Jump to content
The Education Forum
Paul Trejo

Will Fritz 2002 book, "The Kennedy Mutiny"

Recommended Posts

Gayle Nix Jackson this week told me about a book I'd never seen or heard of before, namely, the 2002 book by an author who calls himself "Will Fritz", entitled, The Kennedy Mutiny.

This book agrees sharply with my theory that Ex-General Edwin Walker completely coordinated the events that led up to the 11/22/1963 murder of JFK in Dallas.

This book also disagrees sharply with my theory on three central points: "Will Fritz" claims that:

(1) Edwin Walker and Lee Harvey Oswald were good friends, and Oswald followed Walker's orders.

(2) Edwin Walker staged his own April shooting, using Lee Harvey Oswald and at least one other member of the "Friends of Walker".

(3) Edwin Walker's plan for Dealey Plaza was supposed to "miss" JFK, and only scare Americans, and then convince them that the attempt was a Communist plot

These three differences are all ridiculous, IMHO, yet what is more surprising is the many points in which this alleged, "Will Fritz" actually agrees with my CT.

(I) For one thing, Walker's motives were the same as in my CT. Walker was frustrated by the problems of Cuba and Civil Rights.

(ii) Walker's followers were all volunteer and fanatical. Walker worked closely with the Dallas right-wing, especially the John Birch Society and the Minutemen.

(iii) Walker manipulated Lee Harvey from early in 1963, all through 1963.

(iv) The Dallas yuppie party with George DM, Voikmar Schmidt, Mike and Ruth Paine and Everett Glover was a turning point in the Walker plot.

Some additional data has piqued my interest, e.g. the main plotters according to "Will Fritz", namely: Edwin Walker, Robert Allen Surrey, James Hosty, Forrest Sorrels, Bill Alexander, Harry Holmes, Gerald Hill and Everett Glover.

There is much to discuss about this book, IMHO, and yet I've been here since 2011, and never once heard any whisper about this book.

Clearly the "Will Fritz" who was captain of Dallas Homicide in 1963 could not have published this book in 2002 -- since he died in 1984.

But is it possible that this book was written by a relative? Was there an original manuscript that was used to construct this namby-pamby excuse about an alleged JFK "miss"?

I'd like to hear from those who have seen or heard of The Kennedy Mutiny before.

(Note: Amazon.com lists this book as OUT OF PRINT, however, I have limited access to the Library of Congress copy.)

Regards,

--Paul Trejo

Edited by Paul Trejo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Reading further in The Kennedy Mutiny by "Will Fritz", we obtain a complication in the story. I will quote verbatim:

"And this is the central premise of this book. James Angleton manipulated General Edwin Walker and his group into setting up a failed assassination attempt on John Kennedy. The Walker group did this ostensibly to incite the United States into invading Cuba and removing Fidel Castro. At the critical moment, Angleton stepped in and committed the assassination and then stepped back out. He designed the plan to make it appear to the American public and the world at large that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in committing the assassination. Furthermore, to ensure the silence of the unwitting right-wing group, he set it up so that the Walker people thought Oswald had double-crossed them." (Will Fritz, 2002, The Kennedy Mutiny, p. 358.

I find it remarkable that "Will Fritz" thought back in 2002 that Lee Harvey Oswald was a right-winger who deliberately supported Guy Banister and David Ferrie in the summer of 1963 in NOLA -- because that is exactly what I think today -- and very few CTers on this FORUM agree with me. Yet clearly I'm not alone anymore.

In order to shift from this nonsense about Walker setting up Dealey Plaza only to "miss" JFK, our author, Will Fritz, must now explain how the harmless exercise was stolen out of Walker's innocent hands and transformed into a JFK murder.

"Will Fritz" now claims that James Jesus Angleton (i.e. the CIA high-command) was watching the whole thing from above, and then just stepped inside and back outside long enough to kill JFK. Leaving Edwin Walker and his "Friends of Walker" to carry the entire burden.

According to "Will Fritz," their complaint would be, "Lee Harvey Oswald double-crossed us!"

I don't think we need this long, extended explanation, if we only change our focus -- IMHO Walker hated JFK and RFK so much that if he ever had a chance to stage a JFK "miss", then Walker himself would have ensured that JFK never survived the "miss."

Regards,
--Paul Trejo

Edited by Paul Trejo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For what it's worth, I'll give my opinion about Will Fritz's 2002 book at this point.

IMHO, 40 pages of this 701-page book were written by the real DPD Homicide Bureau Captain Will Fritz who personally interviewed Lee Harvey Oswald on 11/22 and 11/23/1963. Sometime in the 1970's the original manuscript was written, but never completed, and Fritz himself never published it.

Will Fritz died in 1984, having failed to complete his account of the JFK murder. I am guessing, but IMHO this incomplete book laid out the truth of the JFK murder as Will Fritz knew it to be -- since he was a native of Dallas who had the full pulse of the city at his command.

In its original, 1972 version, "The Kennedy Mutiny" told of the plot by Ex-General Edwin Walker and his "Friends of Walker" in Dallas, to murder JFK in Dallas. All the details known to Fritz were included in the original version.

Then, after Will Fritz died, some third party, probably a relative, obtained the original document by Will Fritz, and contemplated making a fortune by expanding it and publishing it.

However, that person, whoever it was, who used the name of "Will Fritz" as a pen-name, did not understand the importance of the data he received directly from Captain Will Fritz. So, this third-party chose to modify the book into its current 701-page form, that twisted three key facts, and then twisted the key conclusion.

IMHO, the three key facts that the third-party "Will Fritz" invented were:

(1) Edwin Walker and Lee Harvey Oswald were good friends, and Oswald followed Walker's orders.

(2) Edwin Walker staged his own April shooting, using Lee Harvey Oswald and at least one other member of the "Friends of Walker".

(3) Edwin Walker's plan for Dealey Plaza was supposed to "miss" JFK, and only scare Americans, and then convince them that the attempt was a Communist plot.


Then, the twisted conclusion was:

(A) James Angleton manipulated General Edwin Walker and his group into setting up a failed assassination attempt on John Kennedy, so that he his own crew could actually murder JFK, and arrange conditions so that the "Friends of Walker" would believe that Lee Harvey Oswald had double-crossed them.

The weakness of the story of the third-party "Will Fritz" is clearly seen in the way that he transformed George De Mohrenschildt's good friend, Volkmar Schmidt, to make him appear to be a "Friend of Walker."

In this bogus story, Volkmar Schmidt at that February Dallas Yuppie Engineer's party didn't try to make Oswald DESPISE Edwin Walker (as Schmidt insisted several times, including to our own Bill Kelly) but rather, The Kennedy Mutiny openly says that Volkmar Schmidt at that party tried to make Oswald LOVE Edwin Walker!

And that he was successful, so that Oswald himself joined the "Friends of Walker!"

So, the weaknesses of, The Kennedy Mutiny, are revealed for all to see by the actual unfolding of historical truth, which the third-party author did not expect to happen before he made his hoped-for fortune with this nonsense.

IMHO, there is enough evidence in, The Kennedy Mutiny, to justify a systematic search for the original manuscript written by the real Captain Will Fritz himself.

That's my current opinion.

Best regards,
--Paul Trejo

Edited by Paul Trejo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Captain Will Fritz died on April 19, 1984. The author of The Kennedy Mutiny does not appear to have a very high profile, has anyone ever interviewed him? What's the deal with his name?

Pseudonym, Coincidence....

Don't misunderstand my interest as shooting at the messenger. For one thing one of my favorite researchers George Michael Evica apparently, as many others took a keen interest in a

false assassination attempt,[with the knowledge of JFK] as part of a "orchestrated event" that was piggybacked into a real assassination........ So, years earlier I might have laughed the

idea to scorn, nowadays I'm not so sure.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The idea of Dealey Plaza having been a false assassination attempt that was co-opted has kicked around in assassination theory (and fiction) for some time. The tip-off that in the Fritz book case it is used as disinformation would be the claim of JFK's pre-knowledge. Among other preposterousness: Would he have dragged Jackie on such a trip?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Captain Will Fritz died on April 19, 1984. The author of The Kennedy Mutiny does not appear to have a very high profile, has anyone ever interviewed him? What's the deal with his name? Pseudonym, Coincidence...

Don't misunderstand my interest as shooting at the messenger. For one thing one of my favorite researchers George Michael Evica apparently, as many others took a keen interest in a false assassination attempt,[with the knowledge of JFK] as part of a "orchestrated event" that was piggybacked into a real assassination........ So, years earlier I might have laughed the idea to scorn, nowadays I'm not so sure.

Thanks for chiming in, Robert. This is my quandary, also. What's the deal with the name of "Will Fritz" who wrote this book in 2002 citing a plot by Edwin Walker to coordinate Dallas activists to pretend to kill JFK in Dallas on 11/22/1963?

We know the real Captain Will Fritz died in 1984. Is this a coincidence name? A pen-name? Why did he choose "Will Fritz" as his name?

If it's a pen-name, then there are many possibilities. One possibility is that the author actually started with a short manuscript he obtained from the widow of Will Fritz (for a tidy sum) and then proceeded to work it until he had his own 701 page book.

I say, "short," only out of guesswork. Will Fritz wasn't a writer. When he interviewed Lee Harvey Oswald on 11/22/1963, arguably the most important interview of the century, Will Fritz says he didn't take any notes.

This is not a writer.

Now, on 11/23/1963, as Will Fritz continued to interview Lee Harvey Oswald, he did take a few random notes, and he published these -- about two pages worth, always material we've seen a hundred times before.

This is not a writer.

But IMHO Will Fritz knew something that he didn't share. He dismissed the sworn affidavit of Dallas Deputy Sheriff Roger Craig, who insists he saw Lee Harvey Oswald enter a Green Rambler station wagon outside the TSBD only minutes after the JFK murder. Then, Craig said that in the very office of Will Fritz, he confronted Lee Harvey Oswald about that Green Rambler, and Oswald shot back, "That station wagon belongs to Ruth Paine! Don't you involve her in this!"

This, for Roger Craig, was proof of his claim, since he never mentioned the words, 'station wagon' to Lee Harvey Oswald, and yet Oswald shot back that it was a 'station wagon,' which was the truth.

Yet Will Fritz denied the whole scenario to the Warren Commission. It ruined Roger Craig, and made him look like an idiot and a rumor-monger to the whole world. Eventually (official sources say), after escaping two murder attempts, Roger Craig committed suicide.

Just who is the "Will Fritz" who wrote The Kennedy Mutiny? Was he the son? The nephew? The cousin?

Are we to suppose that this account of the JFK murder originally came from Captain Will Fritz? What part?

Again -- I suspect that there is a grain of truth in this book -- namely -- that Edwin Walker and the "Friends of Walker" really did plan and execute the murder of JFK in Dallas, and Will Fritz was part of the plot, and really knew every detail of it.

According to this story, James Hosty and Forrest Sorrels were part of the Dallas plot.

I was hoping that somebody on the FORUM would help me answer these pressing questions. This book has been out for more than a decade. Surely somebody has read or heard something about it.

Best regards,

--Paul Trejo

Edited by Paul Trejo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The idea of Dealey Plaza having been a false assassination attempt that was co-opted has kicked around in assassination theory (and fiction) for some time. The tip-off that in the Fritz book case it is used as disinformation would be the claim of JFK's pre-knowledge. Among other preposterousness: Would he have dragged Jackie on such a trip?

David, I'm interested in the sources of your post here.

I'm not aware of any CT that claims that a false assassination attempt was co-opted. Where else does this idea arise?

Now, in the Fritz book, there is no talk about JFK's pre-knowledge -- none that I can see so far.

I agree with you that such an idea is preposterous, especially the notion that JFK would sit Jackie next to himself during a "false assassination attempt."

Yet as far as I can tell, this book by Will Fritz does not claim that.

Furthermore, as I examined the book again during lunchtime today, I noticed three items worth sharing:

(1) The front page says the following: "The man responsible for solving the murder of John F. Kennedy in 1963 was the Chief of Homicide for the Dallas police department. His name was J. William Fritz."

No further explanation is offered beyond that printed claim.

(2) Nowhere in the Prologue, Preface or Epilogue does the author explain who he is, or what his possible relationship to Captain Will Fritz might be. No clues at all.

(3) There was a handwritten note in the front page to call this number: 1-800-837-0109 x3215 because the person at that phone could contact the author. Well, I dialed it. The 800 number today connects us to the Law Offices of Javitch-Block, but the extension 3215 is "invalid" says the recording.

So far, no cigar.

But please, David, tell me where you've seen this bizarre theory of a false assassination attempt co-opted. I've never seen it before.

Best regards,

--Paul Trejo

Edited by Paul Trejo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The idea of Dealey Plaza having been a false assassination attempt that was co-opted has kicked around in assassination theory (and fiction) for some time. The tip-off that in the Fritz book case it is used as disinformation would be the claim of JFK's pre-knowledge. Among other preposterousness: Would he have dragged Jackie on such a trip?

David, I'm interested in the sources of your post here.

I'm not aware of any CT that claims that a false assassination attempt was co-opted. Where else does this idea arise?

Now, in the Fritz book, there is no talk about JFK's pre-knowledge -- none that I can see so far.

I agree with you that such an idea is preposterous, especially the notion that JFK would sit Jackie next to himself during a "false assassination attempt."

Yet as far as I can tell, this book by Will Fritz does not claim that.

Furthermore, as I examined the book again during lunchtime today, I noticed three items worth sharing:

(1) The front page says the following: "The man responsible for solving the murder of John F. Kennedy in 1963 was the Chief of Homicide for the Dallas police department. His name was J. William Fritz."

No further explanation is offered beyond that printed claim.

(2) Nowhere in the Prologue, Preface or Epilogue does the author explain who he is, or what his possible relationship to Captain Will Fritz might be. No clues at all.

(3) There was a handwritten note in the front page to call this number: 1-800-837-0109 x3215 because the person at that phone could contact the author. Well, I dialed it. The 800 number today connects us to the Law Offices of Javitch-Block, but the extension 3215 is "invalid" says the recording.

So far, no cigar.

But please, David, tell me where you've seen this bizarre theory of a false assassination attempt co-opted. I've never seen it before.

Best regards,

--Paul Trejo

I don't have the time to run it down, but the notion of a false assassination plot in favor of inciting war against Cuba or Russia is a trope that has appeared on the internet several times, in research or "research.". It had enough currency in the pre-internet age that Don DeLillo used it as the basis for his 1988 novel on Oswald, Libra. Its appearance there, in a mainstream novel that demonstrates a great deal of study of assassination literature, shows that the false assassination rumor has been "in the air" for some time.

I neither believe nor disbelieve the false assassination rumor: I've seen it mentioned on the internet, but have never seen it attributed to any person connected to the years 1960-1963. It's fine for fiction at this point, but should not be used in theory without attribution. Maybe someone in the community can cite an appearance of this theory in research, or "research."

I see that the idea of JFK's "pre-knowledge" was part of George Michael Evica's theory as reported above by Robert Howard, and not part of the Fritz book. I stand corrected.

Edited by David Andrews

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't have the time to run it down, but the notion of a false assassination plot in favor of inciting war against Cuba or Russia is a trope that has appeared on the internet several times, in research or "research.". It had enough currency in the pre-internet age that Don DeLillo used it as the basis for his 1988 novel on Oswald, Libra. Its appearance there, in a novel that demonstrates a great deal of study of assassination literature, shows that the false assassination rumor has been "in the air" for some time.

I neither believe nor disbelieve the false assassination rumor: I've seen it mentioned on the internet, but have never seen it attributed to any person connected to the years 1960-1963. It's fine for fiction at this point, but should not be used in theory without attribution. Maybe someone in the community can cite an appearance of this theory in research, or "research."

David,

Thanks for the feedback. DeLillo's Lone-Nutter novel on Lee Harvey Oswald was interesting as a novel -- and yes, the "false assassination" rumor does appear there -- but DeLillo does not offer a bibliography of his sources.

Also, DeLillo's book, LIBRA (1988), appears 14 years before THE KENNEDY MUTINY (2002). So, using Occam's Razor, I would guess that Captain Will Fritz produced a draft of his book, perhaps before he died in 1984, and Don DeLillo heard about it, and used it for his novel.

That's the easiest approach. Because I myself have never seen this theory in print at any other time.

Regards,

--Paul Trejo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Paul - I knew this would happen when I brought up Libra, so I'm taking the time to correct it.

Libra is not a lone nutter novel.

In the book, Oswald is brought into a conspiracy of which he has no foreknowledge, a conspiracy which attracts plotters and backers because it is a false-flag op allegedly designed to fire shots at JFK without hitting him, thus provoking war against Cuba-Russia.

The plot is co-opted by one of its originators and several of its ground crew into an actual assassination.

DeLillo didn't do the job we would all have liked him to do, because he doesn't know what happened, because you don't know what happened, because I don't know what happened. He hedged all bets, yet produced the best fictional portrait of Oswald from the then-available information. He chose to use the false assassination plot because it was, by 1988, one of the rumors surrounding the assassination.

He did not produce a lone-nutter novel. I would not be defending its merits if he did.

As it contains the rumored false assassination plot, it is ipso facto not a lone-nutter novel.

Can I get a witness, please?

Edited by David Andrews

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Paul - I knew this would happen when I brought up Libra, so I'm taking the time to correct it.

Libra is not a lone nutter novel.

In the book, Oswald is brought into a conspiracy of which he has no foreknowledge, a conspiracy which attracts plotters and backers because it is a false-flag op allegedly designed to fire shots at JFK without hitting him, thus provoking war against Cuba-Russia.

The plot is co-opted by one of its originators and several of its ground crew into an actual assassination.

DeLillo didn't do the job we would all have liked him to do, because he doesn't know what happened, because you don't know what happened, because I don't know what happened. He hedged all bets, yet produced the best fictional portrait of Oswald from the then-available information. He chose to use the false assassination plot because it was, by 1988, one of the rumors surrounding the assassination.

He did not produce a lone-nutter novel. I would not be defending its merits if he did.

As it contains the rumored false assassination plot, it is ipso facto not a lone-nutter novel.

Can I get a witness, please?

This is a good point, David. It was only my dim recollection that called it a "Lone Nutter" novel. Our University Library has a copy, so I got my hands on it today, and here are the reasons I jumped to that hasty conclusion:

(1) Starting on page 397, DeLillo describes a scene in which Lee Harvey Oswald is on the 6th floor of the TSBD building, aiming his Manlicher-Carcano rifle at the back of JFK.

(2) Lee hit JFK in the back with the first shot -- a short fire without much powder that probably didn't penetrate into JFK.

(3) Lee hit Governor Connally with his second shot.

(4) Then for the third shot (page 400) here is what DeLillo wrote:

Lee was about to squeeze off the third round, he was in the act, he was actually pressing the trigger. The light was so clear it was heartbreaking. There was a white burst in the middle of the frame. A terrible splash, a burst. Something came blazing off the President's head. He was slammed back, surrounded all in dust and haze. Then suddenly clear again, down and still in the seat. Oh he's dead he's dead. (Don DeLillo, 1988, LIBRA, p. 400)

(5) I think that back in 2010 when I first read that, David, I jumped to my conclusion that here was another Lone-Nutter book. I paid little attention to DeLillo after that (with regard to JFK research).

(6) But I missed something major. Here's what DeLillo says just one paragraph later:

He knew he'd missed with the third shot. Went wild. Missed everything. Maggie's drawers. He turned up the bolt handle....He was already talking to someone about this...Telling how he was tricked into the plot. (Don DeLillo, 1988, LIBRA, p. 400)

(7) One of the confusing aspects of DeLillo's novel (as with many novels) is that DeLillo likes flashbacks and flashforwards in time -- often out of nowhere, just to be clever, without clarifying his moves.

(8) In any case, a more careful reading of the text reveals that the real killer of JFK in this book, LIBRA (1988) was firing from the grassy knoll, and was given the name, "Raymo."

(9) So, the cleverness of the book got in the way of the story, IMHO. Now I must read it carefully, because the linkage with Will Fritz's 2002 book, THE KENNEDY MUTINY, also suggests that Lee Harvey Oswald was "tricked into the plot".

Therefore, David, I truly appreciate your citation; since it will help me piece together the common elements of the Will Fritz book with the DeLillo novel -- and find more clues about General Walker's role in the JFK murder.

Regards,

--Paul Trejo

Edited by Paul Trejo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The first 200 pages actually go like this:

"Oswald is brought into a conspiracy of which he has no foreknowledge, a conspiracy which attracts plotters and backers because it is a false-flag op allegedly designed to fire shots at JFK without hitting him, thus provoking war against Cuba-Russia.

"The plot is co-opted by one of its originators and several of its ground crew into an actual assassination."

You have to go through all this to get to "Raymo," and Oswald wouldn't be firing at anybody were it not for the abovementioned characters.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

William Robert "Tosh" Plumlee has claimed that he was part of an "abort" team, who knew about an impending assassination attempt, and was sent to Dallas to thwart it. [Obviously, they were unsuccessful.]

My point is...there seems to have been considerable foreknowledge about an assassination attempt in Dallas...fake or not...if you believe several of the stories that have been floated out there for years. Separating wheat from chaff, without preconceptions, is quite difficult.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The first 200 pages actually go like this:

"Oswald is brought into a conspiracy of which he has no foreknowledge, a conspiracy which attracts plotters and backers because it is a false-flag op allegedly designed to fire shots at JFK without hitting him, thus provoking war against Cuba-Russia.

"The plot is co-opted by one of its originators and several of its ground crew into an actual assassination."

You have to go through all this to get to "Raymo," and Oswald wouldn't be firing at anybody were it not for the abovementioned characters.

David, many thanks for that summary of this famous novel by Don DeLillo, one of the most famous American novelists still living.

So -- let's talk a little bit about this notion that Lee Harvey Oswald is brought into a conspiracy that attracts many precisely because it is a plot to "miss" JFK -- and still provoke war against Cuba/USSR.

Now -- my theory here has since 2010 stated that Edwin Walker in Dallas plotted to kill JFK for the specific purpose of provoking a war against Cuba/USSR.

So -- I already like THE KENNEDY MUTINTY and LIBRA plots.

However -- why bother pretending that the goal of the operation is to "miss" JFK, when JFK had so many enemies among the rightists in the USA? How would "missing" JFK be more effective in provoking war against Cuba/USSR than actually killing him? The appeal isn't quite clear to me.

Well, one might reply -- because of the "harmless" nature of the plot, it would, as you say David, "attract plotters and backers." In other words, it just sounds less risky, and so might garner wider support.

That is something I hadn't considered before, but will consider in the future. It still sounds superfluous, but it might have a practical side.

It is interesting that both the book by Will Fritz and the book by Don DeLillo repeat this theme.

I am unaware of any other books in the JFK literature that repeat this theme of a plot to "miss" JFK.

If readers here can name no others -- then I believe I have a justification to propose that DeLillo used a non-published copy of THE KENNEDY MUTINY to write his famous novel, LIBRA.

Best regards,

--Paul Trejo

Edited by Paul Trejo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

############################################################################################

http://22november1963.org.uk/jfk-fiction-propaganda-media

The raison d’être of the Warren Report was to enable an uncritical news media to “convince the public that Oswald is the real assassin” (HSCA Report, appendix vol.3, p.472). The unreliability of much of the evidence in the case, as well as an institutional need to impose one particular interpretation of the evidence, has allowed the JFK assassination to remain the subject of fiction and propaganda.

Fiction and Drama

Don DeLillo, Libra (available from Amazon), from one of the finest literary stylists around, has a dénouement that comes as a surprise, not least for the main character.

Norman Mailer, Oswald’s Tale (available from Amazon), is a very long fictionalised biography of Lee Oswald. It is based on some dubious sources, so the art is better than the science.

Stephen King, 11.22.63 (published as 11/22/63 in the US), uses an established fictional device by sending its invented hero, Jake Epping, back in time to interact with a real historical event. King’s novel is almost as long as Mailer’s, but can probably be read in half the time.

Oliver Stone, director, JFK (Warner Brothers, 1991; available from Amazon), was probably the pivotal factor in the rejuvenation of public interest in the assassination, and in the consequent governmental activity that resulted in the establishment of the Assassination Records Review Board. Although very slick and professionally made, the film attracted a wide range of criticism:

  • Those with a stake in promoting the lone–nut interpretation seized on the film’s reliance upon questionable sources and the way it obscured the distinction between contemporary footage and reconstructions.
  • More knowledgeable audiences questioned the film’s use of a relatively trivial aspect of the case, the investigation by Jim Garrison, as the main structural device. Given the economics of the mass media and popular film–making, however, a cliché Hollywood storyline was probably the only practical way to get critical information onto a large number of screens.
  • In the eyes of some viewers, the director made a tactical error in placing too much dramatic weight on one speculative theory about the nature of the conspiracy, and too little on the fact of Oswald’s innocence. This allowed the print and broadcast media to misrepresent the issue as a simple choice between Stone’s theory and the lone–nut theory.

The Media Fight Back

The notion that Lee Harvey Oswald had anything to do with the assassination is very much a minority point of view among those with any appreciable knowledge of the subject. It is still, however, the default position in newspaper and television coverage.

Media institutions surely recognise that any serious questioning of the official lone–nut explanation is an attack on the institutions which devised and originally promoted that explanation. Despite its deficiencies, the film JFK was such an attack.

The press campaign against JFK began even before filming had finished, when a draft version of the script was obtained in dubious circumstances. The most pertinent and revealing criticism was aimed not at the film itself but at the Hollywood system for its failure on this occasion to keep unwelcome ideas hidden. For a brief overview of the print media’s attitude to JFK, see two articles by writers from opposite ends of the political spectrum:

Gerald Posner’s Case Closed: Praise and Criticism

With the Warren Report widely recognised to be the discredited product of a dishonest process, it was necessary to find a new holy book to which the media priesthood could defer. Gerald Posner, Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK (Random House, 1993; ISBN 0–4000–3462–0) filled the gap. The book was heavily promoted, and achieved an enormous amount of uncritical coverage. Reviews were generally entrusted to those who could be relied on not to delve too far into the subject.

As with the Warren Report, Case Closed received a serious beating from those with the motivation to look under the surface. For example:

  • Case Closed or Posner Exposed? offers a wide range of critical reviews. Peter Dale Scott’s review sums it up: “Posner often transmits without evaluation official statements that are now known to be false, or chooses discredited but compliant witnesses who have already disowned earlier helpful stories that have been disproven. He even revives a wild allegation which the Warren Commission rejected, and reverses testimony to suggest its opposite.”
  • David Wrone, ‘Review of Gerald Posner, Case Closed’, Journal of Southern History, 6 (February 1995), pp.186–88. See also Wrone’s The Zapruder Film: Reframing JFK’s Assassination, in which he offers more criticism of Case Closed and describes it, not without reason, as “one of the most error–ridden works ever published on the assassination.” (p.117)
  • John Newman, ‘Case Closed Doesn’t Close the Oswald File’, Baltimore Sun, 22 September 1993, was one of the few critical reviews to appear in the corporate media.
  • Harold Weisberg, Case Open: The Omissions, Distortions and Falsehoods of Case Closed (Carroll and Graf, 1994; ISBN 0–7867–0098–X). Weisberg provided Gerald Posner with access to his huge collection of JFK assassination files. He goes into details about Posner’s methods, and suggests that Case Closed was not entirely Posner’s own work. Although Weisberg’s book is informative, his prose style is often clumsy and occasionally almost unreadable. For example: “Posner’s parenthetical explanation of hardened jackets on military ammunition, not the only one he gives, those he does give not being consistent either with each other or with the provisions of that Geneva international agreement on this that he does not mention, if he knows about it, that it is to ‘increase its penetration’ is consistent with the need of Posner’s fabrication.” (pp.150–1) Weisberg made a huge contribution to research on the JFK assassination, but the size of his audience was severely limited by the lack of editorial restraint over his writing style. An expanded version of Case Open, entitled Hoax, is available online in PDF at the Harold Weisberg archive at Hood College, along with Weisberg’s 1000–page unpublished and probably unpublishable manuscript, Inside the Assassination Industry, which criticises Posner along with several other well–known writers on the assassination, including Mark Lane, Harrison Livingstone and David Lifton.
  • Martin Cannon, ‘Compromised Reporting’, Lobster, 28 (December 1994), discusses Posner’s ethics, accusing him of misquoting witnesses and even inventing interviews.

The final nail in the coffin of Gerald Posner’s credibility was probably the repeated accusations of plagiarism made against him. See, for example, ‘Posner Plagiarizes Again,’ Miami New Times and ‘More Posner Plagiarism,’ Slate.

Rehabilitating the Lone Nut Theory

Vincent Bugliosi, Reclaiming History (W.W. Norton, 2007; ISBN 0–393–04525–0), acknowledged some of the problems with Posner’s book, and endeavoured to replace it as the definitive lone–nut account. One reviewer, Gary Aguilar, whom Bugliosi consulted when writing his book, calls Reclaiming History “an historic and important contribution. It is valuable … as a reference for the myriad facts in the case and for debunking some of the pro–conspiracy codswallop that has not elsewhere already been debunked.” But Aguilar is less enthusiastic about Bugliosi’s “arrogant condescension … [his] conclusions–driven narrative … his errors of fact and interpretation and … his snarky, self–congratulatory tone.”

Reclaiming History was let down also by its length: it comprises one printed volume of 1500 pages and a CD–ROM containing a further 1000 pages. Unsurprisingly, it appears to have sold poorly, and is currently out of print. Part of the book has since been published as Four Days in November (ISBN 0–393–33215–2; also available as an ebook). There is a long and extremely informative review of Bugliosi’s Reclaiming History by James DiEugenio that has occasionally appeared on the www.ctka.net site, and a more concise one by Gaeton Fonzi.

Bonar Menninger, Mortal Error: The Shot That Killed JFK (St. Martin’s Press, 1992; ISBN 0–312–08074–3; available in abridged form as an audio book), offers the most plausible non–conspiratorial account of the assassination. Menninger is a journalist rather than a researcher. He reports the theory of a ballistics expert, Howard Donahue, that President Kennedy was killed accidentally by a Secret Service agent.

Donahue seized on the fact that Kennedy’s head wound was caused by a soft–nosed bullet, a type designed to break into fragments on impact, while the non–fatal wounds were caused by metal–jacketed bullets, which were designed to remain intact on impact. All of the bullet shells discovered on the sixth floor were part of the same batch, and must have contained the same type of bullet, so the fatal shot must have come from a different source. Donahue discovered a photograph, taken a few seconds after the assassination, which shows an automatic rifle being held aloft by one of the Secret Service agents in the car behind Kennedy. That type of rifle was able to fire the correct type of bullet. Ergo, as Menninger would put it, the agent shot Kennedy.

The theory fails for many reasons, not least that:

  • of the dozens of nearby witnesses, not one saw or heard the agent fire his gun;
  • and, more conclusively, the home movie by Charles Bronson shows that the agent’s gun did not have unobstructed access to Kennedy at the moment of the fatal shot.

The Secret Service agent, George Hickey, applied to sue Menninger and the book’s publishers for libel, claiming that publication went ahead even though Menninger, Donahue and their publisher had been shown the Bronson film and were aware that it invalidated their theory. Hickey was reported to have settled for a payment out of court.

Although the publishers were no doubt motivated more by the prospect of sales than by a concern with accuracy, it is the behaviour of the media that is noteworthy. As with Case Closed and Reclaiming History, reviews of Mortal Error were mostly entrusted to writers whose knowledge of the case was so weak that they were not aware that Charles Bronson’s film contradicted the whole premise of the book.

The Future of the Lone–Assassin Theory

To win acceptance by the media in 1964, the Warren Report only needed to clear a very low hurdle. Three decades later, the lone–nut baton had been handed to Case Closed. That book passed the same easy test, but is now too badly hamstrung to do so again.

In 2001, Rex Bradford summed up the attitude of the media nicely:

A thought experiment may be helpful at this point. Imagine that it is 1963, the height of the Cold War, but it is not Kennedy who has been killed. It is Nikita Khrushchev, leader of the Soviet Union, recently humiliated by the U.S. during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

In this thought experiment, it is Khrushchev, not Kennedy, who received a military autopsy whose results ran directly counter to the reports of the civilian doctors who first treated him. Imagine that later one of the autopsy doctors admitted that a Soviet general ran the autopsy, and that this doctor said he was
; that crucial autopsy photographs known to be taken went missing; that trained medical witnesses disputed what was shown in those that remained; that the official autopsy camera went missing after an investigation failed to match it to the photographs.

Imagine it was Russia where the security services destroyed evidence linking themselves with the purported killer, who was declared to be a lone “rabid capitalist,” but who seemed to be surrounded for the last year of his life by KGB operatives; that secret evidence finally revealed that the purported killer
in a supposed phone conversation with CIA agents.

But Khrushchev’s successor, without revealing the impersonation, had led those investigating the crime to think that the alleged assassin had indeed made these disturbing calls, and there might be nuclear war with America if this got out.

And so on. Take the
, the killing of the alleged assassin while in police custody, and all the rest of the JFK assassination story, including the fact that the murder was followed by a major expansion of a war, a war that secret documents years later showed Khrushchev had ordered be wound down.

Everyone in the U.S., from the New York Times to the man on the street, would have a field day with this scenario. It would be completely
that Khrushchev was killed by his own political enemies with the help of the KGB, for political reasons.
It would be obvious that the “story” of the lone capitalist was just that, a story, propped up by phoney “evidence” that would be completely disbelieved. You wouldn’t need 1/10th of the evidence pointing toward a
that is present in the JFK assassination to convince just about anybody of this.

… What is fundamentally different between this thought experiment and the reality of the Kennedy assassination is not the basic facts — it is a matter of belief systems. For a great many people, it is simply not possible that an assassination of a President would be carried out by powerful domestic political figures, even though they would be perfectly willing to believe it of the Soviets or almost any other country’s leaders. Even imagining that high U.S. officials would lie and engage in cover–up in such a matter is unthinkable to many, and certainly unspeakable in the nation’s “responsible” media.

(
)

The print and broadcast media’s overwhelmingly one–sided depiction of the Kennedy assassination has reflected nothing more sinister than its standard identification with established power. Five decades after the event, however, the killing of President Kennedy is perhaps no longer considered to be part of modern history, and no longer subject to all the consequent restrictions on expression. It will be interesting to see how the media cope with the fiftieth anniversary in 2013.

Edited by Steven Gaal

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...