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Rex Stout and the JFK Assassination

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I recently came across an interesting story about the media and the JFK assassination. When the publishers were preparing Mark Lane's Rush to Judgment for the printers they sent the manuscript to Rex Stout. In 1965 Stout was an important figure in publishing. Stout's Nero Wolfe novels were extremely popular at the time. He was also the leader of the pressure group, the Authors League of America. Wolfe was one of the few writers in the US to come out as someone who suspected that a conspiracy had taken place. Stout knew about these things as he had a long background in military intelligence. An outspoken critic of Adolf Hitler in the 1930s he had been recruited by British Intelligence in 1940. He joined other American anti-fascist journalists such as Ed Murrow, John Gunter, Dorothy Thompson, Freda Kirchwey, Raymond Gram Swing, Edgar Ansel Mowrer, Leonard Lyons, William Shirer, Walter Winchell, George Seldes, William Allen White, Joseph Alsop, Herbert Agar, Geoffrey Parsons, Ralph Ingersoll, Elmer Davis, Ernest Angell and Carl Joachim Friedrich in helping the British cause.

In April 1941, the British Security Coordination (BSC) asked Stout and another agent, Allen W. Dulles, to establish the pro-intervention Fight for Freedom (FFF) group. This included a dirty tricks campaign against the America First Committee. When the USA came into the war after Pearl Harbor, this group of journalists were handed over to the OSS. In 1947 they came under the control of the CIA.

Stout and Seldes were about the only two who refused to accept the benefits of being protected by the CIA. They were outspoken critics of the CIA and FBI (Stouts FBI file was massive).

Stout was someone who had grave doubts about the Warren Commission Report and that is why the publisher sent him a copy of Rush to Judgment. He liked the book and agreed to write something for the book cover. As a result he came under attack from several people, including George Field, who was one of the intelligence figures who worked with Stout for the Fight for Freedom group. Field condemned Stout for promoting a book that was "undermining confidence in our democratic processes". Stout replied: "If the devil himself writes a book, and the publisher sends me an advance copy, asking for a quotable comment if I think it deserves one, and I read it and find it is a good job, I shall certainly say so. Also I regard Rush to Judgment as a useful contribution to a necessary controversy."

During the 1950s and 1960s Stout was involved in a running battle with Hoover. He went public about Hoover after he described Martin Luther King as the "biggest xxxx in the world". Stout said that: "Hoover is a megalomaniac, although I detest that word. He appears totally egocentric, and in addition to other things he is narrow-minded. I think his whole attitude makes him an enemy of democracy... I think he is on the edge of senility."

Stout decided to take on Hoover in his 1965 novel, The Doorbell Rang. The novel concerns the publication of The FBI Nobody Knows (1964) by Fred J. Cook. In the novel, the wealthy Mrs. Rachel Bruner buys 10,000 copies of Cook's book and sends them to persons of influence, including cabinet members, Supreme Court justices, members of Congress and heads of corporations. Bruner believes that as a result of her actions she is being persecuted by the FBI and employs Nero Wolfe to investigate the organization. Hoover was furious about what Stout said about him in the novel but was unable to do anything about it.


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