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Ten Media Lies About Oliver Stone’s JFK: Article Published After 28 Years

by Richard Poe
Friday, April 24, 2020

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MURDER MOST FOUL: BOB DYLAN, JFK AND ME
A Three-Part Series

Murder Most Foul, March 28, 2020

Censored for 28 Years
My Little Plug for Oliver Stone’s JFK, April 3, 2020

Ten Media Lies About Oliver Stone’s JFK
Article Published After 28 Years, April 24, 2020

Ten Media Lies: ALL EDITS SHOWN, April 24, 2020



Bob Dylan’s “Murder Most Foul” is the right song at the right time. Americans are ready for JFK truth. Dylan released the song — a 17-minute dirge to our slain president John F. Kennedy — on March 27, 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. It sounded a chord in our hearts. On April 8, Billboard announced that “Murder Most Foul” had debuted at No. 1 on its Rock Digital Song Sales survey — Dylan’s first-ever No. 1 hit on a Billboard chart. His second greatest hit, “Like a Rolling Stone,” peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard charts in 1965.



AUTHOR’S INTRODUCTION


WHY DID BOB DYLAN choose to release “Murder Most Foul” in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Evidently, he’s been holding onto this song for at least seven years. So why release it now?

I think Dylan is telling us to be brave. He’s telling us that staying “safe” is not our most important priority.

He’s telling us we should be thinking now about our country and our freedom.

And he’s telling us, very specifically, that we need to start thinking about the unresolved question of who killed our president Jack Kennedy.

This is not about Democrats vs. Republicans. This is about taking back our country.

“Murder Most Foul” hit me like a ton of bricks.

It made me question who I am, question everything I’ve done.

It made me ask, “If I weren’t afraid, what would I do? Right now?”


UNPUBLISHED FOR 28 YEARS

When I heard the song, I thought of an article I had written 28 years ago, a point-by-point defense of Oliver Stone’s JFK.

For various reasons, the article was never published.

But it’s never too late. Thanks to Bob Dylan, I’ve decided to publish that article now.

It’s called “Ten Media Lies About Oliver Stone’s JFK.”

Originally, I wrote it for the April 1992 issue of the New York Mix. Sadly, the Mix went out of business while the April issue was still in the works.

I never tried placing my article elsewhere, mainly because I didn’t feel like arguing with editors.

George Washington was a moderate, by nature, not a radical. But there comes a time when moderation no longer works. I think Bob Dylan is telling us that time has come.



A VOICE OF MODERATION

The New York Mix was special.

It did not discriminate between Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives. It sought to unite us, not divide us.

I had a good rapport with founder and publisher Rod Richardson and with his editor, the late Jonathan Rowe.

But, after the Mix folded, I couldn’t think of anyone else who would publish a piece like mine, a defense of Oliver Stone’s JFK written from a mainstream perspective, for a mainstream audience.

At that time, Stone’s most vocal defenders tended to be radicals, either of the left or right, and I was not a radical writer.

Mind you, there’s nothing wrong with radicalism. Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice, as a wise man once said.

There’s an honored place in every revolution for radicals like Sam Adams and Patrick Henry. But it’s the George Washingtons who finally get the job done.


TIME TO MAKE A STAND

Washington was a moderate.

The radicals criticized him for waiting too long before calling for independence. Later, when Washington was president, the radicals criticized him again for moving too quickly to restore friendship and trade with England.

Washington did not speak for the radicals. He spoke for the American people, who prefer moderation, when given a choice.

There comes a time, however, when moderation no longer works.

I believe Bob Dylan is telling us that time has come.

For 28 years, my JFK files gathered dust.

And then I heard Dylan’s song. And I knew the time for waiting had passed.


DYLAN’S MESSAGE

When “Murder Most Foul” was released, on March 27, 2020, I was too busy all day to listen. When I finally got around to it in the evening, I found myself glued to my earphones until the third replay.

The next morning, I listened again. And again and again, all day long, as I worked. I couldn’t listen to anything else for days.

I felt Dylan was trying to tell me something, to tell all of us something.

As we all sat sheltered in place, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dylan was showing us, by example, that it was time to stop cowering, to stop being afraid.

And I knew in my heart that it was time to publish “Ten Media Lies.”



JON ROWE’S EDITS

Here’s the article, only slightly edited from the original rough draft. I kept the article in the present tense, exactly as it would have been published in the New York Mix in April, 1992.

The only changes are the addition of captions, footnotes, and certain edits specifically requested by Jonathan Rowe at the time.

I have executed Jon’s edits posthumously, in a manner that I hope would have met with his approval.

For further details on Jon’s edits, go here.

Richard Poe
April 24, 2020



Here’s my original March 3, 1992 draft, with Jon Rowe’s handwritten edits. Download a PDF. I executed Jon’s edits posthumously, 28 years later. All 2020 changes are shown here.



TEN MEDIA LIES ABOUT OLIVER STONE’S JFK
An Inside Look at the Smear Campaign Against Stone’s Film

By Richard Poe
April 24, 2020

March 3, 1992 – First draft completed
March 4, 1992 – First draft edited by Jonathan Rowe
March 5-12, 1992 – Begin second draft
March 12, 1992 – New York Mix closes
April 24, 2020 – Second draft completed and published on RichardPoe.com


“JFK? ARE you serious?”

My colleague wrinkled his nose as if he’d just gotten a whiff of the Fulton Fish Market on a ripe summer day. Obviously, I had said the wrong thing. I had dared to suggest in an editorial meeting at a national magazine that I thought Oliver Stone was onto something.

The magazine was SUCCESS, a New York-based business publication with a nationwide circulation of 400,000.

“Oliver Stone gives us liberals a bad name! “ my fellow editor fumed.

At that moment, my boss intervened, quickly changing the subject. JFK was already a touchy issue around our office. For days, I’d been pleading with my boss Scott DeGarmo — who is both publisher and editor-in-chief — to let me plug Stone’s movie in my regular column.

“From what I know about that movie,” Scott warned me, “it’s not going to enhance your credibility to write about it.”

This is not about Democrats vs. Republicans. This is about taking back our country.



In question were a few lines at the very end of a diatribe I’d written against the “perennial conspiracy of the mediocre against the best and brightest.”

“I suggest you go see the movie JFK,” ran the offending paragraph. “The film makes a compelling case that our most beloved President of recent times was felled by a cabal of faceless mediocrities. To this day, no one approaching Kennedy’s eloquence or dynamism has replaced him. Think about it.”

And that was all!

Buried as it was on the last page of an obscure business magazine whose readers showed little interest in politics beyond complaining about taxes, this innocuous passage could hardly have comprised a threat to the New World Order. But in the supercharged media pressure cooker of January 1992, it was apparently too hot to handle. My boss replaced it with a quote from Emerson. (1)

I was luckier than others. Pat Dowell, movie critic for Washingtonian magazine, ended up resigning when editor Jack Limpert killed her favorable review of JFK. “My job is to protect the magazine’s reputation,” he declared. (2)

“(Limpert) identifies with the Washington elite,” Dowell explained to the New York Post, in what strikes me as a staggering understatement. (3)

As a senior editor of SUCCESS magazine, I tried to sneak in a four-sentence plug for Oliver Stone’s movie JFK, by tacking it onto the end of my regular column. But I couldn’t slip it past my boss. He rewrote the offending paragraph, removing all mention of JFK. My sanitized column ran in the March 1992 issue of SUCCESS. Following the release of Stone’s film in December 1991, small but effective acts of censorship such as this were going on across America. Journalists were not free to give their honest opinions about the film. To see the full text of my censored column, go here.



No! No! Not the JFK Assassination!

Let me assure you that I am not now, nor have I ever been an assassination buff. I also have no idea what I was doing the day President Kennedy was shot. It couldn’t have been much. After all, I was only four years old.

But I remember with dreadful clarity the moment when Oliver Stone’s JFK invaded my life.

I was standing innocently on the subway platform at Grand Central Station. It began with a flash of color at the corner of my eye. Why did I have to turn my head to look? By the time the black convertible limousine and pink pillbox hat on the movie poster had swung into focus, it was already too late.

I went as rigid as a board, seized by the dreaded “JFK Assassination Response,” that massive neuromuscular reflex programmed into every American through years of contradictory tabloid exposés, sensational books, endless drunken arguments in bars and sordid TV documentaries. Its primary symptom is an iron curtain of boredom and confusion that slams shut over the brain, arresting every thought.

Long after the lights came on, we and everyone else in that packed theater sat stunned in our seats, contemplating a world that would never be the same again.



For a moment, I almost lost my balance as a sickening blur of pristine bullets, grassy knolls, scheming Mafiosi and strip-tease dancers who knew too much whirled in diabolical procession through my mind. I felt myself sinking, sinking into a deep narcosis, a tiny voice inside me crying, “I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t care…”

Then, as quickly as it had begun, the attack was over. My subway rolled into the station. Fully recovered now, I clutched my briefcase tightly to my chest, scoping out the car for potential thieves. To my relief, Dallas 1963 seemed to recede into the distance. My thoughts returned to important things.

“How in hell,” I wondered, “are we going to get those damn Japanese to buy more Pontiacs?”

Marie and I saw JFK on opening night. It mesmerized us. The film kept us riveted in our seats for what seemed like 20 minutes, but was really three hours. Long after the lights came on, we and everyone else in that packed theater sat stunned, contemplating a world that would never be the same again. Something was happening to America that night. You could feel it. We were all in it together.



“Obscene, Indecent, Unethical”

But it’s not for nothing they dubbed JFK “the story that wouldn’t go away.” For the next few weeks, I couldn’t escape it. Every magazine and newspaper warned me about Oliver Stone. He was “distorting history.” His movie contained “lies.” He hated America. His evil, “paranoid fantasies” were akin to McCarthyism. There was nothing “too obscene, too indecent, too unethical” to which Stone would not stoop in order to “exploit” the tragedy of JFK’s murder. (4)

“My God,” said my wife Marie one night, after finishing the eight-page JFK story which Newsweek’s editors had placed on the cover instead of Gorbachev’s resignation and the fall of the Soviet Union. It was headlined, “The Twisted Truth of ‘JFK’ — Why Oliver Stone’s New Movie Can’t Be Trusted.” (5)

“They said everything except, `Don’t watch this movie or we’ll shoot you!’” exclaimed Marie. “And it’s not even released yet! Richard, what’s going on?”

The CIA took action, deploying trusted assets in the news media — called “propaganda assets” — to generate unfavorable reviews… as one declassified document revealed.



We decided to find out. Opening night found us at the Loew’s Tower East Theater in the East Village, where we sat riveted for what seemed like 20 minutes, but was really three hours. Long after the lights came on, we and everyone else in that packed theater sat stunned in our seats, contemplating a world that would never be the same again.

“It’s great!” we JFK veterans shouted to the raw recruits lined up on the sidewalk outside. “Unbelievable!”

I hadn’t seen such instant rapport between Manhattanites since those innocent days last year when we used to collar perfect strangers on the subways to trade the latest kill figures on Iraqi tanks.

Something important was happening to America that night. You could feel it. We were all in it together.

All of us, that is, except… you know who.

The attacks on JFK only intensified as its box office soared. Each day, the media vomited forth some fresh slander against Stone and his film.

“Maybe I’m not intelligent enough to figure this out,” remarked Oprah Winfrey when she interviewed Stone. “I’m really trying to understand why people are so upset.” (6)

Most fairminded people were wondering the same thing right about then.

On April 1, 1967—only a month and a half after New Orleans DA Jim Garrison announced that he was investigating the JFK assassination—the CIA sent a dispatch to station chiefs, instructing them to defend the Warren Commission, using “propaganda assets” in the media “to answer and refute the attacks of the critics…” The dispatch was later declassified and reported by The New York Times on December 26, 1977. To read or download a copy of the dispatch, go here. See footnote 13 for further information.



Propaganda Assets

Let me tell you a story.

Back in 1964, journalists David Wise and Thomas B. Ross wrote an exposé of the CIA called The Invisible Government. The Agency was unhappy with the book. So it took action, deploying trusted assets in the news media — called “propaganda assets” — to generate unfavorable reviews which would “lessen the book’s impact and… cast doubt on the validity of its claims,” as one declassified document put it. (7)

According to The American Police State by David Wise, William F. Buckley Jr. dutifully attacked the book in his newspaper column, writing that its authors verged “close to unpatriotism.” Although his readers didn’t know it, Buckley penned this column in response to a secret memorandum slipped to him by his CIA handler E. Howard Hunt, Jr. A former CIA operative himself, Buckley had served under Hunt in the agency’s Mexico City station after graduating from Yale in 1950. (8)

No one really knows how many “assets” the CIA has in the news media. In 1976, the agency admitted to a Senate investigating committee that it had about 50 agents posing as U.S. journalists or other employees of news organizations. Sharply criticized for this practice, the CIA announced that it would no longer use accredited journalists as agents. (9)

Top-level news executives have historically cooperated with the CIA. “Let’s not pick on some poor reporters,” said then-CIA director William Colby in his 1975 Senate testimony. “Let’s go to the managements. They were witting.”



Nevertheless, Carl Bernstein reported in 1977 — the very next year — that CIA officials admitted to having as many as four hundred working journalists on the agency’s payroll, among them reporters for Time and The Washington Post. (10)

The exact number of media “assets” is, of course, unknowable. It is also irrelevant. What is important is that top-level news executives have historically cooperated with the CIA. If the boss is taking orders from Langley, rank-and-file reporters have no choice but to fall in line.

Then-CIA director William Colby emphasized this point in his 1975 testimony before the Senate Church Committee. He said, “Let’s not pick on some poor reporters, for God’s sake. Let’s go to the managements. They were witting.” (11)

“The agency’s penetration of the news media,” writes Wise, “…ran counter to the First Amendment… The CIA had polluted the public’s major source of information about its government, the foundation upon which democracy rests.” (12)

So what does all this have to do with the media smear of JFK?

Consider CIA document #1035-970, dated April 1, 1967, only a month and a half after New Orleans DA Jim Garrison — the real-life hero of Stone’s film — announced that he was investigating the JFK assassination.

Circulated to CIA stations around the country, along with copies of a particularly rancorous New Yorker article lambasting Jim Garrison, the memo instructed agents on how best to counter critics of the Warren Commission — such as Garrison.

“Discuss the publicity problem with… friendly elite contacts,” it says, “especially… editors… Employ propaganda assets to answer and refute the attacks of the critics… reviews and feature articles are particularly appropriate for this purpose.” (13)

Now, of course, that was over 20 years ago. We have no way of proving that the CIA is still using its “propaganda assets” to attack critics of the Warren Commission.

But let’s say, hypothetically, that they are. Let’s say that a handful of renowned and knowledgable journalists on major newspapers, magazines and network news teams all received the same memo from the same government agency and acted upon it. Let’s say they all came out at the same time accusing Oliver Stone of a rash of dastardly offenses. In the face of such enormous peer pressure, how many reporters are going to have time to doublecheck their facts? How many editors are going to stick out their necks by disagreeing with the pundits?

My editor didn’t. Like all professional journalists, he knew from watching his peers which views on JFK were considered “responsible” and which were not. I’m sure he’s no CIA agent. He’s a great guy and all. But, like most of us, he doesn’t have time to become an instant assassination buff. He has to trust that the “facts” presented by major news organizations are reliable. But are they?

On January 22, 1992, Air Force Col. Fletcher Prouty appeared on CPAN2 to explain why he believes President Kennedy was murdered in a high-level coup. Prouty was a decorated war hero who served as Chief of Special Operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Kennedy. He consulted with Oliver Stone on the film JFK and served as the real-life model for the “Mr. X” character.



Ten Big Lies

For a clue, I analyzed the last four months’ worth of media hatchet jobs, searching for a tell-tale pattern. I discovered that ten basic lies form the backbone of virtually every JFK smear.

Lie #1 — Stone uses trick editing to confuse fact with fiction.

Critics accuse Stone of using visual “tricks” to blur the line between fact and fiction.

As an example, Steve Daly in Entertainment Weekly (January 17, 1992), points to the scene in which an assistant shows evidence to hero Jim Garrison that the famous LIFE magazine photo of Lee Harvey Oswald with the murder rifle is actually a forgery. Mind you, the evidence she presents is real. According to experts, the photo probably was forged.

But the critics cry “Foul!” Why? Because, while the assistant talks, we see an X-Acto blade actually performing the forgery. “We’re predisposed to believe this charge, as we’ve seen it with our own eyes,” Daly complains.

According to Daly, JFK doesn’t so much persuade as brainwash us. “The movie is an intricately stacked deck,” he writes, “a barrage of visual and aural cues geared not to help viewers reach their own conclusions… but to affect their hearts and minds on a visceral, almost subconscious level.” (14)

[Col. L. Fletcher Prouty, Chief of Special Operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff] was sent to Antarctica on November 10, 1963 — twelve days prior to the assassination — just like Mr. X in the film.



Like all great art, JFK certainly does “affect the heart.” But to suggest that its persuasiveness results from trickery is a lie.

“[I]t does treat matters that are wholly speculative as fact and truth, in effect, rewriting history,” avers Tom Wicker in The New York Times, December 15, 1991. (15)

Which particular “matters,” Mr. Wicker? Every time Stone dramatizes a speculative scene, the plot, the dialogue, the development of evidence and the visual context scream out loud that you’re seeing a hypothetical reenactment.

Granted, it does take a certain rudimentary intelligence to follow Stone’s reasoning and weigh conflicting evidence. Anyone lacking these skills will certainly be confused by JFK. They will also find Agatha Christie novels and reruns of Columbo utterly impenetrable.

What really seems to irk these critics is the power and clarity with which Stone presents his facts. Why this should bother them is a question only they can answer.


In a pivotal scene from the film JFK, intelligence operative “Mr. X” asks Jim Garrison, “Why was Kennedy killed? Who has the power to cover it up? Who?”



Lie #2 — Stone fabricates evidence.

The accusation that Stone falsifies evidence in JFK has been widely echoed by the national media.

“In his three-hour lie,” writes George Will in the Washington Post (December 26, 1991), “Stone falsifies so much he may be an intellectual sociopath, indifferent to the truth.” (16)

Critic Michael Medved feels the movie is so deceitful that “I’m not sure people should see it unless they’re prepared to do the research they need to correct misimpressions.” (Sneak Previews, 1991). (17)

Why are these critics so sure Stone is wrong? Are they simply relying on the Warren Commission? Perhaps they are not aware that the House Select Committee on Assassinations determined in 1979 that Oswald most likely did not act alone. (17)

To announce so confidently on national TV that Stone is wrong is to claim that you know the truth. Yet no one in this country — at least no innocent person — knows the whole truth.

After decades of official lies, Stone is no better equipped than Will or Medved to discern fact from fiction. But Stone has done the next best thing. He has constructed a narrative based upon the findings of leading researchers, both government and independent, especially as set forth in the books Crossfire: The Plot that Killed Kennedy by Jim Marrs and On the Trail of the Assassins by Jim Garrison.

In the movie JFK, Mr. X tells Garrison: “[In National Security Action Memos 55, 56,and 57] Kennedy instructs… that from here on forward the Joint Chiefs of Staff would be wholly responsible for all covert paramilitary action… This basically ended the reign of the CIA – `splintered it’, as J.F.K. promised he would, into a `thousand pieces’ – and now was ordering the military to help.”



Because JFK is a movie, not a heavily-footnoted 625-page book like Crossfire, Stone sometimes uses dramatic devices like composite characters and fictional dialogue to convey his evidence. An example is the controversial Mr. X scene, during which Garrison meets a mysterious intelligence officer in Washington, D.C. who confirms all his worst suspicions of a government plot. Critics have attacked this scene with special gusto.

“Garrison never went to Washington,” accused Dan Rather on 48 Hours (February 5, 1992). “He never spoke to Mr. X.” (18)

While true, Rather’s accusation was strangely beside the point.

The point is that “Mr. X” really exists. He is L. Fletcher Prouty, a decorated war hero and retired Air Force colonel who served as Chief of Special Operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Kennedy.

In the movie, Mr. X tells Garrison the following:

…Why was Kennedy
killed? Who benefited? Who has
the power to cover it up? Who?
In 1961, right after the Bay of
Pigs – very few people know about
this – I participated in drawing up
National Security Action Memos 55,
56, and 57. These are crucial
documents, classified top secret,
but basically in them Kennedy
instructs General Lemnitzer, Chairman
of the Joint Chiefs, that from here
on forward the Joint Chiefs of Staff would
be wholly responsible for all covert
paramilitary action in peacetime.
This basically ended the reign of
the CIA – “splintered it”, as J.F.K.
promised he would, into a “thousand
pieces” – and now was ordering the
military to help. This was
unprecedented. (19)

In fact, the little-known events described by Mr. X are true, and Fletcher Prouty was directly involved in them. (20)

President Kennedy did state that he intended to break up the CIA into a thousand pieces, as reported by the New York Times.(21)

Kennedy did issue National Security Action Memos 55, 56 and 57, which would have transferred authority over covert operations from the CIA to the military.(22)

As Chief of Special Operations for the Pentagon, Prouty was part of the team responsible for implementing NSAMs 55, 56 and 57.(23)

However, Prouty never got the chance to implement them. Instead, he was sent to Antarctica on November 10, 1963 — twelve days prior to the assassination — just like Mr. X in the film.(24)

President Kennedy did state that he intended to break up the CIA into a thousand pieces, as reported by the New York Times. Kennedy did issue National Security Action Memos 55, 56 and 57 which would have transferred authority over covert operations from the CIA to the military.



By the time Prouty returned, President Kennedy was dead. The transfer of covert operations from the CIA to the military never took place.

Because Prouty never met Garrison in real life, Stone had to create a fictional meeting between them, or else leave Prouty and his important testimony out of the movie altogether.

Leaving out Prouty’s testimony might have pleased certain pundits, but would have done poor service to the cause of truth.


Lie #3 — Stone’s paranoid theories defy common sense.

J. Edgar Hoover, founding director of the FBI, denied the very existence of organized crime in America until the televised testimony of Joe Valachi forced Hoover to backtrack in 1963. Everyone had always known the Mafia existed. But, officially, no one was allowed to say so. In a similar way, the truth about the JFK assassination has been suppressed by a pattern of high-level denials.

“[Stone’s is] one of the most dubious of all the dubious conspiracy theories,” writes Edward Klein in Vanity Fair (January 1992). (25)

“[I]f ‘J.F.K.’ and its wild assertions are to be taken at face value,” says Tom Wicker (The New York Times, December 15, 1991), “Americans will have to accept the idea that most of the nation’s major institutions, private as well as governmental, along with one of its Presidents, conspired together and carried out Kennedy’s murder…” (26)

Indeed we would. And, if that’s what actually happened, we need to know.

Those commentators who suggest that the magnitude of Stone’s conspiracy makes it ridiculous display an ignorance of history. Conspiracies far more trivial have woven equally complex webs of complicity, coverup and corruption in high places — such as the nationwide criminal conspiracy of mobsters, corrupt lawmen, and politicians who thwarted Prohibition during the 1920s, and who later moved into drug trafficking and other industrial-scale criminal enterprises.

Instead of fighting these crime lords, FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover publicly denied the very existence of organized crime in America until 1963. (27)

If Stone’s conspiracy theory is really lunacy, then we’re experiencing a nationwide epidemic of insanity. Five current bestsellers, two more books reported in the works, the original Garrison investigation, the House Select Committee on Assassinations and the upcoming movie “Ruby” all tell essentially the same story. They all say that the CIA, anti-Castro Cubans, and the Mob worked together on the coverup, if not the assassination itself.

If it’s crazy to imagine such an alliance — and the pundits all assure us that it is — then the Bay of Pigs invasion must have been a psychotic delusion. Not only did this very same Mob/anti-Castro/National Security axis conspire to overthrow Castro, but the partnership proved so cohesive that it resurfaced intact to haunt this nation during the Watergate break-in and coverup.

Jim Garrison posited this same tripartite alliance 25 years ago. Amazingly, the intervening years have only added credibility to his theory.


Lie #4 — The real Jim Garrison was a fraud.

New Orleans DA Jim Garrison—the hero of Stone’s movie JFK—failed to convict local businessman and CIA operative Clay Shaw of complicity in the JFK assassination. It was later revealed that the CIA planted nine agents inside Garrison’s investigation, to disrupt, misdirect and feed him false information.

If there’s one thing every journalist seems to agree on, it’s that Jim Garrison was an incompetent, unethical buffoon, with zero credibility.

“Garrison’s investigation was a fraud.” (The Washington Post, May 19, 1991)(28)

“…Garrison was a roguish con artist…” (Village Voice, December 31, 1991) (29)

“… Jim Garrison… staged an assassination `investigation’ that involved recklessness, cruelty, abuse of power, publicity-mongering and dishonesty, all on a scale that strongly suggested lunacy…” (Newsweek, December 26, 1991) (30)

Garrison’s media critics fail to explain why the people of New Orleans reelected him even after he failed to convict Clay Shaw for conspiring to kill the President, and despite the fact that the local and national media were screaming for Garrison’s resignation. Garrison was the first district attorney ever to be reelected in that city’s history.

The media fail to explain why, before the JFK investigation, Garrison was known as a Mr. Clean reformer, who won national publicity by shutting down New Orleans’ infamous cathouses. Until ill health forced his retirement last year, Garrison served as an elected state judge in Louisiana.

Was Garrison a sleeper? Did he simply pretend to be an outstanding lawman for years, only revealing his true colors when the JFK case came along?

The CIA planted nine agents inside the Garrison investigation.


Kennedy charted his own course, disdainful of factions and vested interests. His bestselling 1956 book Profiles in Courage praised certain historical figures who had gone out on a limb, taking unpopular positions, often in defiance of their own parties. Kennedy admired such people and sought to emulate them. If he had a claim to greatness, it lay in this.

Former CIA director Allen Dulles remarked at a meeting of the Warren Commission: “Don’t believe people read in this country. There will be a few professors that will read the record… the public will read very little.” (31)

Maybe that’s why so many are accepting the Jim Garrison-as-villain story so uncritically. Because if you read Garrison’s side of the story, lucidly presented in his bestselling book, On the Trail of the Assassins, you can’t help but ask a few questions.

In his book, Garrison describes how reporters who should have known better spread the rumor that he was brainwashing witnesses with drugs and hypnosis, when they knew very well that his use of sodium pentothal (“truth serum”) and hypnosis was an approved, legal alternative to a polygraph test, which Garrison administered under expert medical supervision to verify the testimony of one witness. (32)

Garrison also alleges that the NBC news team led by one Walter Sheridan deliberately obstructed his investigation, pressuring an important witness in the JFK trial to flee the state without testifying. Sheridan allegedly promised the witness a job, a lawyer and guaranteed protection from extradition — curious behavior for an “objective” newsman. (33)

Garrison goes on to describe how, in 1967, this same Sheridan presented witnesses on national TV to prove Garrison’s misconduct. These same witnesses later “took the Fifth” or were found guilty of perjury when ordered to repeat their charges before a New Orleans Grand Jury. (34)

Garrison makes a strong case that the government tried to frame him on charges of taking bribes from pinball gamblers and describes in minute detail how these charges collapsed in court. The government’s star witness admitted that he had been forced to lie and a taped conversation of Garrison taking bribes was proved in court to be a clumsy forgery. (35)

Perhaps most telling of all is a disturbing investigative report which Inside Edition broadcast on February 5, 1992. Inside Edition somehow got a look at sealed documents from the House Select Committee on Assassinations which indicated that “the CIA had planted nine agents inside the Garrison investigation to feed him false information and report back to Langley about what he was finding out,” according to Bill O’Reilly. (36)

Garrison alleges that the NBC news team led by one Walter Sheridan deliberately obstructed his investigation, pressuring an important witness in the JFK trial to flee the state without testifying. Sheridan allegedly promised the witness a job, a lawyer and guaranteed protection from extradition — curious behavior for an “objective” newsman.



This revelation certainly ought to cast allegations about Garrison’s supposed bad judgment calls and “paranoid” suspicions of government sabotage in a new light. But the broadcast was widely ignored by major media.

None of this proves that Garrison is innocent of all charges. But it challenges any fairminded man or woman to consider Garrison’s side of the story — the side that Oliver Stone has presented in JFK.


Lie #5 — Robert Kennedy believed the Warren Commission.

On June 3, 1968, while running for president, Robert Kennedy confided to close friends: “I now fully realize that only the powers of the presidency will reveal the secrets of my brother’s death.” RFK never got the chance to put his theory to the test. Two days later, he was assassinated.

If there was the slightest hint of a conspiracy, Robert Kennedy would have pursued it to his last breath, say the pundits. The fact that he accepted the Lone Assassin theory “proves” that the Warren Commission was sound.

“Surely Robert Kennedy would have wanted every gunman brought to justice,” writes David W. Belin in The Wall St. Journal (January 16, 1992).(37)

“Why would one believe,” asked Dan Rather rhetorically on 48 Hours, “that Robert Kennedy would ever allow such a conspiracy not to be exposed?” (38)

Answer: He didn’t.

In Crossfire, Jim Marrs reports that on June 3, 1968, Robert Kennedy confided to close friends: “I now fully realize that only the powers of the presidency will reveal the secrets of my brother’s death.”(39)

In other words, he would never have the clout to find out the truth until he himself became president. We may infer from this statement that RFK had already run into obstructions in his own quest for the truth. Since RFK was running for president when he said this, it is plausible that he intended to pursue the matter from the White House. We’ll never know, because RFK was assassinated two days later.

Kennedy charted his own course, disdainful of factions and vested interests. If Kennedy had a claim to greatness, it lay in this.



Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. — a special assistant to President Kennedy, as well as a close friend and biographer of both Robert and Jack Kennedy — wrote in The Wall St. Journal (January 10, 1992) that RFK “had his doubts” about the Warren Commission findings. “He regarded it as a poor job but was unwilling to criticize it and thereby reopen the whole tragic business.”

Schlesinger also wrote that, “RFK told me that he thought Garrison might be onto something. NBC, he said, was sending Walter Sheridan, a trusted investigator who had worked with him on the Jimmy Hoffa case, to New Orleans to find out what Mr. Garrison had.” (39)

Some weeks later, Robert Kennedy told Schlesinger that “Sheridan is satisfied that Garrison is a fraud.”

This is the same Walter Sheridan whom Garrison has accused of deliberately obstructing his investigation, as well as bribing and threatening witnesses, a man Garrison says was a former intelligence agent with “unusually high connections” in Washington. If Sheridan’s opinion was RFK’s principal reason for losing interest in Garrison, then much depends on whom we decide to believe — Garrison or Sheridan.


Lie #6 — Kennedy was a Cold Warrior, not a Peacenik.


At a press conference of October 31, 1963—only 22 days before his assassination—President Kennedy stated that he would speed up the ongoing withdrawal from Vietnam by pulling out 1000 military advisors before the end of the year. Discussion of the Vietnam withdrawal begins at 2:54.



Since Kennedy’s plan to end the Cold War and pull out of Vietnam forms the motivation for his murder in Stone’s JFK, many journalists have bent over backwards to cast doubt on this historical fact.

“[Stone] distorts John Kennedy and he distorts the historical record, making John Kennedy into a peacenik who’s about to withdraw us from Vietnam when the testimony of Robert Kennedy and of all of Kennedy’s advisors who stayed and made the war is quite different from what Oliver Stone claims to know.” (Michael Medved, Sneak Previews, 1991) (40)

“Stone argues that Kennedy was so progressive, so `soft on communism’ (and on Castro)… that the right-wing establishment was driven to kill him. But this is a romantic, perhaps fantasy, J.F.K.; he can as easily be seen as a cold warrior…” (Time, December 23, 1991) (41)

“I know of no reputable historian who has documented Mr. Kennedy’s intentions (in Vietnam).” (Tom Wicker, The New York Times, December 15, 1991)(42)

But the documentation is voluminous. Kennedy advisor Arthur Schlesinger is one of the strongest defenders of this view. He wrote in The Wall Street Journal (January 10, 1992) that Oliver Stone’s premise… is far from unreasonable.”

According to Schlesinger, Kennedy was indeed moving toward “the liquidation of the Cold War,” and “he regarded (the test-ban treaty) as only a first step.”

Schlesinger also reveals that JFK “authorized United Nations Ambassador William Attwood to explore the possible restoration of relations with Castro’s Cuba.”

“… Stone could have strengthened his case by mentioning it,” he adds helpfully. (43)

The 1979 House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) concluded that there is a 95 percent certainty of conspiracy in the JFK case.



According to Schlesinger, Kennedy ordered Defense Secretary Robert McNamara in 1962 to start planning a phased withdrawal of American advisors from Vietnam. But he couldn’t effect a total withdrawal “until after the 1964 election. Otherwise, he feared, the Republicans might beat him …over the `loss’ of Indochina…”

Time magazine (December 23, 1991) says, “Kennedy confided to certain antiwar Senators that he planned to withdraw from Vietnam if re-elected; but publicly he proclaimed his opposition to withdrawal.” (44)

Not for long, though. On October 31, 1963 — just 22 days before his death — Kennedy announced to the nation that, “Our object is to bring home every American technician, helicopter pilot, and military advisor by the end of 1965, permitting the South Vietnamese to maintain themselves as a free and independent country,” as reported in William Manchester’s One Brief Shining Moment. Two weeks later, Kennedy announced that the first 1,000 men were coming home. (45)

But that was not to be. Two days after the assassination, President Johnson issued National Security Memorandum 273, “reversing the Kennedy withdrawal policy,” in Schlesinger’s words. (46)

It is simply not true that a politician in 1963 had only two choices — to be “soft on Communism” or to be an “anti-Communist” hawk. In fact, Kennedy charted his own course, disdainful of factions and vested interests.

The very point of Kennedy’s 1956 book Profiles in Courage was to praise certain historical figures who had gone out on a limb, taking unpopular positions, often in defiance of their own parties.

Kennedy admired such people and sought to emulate them in his own career. If Kennedy had a claim to greatness, it lay in this.


On January 2, 1979, the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) concluded that “President John F. Kennedy was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy,” based upon acoustical evidence showing, with 95-percent certainty, that a second gunman fired from the grassy knoll. For further information, see footnote 50.



Lie #7 – The Lone Assassin theory is still the strongest.

While a few brave souls in the media have ventured to suggest that Castro or the Mob might have killed Kennedy (the CIA is apparently out of bounds), the vast majority of journalists have stuck stubbornly to the Lone Assassin theory. So have President Bush and Sen. Ted Kennedy (who called it “the most responsible” theory — whatever that means).

“These 28 years… have not buried all doubts… But we do know a lot and there is much to support the Warren Commission’s findings.” (Dan Rather, 48 Hours, February 5, 1992) (47)

“The overwhelming weight of the evidence points to Lee Harvey Oswald as the lone gunman.” (New York, February 17, 1992) (48)

“When will the responsible leaders of the free press, who owe so much to Earl Warren, stand up for the truth… and fully defend Earl Warren’s name from the slanderous charges that have been made against him and the Warren Commission?” (David W. Belin, New York, February 17, 1992) (49)

To point out the many holes in the Warren Commission findings — including bullets collected at Dealey Plaza disappearing from evidence; an overwhelming preponderance of eyewitnesses who saw shots coming from the grassy knoll; a nitrate test on Oswald’s right cheek which showed he had not fired a rifle that day; the fact that every doctor who examined Kennedy in Dallas saw a gaping exit wound on the back of his head; strong indications that much of the best evidence against Oswald was planted after the fact — would fill a book. Indeed, such evidence has filled many books, including five current bestsellers.

Because these critiques all come from independent researchers, the media (and the Justice Department) could possibly be excused for ignoring them all these years. What defies explanation is the deafening silence which has greeted the findings of the 1979 House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) that there is a 95 percent certainty of conspiracy in the JFK case. (50)

The HSCA was no paragon of objectivity or zeal for the truth. Important and controversial witnesses were treated with kid gloves in cross-examination. Both the CIA and FBI approved every staff member (and disqualified some). All staffers were required to swear a CIA oath of secrecy before being allowed to see any classified files — a requirement which gave the CIA power to screen all information before release, including investigators’ notes.

“I’m not saying the CIA was involved. But there’s no doubt in my mind that the CIA knows exactly what happened,” said Robert Tannenbaum, deputy chief counsel of the Kennedy investigation for the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA).



An exclusive report on Inside Edition (February 5, 1992) revealed that the CIA censored from HSCA’s final report all references to links between Oswald and the CIA, including the fact that David Atlee Philips, the CIA’s chief of Western Hemisphere operations, met with Oswald two months before the assassination. (51)

Newsweek reports that in 1978, “the CIA agent assigned as liaison to the HSCA was reportedly fired from the agency after rifling the safe containing the Kennedy autopsy photos and X-rays (Newsweek, December 23, 1991) (52)

“I’m not saying the CIA was involved,” said Robert Tannenbaum, deputy chief counsel of the Kennedy investigation for the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA). “But there’s no doubt in my mind that the CIA knows exactly what happened.” (Newsweek, December 23, 1991) (53)

Despite its glaring inadequacies, the HSCA was nevertheless compelled to conclude a “probable” conspiracy based on acoustic analysis of a Dallas police recording which was made when a motorcycle cop in Dealey Plaza accidentally left his radio microphone on. The Justice Department (which is itself a suspect, since its complicity would have been required for any official coverup) quickly challenged these findings. But despite overwhelming press to the contrary, the DOJ’s challenge was weak.

Two sets of experts working independently found there had been anywhere from 4 to 9 shots fired in Dealey Plaza, at least one of which matched the “acoustic fingerprint” of test shots fired from the grassy knoll. The shot from the grassy knoll was preceded by a supersonic “n-wave,” proving it came from a rifle bullet. (54)

Although the HSCA asked that the Justice Department open an investigation, to this day, no action has been taken.


Lie #8 — No conspirators have ever come forward to confess.

“History teaches that as a conspiracy increases in size arithmetically, the chances of unraveling increase exponentially.” (George Will, Newsweek, February 26, 1992) (55)

“…if there was a conspiracy — particularly the massive conspiracy posited in this movie — is it imaginable that not a single member of it has cracked? The tug of conscience, the lust for notoriety, even greed for money… would surely have brought someone forward in the past 28 years.” (Newsweek, December 23, 1991) (56)

“Had a conspiracy of such proportions existed, doesn’t common sense tell us that at least one conspirator would have made a deathbed confession?” (Stephen E. Ambrose in The New York Times Review of Books, February 2, 1992) (57)

Common sense does so dictate. We would expect that out of such a vast conspiracy, at least one or two low-level operatives would break down and blow the whistle after three decades. Why hasn’t it happened?

Answer: It has.

First of all, there have been numerous sensational confessions, the latest, published in the New York Post, from a man who claims he delivered the kill order from Jimmy Hoffa to the mob. (58) The book Double Cross, written by Sam Giancana’s nephew, also claims that the notorious gangster admitted to conspiring with the CIA to kill Kennedy. (59)

It’s hard to know what to do with such confessions. They may or may not be significant. But they do exist, despite the denials of the pundits.

If anyone could have spilled the beans, it would have been Jack Ruby, who survived in prison four years after silencing Oswald. Why didn’t he ‘fess up?

David W. Belin, a counsel and chief investigator for the Warren Commission, says it’s because Ruby had nothing to confess. In an article he penned for New York magazine (February 17, 1992), Belin “proves” that Ruby acted alone by citing such evidence as “Jack Ruby’s rabbi… on the basis of his many visits with Ruby in prison, is convinced that Ruby was not involved in any conspiracy.” (60)

Ruby also passed a polygraph test to that effect.

With all due respect to New York magazine, that is not sufficient.

While Ruby was not permitted to testify at his trial, he did indicate, when questioned later by the Warren Commission, that he had something more to reveal. Ruby told Earl Warren that his life and his family were in danger, and asked eight times to be moved to Washington, where he would feel safe enough to give his testimony.

“I am used as a scapegoat…” he told the Commission. “Now maybe something can be saved. It may not be too late, whatever happens, if our president, Lyndon Johnson, knew the truth from me. But if I am eliminated, there won’t be any way of knowing.” (61)

Rudy also warned the Commission that “a whole new form of government is going to take over the country.”

Of all peoples, Americans are the most trusting of their government and the slowest to cry conspiracy, for which reason, Europeans regard us as naive and gullible. “Never believe anything until it is officially denied,” a European cynic once said.



Chief Justice Warren denied Ruby’s request to be moved, and Ruby was never questioned again. Whatever he wanted to say, he took to his grave.

Then there’s the strange case of Gary Underhill, a World War II veteran who was considered “one of the top U.S. experts on limited warfare,” according to Crossfire. Underhill was performing special assignments for the CIA at the time Kennedy was assassinated. A few days after the assassination, he told friends that a “small group within the CIA” was responsible, and that Underhill feared for his life. Shortly thereafter, Underhill was found dead in his apartment. “His death was ruled suicide although he was shot in the left side of the head and a pistol was found in his left hand — and it was well-known that Underhill was right-handed.” (62)

Suspicious suicides and outright murders have silenced dozens of key witnesses over the last 28 years. In Crossfire, Jim Marrs lists 103 key witnesses and participants in the assassination drama whose deaths were suspiciously clustered around the dates of the Warren Commission investigation, the Jim Garrison investigation, and the 1979 House Select Committee investigation. A shocking proportion died violently, by gun, knife, or beating. Many “committed suicide,” like George DeMohrenschildt, a CIA contract agent who was a close friend of Oswald and suspected of being his “handler.” DeMohrenschildt supposedly blew his brains out with a shotgun three hours after the House Select Committee asked him to testify.

Others on the list died of “heart attack,” “natural causes” or “cancer.” But Marrs points out that CIA testimony to the Church Committee in 1975 and declassified documents going back as far as 1952 indicate that intelligence agencies have at their disposal many techniques for simulating natural death, among them inducing cancer by applying a few grams of beryllium. (63)

In the three years following the assassination, 10 material witnesses died, “two by suicide, one from a cut throat, one from a karate chop to the neck, five from natural causes.” An insurance actuary calculated that the odds against these witnesses being dead by February 1967 were one hundred quadrillion to one. (64)

One year after President Kennedy’s assassination, historian Richard J. Hofstadter theorized that Americans suffer from a collective delusion which he called the “paranoid style in American politics,” a “suspicious” state of mind which causes us to see “conspiracies” where none exist. French philosopher Jean-Francois Revel takes the opposite view. In his book The Totalitarian Temptation, Revel suggests that Europeans are much quicker than Americans to embrace extremist movements such as fascism and communism, both of which are based upon conspiracy theories about conniving bankers and “plutocrats.” Americans tend to avoid such movements, notes Revel.



Lie #9 — Americans are suckers for conspiracy theories.

Many commentators have tried to laugh off our 28 years of suspicion about the Lone Assassin theory as a charming and uniquely American eccentricity.

“…Stone has revitalized an American obsession with conspiracies.” (NYT, January 5, 1992) (65)

“Stone… is tapping into a deep, almost paranoid distrust Americans have come to feel about all constituted authority…” (Vanity Fair, January 1992) (66)

“Intellectually, Stone is… part of a long fringe tradition, the paranoid style in American politics, a style ravenous for conspiracy theories.” (George Will, Newsweek, December 26, 1991) (67)

Others suggest that we Americans dream up conspiracies for much the same reason a child sucks its thumb.

“Conspiracy theories… are comforting in a way,” explains Dan Rather on 48 Hours. “That is one reason why they thrive. They explain the unexplainable, neatly tie up the loose ends.” (68)

Such peculiar notions may provide anchormen and columnists with a convenient excuse to poke fun at those 3 out of 4 Americans who smell a rat (according to a 1991 Gallup Poll). (69) But they do little to reassure the public that the national media share its interests and concerns.

“The assassination of John F. Kennedy, however cruel and ghastly, may have spared the nation…” wrote Jonathan Yardley in the Washington Post.



Anyone who thinks we Americans are just looking for an excuse to slander our military and intelligence forces must have been absent from the country during the Persian Gulf War. The national mood is precisely the opposite.

Of all peoples, Americans are the most trusting of their government and the slowest to cry conspiracy, for which reason, Europeans regard us as naive and gullible.

“Never believe anything until it is officially denied,” a European cynic once said. The speaker may or may not have been Otto von Bismarck, but, whoever said it, Europeans never tire of repeating this line. (70)

Cynicism toward government has made Europe a fertile ground for extremist movements such as fascism and communism — both based upon conspiracy theories about bankers and “plutocrats” allegedly ruling the world. In America, by contrast, such movements have never been popular.

In his book The Totalitarian Temptation, French socialist scholar Jean Francois Revel argued that extremism comes naturally to Europeans, while Americans tend toward moderation. He observed, “[A]t the time of the Great Depression, between the wars, Europe reacted by going to the Right, while the United States went to the Left. In Europe, we had fascism and Nazism, Pétain in France, Franco in Spain. In the United States, there was Roosevelt’s New Deal.” (71)

Trusting and tolerant as we are by nature, something about the JFK mystery has pushed us too far. Americans want answers. And we will have them.


Lie #10 — We’re better off not knowing.

Droning relentlessly through newspapers, magazines and TV news programs is the ceaseless mantra that we would all somehow be better off if people would just stop talking about the Kennedy assassination.

Critic Michael Medved put it this way on Sneak Previews: “But I think the problem is it just fuels tremendous paranoia, it makes people unduly cynical… because none of these questions can be answered. It’s like a fever swamp, the more you watch, the more questions you have, and I think it can be a little bit of a sickness if carried too far.” (72)

Richard B. Stolley, editorial director of Time Inc. Magazines, wrote to Entertainment Weekly (January 17, 1992), “Without (the Zapruder film)… we would have no precise way of timing the shots. There would… be no controversy about Oswald’s ability to fire that often and that accurately… possibly no wild allegations, totally unproved, of dark crimes committed at the highest levels… As a country, ironically, we might be better off.” (73)

Why would we be better off?

The pundits never say.

As Marie and I floated down the escalator through the vast, multiplex entertainment-drome, I felt an immense vacuum yawning inside me, as if I were Winston Smith strolling through Victory Square in the novel 1984. … It all seemed so normal, so humdrum… Maybe JFK was just a bad dream. Maybe Big Brother really loved me.



Perhaps they should direct their attention to the First Law of Behavioral Psychology, which states that whatever behavior you reward, you get more of. Whatever behavior you punish, you get less of.

A successful assassination is one in which the perpetrators are never brought to justice. If we would like to see more political assassinations in future, all we have to do is reward our past assassins with success.


A Question of Character

“I won’t give my money to an anti-American like Oliver Stone!” ranted my arch-conservative friend. “And don’t tell me about Kennedy. Haven’t you read A Question of Character?”

As everyone knows, this sordid exposé of Kennedy’s personal life by Thomas Reeves purports to shatter the “myth” that Kennedy was a great president.

There was a time when that old feminist banner actually seemed enlightening: “Politics begins in the bedroom.” But in today’s pseudo-puritannical climate, too many heroes have also met their end there.

In his Washington Post review of A Question of Character, Jonathan Yardley wrote:

“…the assassination of John F. Kennedy, however cruel and ghastly, may have spared the nation… Better that the handsome young president died… and that the true story of his character emerged so tentatively and gradually that we were given time to come to terms with it. Had we been forced to bear in a single blow the full import of the story… it would have shattered us.” (74)

Try as I might, I can’t get half as worked up over John F. Kennedy’s sex life as over the obscene spectacle of a respected journalist telling me our President was murdered for my own good.

When the New York Mix folded unexpectedly in 1992, I put my article away and never even attempted to publish it elsewhere. It was written for the Mix and really didn’t seem to belong anywhere else. Most of Stone’s defenders, at that time, were radicals, either of the left or right, and I did not wish to re-edit my piece for a radical audience. The Mix was special. It did not discriminate between Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives. It sought to unite us, not divide us. To this day, former Mix publisher Rod Richardson still pursues his vision of bridging the gap between left and right, through his philanthropy.



Et Tu, Village Voice?

Like most New Yorkers, I both love and despise the Village Voice. I hate it for its predictable politics. I love it for its movie reviews, and because it’s never afraid to say something different or outrageous.

Until now, that is.

When I saw the headline saying, “The Assassination of the Movie JFK,” I breathed a sigh of relief. At least somebody had the guts to blow the whistle on these press piranhas.

Expecting a full dissertation on CIA disinformation techniques, I opened to the review written by one “J. Hoberman” — apparently one of those “persons” whose odd sense of gender pride compels (him or her) to conceal (his or her) first name from the sexist public.
JFK may not prove the most important movie of the year…” (he or she) began, but it’s certainly the most self-important.”

The woman told us that Oliver Stone and Paramount were producing some sort of documentary about the public reaction to JFK. And she wanted us to be in it. … I later called Oliver Stone’s publicist, the Billings Agency, as well as Paramount Pictures, both of which denied any involvement with the mysterious film crew.



For the next page and a half of dense type, this genderless scribe proceeded to wax indignant over Stone’s overblown ego, his self-righteousness, lack of humor, “violent” and “obsessive” editing and his apparently politically incorrect penchant for “romantic” hero worship (especially of John Kennedy and Jim Garrison).

While chiding Stone for his lack of Marxist rigidity — “Stone isn’t big on dialectics; after all, without Vietnam there would have been no Platoon for him to make” — Hoberman did reluctantly concede “support” for JFK, about halfway through the article. But then (he or she) quickly made up for it by repeating one of the more senseless slanders that have animated “establishment” critiques of the movie:

“Critics of the Warren Commission…” Hoberman wrote, “delight in pointing out instances of retouched pictures and doctored evidence. Of course, in introducing composite characters, ascribing fictional dialogue to historical figures… Stone is scarcely more creative.”(75)


The Mystery Film Crew, or… Film Crew X

Marie and I needed a break. I was tired of arguing and tired of browbeating people into seeing JFK, when Prince of Tides or Bugsy was really more their speed. The hatchet jobs were still coming fast and furious in the media. But I didn’t care anymore. I was burned out. What could Marie and I do, all by ourselves?

So we went to see Star Trek V at Loew’s in the East Village. It was okay. Scotty’s looking a bit plump these days, and the movie annoyed me with its now-fast-becoming-obligatory-in-Hollywood “Clarence Thomas” reference (a very dark-skinned Federation admiral who turns out to be a racist bad guy, prejudiced against Klingons).

But hey, it was entertainment.

Afterwards, as Marie and I floated down the escalator through the vast, multiplex entertainment-drome, I felt an immense vacuum yawning inside me, as if I were Winston Smith strolling through Victory Square in the novel 1984. Everywhere I turned were mirrors, colored lights, hip East Villagers in black, androgynes with tinted glasses and weird, sculpted haircuts. It all seemed so normal, so humdrum — at least for the East Village. Maybe JFK was just a bad dream. Maybe Big Brother really loved me.

According to a CBS/New York Times poll, 77 percent of the American public believes JFK was killed by a conspiracy, and — according to a poll by Time/CNN — a whopping 50 percent think the CIA was involved.



But no sooner had we walked off the escalator than a blonde young woman collared us. She was well-dressed, in a pricey, corporate sort of way. Not an East Villager. The lobby looked like a movie set. I saw lights, video cameras, people being interviewed.

“Did you see the movie JFK?” she asked.

In a daze, I heard her explain that Oliver Stone and Paramount were producing some sort of documentary about the public reaction to JFK. And she wanted us to be in it.

“Did seeing JFK change your opinion about America?” she queried when my turn came up.

I squinted uncertainly into the lights. Change my opinion about America? What did she mean by that?

Suddenly, I suspected a trick. This woman was clearly trying to coax me into making some sort of anti-American statement. But why? And who put her up to it? Then it hit me. Stone. She said she was working for Oliver Stone.

Suddenly all the JFK hatchet jobs started swimming back into my mind. Maybe they were right about Stone. Maybe he was anti-American.

“No,” I finally answered. “I love America and everything it stands for. And from what I understand about Oliver Stone’s political views, I don’t agree with a lot of them.”

To my surprise, I found a catch coming into my throat — not unlike Kevin Costner in the closing scene of JFK!

“I love America,” I continued, feeling a little embarrassed. “But America’s not perfect. Every generation has to fight for its freedom. Kennedy was our lawfully elected president. And the blood cries out when a man is murdered and his killers aren’t found.”

She nodded, but seemed suddenly eager to end the interview.

“And there’s one more thing…” I added, while she scanned the line for a better prospect. “President Bush said on TV that people who question the Warren Commission are like people who think Elvis is coming back from the dead. Now, I don’t know what he knows and what he doesn’t know. But to have that kind of attitude, I think, is a shameful shirking of his responsibility as president.”

Back in the ’60s, people like these — honest, hardworking, patriotic Americans — were called the Silent Majority, and were dismissed by media know-it-alls as brainwashed puppets of the “fascist police state.” … But from such folk arose the Minutemen who won at Lexington and Concord.



By now, she was obviously impatient with me. I surrendered the microphone, feeling a little silly, like I’d made an ass of myself.

I later called Oliver Stone’s publicist, the Billings Agency, as well as Paramount Pictures, both of which denied any involvement with the mysterious film crew.


The Silent Majority

Two and a half months after JFK’s release, it’s become clear that the smear campaign isn’t working. Over 19 million people have paid $65 million to see the movie. And they didn’t stop there.

Every Sunday, my wife reads me the latest scorecard from the New York Times bestseller lists. Jim Garrison’s On the Trail of the Assassins continues clocking in week after week as the number one nonfiction paperback. Four other assassination books are not far behind.

According to a CBS/New York Times poll, 77 percent of the American public believes JFK was killed by a conspiracy, and — according to a poll by Time/CNN — a whopping 50 percent think the CIA was involved.(76)(77)

Seventy-seven percent is not just a majority. It’s an overwhelming majority.

Back in the ‘60s, people like these — honest, hardworking, patriotic Americans — were called The Silent Majority, and were dismissed by media know-it-alls as brainwashed puppets of the “fascist police state.” Even today, our avant-garde urban-dwellers — obsessed with such life-and-death issues as the dispersion of NEA grant money to themselves and their friends — love to paint middle America as a caldron of racist homophobes and Philistines.

But from such folk arose the Minutemen who won at Lexington and Concord. Their spirit loves liberty above life. It tolerates no tyrant. It senses instinctively when it’s time to stop bickering and take action.

Thank God for America. Thank God for Oliver Stone.

And thank God it’s an election year.

H. Ross Perot is starting to look better and better.(78)



Destiny Betrayed cover

James DiEugenio’s Destiny Betrayed: JFK, Cuba, and the Garrison Case is the definitive work on the assassination probe conducted by New Orleans DA Jim Garrison, the real-life hero of Oliver Stone’s JFK. Also worth a look are DiEugenios’s The JFK Assassination and Reclaiming Parkland: Tom Hanks, Vincent Bugliosi, and the JFK Assassination in the New Hollywood, which explores CIA influence in Hollywood, among other topics. Check out DiEugenio’s website at KennedysandKing.com and his Twitter page at jimmydie1963.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
Special thanks to the courageous community of independent assassination researchers

Many people helped with the research for this article, most of which was done the old-fashioned way back in 1992, without the aid of the Worldwide Web.

Special thanks go to James DiEugenio, who provided me with page proofs from his then-unpublished book Destiny Betrayed containing the full text of certain CIA dispatches. Without Jim’s help, I could not have verified the content of these crucial documents.

Thanks also to Steve Rendall, Zachary Sklar, the late Bill Schaap, the late Larry Howard, and to my wife Marie, for her love, support and research assistance.

Heartfelt thanks go to Bob Dylan, who woke me from my slumber, and to Rod Richardson and Jonathan Rowe, who had the courage to assign me this story back in 1992.

I offer a special prayer of thanks to St. Jude, help of the hopeless, and offer this work in grateful devotion to Our Lady of Fatima and to the Lord of the Harvest who provides exactly what we need, exactly when we need it.

Richard Poe
April 24, 2020


Photo of Jonathan Rowe

The late, great Jonathan Rowe, my editor at the short-lived New York Mix. My article “Ten Media Lies About Oliver Stone’s JFK” benefited greatly from Jon’s editing, though he never lived to see the result. (Photo courtesy JonathanRowe.org)

JONATHAN ROWE, R.I.P. (1946-2011)

As an editor, Jonathan Rowe had that rare gift of knowing when and when not to intervene. He never imposed his own words or thoughts on a writer, focusing instead on craft and precision.

I learned only recently that Jon had died, from a notice on his website.

Now run by a friend Gary Ruskin, JonathanRowe.org features tributes from friends and colleagues such as David Bollier, James Fallows, Timothy Noah, Paul Glastris, Jonathan Alter and Ralph Nader.

One of the original Nader’s Raiders, Jon is best known for his jeremiads against big money interests and corporate abuses.

His indignation over the JFK assassination reflects a lesser-known side of him. But this too was part of Jon Rowe. His outrage jumps forth from the marginal notes he scrawled on my article “Ten Media Lies About Oliver Stone’s JFK.”

At age 65, Jon was in robust good health. Yet a sudden fever killed him in 24 hours, leaving friends and family in shock.

As a tribute to Jon, I am publishing herewith his handwritten edits on my original 1992 draft (download PDF here).

Richard Poe
April 24, 2020



FOOTNOTES

1. Richard Poe, “Censored for 28 Years: My Little Plug for Oliver Stone’s JFK,” RichardPoe.com, April 3, 2020. See also, Richard Poe, “A Diabolical Plot!: You’re Not Paranoid. The Resenters are Out to Get You,” SUCCESS, March 1992

2. Howard Kurtz, “Film Critic Resigns Over `JFK’ Review,” The Washington Post, January 24, 1992

3. New York Post, January 25, 1992. See also Robert W. Welkos, “Costner, Critics Back Film Writer,” Los Angeles Times, February 1, 1992

4. Robert Sam Anson, “The Shooting of JFK,” Esquire, November 1, 1991, 93-102
NOTE: Although the quote “too obscene, too indecent, too unethical” was repeated in numerous articles about Oliver Stone’s JFK, the original source is never identified. The earliest appearance of this quote that I have found is in the above article by Robert Sam Anson. Other writers — including me — appear to have picked it up from Anson.

5. Kenneth Auchincloss, with Ginny Carroll and Maggie Malone, “The Twisted Truth of `JFK’: Why Oliver Stone’s New Movie Can’t Be Trusted,” Newsweek, December 23, 1991, pages 46-49

6. “The JFK Controversy,” Oprah Winfrey Show, ABC, January 22, 1992

7. David Wise, The American Police State: The Government Against the People (New York: Random House, 1976), 199

8. Wise, The American Police State, 200

9. Wise, The American Police State, 201

10. Carl Bernstein, “The CIA and the Media,” Rolling Stone, October 20, 1977, pp 55-67

11. Bernstein, “The CIA and the Media,” 1977

12. Wise, The American Police State, 201

13. CIA Dispatches dated April 1, 1967 and July 19, 1968 appear in an appendix of James DiEugenio’s Destiny Betrayed: JFK, Cuba and the Garrison Case (New York: Sheridan Square Press, 1992), pp 310-321. For copies of the originals, see the following: CIA Dispatch, Countering Criticism of the Warren Report, from Chief of CA Staff to Chiefs of Certain Stations and Bases, April 1, 1967, CIA FOIA Review no. #1035-970, National Archives and Records Information (NARA) Reference #104-10009-10022. Cited in “Cable Sought to Discredit Critics of Warren Report,” The New York Times, December 26, 1977, 32. See also CIA Dispatch, July 19, 1968, CIA FOIA review no. 1127-987, which addresses the Garrison investigation specifically.

14. Steve Daly, “Camera Obscura,” Entertainment Weekly, January 17, 1992, 16-17

15. Tom Wicker, “Does `J.F.K.’ Conspire Against Reason?,” The New York Times, December 15, 1991

16. George F. Will, “JFK: Paranoid History,” Washington Post, December 26, 1991, A23

17. Michael Medved, Sneak Previews, PBS, 1991

18. Dan Rather, “JFK,” 48 Hours, February 5, 1992

19. Oliver Stone and Zachary Sklar, JFK (screenplay), 1991

20.”JFK, the Movie: Cinema as History,” C-SPAN2, January 22, 1992. See also “Hollywood & History: The Debate Over JFK”, Parts One and Two, a panel discussion sponsored by The Nation Institute and the Center for American Culture Studies at Columbia University, Town Hall, New York City, March 3, 1992.

21. Tom Wicker, John W. Finney, Max Frankel, E.W. Kenworthy, “C.I.A.: Maker of Policy, or Tool?; Survey Finds Widely Feared Agency is Tightly Controlled,” The New York Times, April 25, 1966, pp 1, 20, column 3.

22. National Security Action Memorandum (NSAM) – NSAM 55, Relations of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the President in Cold War Operations, June 28, 1961; National Security Action Memorandum (NSAM) – NSAM 56, Evaluation of Paramilitary Requirements, June 28, 1961- June 11, 1962; National Security Action Memorandum (NSAM) – NSAM 57, Responsibility for Paramilitary Operations, June 28, 1961

23. David T. Ratcliffe, Understanding Special Operations and Their Impact on The Vietnam War Era: 1989 Interview with L. Fletcher Prouty, Colonel USAF (Retired), rat haus reality press, Santa Cruz, California, 1999; Understanding The Secret Team, Part III

24. L. Fletcher Prouty, JFK, The CIA, Vietnam and the Plot to Assassinate John F. Kennedy (New York: Carol Publishing Group/Birch Lane Press, 1992), 284; See also Leroy Fletcher Prouty, Jr., Colonel, United States Air Force (January 24, 1917 – June 5, 2001), Arlington National Cemetery Website (Unofficial)

25. Edward Klein, “Costner in Control,” Vanity Fair, January 1992

26. Tom Wicker, The New York Times, December 15, 1991

27. Curt Gentry, J. Edgar Hoover: The Man and the Secrets (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1991), 533. See also Michael Newton, The FBI Encyclopedia, (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2012), 256

28. George Lardner Jr., “On the Set: Dallas in Wonderland,” The Washington Post, May 19, 1991, D1

29. J. Hoberman, “The President’s Brain is Missing,” Village Voice, December 31, 1991, 49, 77

30. Will, Washington Post, December 26, 1991

31. Warren Commission internal memo, September 6, 1964

32. Jim Garrison, On the Trail of the Assassins (New York: Warner Books; 1988), 188-189

33. Garrison, 192-193, 195-196

34. Garrison, 198

35. Garrison, 298-219

36. Bill O’Reilly, Inside Edition, February 5, 1992

37. David W. Belin, “Oswald Was a Lone Gunman,” The Wall Street Journal, January 16, 1992

38. Dan Rather, “JFK,” 48 Hours, February 5, 1992

39. Jim Marrs, Crossfire: The Plot that Killed Kennedy (New York: Carroll & Graf, 1989), 589

39. Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., “JFK: Truth And Fiction,” Wall Street Journal, January 10, 1992. 19.

40. Michael Medved, Sneak Previews, 1991

41. Richard Corliss, “Oliver Stone: Who Killed JFK?Time, December 23, 1991, page 69. Full text here.

42. Tom Wicker, “Does `J.F.K.’ Conspire Against Reason?,” The New York Times, December 15, 1991, sec. 2:1, 18

43. Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., “JFK: Truth And Fiction,” Wall Street Journal, January 10, 1992. 19

44. Corliss, Time December 23, 1991

45. These exact words do not appear in the published transcript of Kennedy’s October 31, 1963 press conference (see link below), but William Manchester reports that Kennedy spoke them on “the last day of October,” 1963, without providing a source. See William Manchester, One Brief Shining Moment: Remembering Kennedy (Boston: Little Brown, 1983), 225. See also President John F. Kennedy, News Conference 63, State Department Auditorium, Washington, D.C., October 31, 1963. See video here.

46. Schlesinger, Wall Street Journal, January 10, 1992

47. Dan Rather, “JFK,” 48 Hours, February 5, 1992

48. David W. Belin, “The Big `Lies’ of `JFK’,” New York, February 17, 1992, 44-47

49. Belin, New York, February 17, 1992

50. Final Report of the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), Ninety-Fifth Congress, Second Session, January 2, 1979 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office; 1979), pages 3, 65, 74, pages 95-98. NOTE: The HSCA concluded that “President John F. Kennedy was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy” (page 3), based upon “acoustical evidence” (page 65) showing a 95-percent probability that a second gunmen had fired from the grassy knoll (page 74).

51. Bill O’Reilly, Inside Edition, February 5, 1992

52. Auchincloss, et. al., Newsweek, December 23, 1991

53. Auchincloss, et. al., Newsweek, December 23, 1991

54. Final Report of the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), Ninety-Fifth Congress, Second Session, January 2, 1979 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office; 1979), pages 65-93.

55. George Will, Newsweek, February 26, 1992

56. Auchincloss, et. al., Newsweek, December 23, 1991

57.Stephen E. Ambrose, “Writers on the Grassy Knoll: A Reader’s Guide,” The New York Times Review of Books, February 2, 1992

58. Jack Newfield, “Hoffa Had the Mob Murder JFK,” New York Post, February 11, 1992, pp 4-5; See also George Lardner Jr. “Lawyer Says Hoffa Told 2 Mob Bosses to Have President Kennedy Killed,” The Washington Post, January 17, 1992; “Hoffa Lawyer: Jimmy Recruited Mob for JFK Hit,” Associated Press, January 14, 1992

59. Sam and Chuck Giancana, Double Cross: The Explosive, Inside Story of the Mobster Who Controlled America (New York: Warner Books, March 20, 1992)

60. Belin, New York, February 17, 1992

61. Jim Marrs, Crossfire: The Plot that Killed Kennedy (New York: Carroll & Graf, 1989), 428

62. Marrs, Crossfire, 202

63. Marrs, Crossfire, 557

64. Marrs, Crossfire, 555-556. NOTE: Jon Rowe queried this actuarial claim in my first draft, noting that the London Sunday Times had backtracked on its story. However, Marrs later refuted the London Sunday Times in the 2013 Basic Books edition of Crossfire, pages 530-531.

65. Clifford Krauss, “28 Years After Kennedy’s Assassination, Conspiracy Theories Refuse to Die,” New York Times, January 5, 1992, Section 1, page 18

66. Klein, Vanity Fair, January 1992

67. Will, Newsweek, December 26, 1991

68. Rather, 48 Hours, February 5, 1992

69. Klein, Vanity Fair, January 1992

70. “Never Believe Anything Until It Is Officially Denied,” quoteinvestigator.com

71. Jean François Revel, Jean François Revel, The Totalitarian Temptation (New York: Doubleday, 1977), 270

72. Michael Medved, Sneak Previews, 1991

73. Richard B. Stolley, “Shots Seen Round the World: A Journalist’s Behind-the-Scenes Story of the Most Historic Home Movie Ever,” Entertainment Weekly, January 17, 1992, 22-25

74. Jonathan Yardley, “Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye,” Washington Post, May 26, 1991

75. J. Hoberman, “The President’s Brain is Missing,” Village Voice, December 31, 1991, 49, 77. NOTE: In fairness to the Voice, it subsequently ran a cover story defending Stone’s JFK, which more than compensated for J. Hoberman’s inexplicably negative review. See Robert Hennelly and Jerry Policoff, “JFK: How the Media Assassinated the Real Story,” The Village Voice, March 31, 1992, 33-39.

76. Bill Carter, “Reporter’s Notebook: Rather Pulls CBS News Back to the Assassination,” The New York Times, February 4, 1992. “Of those polled, 77 percent said they believed that people besides Lee Harvey Oswald were involved in the killing. And 75 percent said there was an official cover-up in the case. The [New York Times/CBS] telephone poll of 1,281 people, conducted Jan. 22 to 25, has a margin of sample error of three percentage points.”

77. Yankelovich Clancy Shulman poll for Time/CNN, December 22, 1991

78. AUTHOR’S NOTE: My original 1992 draft did not end with a plug for H. Ross Perot. It ended with the line, “And thank God it’s an election year.” However, I am certain I would have added a plug for Perot before publication, simply to avoid any possible appearance that I might be rooting for Bill Clinton. I voted for H. Ross Perot in the 1992 election. RP

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