Thursday, February 21, 2008

Radio Waves: NPR and the Assassination Truth


In the wake of the Dallas D.A. document debacle earlier this week, National Public Radio’s Diane Rehm Show featured three prominent assassination experts today in another effort to satisfy public curiosity about the case that never ends.

Guest host Susan Page (USA Today) spoke with Max Holland (author of “The Assassination Tapes”), Gary Mack (curator of The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza), and David Kaiser (professor at the Naval War College and author of “The Road to Dallas”) about the Dallas D.A., the “new” document release, and the assassination in general. You can listen to the entire archived hour here (Windows Media) or here (Real Audio).

At one point, Mr. Mack quipped, “After this show ends today the conspiracy folks will be beating us all up for whatever we said.”

No doubt they will, given some of the decidedly anti-conspiracy comments made during the hour. But that goes with the territory.

I did note some rather ironic statements offered up by the three participants.

For instance, Mr. Mack said, “Most people just are not convinced by the official story that it was just Lee Harvey Oswald. Now they may base that opinion on some good information or some misinformation but that’s – that’s unfortunately one of the legacies of President Kennedy.”

Frankly, the legacy Mr. Mack is talking about has nothing whatsoever to do with Kennedy or his life. It’s a legacy left to us courtesy of the self-described research community at large – both pro-lone-assassin and pro-conspiracy. It seems that in the heat of the argument, neither side is able to stick to ‘good information’ (i.e., the facts of the case).

I thought it was more than a little ironic that Mr. Mack, the voice of reason on the NPR program, was one of the principle people behind two of the most popular conspiracy theories ever - the Badge Man theory and the acoustic evidence theory – both of which continue to be hotly debated.

Even the NPR radio program itself couldn’t escape the legacy of misinformation.

Case in point: In discussing his forthcoming book, “The Road to Dallas,” historian and author David Kaiser said, “The book was based entirely on documents that were released in the late 1990’s as a result of the JFK Assassinations Record Act which was passed by the Congress.”

A few minutes later, Kaiser, who believes a Mafia led conspiracy was behind the Kennedy murder, claimed as fact, “…Oswald had to be killed because of what he might have told although actually there is some evidence – this is what John Martino said, the mobster who was in the conspiracy – Oswald didn’t actually know who he was really working for. Ah – I tend to agree with Gary [Mack] –ah – if Oswald had gotten a quick trial and speedy execution [Editor’s Note: Mack never said this.] – ah – we would probably be having the same arguments but I think obviously, you know, there was a reason why he was killed, a very important reason. The - in fact, and this is in ‘The Road to Dallas’ at some length – there is a lot of evidence, again from Martino, the plan was to make Oswald disappear and – to murder him – which was fouled up when he shot Officer Tippit and then there would have been rumors come out as there were anyway that he had fled to Cuba. And that would have put enormous pressure on President Johnson to invade Cuba.”

Huh? The John Martino story has been around since 1975. None of it is new and certainly didn’t come from the release of documents in the late 1990’s as Kaiser claimed. If his statements on NPR are any indication, I have serious doubts that Kaiser’s forthcoming book is going to be a ‘book for the ages.’

Host Susan Page asked, “Max Holland, how do you access the conclusions in David Kaiser’s book? Do you find them credible?”

“No,” Holland replied. “Daniel Moynihan liked to say that you’re entitled to your own opinions but not your own facts…”

Oh, really? A few minutes later, Mr. Holland brought up his completely unsupported theory that the first shot was fired before Zapruder began filming.

“It’s always been a presumption,” Holland said, “which I think turns out to be unwarranted, that the whole assassination was captured on the Zapruder film, because it is so gruesome to watch the second and third shots that people naturally thought the first one must be on it also. In fact I believe that the first shot occurred just before Zapruder started filming. That means three shots in a little over 11 seconds which relatively speaking is all the time in the world that he needed.”

Of course, it’s never been a presumption, as Max Holland claims, that all three shots were fired while Zapruder’s camera was turning. There is just no credible evidence that any shots were fired before the first frame was exposed, despite Holland’s past and present claims.

I agree with Mr. Moynihan’s sentiments – ‘You’re entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts.’ When it comes to an early, pre-Zapruder film shot, Mr. Holland has offered up a spade full of supportive facts – all of his own making.

I’ve already spent oodles of hours laying out the holes in Mr. Holland’s folly, so I won’t repeat them here. For those of you who missed it, read: “Max Holland’s 11 Seconds in Dallas,” or the more recent, “Holland Déjà Vu.”

Of course the NPR program didn’t end the debate that never ends. How could it? It did prove to be an amusing hour though, with just a hint of what we can expect from two prominent authors and their forthcoming books.

Too bad the American public can’t get more true facts and less opinion on the assassination question.

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