Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What is one to make of Jim DiEugenio?

by Dale K. Myers / Spring, 1999

[Editor’s note: The following is Dale K. Myers’ response to Jim DiEugenio’s article, “Who is Gus Russo?”, originally posted on the Internet in 1999.]

As I read Jim DiEugenio’s rant, "Who is Gus Russo?" I wondered what kind of an audience Mr. DiEugenio hopes to corral. It certainly couldn’t be anyone who has done an ounce of real research on the assassination case. As Gus has pointed out, Mr. DiEugenio can’t seem to find his pipe and magnifying glass.

In particular, Mr. DiEugenio’s remarks about my relationship with Gus Russo and Todd W. Vaughan are as off track as anything I’ve ever seen in print. And believe me, I’ve read some whoppers - even from people who have interviewed me. But, frankly, Mr. DiEugenio takes the cake.

Case in point: Remarking on the 1993 Midwest Symposium in Chicago Mr. DiEugenio writes, “...There was one thing I should have noted about Russo at that conference. During the proceedings, I saw him with a tall, thin, bespectacled man who I had not encountered before. I would later recognize him as Dale Myers, who I now know as an unrepentant ‘lone-nut’ zealot. If I had known who Myers was in April in Chicago I would not have been so far behind the curveball...”

This is the first of many suggestions that my relationship with Gus Russo is sinister or - god forbid – “covert” in nature. Listening to Mr. DiEugenio’s rantings makes you wonder if the whole world isn’t part of some government plot to subvert his thought process. How I became part of this little menagerie remains a mystery to me. Referring to me as “an unrepentant lone-nut zealot” shows how little Mr. DiEugenio really knows about me or my work.

Who is Dale Myers?

As Gus as already shown, if Mr. DiEugenio had done a thimble full of homework he would have found that over the past twenty-five years I have lectured extensively, appeared on radio talk shows, and written numerous articles about the assassination - in each case, talking about the question of conspiracy. I approached this case from the beginning with an eye toward uncovering the truth whatever that might be. During that time, I have uncovered convincing evidence that demolishes many of the myths and legends that have grown up around this case. For this, I am called a “lone-nutter” - one of those convenient labels that’s bandied about by the fanatics who are unable to offer anything of substance to support their position. Why is Mr. DiEugenio quick to attack me? No doubt, the reason traces back to an incident that obviously still chaffs his posterior. He touched on it in his “Russo” diatribe, but of course, presented only his own twisted version.

DiEugenio's Motown Lecture

Mr. DiEugenio refers to a “lecture” he gave in Detroit this way: “…Later on, [Dennis] Effle and I did a talk on the Kennedy assassination in Detroit. [Todd W.] Vaughan and Myers both showed up and afterward tried to convince us that (1) The single bullet theory was viable and (2) Oswald would have had no problem getting three shots off in six seconds.”

This is more of Mr. DiEugenio’s attempt to show how “operatives” Vaughan & Myers were trailing him in an attempt to “subvert” his mission of truthfulness. What really happened was a lot less exciting than that.

Todd Vaughan, whom I have known for nearly ten years, called me and told me about a lecture being given at a location near Michigan Avenue and Greenfield Road in Detroit by author Jim DiEugenio. (Todd learned about the lecture through his father. A friend called about a flyer for the event that she found on her car in a grocery store parking lot. She knew Todd was interested in the case, and passed the flyer along to his Dad. In some paranoid circles, that makes her Todd’s “case officer”!)

I thought, “Sure, I’ll go.” I had a copy of Jim’s book and knew who he was. Besides, the Detroit Lions were getting their usual spanking on television so I knew I wouldn’t miss anything. Todd came over and we rode down in his car. I grew up in that area, and couldn’t for the life of me figure out where this lecture was going to be held. I knew the only thing on the northwest corner was a bar. Sure enough, that was the location. A backroom had been set aside for the event. We arrived about twenty minutes in advance, saw empty chairs, and thought we’d take in an extra quarter of the Lion’s disaster and wet our whistle. The crowd should be arriving any moment, or so we thought.

The Purple Gang Strikes

Come show time, we were the crowd. There weren’t more than eight people on hand, including Jim, Dennis, Todd, and I. It was a little embarrassing for Jim (he flew in to do the talk), so we pulled up a seat and watched the slide show.

It was the usual stuff, nothing I hadn’t seen (or done myself) dozens of times before. Mr. DiEugenio was making a number a factual errors in his presentation (the ones common to the factoid crowd), but I figured, so what?

However, at one point Mr. DiEugenio crossed the line of reasoning and logic (in my humble book) when he stated that former CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite was part of the conspiracy to cover-up the truth about the assassination – and as such was an accessory after the fact in the murder of the president of the United States. I let it go for a moment, but when he continued to champion this position, I interrupted and challenged him on that issue, to his apparent shock. He was clearly ruffled, made some silly excuse why he believed that Cronkite was involved, and continued his presentation without making anymore eye contact with me.

After Mr. DiEugenio finished, I approached him to show him something I had brought with me. I had finished one of the first sequences from my computer reconstruction project, Secrets of a Homicide. No one had seen what I had (except for a few close friends) and I was interested to show it to DiEugenio.

I called Jim over and pulled out a Sony Walkman 8mm Video player and pushed the play button saying, “Take a look at this.” Mr. DiEugenio’s jaw slackened. As the sequence unfolded, I posed a question, “What if I told you, that this computer animation - which is matched to the Zapruder film - shows that the single bullet theory is not only viable, but the likely solution to the shooting in Dealey Plaza?”

I don’t recall that Mr. DiEugenio ever offered an answer – which was fine. I didn’t expect one. The question was rhetorical. I was simply curious to get a reaction from someone from the so-called “research community.”

Satisfied, Todd and I prepared to leave. We walked with Mr. DiEugenio and Mr. Effle out the back door to their car. A short conversation ensued between Todd and Mr. DiEugenio surrounding Oswald’s ability to fire – single-handedly – the requisite three shots.

Todd, who owns a Mannlicher-Carcano purchased from Klein’s Sporting Goods in Chicago, IL., at the time of the assassination, and identical to the Oswald rifle, has strong feelings (and first hand firing experience to back it up) that the feat was not “impossible” as some have often claimed. I had no real interest in debating the issue and simply waited for Todd to finish so that we could go. In my mind, we had wasted enough of the afternoon.

And that, dear readers, is what Mr. DiEugenio characterizes as a couple of “operatives” infiltrating his lecture circuit, and trying to convince him and his colleague of the viability of the SBT, and Oswald’s shooting ability. Come on, now. Does that really make sense?

The idea that everyone who disagrees with a conspiracy advocate is some kind of operative, infiltrator, or subversive is nothing short of paranoia. It's a disease that, lately, has been running rampant through the veins of Internet conspiracy junkies. And nothing could be farther from the truth.

Researchers who don't research

Unfortunately, there are many poor souls who have such a low self-esteem, that the need to feed their ego has become more important than their interest in learning the truth about the assassination – whatever it might be. “Researching” the assassination for them is more about publishing newsletters, promoting conferences, selling tapes, books, and documents, and attacking anyone who dares to question their “patriotic” motives.

To do so, threatens the world of fame, celebrity, and prominence that they’ve created for themselves. In short, their goal has become one of perpetuating the myths, legends, and mysteries surrounding the assassination. To find answers will only bring an end to their self-serving world. How else do you explain a “researcher” who does no research?

And Mr. DiEugenio, by his own words, proves he hasn’t done a lick of research on the subject he spends nearly six pages huffing and puffing about.

“Who is Gus Russo?” is nothing more than a series of distorted statements and half-truths that, when strung together, imply that Russo and his associates are government infiltrators working hard to discredit “truth-seekers” like DiEugenio. What a joke. Mr. DiEugenio couldn’t find a fact if it were tattooed on his rump.

Tattooed facts

For instance, Mr. DiEugenio mentions the “extraordinarily interesting” Thomas Beckham who talked of his “personal acquaintance” with Jack Martin, the CIA, and “double agent, Lee Harvey Oswald.” Mr. DiEugenio adds, “...Significantly, none of [this] material appears in Russo’s book.” No kidding.

The FBI file on Beckham has been available through the Freedom of Information-Privacy Act (FOPIA) since the mid-1980’s. Anyone spending two minutes with these documents can clearly see that Beckham is hardly a credible source on any subject. But, Mr. DiEugenio doesn’t seem to know that, does he?

The Frontline show

Mr. DiEugenio also refers - incessantly - to the 1993 PBS special, Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald? as Gus Russo’s show.

Huh? Anyone with a breath of sense can see that the show was produced by the BBC/Frontline and Russo served only as one of many consultants/researchers. (I was another. Ooooooh. There’s another “mysterious” connection!)

Mr. DiEugenio’s source of knowledge on the television production process seems to be “...a middle-aged man who [DiEugenio] had never seen before, but will never forget...” who “accosted [DiEugenio] in an undeniably emotional state...” during a JFK convention. (This should have been the first clue that the source was not on an even keel.)

The source proceeded to inform Mr. DiEugenio that “Mark Zaid and Gus Russo are infiltrators” (without providing a whisper of substantiated fact - predictably, Mr. DiEugenio ate this up), and claimed that “...Programs like Frontline are not designed as they go. They have a slant and a content about them from the beginning that Russo had to know about going in...”

Nonsense. Investigative programs like Frontline have two phases: fact gathering and program editing. I’ve been in the television business since 1984 and can’t think of a single instance where a legitimate documentary program was scripted in advance of gathering material. Under the circumstances, how could Gus Russo (or anyone else, including producer Mike Sullivan) know “the slant” going into a program like that? It’s total B.S., pure and simple. And frankly, it’s common sense, which Mr. DiEugenio seems to be lacking in great abundance.

Later on, Mr. DiEugenio writes that: “PBS, Russo, his fellow lead reporter Scott Malone and producer Mike Sullivan made no attempt to hide their bias in the show.” Bias? Please. What Mr. DiEugenio no doubt meant was that although the show was tightly crafted, informative, and compelling, he disagreed with their findings. So what?

Isn’t it interesting that when those who fail to do any real research in this case are faced with facts, they cry, “Bias!” And Mr. DiEugenio hasn’t done any research on the making of the Frontline program, or the personalities involved, has he? In particular, his verbal assault on producer Mike Sullivan is about as far off-base as one could get. I found Mr. Sullivan to be one of the sharpest producers I’ve ever encountered in the television profession. He was articulate, focused, and extremely open-minded about where the program might lead. Ultimately, it didn’t – and that’s really what frosts detractors like DiEugenio, isn’t it?

Pseudo-scientific reviews

And that’s not all of the distortions served up in Mr. DiEugenio’s Russo ranting. Here’s another prime example.

In reference to Appendix A of Russo’s Live by the Sword, Mr. DiEugenio writes: “...Russo moves on and clinches the case against Oswald with Dale Myers’ computer recreation of the assassination. This rather embarrassing computer model of the events in Dealey Plaza was published in the magazine Video Toaster User in late 1994. As we have mentioned before, Dr. David Mantik ripped this pseudo-scientific demonstration to bits in Probe (Vol.2 No.3). Myers actually wrote that, by removing the Stemmons Freeway sign from his computer screen, he could see both Kennedy and Gov. John Connally jump in reaction to the Warren Commission’s single bullet piercing them both at frame Z-223. As Mantik wrote, this ' is both astounding and perplexing...If it does not appear in the original Z film (that would appear to be impossible since both men were hidden behind the sign), then where did Myers find it? This startling assertion is not addressed in his paper.' Mantik exposed the rest of Myers’ methodology and candor to be equally faulty as his 'two men jumping in unison' scenario. I would be shocked if Russo is not aware of this skewering inflicted on his friend Myers. Why? Because Myers sent CTKA a check for that particular issue once he heard Mantik had left him without a leg to stand on...."

What a joke! Let’s take a look at DiEugenio’s assertions line by line, and then you decide who’s pulling the wool over whose eyes.


(1.) “...As we have mentioned before, Dr. David Mantik ripped this pseudo-scientific demonstration to bits in Probe (Vol.2 No.3)...”

In reality, Dr. Mantik wrote a “review” of my computer animation project video, Secrets of a Homicide, without ever seeing the video itself! Huh? How do you do that? Well, in Dr. Mantik’s case, he read an article I wrote for Video Toaster User (VTU) magazine which described the computer project. What Dr. Mantik failed to tell his readers is that the article was aimed at computer users and not assassination buffs, and therefore, did not go into depth about the nuances of the case. It was written in very broad strokes, many of which clearly escaped Dr. Mantik.

(2.) “...Myers actually wrote that, by removing the Stemmons Freeway sign from his computer screen, he could see both Kennedy and Gov. John Connally jump in reaction to the Warren Commission’s single bullet piercing them both at frame Z-223...”

Contrary to Mr. DiEugenio’s childish summary, here’s what I actually wrote:

”The exact moment JFK and JBC were first hit has been the most venomous subject of debate since that day in Dallas. The 1964 Warren Commission picked the sequence Z-210 to Z-225 (while JFK and JBC were behind the sign) as the point of impact and claimed one bullet struck both giving birth to the single-bullet theory. During the last 30 years, dozens of theories have been put forth by writers and amateur sleuths countering the Commission’s claims. Just about every Zapruder frame from Z-190 to Z-240 has been used to bolster a theory about the first hit. Part of the problem stems from Zapruder’s shaky, hand-held camera work, which makes it difficult to focus attention on a specific area of the frame. Other problems arise when attempting to diagnose moving events from still enlargements. Frozen moments in time can easily be misinterpreted with the elements of time and space. By far, the biggest problem with viewing the Zapruder film is the Stemmons freeway sign, which comes between the presidential limousine and the viewer at the crucial moment. Still frames clearly show the president grimacing as he emerges from behind the sign (Z-225). The question remaining is how much earlier was he hit and whether Connally shows a reaction to being hit at the same time. Watching the Z-Film in motion and hoping to catch this subtle clue is an effort in frustration. It takes the human eye approximately five to 10 frames to recognize shapes in motion. By the time your eye locks on JFK and JBC, the film has already progressed to Z-230 to Z-235, where both are already reacting. The 3D computer model of the JFK assassination effectively eliminated these technical limitations. Now the computer camera followed the action with an ultra-smooth pan, image sampling was nearly doubled from Zapruder’s original 18.3 fps to 30 fps, and the obtrusive Stemmons Freeway sign was assigned an 80 percent transparency value. The action behind the sign was interpolated by the computer based on the first and last frames in which JFK and JBC are visible. What happened behind the sign is no longer a mystery...When watching this [computer] sequence in motion, it is clear that Connally is hit with a punching shot at Z-223. Without the sign to impede our vision, we see both men literally ‘jump’ at the same time...” [VTU, November 1994, "Secrets of a Homicide," by Dale K. Myers, pp.43-44]

(3.) “As Mantik wrote, this ‘is both astounding and perplexing...If it does not appear in the original Z film (that would appear to be impossible since both men were hidden behind the sign), then where did Myers find it? This startling assertion is not addressed in his paper.’”

Doh!? Am I the only one who sees the idiocy of Dr. Mantik’s statement? (If you missed it, re-read the above quote from VTU magazine that the good doctor’s statement is based on.) Get it? Dr. Mantik doesn’t.

He seems to think that the reaction of JFK and JBC occurs behind the sign, rather than in the frame sequence Z-222 to Z-240, immediately after they emerge. (Has he seen the Zapruder film?) In fact, the computer recreation – as clearly explained in the VTU excerpt – allows the viewer to witness the motion of JFK and JBC – start to finish –
without the sign interfering. Because the viewer’s line of sight remains uninterrupted, the simultaneous reaction of JFK and JBC as recorded on the Zapruder film is obvious. What is so hard about that?

Perhaps, Dr. Mantik would have realized his boo-boo if he had bothered to actually view the computer recreation he was critiquing. He didn’t. Instead, Dr. Mantik refers to the magazine article as my “paper,” as if it appeared in a scientific journal. This is what Mr. DiEugenio refers to when he claims Dr. Mantik “exposed [Myers’] methodology.”

(4.) “... I would be shocked if Russo is not aware of this skewering inflicted on his friend Myers. Why? Because Myers sent CTKA a check for that particular issue once he heard Mantik had left him without a leg to stand on....”

I ordered a copy of the Probe issue because I had heard that they had published a review of the Secrets of a Homicide project without viewing the video or speaking with me - not because of anything Dr. Mantik had written. In fact I didn’t know what Dr. Mantik had written. How could I? In the world of Mr. DiEugenio, however, knowing the facts without investigation is commonplace, isn’t it?

Predetermined agenda?

Not a single person who has ripped on my computer work has ever spoken to me about it. In fact, I have yet to see a single person who is well versed in my field give the project anything but high marks. Isn’t it interesting that Dr. Mantik (who isn't qualified to review computer animation work in the first place) refused to speak to me when I telephoned him to clear up any questions he might have had about the project?

Isn’t it interesting that several so-called “respected researchers” at first called the computer project “the most important work ever done on the case,” and even solicited my help in proving their theories, but when the answers I provided them proved their ideas wrong, turned their back on me, and have since gone out of their way to label my work junk? Now, who do you think has a predetermined agenda?

Champions of truth?

Particularly disturbing to me were Mr. DiEugenio’s comments about JFK “research” conferences and how they are run. Mr. DiEugenio questions, “Why would people who apparently (everything is “apparent” to DiEugenio) believed the conclusions of the Warren Commission (another assumption designed to label those he disagrees with) attend a conference designed for its critics?”

Well, Jim, I can’t speak for others, but I know that my interest in the case has been to find the truth through fact checking. It is only recently, to my deep disappointment, that I have realized that these conferences weren’t interested in that.

Case in point: Mr. DiEugenio applauds the close-mindedness of the annual “research” conferences when he writes, “...Cyril Wecht...made a ringing declaration against inviting ‘fence-sitters’ to anymore of these seminars. He specifically mentioned [Todd] Vaughan who, on the medical panel, had argued for the single-bullet theory...John Judge, Wecht, and myself were all interrupted several times by sustained applause and Wecht’s powerful peroration against equivocators brought down the house...”

I wonder how anyone can claim to champion “truth,” while keeping their boot firmly planted on the throat of fact and reason? One conference organizer recently wrote, “I agree...that there is no reason to attend a conference presenting the insistent stance of the ‘Lone-Nutters’ or to give them any forum...”

If the position held by these conference organizers and orators is so strongly planted in a foundation of fact, then why do they fear the voice of discord? The answer is obvious to anyone who has attended one of these affairs.

Pretending to probe

After spending nearly six pages inferring that the Russo-Zaid-Vaughan-Myers-Alvarez-Sullivan-Malone-Artwhol connection somehow tracks back to the CIA (or some other faction of the alleged neo-Nazi government that subverts our country), Mr. DiEugenio poses the question, “What is one to make of Russo...?”

On the bottom of the last page, Mr. DiEugenio finally offers his conclusion, “I don’t pretend to know the answer.”

Well gee, Jim. One could have simply said so, and saved everyone the time to read this pointless smear-piece presented as an “investigative” report. Anyone with a smidgen of self-respect would have been embarrassed to publish such tripe.

Facing reality

Over the past twenty-five years, I have run across all types of individuals who find themselves drawn to the assassination story. They come from all walks of life and from a wide variety of backgrounds.

In every case – without exception – the people who have done the most intelligent, carefully researched work are those standing outside of the limelight. They toil away for hours, digging through dusty libraries, interviewing principal figures first-hand, and pouring over documents that they have personally worked hard to secure from sources all over this country. When they find something of value, they double check the facts. When they are confident in the facts they have uncovered, they present them in a respectable forum – usually with little fanfare.

For their efforts, they are roundly criticized by the so-called community of “researchers” whose myths and legends ultimately fall victim to the diligent scrutiny of these true professionals.

Tearing down the truth

No doubt, the insults, attacks, and mischaracterizations of the real research professional will continue to flow from those ego-deficient few who feel the need to tear down the world around them rather than build anything of lasting substance.

Meanwhile, in the quiet corners of libraries and reading rooms around the country, a few individuals continue to focus on the goal that underlies their own heartfelt motive – truth, whatever it may be.

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