Understanding Hollywood-Style Presidential Propaganda From JFK To Trump


Deceptive mass media portrayals of President John F. Kennedy’s life and death help us understand the pervasive hokum in the 2016 presidential campaign in ways far beyond Donald Trump’s nostrums.

Trump’s stunning recent success on the campaign trail using strategies inspired by show business has forced some of his competitors to try to copy him as best they can.

But every concerned voter should understand that the spectacle goes far beyond entertainment. Instead, the campaign represents a brazen escalation of domestic propaganda efforts undertaken jointly by media and military-intelligence operations from the World War II era to the present.

JFK the Smoking Gun 2013 Colin McLarenThat’s the topic of this column, which was inspired by an invitation by the bold and independent-minded Connecticut radio personality Phil Mikan to join him Aug. 18 to discuss a controversial Hollywood portrayal of Kennedy's death, JFK: The Smoking Gun. On Aug. 19, we next discuss the current state of the 2016 presidential campaign. The Phil Mikan Show is carried on WLIS-AM and WMRD-AM in Middletown and Old Saybrook, and archived here.

His invitation crystallized important themes of our recent Justice Integrity Project research showing how government propaganda experts acting on behalf of Wall Street and other elite interests have secretly funded many national media outlets, thereby distorting voter perceptions regarding presidents and candidates alike through the decades.

Kennedy’s “Camelot” glory, marriage, death, and scandal revelations, for example, provide a vivid case history of such the image-making, including suppression of scandal when our information gatekeepers thought it best for the public not to know about vice in high places.

But the pendulum has shifted. Wild and sometimes true charges of scandal -- issued on a high-selective based in part on feuds, religion and ideologies -- are now shaping what is GOP Presidential Debaters Aug. 6, 2015likely to be one of the most important, deceptive, entertaining and controversial races in history. The 2016 GOP candidates are portrayed at their first debate Aug. 6.

We start with JFK: The Smoking Gun, a well-publicized supposed “documentary” released in 2013 that argued that the federal government has suppressed news that the late Secret Service officer George Hickey accidentally killed the president while riding in the Dallas motorcade -- and that law enforcers have been so embarrassed since that they have covered up the facts with the complicity of most media.

That theme has always been absurd. Both common sense and evidence amplified below demonstrate why. The History Channel, the original outlet, rejected distribution after fact-checking. That enabled bottom-feeders at the Reelz Channel to buy up rights on the cheap.

Nonetheless, the film received significant and fairly positive media coverage that distracted attention during the 50th anniversary of the killing in 2013 from credible evidence of how the murder occurred and why a cover-up has been maintained.

The disinformation techniques constitute the dark side of the overly-glamorized coverage of Kennedy during his lifetime and the anniversary, which was heavily shaped at the outset by such friends and admirers as the late Newsweek Washington Bureau Chief Ben Bradlee.

All of this is a long way around the mountain to get to the 2016 presidential race. But kindly bear with us. We shall try to make this overview productive and entertaining, even if sinister figures repeatedly appear.


Media Mythmakers During the JFK Era: the Dark Side of Camelot

At Newsweek, Bradlee was among the World War II veterans (many affiliated with intelligence operations) who overly glamorized the Kennedy administration as a new Camelot comparable to King Arthur’s court.Donald Trump at GOP debate Aug. 6, 2015

They suppressed such inconvenient truths as the president’s many sex scandals, which Bradlee knew better than most because one of JFK’s most passionate and long-lasting affairs was with Mary Pinchot Meyer, Bradlee’s sister-in-law and a socialite artist and writer who had known Kennedy since the 1930s.

She was the ex-wife of Cord Meyer, who ran the CIA’s propaganda program, Operation Mockingbird, and also worked as the CIA's liaison to the Kennedy White House. According to historian Hugh Wilford, the president once asked an aide regarding Cord Meyer, a fellow war hero and best-selling author, "Why does CIA send that shit to see me?"

Washington Post Publisher Philip Graham was Operation Mockingbird’s most enthusiastic supporter as it orchestrated on a voluntary basis more than two dozen of the nation's leading newspaper, broadcasting, and magazine moguls into favorable news coverage of CIA-friendly themes in the 1950s and early 1960s. The CIA's secrets included what we now know via declassified documents to have been assassinations and revolutions, sometimes via benign-seeming front groups or organized crime gangs.  The Mockingbird propaganda program was unknown to the vast majority of those in controlled organizations except on a narrow need-to-know basis.

Disclosure of the Operation Mockingbird program grew out of investigative reporting by Ramparts Magazine in 1966, the Church Committee oversight hearings in the Carl Bernstein1970s, a 25,00-word Rolling Stone column in 1977 by former Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein (shown in a file photo from his website), and the 1979 Deborah Davis biography Katharine the Great of then-Post Publisher Katharine Graham, Philip Graham's widow.

Bradlee, whom Katharine Graham appointed to be Washington Post Executive Editor shortly after her husband's suicide in 1964, helped lead the paper's successful effort to suppress the Davis book in the late 1970s.

This followed the famed Watergate editor's pattern of thwarting negative coverage of JFK for sex scandals, of the Warren Commission's obvious cover-up in the assassination investigation, and of many other inconvenient story angles, including the 1964 murder of Mary Meyer and the CIA's seizure of her diary with Bradlee's complicity.

The list of questionable actions by Bradlee in suppressing vitally important political and intelligence news is extensive. Yet remains one of Washington's best-kept secrets, as are similar tales compromising many of his peers in all facets of the media, including movies, magazines, broadcasting, public relations, and book publishing.

At our project, we have examined many instances of such patterns, including the career of the late GOP political operative Robert Keith Gray, a longtime CIA asset (in other words, a cooperating professional with a separate cover job). Gray chaired the Washington, DC office of Hill and Knowlton, the powerful public relations company, among other influential posts. He was a fixture in Washington image making and news coverage from his time as President Eisenhower's scheduler in the late 1950s through the early 1990s, including his disgraceful public relations "success" in creating phony rationales for Congress to approve the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. 

This system of media manipulation was sophisticated as devised by such as government-employed masterminds as Allen and his brother John Foster Dulles, J. Edgar Hoover, and their allies. Thus, only a few involved in the system knew much beyond their own interests, and occasional career-boosting assignments or fears. The system was thus self-perpetrating, and our reporting here and elsewhere is not intended to suggest that even high-ranking reporters and editors were widely knowledgeable about suppressing information.

Charles Douglas JacksonSome press lords clearly knew more, however. We cite two examples of a much wider pattern at the very top. One was President Eisenhower's special assistant for foreign affairs in the White House, Charles "CD" Jackson, shown at left and regarded as the nation's leading expert on psychological warfare based on his experience in the media and the World II spy agency OSS.

A Jackson memo in 1954 to White House Chief of Staff Sherman Adams described the CIA's liaison to Hollywood as an effort "to insert into their scripts and into their action the right ideas with the proper subtlety."

Continuing a relationship with Time-Life's founder Henry Luce that had begun in 1931, Jackson went on to become the publisher of the nation's two most important magazines during the Kennedy administration. Jackson's publications vividly portrayed and promoted the "Camelot" imagery in words and Life photos. 

In more subtle (and indeed secret) fashion, Jackson played a key part in rallying popular opinion to the view that Lee Harvey Oswald was a deranged "lone assassin." Jackson's methods Lee Harvey Oswald and Marina Oswald National Archivesincluded acquiring for his publications exclusive rights to the memoirs of the suspect's widow Marina Oswald and also exclusive rights to the Abraham Zapruder film of the assassination.The Oswalds are shown in a file photo as they traveled from the Soviet Union to the United States in 1962.

Recent evidence suggests that the U.S. government facilitated the return, that Lee Harvey Oswald later worked for several ultra-conservative, defense and law enforcement-allied employers not in keeping with his status as a defector during the height of the Cold War or his ostensible persona as angry, solitary, Communist. We shall publish shortly a column distilling that research.

Jackson put in place a system that long survived his and Luce's deaths to suppress the widow's memoir and the Zapruder film for more than a decade except for cherry-picked movie stills, thereby showing that the coverage was not about truth-seeking or magazine sales. Instead, his true function was using his perch (with his boss's approval) to help support the conventional Warren Commission view that the ex-Marine Oswald acted alone, with his widow providing compelling evidence against him.

In 1997, investigative reporter Seymour Hersh published The Dark Side of Camelot, a book despised by Kennedy loyalists for portraying the Kennedy Brothers' "voracious appetite for women," among other excesses. That strikes this reader, however, as a necessary part of the story for many reasons. Among them, those "appetites" help explain (but do not justify) some of the Secret Service antipathy to the president. the scandals are relevant also to the family's reluctance to visit the assassination, as well as to the oft-inspiring story of the widowed Jackie Kennedy's attempts to save her husband, his legacy, and their children during the awful times after the shooting.

As for the causes of the assassination, a strong case can be made for multiple reasons that do not exclude one another. The list includes at a minimum Kennedy's initiatives on better relations with the Soviet Union and Cuba, withdrawal of troops from Vietnam, opposition of the Pentagon's Operation Northwoods plan to kill Americans and blame the deaths on Communists, advocacy for faster integration in the South, opposition to the Mafia after its leaders had helped him win in 1960, Kennedy's resistance to some of Israel's initiatives, and the president's deep skepticism if not opposition to such powerful men and institutions as Lyndon Johnson, Johnson's friend J. Edgar Hoover, and high-level personnel at the CIA whom he had not already forced out in 1961.

A factor also for some was lingering distrust among some for America's first Roman Catholic president and, separately, animosity by others (particularly within knowledgeable inner-circles such as the Secret Service) for the president's adulteries, even though Washingtonians in the know would have understood also that similar infidelities and those involving gay sex were widespread elsewhere in the nation's officialdom. But opinions on sex -- like religion, race, politics, and patriotism -- can create overwhelming emotional reactions that at times defy logic.   

Thus, "Wanted for Treason" was a poster planted on walls in Dallas during Kennedy's fateful visit. The poster sums up the hostility facing the president, and the pseudo-legal rationale for dealing with the perceived threat he represented.

The importance of those matters is self-evident for the most part. But the chilling tale of Operation Northwoods is particularly significant. The plan's now-verified existence illustrates how the federal government contained fanatics at the highest levels were willing to kill innocent Americans in false flag attacks to advance their ideologies. Those are exactly the kinds of individuals one might suspect as willing to kill a president, or create mayhem in other domestic situations.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff of the military proposed Northwoods unanimously. Kennedy later forced out Joint Chiefs Chairman Lyman Lemnitzer. The power of the military was such that he retained significant power as commander of NATO at a time of great upheaval in Europe.    

We have undertaken careful study reported in our comprehensive and now-27-part Readers Guide hot-linked below. Our view here is that the alleged killer Oswald was a patsy who was acting as a confidential agent of Ronald Reagan several federal entities that included the Defense Department when he undertook various supposedly suspicious activities as part of his cover. Marina Oswald has recanted her testimony as motivated by fear, as have a number of other witnesses.

Our other example of a famous undercover media and governmental asset is Ronald Reagan, as documented by the 2012 book Subversives: The FBI's War on Student Radicals and Reagan's Rise to Power.

Author Seth Rosenfeld showed from his three decades of federal litigation under the Freedom of Information Act that Reagan become a valuable informant for the FBI, beginning in early 1947 as he assumed the presidency of the Screen Actor's Guild for multiple terms during the government's hunt for Communists. Reagan's secret work helping the FBI and his private sector and congressional supporters helped propel his political career.

In 2008, Frank Wilford published The Mighty Wurlitzer via the Harvard University Press, subtitled, How the CIA Played America. It documented how the agency via Cord Meyer's colleague Frank Wisner (who was a weekly dining companion of the Washington Post's publisher Philip Graham and his wife Katharine) fostered close propaganda contacts with U.S. and global media, arts, labor, and other organizations. The purpose? To guide public opinion like an organist might in using a huge instrument, or in Wisner's phrase, "A Mighty Wurlitzer." A book excerpt follows:

In 1977, Carl Bernstein calculated that there were about 400 journalists who had worked for the CIA since 1952. But Wilford aptly notes that the number of individual journalists processing government stories was far less significant than the institutional collaboration between the agency and the major news media.

The author points out that Arthur Hays Sulzberger, publisher of the New York Times, was a good friend of CIA Director Allen Dulles and signed a secrecy agreement with the agency. He says that under the terms of this arrangement, the Times provided at least ten CIA officers with cover as reporters or clerical staff in its foreign bureaus, while genuine employees were encouraged to merely spy. Dulles cultivated the media—they were excellent sources of information abroad. Wilford writes that Columbia Broadcasting System’s news president was in such constant telephone contact with CIA headquarters that, tired of leaving his office for the proverbial pay phone, he installed a private line to bypass the switchboard. A third conduit for disseminating CIA “news” was the syndicated news services—the Associated Press and United Press International—together with the agency’s in-house operation “Forum World Features.”

There were also the news magazines. Like the New York Times, Henry Luce’s Time provided CIA officers with journalistic credentials. Wilford notes that “overall … the collaboration was extraordinarily successful, so much so it was difficult to tell precisely where the Luce empire’s overseas intelligence network ended and the CIA’s began.”

Presidential Puppetry by Andrew KreigMy Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney, and their Masters in late 2013 expanded those findings into a conclusion that every president after Jimmy Carter, the last of the recent World War II veterans, had been a secret CIA or FBI asset before entering politics.

These relationships and the favorable public relations generated by intelligence and law enforcement collaborators in the mass media thereby gave the chosen candidates a leg up on political opponents who had failed to secure similar secret backing. That is a longer story, of course, and is a topic for our next book, as it has been for other researchers.

The Bogus Film "JFK: The Smoking Gun"

We now examine more carefully the 2013 Smoking Gun's phony portrayal of a Secret Service officer, George Hickey, who supposedly killed President Kennedy by mistake.

This review is aided by years of diligent research by others, including an overview of the CIA's relationship with Hollywood published last month by former Navy intelligence officer Wayne Madsen in Pentagon doesn't like skeptical 9/11 film productions:

Perhaps one of the Pentagon's deepest secrets is how, since the end of World War II, it has maintained a presence in Hollywood that censors, edits, and promotes films, television shows, and documentaries that advance the Department of Defense's propaganda line. Today, the Department of Defense Entertainment Liaison Office (DELO) and its component Army, Navy, and Air Force elements have acted as virtual censors for films that depict the military in a bad light. If Hollywood producers and directors balk at Pentagon dictates, they find themselves without the support often provided by the military for major film productions. This support includes active duty and reserve personnel acting as film "extras" and the use by filmmakers of Navy ships, fighter planes, tanks, and other equipment.

Steven Spielberg War of the Worlds PosterHis column described also specifics of some of the movies the Pentagon has supported "with personnel, equipment, re-edits, and, many times, unsolicited censorship."

For example, when Steven Spielberg filmed the remake of War of the Worlds in Connecticut in 2004, DELO requested that the military personnel, veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, provided for the film appear "combat dirty," akin to they way they looked during previous duty in Iraq. This was a clever way for the Pentagon to juxtapose news scenes of U.S. troops fighting Muslims in both countries with invading aliens in the movie.

This is a classic psychological warfare weapon: demonize the actual or perceived enemy using popular culture. Thanking the soldiers for their "service to the country," the multi-billionaire Spielberg, in a Marie Antoinette-like gesture, gave them all some cake. Other military support for Spielberg came from Fort Drum, New York; Twenty-Nine Palms Marine Corps Air Station and Camp Pendleton, California; and Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina.

Many other examples of Hollywood cooperation in patriotic themes exist, including such popular World War II classics as the 1942 "best-picture" Oscar-winner Yankee Doodle Dandy (starring James Cagney) and Casablanca, starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman and nominated for the same award the next year. Michael Curtiz directed both movies.

The pattern ranges to more recent (and controversial) movies helping or hurting incumbent Democrats and Republicans in ways largely unreported except in partisan circles. Sophisticated members are infuriated by suspected propaganda techniques (as in the 2012 release Zero Dark Thirty) starring Jessica Chastain as a CIA anti-terrorist sleuth.

But most movie-goers remain oblivious to opinion-manipulation techniques, just as they would not have known that decades earlier how the process became formalized within the CIA. According to E. Howard Hunt's 2007 memoir American Spy, a CIA front company Touchstone Inc. provided 60 percent of the 1954 production costs of Animal Farm, a 1955 animated film based on George Orwell's novel.

The movie was a critical and commercial success that served agency purposes so well that the model of secret funding was expanded through the decades, according to the Hunt, a member of Wisner's psychological warfare operations team at the time, and later a highly successful novelist and member of the Watergate break-in team. Hunt's  memoir discounts the possibility of CIA involvement with Oswald. But his son St. John Hunt later published Bond of Secrecy, which alleges a near-deathbed admission by his father of CIA complicity via such figures as Cord Meyer and Vice President Lyndon Johnson.

That brings us to the 2013 film JFK: The Smoking Gun.That expensive and fraudulent travesty billed as a daring documentary was based on a 1999 book by Bonar Menninger, Mortal Error: The Shot That Killed JFK. Menninger researched the book with the cooperation of Howard Donahue, a high school friend of Emory Roberts, the special agent in charge of the Secret Service Cadillac immediately following the president's. Conflicts of interest abound beyond the Donahue-Roberts connection.

Colin McLaren, an Australian crime writer and former police detective sergeant, revived the theory with a book and movie, both named JFK: The Final Shot. Directed by Malcolm McDonald and featuring actors Anne-Sophie Bozon and Larry Day, the 2013 film shows new interviews with Menninger, with Donahue's daughter Colleen, and with witnesses to the shooting.

The movie draws much of its superficial logic from the photo below showing Hickey holding a rifle after Kennedy was hit. But the photo portrays the period of the frantic race to the hospital after the president's shooting, not the scene in Dealey Plaza at the time of the shooting.

President Kennedy and George Hickey with RifleReelz, the cable Channel founded in 2005 and controlled by the conservative Hubbard family, heavily promoted the The Smoking Gun in the months before its launch in November, 2013, the 50th anniversary of Kennedy's death. More than a hundred other books were published that year along with many other films because it marked the 50th anniversary of the president's death.

Most of the assassination books in 2013 and since have drawn on recently declassified documents and other once-secret sources to argue that powerful conservatives used anti-Communist radicals to kill the Democrat Kennedy because of his policies — and that key personnel in the CIA, the FBI, the Secret Service, the Defense Department helped implement the killing with the complicity of mob killers, with a cover-up (if not the murder) orchestrated by Lyndon Johnson, Kennedy's vice president and successor.

The books and video treatments assign varying weight to different parts of  the evidence but tend to agree that the Johnson-appointed Warren Commission regarded their patriotic duty for the most part to calm the public by assigning guilt at the outset solely to Oswald and minimizing any evidence or leader pointing in other directions.

Meanwhile, all major media reported initially and almost in unison to this day maintain in their coverage that the Warren Commission was correct in its judgment that Oswald acted alone.

Thus, the incentives were in place for the Reelz Channel to disrupt an emerging scholarly consensus about the JFK killing by its wild claims based on pseudo-science but somehow funded for wide distribution in high quality video.

The CEO of Reelz is Stanley E. Hubbard, grandson of the founder of a pioneering Minnesota-based broadcasting company. He has described how he sought to carve out a niche for the network with controversial programming. One example was its 2011 miniseries "The Kennedys," an unduly one-side, unflattering portrayal of the family portraying the Kennedy family as predators and enablers even more than Hersh's book. The Wall Street Journal reported that channel executives hoped the Kennedy series would save the network, Struggling ReelzChannel Hopes a Hot Potato Becomes Hot Ticket.

Reelz's CEO Hubbard spun his smear against the Kennedys as courageous in a 2013 press release. "No other network," he said, "will touch these things,"

Yet exploiting sex and purveying hokum is not impressive. Neither were the gross conflicts of interest in the research.

Vincent PalamaraThe portrayal of Secret Service officer George Hickey as killing Kennedy stemmed originally from 1970s research by Howard Donahue, a former high school friend of future Secret Service crew chief Emory Roberts.

Roberts, as it turned out, made many unexplained and indeed suspicious decisions in advance of JFK's killing. Roberts ordered removal of the agents standing on the presidential limo rear platform as part of  the standard protection against snipers during a motorcade.

Also, the Roberts detail's seven members including four who had been binge drinking the evening before the motorcade, some until the wee hours of Nov. 22. That drinking grossly violated rules requiring sobriety on such an assignment, especially in guarding the president in a city that included ultra-right haters of the president. Indeed, Kennedy had forced the resignation of the CIA's three top leaders, including Gen. Charles Cabell, the brother of Dallas mayor Earle Cabell.

Thus Roberts and his superiors extending up to the new president, Lyndon Johnson, and their institutional successors all had a motive to put in motion disinformation that would scapegoat the hapless retired agent George Hickey, especially after congressional committees began in the 1970s to reexamine the truth of the Warren Commission report and cover-up.

Secret Service Agents Tell Their Tales

This next section comes from Vincent M. Palamara, who interviewed more than 70 of the Secret Service's 300 or so agents during the JFK era for his authoritative 2013 book Survivor's Guilt: The Secret Service and the Failure to Protect President Kennedy. Palamara reported:

Special agent Sam Kinney decided to forego use of a protective "bubble top" in Dallas, not the President Kennedy or his staff as widely claimed by Secret Service defenders seeking to blame the president for his own death. Nonetheless, Palamara portrays Kinney as one of the "good guys" performing his job as best he could under the circumstances.

However, supervisory Emory Roberts forced agent Donald Lawton and "more than likely" agent Henry Rybka at Love Field in Dallas to step off their customary post riding a rear platform of the presidential limousine to use their bodies for protection.

A video widely seen on YouTube of that order has puzzled many viewers through the decades. Roberts can be seen standing up from a front seat perch in the limo following the president and issuing an order.  Lawson, at the lower right, is obviously puzzled and frustrated regarding why he was not being permitted to protect the president. Just one version of that three-minute YouTube clip has attracted five million viewers as of this writing. Its first frame is fuzzy but the rest is reasonably clear, given the technology of the era:

Yet Palamara among others documents how Roberts and his fellow supervisors were honored, praised and promoted. Far from being punished, Roberts was not even listed as a witness before the Warren Commission.

Lyndon B. Johnson, John KennedyMore generally, Secret Service personnel violated many other standard operating procedures that day under Chief James Rowley, a close political ally of Lyndon Johnson (shown in a photo with JFK). Barr McClellan, Madeleine Brown, Robert Morrow, Roger Stone, Jerome Corsi and Philip Nelson are among authors who have accused of orchestrating the murder, not simply the Warren Commission cover-up. Indeed, the Dallas Morning News published a column on the morning of the JFK murder headlined, "Nixon Predicts JFK May Drop Johnson," based on speech by former GOP Vice President Richard Nixon in Dallas the previous day citing reasons for the president to discard the scandal-tainted Johnson from the Democratic ticket before the 1964 presidential election.

Palamara thus concluded of the Secret Service supervisor, "Roberts is a major suspect in the security test and the murder itself."

Palamara believed Hickey, the alleged shooter killing Kennedy, "was probably an unwitting pawn" in lapses at best by Secret Service colleagues. Meanwhile, Secret Service whistleblower Abraham Bolden, now 80, was framed and imprisoned, as reported here last month: Pioneering Black Secret Service JFK Guard Warns Of Current Lessons. Bolden is among those still alive. A movie about his life, including his well-regarded memoir The Echo from Dealey Plaza and his recollection that some agents wanted Kennedy dead, would seem a far more worthwhile project for media moguls thank making at a tale targeting Hickey. 

Even more decisively, Palamara concluded that no witnesses reported seeing Hickey firing a gun and no other evidence such as ballistics supported a finding of his firing toward the president, much less hitting him. In Shooting holes in theory that a Secret Service agent killed President Kennedy, a report by Philly.com (a site of Philadelphia's leading two newspapers) debunked the premise of the movie, which was largely ignored by the JFK global research community.

Another view that helps point to more current controversies came from a reader comment by JFK researcher Robert Morrow of Austin, Texas. Morrow is assisting Roger Stone with what promises to be an extraordinarily harsh biography of Hillary Clinton due Oct. 6. Stone, until this month a senior advisor to the Trump presidential campaign, is a best-selling author and former Nixon and Reagan White House aide known for his inside knowledge of politics and sometimes rough tactics.

In 2011, Morrow wrote of the McClaren book being made into the documentary to be released by Stanley Hubbard's Reelz network two years later:

My God, this book is awful. Please do not poor feces on your brain by reading this. I have been in contact with hundreds of JFK researchers; I know dozens of them who are credible. Not one of them believes the absolute and utter garbage that JFK was killed by accident by a Secret Service agent. Dave Powers and Kenny O'Donnell were sitting in that follow up Secret Service car with SS agent Hickey. Both of those guys heard multiple shots from the Grassy Knoll area about 33 yards away from JFK. A terrible book. Pure trash. Total garbage. Not worth your time or money. Avoid!!!

Nonetheless, the documentary received significant advance publicity, including a puff piece preview in July by the Huffington Post, which published an un-bylined column, JFK Second Shooter? New Documentary Makes Radical Claim, consisting largely of a press release.

Palamara reported also that the bogus allegations against Hickey caused the officer great and unmerited emotional and reputation suffering that he tried unsuccessfully to resolve by litigation before his death.

A mere retired agent, however, is no match for a public relations machine, however, particularly one backed by both federal authorities and Hollywood intent on undermining legitimate research into the Kennedy assassination with disinformation.

A final irony is that the television editor of the Hollywood trade publication Variety wrote a puff piece this month profiling Reelz Channel CEO Stan Hubbard.

Remarkably, the column praised Hubbard for his commitment to truth and integrity. In Reelz CEO Brings Independent Streak and Touch of Minnesota to TCA, Cynthia Littleton wrote Aug. 9, 2015 that Hubbard's company stands a rare example of an independent, family-owned media company that has national presence with Reelz.

Above all, Hubbard stresses, according to the gushing editor, that the Hubbard family credo is to value the importance of integrity and civility in business, even in times of great stress. “One thing I’ve learned from our family is — always do the right thing,” he said. “You know it. You always know it.”

So, that's what our prestige media thinks and writes of themselves. 


Coming next: How these issues affect the 2016 Presidential Campaign. Aided until recently by legendary GOP insider Roger Stone, Trump has upended presidential predictions by combining show business techniques with what is undoubtedly a vast arsenal of still-hidden scandal regarding his rivals that they dare not risk exposing. Join the discussion Aug. 19 on The Phil Mikan Show. 

   Phil Mikan Show 

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 Related News Coverage

President Kennedy and George Hickey with RifleSecret Service agent George Hickey is seen brandishing a rifle as the limousine carrying a wounded President Kennedy, with agent Clint Hill on the back, speeds away from Dealey Plaza in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963. One theory is that Hickey accidentally shot JFK.

Philly.com (Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News), Shooting holes in theory that a Secret Service agent killed President Kennedy, Peter Mucha, Nov. 13, 2013. A Secret Service agent accidentally shot President Kennedy in the head? This seemingly incredible theory was revived last week by JFK: The Smoking Gun, a two-hour Reelz special that’s scheduled to run again Friday at 5 and 8 p.m. Among many programs remembering Kennedy around the 50th anniversary of his Nov. 22, 1963, assassination, it stands out for focusing on a suspect besides Lee Harvey Oswald. Despite some cheesy reenactments – that actor’s supposed to look like Arlen Specter? – JFK: The Smoking Gun builds a seemingly plausible case based on ballistics and suspicious behavior by government officials. “I believe,” Americans have overwhelmingly voted, according to a poll at the show’s companion website. Critical media reports are tough to find. Let’s take a closer look.

The main evidence in favor of the theory, proposed in the 1970s by Baltimore gunsmith Howard Donahue and newly resurrected by Australian detective Colin McLaren, focuses on the third shot at President Kennedy, tearing apart the upper right side of his skull.

The theory got little notice, despite a 1977 write-up in the Baltimore Sun and a 1992 book, Mortal Error: The Shot That Killed JFK, by Bonar Menninger. Donahue died in 1999. In the Reelz report , McLaren extends the case to argue that there was a coverup, because the Secret Service was mortified that the president was killed by a man who was assigned to that car only because other agents allegedly had been partying and drinking till early that morning. It all makes for an intriguing case. But it has some major holes.

Huffington Post TV, JFK Second Shooter? New Documentary Makes Radical Claim, Staff report (no byline and based on press release), July 28, 2013. A new documentary alleges that a Secret Service agent was the second (and accidental) shooter in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. At the Television Critics Association press tour in Los Angeles on Sunday, producers and investigators behind Reelz Channel's new documentary "JFK: The Smoking Gun" made the claim that George Hickey, a Secret Service agent riding in the car behind Kennedy, accidentally shot the president on Nov. 22, 1963. The film follows veteran police detective Colin McLaren in his four-year investigation of the assassination and points at Hickey, who died two years ago. McLaren's research built on the work of Howard Donahue, who spent 20 years studying the assassination and had his findings documented in Bonar Menninger’s book Mortal Error: The Shot That Killed JFK. McLaren and Menninger were on hand Sunday to take questions about their film, which the network billed in press notes as a "docudrama." Addressing the crowd, McLaren claimed that Hickey and other Secret Service agents were out partying the night before Kennedy's fatal motorcade drive through Dallas. Based on his painstaking investigation, McLaren said, evidence suggests Hickey was not qualified to use the weapon he was holding the morning of the shooting.

Wall Street Journal, Struggling ReelzChannel Hopes a Hot Potato Becomes Hot Ticket, Lauren A.E. Schuker, March 21, 2011. For one struggling cable channel, the controversial miniseries "The Kennedys" is a high-stakes bet to put itself on the map—a playbook that's increasingly common among fledging cable networks. In February, the low-rated network ReelzChannel bought the U.S. broadcasting rights to the series about President John F. Kennedy and his family for about $7 million. The family-owned channel picked up the $25 million show after it was dumped by the History Channel and shunned by other networks amid an uproar over its portrayal of the Kennedys. "The Kennedys" is an expensive gamble for ReelzChannel, which went on the air in 2006 but still loses some $10 million annually. "We knew what we were getting into when we bought this," says Stan E. Hubbard, chief executive of ReelzChannel, which is based in Albuquerque, N.M. "We just hope taking a risk will pay off." Hubbard Broadcasting started ReelzChannel in 2006 and has invested more than $100 million to nurture it as part of its modest cupboard of TV and radio stations. ReelzChannel brings in about $15 million in annual revenue, entirely from ads. Mr. Hubbard is hoping that figure will double by the end of 2011, now that the network is drawing a larger audience.

Variety, Reelz CEO Brings Independent Streak and Touch of Minnesota to TCA, Cynthia Littleton, Aug. 9, 2015. Stan E. Hubbard is a junior media mogul straight out of “Fargo.” The Minnesota-born boss of cabler Reelz is a scion of the family behind the St. Paul-based radio and TV pioneer Hubbard Broadcasting, founded by his grandfather in 1923. Today, the company stands a rare example of an independent, family owned media company that has national presence with Reelz. It owns a stake in arts-centric cabler Ovation, as well as 14 TV stations and 48 radio stations. Hubbard brought a folksy Minnesota touch — and his 10-year-old son, also named Stanley — to the Television Critics Assn. press tour in Beverly Hills on Sunday. He was there to introduce the panel session for Reelz’s upcoming reality series “Master P’s Family Empire.” But he knew reporters were going to ask him about Reelz’s decision to rescue the Miss USA pageant last month after Univision and NBC. So he hit the topic head on. “Reelz has been in the news lately for saving the Miss USA Pageant, saving its 54th year on television, and we’re darn proud of that,” he said. “As the only family owned network left, and one of very few independents, we were able to move quickly and make those kind of decisions for those opportunities when they present themselves.”

Justice Integrity Project, Establishment Media Protect McCain, Pile Onto Trump, Andrew Kreig, July 21, 2015.Ample reasons exist beyond Donald Trump’s July 18 comments to criticize GOP Senator John McCain’s war and related professional records, which have made the Arizona senator the favorite mouthpiece for the nation’s hawks who dominate both political parties and the nation’s prestige media.

Washington Post, Fading in the polls, Scott Walker aims to attract Trump voters, Jenna Johnson and Sean Sullivan, Aug. 18, 2015. Scott Walker (shown in a file photo) has sought to reassure jittery donors and other supporters this Scott Walkerweek that he can turn around a swift decline in the polls in Iowa and elsewhere by going on the attack and emphasizing his conservatism on key issues. In a conference call, one-on-one conversations and at a Tuesday lunch, the Wisconsin governor and favorite of anti-union conservatives told backers that his campaign is shifting to a more aggressive posture and will seek to tap into the anti-establishment fervor fueling the rise of Donald Trump and other outsider candidates. Walker has veered to the right on abortion and other social issues, worrying some top backers. Stanley S. Hubbard, a conservative billionaire who oversees a Minnesota broadcasting company and has donated to Walker’s campaign, said the candidate has promised that he would not push a “social agenda” as president and is simply expressing his personal beliefs when asked. “If he’s smart, he will get back to basics and get back to what he did in Wisconsin [and] get off the social issues,” said Hubbard, who had lunch on Tuesday with Walker and other campaign supporters. “No one is asking him to change the morals of America.”




Justice Integrity Project Readers Guide To JFK Assassination

* Denotes major articles in this Readers Guide series

Dealey Plaza Panorama (Andrew Kreig Photo)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.

  1. Project Launches JFK Assassination Readers' Guide, Oct. 16, 2013.
  2. Project Provides JFK Readers Guide To New Books, Videos, Oct. 26, 2013. This is a list of new books and films in 2013.
  3. Disputes Erupt Over NY Times, New Yorker, Washington Post Reviews of JFK Murder, Nov. 7, 2013. *
  4. Self-Censorship In JFK TV Treatments Duplicates Corporate Print Media's Apathy, Cowardice, Nov. 7, 2013.
  5. 'Puppetry' Hardback Launched Nov. 19 at DC Author Forum on ‘White House Mysteries & Media,'  Nov. 19, 2013.
  6. Major Media Stick With Oswald 'Lone Gunman' JFK Theory, Nov. 27, 2013.
  7. JFK Murder Scene Trapped Its Victim In Kill Zone, Nov. 30, 2013.
  8. Project Lists JFK Assassination Reports, Archives, Videos, Events, Nov. 2, 2013. Leading video, events and archives from the last 50 years. *
  9. 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. *
  10. JFK Murder Prompts Expert Reader Reactions, Dec. 19, 2013. Reactions to our Dec. 9 column. 
  11. Have Spy Agencies Co-Opted Presidents and the Press? Dec. 23, 2013. *
  12. Don't Be Fooled By 'Conspiracy Theory' Smears, May 26, 2014. *
  13. Experts To Reveal Secrets of JFK Murder, Cover-up at Sept. 26-28 DC Forum , Sept. 5, 2014. 
  14. Washington Post Still Selling Warren Report 50 Years Later, Sept. 22, 2014. *
  15. JFK Experts To Explode Myths, Sign Books In DC Sept. 26-28, Sept. 24, 2014.
  16. Former Cuban Militant Leader Claims CIA Meeting With Oswald Before JFK Killing, Sept. 27, 2014. *
  17. JFK Readers Guide: Assassination Books, Reports, Oct. 15, 2014. *
  18. Former House JFK Murder Prober Alleges CIA ‘Lied,’ Seeks Hidden Records, Oct. 18, 2014. *
  19. The JFK Murder 'Cover-up' Still Matters -- As Does C-SPAN's Coverage, Nov. 11, 2014. *
  20. JFK, Nov. 22 and the Continuing Cover-Up, Nov. 24, 2014. *
  21. JFK Assassination Readers Guide To 2013-14 Events, Nov. 28, 2014. *
  22. CIA, Empowered by JFK Murder Cover-up, Blocks Senate Torture Report, Dec. 1, 2014. *
  23. Nearly Too Late, Public Learns of Bill Moyers’ Conflicts Over PBS, LBJ, Jan. 2, 2014.
  24. Why Bill O'Reilly's Lie About JFK's Murder Might Matter To You, March 17, 2015.
  25. Free Videos Show Shocking Claims About CIA, JFK Murder Probes, June 29, 2015.
  26. Pioneering Black Secret Service JFK Guard Abraham Bolden Warns Of Current Lessons, July 22, 2015.
  27. Understanding Hollywood-Style Presidential Propaganda From JFK To Trump, Aug. 18, 2015.
  28. Beware Of Wrong Conclusions From New CIA Disclosure On Oswald, Sept. 28, 2015.
  29. The JFK Murder Cover-Up: Your Rosetta Stone To Today’s News, Nov. 29, 2015.
  30. Austin Kiplinger, David Skorton: Two Civic Giants Going And Coming, Dec. 15, 2015.


JIP Editor's Other Recommended Columns

Bill SimpichSan Francisco attorney and prominent JFK Assassination researcher Bill Simpich (shown in a file photo) has published on OpEd News a series so far in 12 parts on "The Twelve Who Built the Oswald Legend." The series began in 2010 with: The JFK Case: The Twelve Who Built the Oswald Legend (Part One: Mother, Meyer, and the Spotters)

The most relevant segment to George de Mohrenschildt is Part 7: The hand-off from De Mohrenschildt to the Paines:

OpEdNews, The JFK Case: The Twelve Who Built the Oswald Legend (Part 7: The hand-off from De Mohrenschildt to the Paines), Bill Simpich, Oct. 22, 2011. When Oswald and his family returned to the Dallas-Fort Worth area from the Soviet Union, they knew that they had make contacts if they were going to put food on the table. Dallas oilman/spy George de Mohrenschildt became a benefactor to the Oswald family, providing them with money and contacts after their return to the US from the Soviet Union. De Mohrenschildt's lawyer Max Clark was also General Dynamics' industrial security consultant and a leader within the White Russian community. Oswald contacted Max Clark's wife shortly after his return, explaining that the Texas Employment Commission had referred her to him as a Russian-speaker and that his wife would like to spend time with another Russian-speaker. Oswald had legend makers precisely because he and his wife presented a perceived threat to national security. De Mohrenschildt visited and exchanged cards and letters with CIA official J. Walton Moore on a regular basis during the fifties and sixties. Moore wrote a memo in 1977 claiming that he only met de Mohrenschildt twice, in 1958 and in 1961. Moore's hazy memory on the number of visits was exposed by the House Select Committee on Assassinations. De Mohrenschildt revealed a few hours before his death that Moore took him to lunch in late 1961, and described to him an ex-Marine in Minsk in whom the CIA had "interest."  In the summer of 1962, an associate of Moore suggested that de Mohrenschildt might want to meet Oswald. De Mohrenschildt then called Moore, suggesting that suitable payback would be a little help by the State Department with an oil exploration deal in Haiti.

The first part of the series is, with additional segments listed below in reverse chronological order. A photo of the Oswalds is via the National Archives:

Lee Harvey Oswald and Marina Oswald National ArchivesOpEd News, The JFK Case: The Twelve Who Built the Oswald Legend (Part One: Mother, Meyer, and the Spotters), Bill Simpich, Aug. 22. 2010. With millions of documents released in the years since the JFK Act was passed in the nineties, the intelligence backgrounds of the twelve who built the Oswald legend have come into focus. A legend maker can range from a "babysitter" who just keeps an eye on the subject to someone handing out unequivocal orders. I count twelve of them, and I'll tell you about them here in this series of essays here.

  1. 08/22/2010     The JFK Case: The Twelve Who Built the Oswald Legend (Part I:   Mother, Meyer, and the Spotters)
  2. 09/02/2010     The JFK Case: The Twelve Who Built the Oswald Legend (Part 2:  An Instant Visa Gets The Marine Into Moscow)
  3. 12/06/2010     The JFK Case: The Twelve Who Built the Oswald Legend (Part 3:  Counterintelligence goes molehunting with Oswald's file)
  4. 11/16/2010     The JFK Case: The Twelve Who Built the Oswald Legend (Part 4:  When the U-2 Goes Down, Oswald is Ready to Return)
  5. 12/27/2010     The JFK Case: The Twelve Who Built the Oswald Legend (Part 5:  The Double Dangle)
  6. 11/22/2011     The JFK Case: The Twelve Who Built the Oswald Legend (Part 6:  White Russians Keep An Eye On Oswald In Dallas)
  7. 06/03/2012     The JFK Case: The Twelve Who Built the Oswald Legend (Part 7:  The hand-off from De Mohrenschildt to the Paines)
  8. 06/04/2012     The JFK Case: The Twelve Who Built the Oswald Legend (Part 8:  The CIA-Army Intelligence Mambo)  
  9. 08/30/2012     The JFK Case: The Twelve Who Built the Oswald Legend (Part 9:  Oswald Takes Center Stage As An Intelligence Asset
  10. 07/26/2013     The JFK Case: The Twelve Who Built the Oswald Legend (Part 10: Nightmare in Mexico City)  
  11. 12/21/2014     The JFK Case: The Twelve Who Built the Oswald Legend (Part 11: The Paines Carry the Weight)
  12. 12/31/2014     The JFK Case: The Twelve Who Built the Oswald Legend (Part 12: The Endgame