The JFK Assassination at 60: The Public Knows the Truth – Why Won’t the Media Report It?
The official story of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination is finally falling apart, nearly 60 years after gunfire erupted in Dallas’s Dealey Plaza. The mother of all conspiracies turns out to be true, according to a media barrage this anniversary season, including a new documentary, TV special, podcast, book, scholarly conference and news revelations.
That “lone gunman” version always stretched credulity, relying on a “magic bullet” that allegedly caused seven entry and exit wounds in President Kennedy and Texas Governor John Connally before emerging in nearly pristine condition on a hospital stretcher. In his recent book, The Final Witness, former Secret Service agent Paul Landis asserts that he found the bullet on the back seat of the presidential limousine after it only slightly penetrated the back of the president. In other words, there was nothing magic about the bullet at all.
Despite the shaky case for a single assassin, this story was promoted by government authorities as soon as Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested for the shocking crime on November 22, 1963. And it was embraced by the Warren Commission, the inquiry panel of distinguished public figures appointed by President Lyndon Johnson, when it released its report the following year.
The press, too, eagerly applauded the Warren Report, with The Washington Post reporter Robert J. Donovan praising it as a “masterpiece of its kind” and Anthony Lewis of The New York Times predicting the report would “completely explode” conspiracy theorists like Mark Lane, author of the skeptical Rush to Judgement.
Privately, prominent people like French President Charles de Gaulle and Robert F. Kennedy, President Kennedy’s brother and the attorney general, dismissed the Warren Report as a publicity exercise – or “baloney,” in de Gaulle’s contemptuous estimation, designed to head off a potential “civil war.”
“Better an injustice than disorder,” the French president said of Oswald’s silencing by triggerman Jack Ruby. “In order to not risk unleashing riots in the United States.”
Robert Kennedy and his grieving sister-in-law, Jacqueline Kennedy, were worried that President Kennedy’s assassination could spark something even more catastrophic. To avoid a nuclear confrontation with the Soviet Union, a week after the president was killed, the Kennedys dispatched close family friend and painter William Walton, who was due to meet with Russian artists as part of an exchange mission, to confer secretly at a Moscow restaurant with Georgi Bolshakov, a Soviet intelligence agent. The two Kennedy brothers had come to trust Bolshakov — whom Newsweek called “the Russian New Frontiersman” — as a back-channel to Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev at critical times like the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Over their meal — which took place during the height of the Cold War, when suspicions between the superpowers were high — Walton passed a remarkable message to Bolshakov. Bobby and Jackie Kennedy believed that JFK was the victim of a high-level domestic conspiracy, not a Communist plot, as FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover had told them. Walton also told the stunned Soviet agent that RFK planned to pursue a political career and he would resume his brother’s policy of détente with Moscow if he made it to the White House.
Bobby Kennedy — who was elected to the Senate from New York in 1964 and ran for president in 1968, before he too was cut down by an assassin’s bullet – was the first prominent JFK conspiracy theorist. “With that amazing computer brain of his, he put it all together on the afternoon of November 22,” RFK’s friend, journalist Jack Newfield, told me for my 2007 book, Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years, which chronicled Bobby’s confidential search for the truth about Dallas. RFK, who was his brother’s principal emissary to the dark side of power, suspected that the plot against JFK grew out of the CIA’s unsavory operation against Cuba, which employed gangsters, anti-Castro militants and other ruthless characters.
Over the years, other leading men and women of the time came to share Bobby Kennedy’s suspicions about the JFK assassination, including philosopher Bertrand Russell; theologian Thomas Merton; political satirist Mort Sahl; musician David Crosby of the Byrds; poet Allen Ginsberg; and writers Robert Graves, Katherine Anne Porter, Ray Bradbury and Paddy Chayevsky. Terry Southern — who co-wrote the screenplay for Dr. Strangelove, which conveyed the darkly macabre humor of the nuclear doomsday era — bitterly denounced the official version of President Kennedy’s assassination in a survey mailed to over 300 prominent citizens in the 1960s. “The absurdity of the Warren Report is patent and overwhelming,” Southern wrote at the bottom of the survey. “One has only to browse through any of the 26 volumes to know at once what a complete farce, charade, and incredible piece of bullshit it is.”
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