paper, Don’t call them conspiracy theorists: JFK assassination experts come to Pittsburgh, Rebecca Nuttall, Oct. 18, 2013. This week, experts from around the world are in Pittsburgh for “Passing the Torch: An International Symposium on the 50th Anniversary of the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy,” at Duquesne University. The group of scientific, legal and investigative, scholars, journalists and authors were brought together to discuss what are often referred to as “conspiracy theories.” During a panel discussion at the Senator John Heinz History Center on Oct. 17, examining how the JFK assassination has played out in the media, authors joined director Oliver Stone in indicting the mainstream media for what they believe was a failure to investigate legitimate facts surrounding JFK’s death. “There were leaks all over the place from the beginning of the Kennedy assassination," said David Talbot, founder and former CEO and editor-in-chief of Salon.com. “And yet, the whispers behind closed doors in Washington weren’t getting to the press or weren’t getting reported.” While Stone is well known for his controversial biopic on JFK, the other noted authors, several of whom have worked in the media, have all published work related to the assassination and unpopular theories like those claiming the CIA was involved in Kennedy’s death. Despite reports in the mainstream media, several of the panelists said the CIA’s involvement in Kennedy’s assassination has been proven. “The media has never addressed the idea that operatives in the CIA carried out the assassination of the president,” said Lisa Pease, chief archivist of RealHistoryArchives.com. “If the press had looked seriously at the JFK assassination they would have found conspiracy.” Instead the panelists said the media perpetuated the idea of Lee Harvey Oswald as JFK’s killer in order to help American citizens recover quickly from a devastating tragedy. “The idea is that evil comes out of the murkiness and kills the good,” said Stone. “It’s easy.” And according to the panelists, the media’s negligence continues today. “This case is a microcosm of everything that’s wrong with the media,” said Jerry Policoff, a writer whose work has appeared in the New York Times and the Village Voice. “In almost all cases, (journalists) stay with the pack,” said Russ Baker, founder of WhoWhatWhy.com, an investigative reporting website. “This is not just about the JFK assassination. These stories are happening all the time.”
CNN, One JFK conspiracy theory that could be true, Thom Patterson, Nov. 17, 2013. During the half century since President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, you may have heard about a few conspiracy theories. Decades of investigations, hearings, documents, records, books and interviews have failed to satisfy conspiracy theorists with a definitive answer to The Question: Did Lee Harvey Oswald act alone when he shot the President? At one time or another, doubters of the lone gunman theory "have accused 42 groups, 82 assassins and 214 people of being involved in the assassination," said author Vincent Bugliosi. That's a lot of paranoia.
New York Daily News, ‘JFK: The Smoking Gun,’ TV review: David Hinckley, Nov. 2, 2013. An Australian detective concludes that Kennedy died from friendly fire. Reelz puts forward detective Colin McLaren's case that JFK died from an errant Secret Service shot.
LewRockwell.com, The Two NPIC Zapruder Film Events: Signposts Pointing to the Film’s Alteration, Douglas P. Horne (Date Unknown). Douglas Horne was Senior Analyst and then Chief Analyst for Military Records on the staff of the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) from 1995 to 1998. Most Americans don’t know anything about the two significant events involving the famous Zapruder film of President Kennedy’s Assassination that took place back-to-back, on successive nights, at the CIA’s National Photographic Interpretation Center (NPIC) – in Washington, D.C. – on the weekend immediately following JFK’s assassination. But anyone evenly remotely interested in what is perhaps the key piece of film evidence in the Kennedy assassination – what for decades was viewed as the “bedrock evidence” in the case, the “closest thing to ground truth” – needs to become acquainted with what happened to Abraham Zapruder’s home movie of JFK’s assassination during the three days immediately following President Kennedy’s death. Why? Because the hottest debate raging within the JFK research community for the past several years is about whether the Zapruder film in the National Archives is an authentic film from which sound, scientific conclusions regarding JFK’s assassination can be divined, or whether it is an altered film indicative of a government cover-up, which yields tainted and suspect information, and leads us to false conclusions, about what happened in Dealey Plaza. The resolution of this debate hinges on the answers to two essential questions: First, is the film’s chain of custody immediately after the assassination what it has been purported to be for many years, or is it, in reality, quite different? Second, are there visual indications within the film’s imagery which prove it has been tampered with, i.e., altered?
Daily Mail, John Kerry doesn't believe that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone when he shot President Kennedy as he says the government investigation didn't 'get to the bottom' of the assassination, Meghan Keneally Nov. 8, 2013. John Kerry has revealed that he does not believe that President Kennedy's assassin worked alone as the government claimed in their official finding. The Secretary of State added more credibility to conspiracy theories surrounding the former president's death by becoming one of the highest-ranking politicians to openly admit to being suspicious of the official finding. 'To this day, I have serious doubts that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone,' Kerry told NBC's Tom Brokaw in an interview timed with the 50th anniversary of Kennedy's death.
- Secretary of State John Kerry thinks that the shooter was influenced
- Suggests it has something to do with the time Oswald spent in the Soviet Union and his connections to communist sympathizers
- Does not support the 'grassy knoll' theory or the idea that the CIA was involved
Parkland -- The Movie -- A Review, Roger Stone, Oct. 30, 2013. I went to see Parkland this past weekend because I was hopeful that director Tom Hanks and his account of the JFK assassination would become as powerful and influential as Oliver Stone's. Parkland deeply upset me. The movie bends the facts and disposes of the evidence. The Warren Commission would be proud of Tom Hanks and this subtle, manipulative, fictional version of JFK's assassination.
USA Today, 'Parkland' shines new light on Kennedy assassination, Bryan Alexander, July 28, 2013. The 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy continues to prompt controversy regarding motives and means for the killing -- and the implications for history since then to the present.
National Enquirer, 2nd Gunman Named In JFK Assassination! John Blosser and Robert Hartlein, Oct. 23, 2013. Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone – and the Enquirer can finally name the second gunman who fired the fatal shot at President John F. Kennedy from the grassy knoll in Dallas 50 years ago! In a blockbuster exclusive, the Enquirer has learned that a Cuban exile with ties to both the Mafia and the CIA confessed to being involved in a conspiracy to kill America’s beloved 35th president. The startling new evidence was uncovered by respected author Anthony Summers, who revealed the assassin’s identity in an update to his classic 1998 book on Kennedy’s slaying, Not In Your Lifetime.
FireDogLake, “Oops I Shot the President” and Other JFK Conspiracies, Lisa Derrick, Nov. 6, 2013. November is conspiracy month, at least on cable TV, and this November there is a richer crop than ever since this is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy in Dallas Texas at Dealey Plaza. Piers Morgan has already blown CNN’s Kennedy wad by having Oliver Stone as a guest, but expect more from the cable and networks – both pro-conspiracy and pro-lone-nut–later in the month. Cable channel Reelz has taken over from The History Channel and Discovery as the super-conspiracy channel, running a series of documentaries starting out with JFK: The Smoking Gun, which is running through the next two weeks. JFK: TSG‘s theory bolsters the Warren Commission by saying Oswald acted alone to purposefully kill Kennedy, but adds that the shot that shattered the president’s skull was from a different gun using a hollow point fragmentation bullet. Only, that shot wasn’t on purpose.
Selected JFK Films and Videos
Evidence of Revision. Terrence Redmond. Etymon Productions, 2011.
Executive Action. Starring Burt Lancaster and Robert Ryan, written by Dalton Trumbo, Donald Freed and Mark Lane, and directed by David Miller. 1973. As described in Wikipedia: The film opened to a storm of controversy over the depiction of the assassination: in some places in the U.S., the film ran only 1 to 2 weeks in movie theaters or got pulled from them altogether. The movie was part fiction, but it would contest other reports of the assassination, including the controversial Warren Commission report of 1964, which led to attacks against the film. The trailers for the film never ran on certain television stations, including WNBC-TV in New York City. The criticism of the film and its suggestion of a Military-industrial complex conspiracy led to the film being removed totally from the movie theaters by early December 1973 and getting no TV/Video runs until the 1980s and mid-1990s, when it got legal release and distribution for TV and video. The film was originally released on November 7, 1973, almost two weeks before the tenth anniversary of the JFK Assassination. Donald Sutherland has been credited as having the idea for the film and for hiring Freed and Lane to write the screenplay.
Into Evidence, Forensic Sciences and Law Education Group, Duquesne University, a Corton Production, 2004.
JFK. Producer and Director Susan Bellows. JFK premieres on American Experience on Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 11-12, 2013, 9:00-11:00 p.m. ET on PBS.
JFK, Producer and Director Oliver Stone, starring Kevin Costner, 1991. The movie's popularity led to the passage of the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992.
Jim Garrison Tapes, The. John Barbour, Blue Ridge/Film Trust, 1992.
JFK: The Smoking Gun. Reelz, 2013. This is based on Mortal Error: The Shot That Killed JFK, a 1992 non-fiction book by Bonar Menninger reporting a theory by sharpshooter, gunsmith and ballistics expert Howard Donahue that a Secret Service agent accidentally fired the shot that actually killed President John F. Kennedy.
I Shot JFK: The Shocking Truth. 2013. Convicted felon James E Files, speaking from prison, admits he pulled the trigger from the grassy knoll, and that organized crime figures Sam Giancana, Johnny Roselli and Chuckie Nicoletti were behind the hit. This is one of trilogy of Shocking Truth documentaries from producer Wim Dankbaar that includes Confessions from the Grassy Knoll: The Shocking Truth and Spooks, Hoods and JFK: The Shocking Truth.
Men Who Killed Kennedy, The. Actors: Hilary Minster and Robert J. Groden. History Channel, 1988.
Mysterious Death of Number 35, The. Directed by Braddon Mendelson. Noisevision Productions, 2008.
Parkland is a 2013 American historical drama film that recounts the chaotic events that occurred following John F. Kennedy's assassination. From Wikipedia description: The film is written and directed by Peter Landesman, produced by Playtone's Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman, and Bill Paxton with Exclusive Media’s Nigel Sinclair and Matt Sinclair. The film is based on the book Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, by Vincent Bugliosi. Parkland weaves together the perspectives of a handful of ordinary individuals suddenly thrust into extraordinary circumstances: the young doctors and nurses at Parkland Hospital; Dallas’s chief of the Secret Service; an unwitting cameraman who captured what became the most famous home movie in history; the FBI agents who were visited by Lee Harvey Oswald before the shooting; the brother of Lee Harvey Oswald, left to deal with his shattered family; and JFK’s security team, witnesses to both the president’s death and Vice President Lyndon Johnson’s rise to power. Peter Landesman had an ambitious task with his film Parkland -- finding a fresh look at the thoroughly examined assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The screenwriter and first-time director focused on the smaller players with vital but overlooked roles in the chaotic drama which played out on Nov. 22, 1963.
Untold History of the United States, The, Director: Oliver Stone. Writers: Oliver Stone, Peter Kuznick, Matt Graham. Producers: Oliver Stone, Tara Tremaine, Rob Wilson, Carlos Guillermo, Chris Hanley.