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Jim Garrison: Some Unauthorized Comments on the State of the Union


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11 hours ago, James DiEugenio said:

That comment sort of made Ike's warning a reality.

Good point; it brings it full circle. I know many people who were really struck by that inclusion in the Stone film.

This is another quote that I liked in the Garrison interview: "The real function of the FBI investigation and the Warren Commission inquiry was to conceal the involvement of United States intelligence agents in the murder of John Kennedy."

Very simple and direct,  and it would still serve to educate a lot of folks who haven't gone deeply into the case.

Wise of him to do this in Europe in order to avoid distortion in the American press. Fascinating that you spoke with his secretary. 

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I was actually the first person to go down to New Orleans and interview people who were involved with the JG inquiry.

It really surprised me.  I mean no one had done any real systematic inquiry down there.  I don't think Bugliosi knew where Clinton and Jackson even were.

But I decided to do it and I went down there about four times total.  It was really an educational experience.  Not just the interview subjects but going through the various archives down there like the Royal New Orleans collection.  God and my interview with Harry Connick!  I was the guy who inadvertently discovered that he had incinerated much of the Garrison files that he left behind.  I brought down an inventory list by the HSCA.  It was for one four drawer file cabinet. He brought in an assistant and asked him about it.  The guy said, "Yeah, we still have it."  Connick's eyes got  big and he said, "We still have that stuff?"  From that reaction i suspected what he had done.  This was verified later.  I sent the tape of that interview to the ARRB.  Tom Samoluk said, "Jim, none of us is going to New Orleans."  

The ARRB had to file suit to get that cabinet.

Edited by James DiEugenio
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22 hours ago, James DiEugenio said:

It was really an educational experience.  Not just the interview subjects but going through the various archives down there like the Royal New Orleans collection.  God and my interview with Harry Connick! 

That is really interesting. It would be great if you were to write a piece about this from the perspective of what you know now, in 2019. I recall in another post in this forum, not long ago, you saying how all the folks in Clinton were hip to Oswald's visit with Shaw - how it was considered common knowledge.

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Jim

It seems that Garrison was way too close to the truth, given the extraordinary resistance his investigation received.  His investigation was undermined by scores of "researchers" and "authors" spreading disinformation and using pseudonyms with questionable curriculum vitae (Patricia Lambert/Patsy Ruth, Steven Roy/David Blackburst , Lynne Foster, Gus Russo) and a score of hostile media too many to mention. On the same day that Ferrie was being taken out, Eladio del Valle was murdered ... right about the time that Garrison's inquiry had been coincidentally infiltrated by Bernardo de Torres, a principal character of interest. Garrison countered almost everything that the Warren Commission concluded: he more correctly characterized Oswald as a decoy, patsy and victim (not the loner as he is historically portrayed) ... exposing him as a person working in intelligence circles. Garrison shed light on what was being orchestrated with Oswald in New Orleans, and further dramatized in Mexico City.  Garrison's work makes it clear that the HSCA should have indicted Anne Goodpasture and David Phillips. No less than John Rosselli (with the help of Edward P. Morgan and Jack Anderson) began a sophisticated cover story about a Castro retaliation plot - classic disinformation - as a false lead to throw the Garrison investigators off the trail of the assassins. Rosselli (likely with the help of the CIA Clandestine Services) constructed a perfect cover for Trafficante and the Cubans, should they be exposed. I therefore understand why you would concentrate on Garrison, because it illuminates the details of the plot and leads to the identities of the plotters. This is similar to what Vincent Salandria said about the Michael and Ruth Paine's actions branding them as "clear beacons leading to the killers".  I also like the analogy used by Joan Mellen in "Farewell to Justice" where one can use a barometer for who was working for CIA (or sympathetic to a hostile agency) by how they felt about Jim Garrison.  I used to enjoy and respect Johnny Carson, but when you see his hostile reception and treatment of Garrison on the Tonight Show, it is troubling.  So, here is my question: in your work with Destiny Betrayed, did you find evidence of the opposite nature?  People who believed Garrison was on the right path, and tried to right the wrongs and publish the truth?  People of conscience who saw through all of the subterfuge and disinformation. Or was the deck simply too well stacked?

Gene

 

 

 

 

 

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Hinckle at Ramparts and Art Kunkin at LA Free Press were the only ones trying to present the case he had in a fair manner.

Kunkin was the guy who discovered Phelan had rented a house in New Orleans at Shaw's trial and was gathering all the reporters there at night to coordinate the next day stories.

To show you just how bad the MSM was on Garrison, everyone recalls the four night propaganda piece that CBS prepared and which management overruled the employees in order to back the WC. They  then used McCloy as a consultant without telling the public.  And lied about it after.

(https://kennedysandking.com/john-f-kennedy-articles/why-cbs-covered-up-the-jfk-assassination)

Well, the guy they sent down to interview Garrison first was Joe Wershba, who Roger Feinman liked and admired.  Well Wershba made a mistake.  He tried to treat Garrison fairly.  So therefore, JG came off kind of well. I know since I saw the transcript.  That was a no no for CBS president Dick Salant, who  micro managed the project once he took it over from the producers. 

So what happened?  Salant had Wershba's interview with JG  deep sixed. And then sent in Mike Wallace to redo it.  Wallace was his usual reliable self and got in all the smear stuff and that is what ran.

That article I wrote based upon the materials that Feinman spirited out of CBS was the most detailed expose of just how far the media would go in silencing any critical reporting on the Warren Commission.  Anyone who says the contrary is simply ignorant or a stooge.  It is an object lesson in how the Power Elite (McCloy in this case) crosses over and meets with the media managers (Salant in this case), to make sure that the former's spin of the facts is presented to the public and the dissenters are marginalized and ridiculed.

Roger Feinman made that article possible. He paid the price of sacrificing his career at CBS. 

Edited by James DiEugenio
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9 hours ago, Gene Kelly said:

I used to enjoy and respect Johnny Carson, but when you see his hostile reception and treatment of Garrison on the Tonight Show, it is troubling. 

 

Right after the RFK assassination, Carson dispensed with his usual format one night and had a roundtable discussion on whether we live in a violent or sick society. The only participant I remember besides Carson was the comedian Alan King. IOW they were discussing whether American society is to blame, like we're all a bunch of lone nuts, for the assassinations. Any questioning of the official government version of events was not even considered. It was all about what's wrong with the American people. The only conclusion from the discussion that I remember (what was there to conclude?) was Alan King's announcement that he was through telling jokes.

 

 

Edited by Ron Ecker
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On January 31, 1968, New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison appeared on the Tonight Show to discuss his investigation into government involvement in the assassination.  Carson devoted more than half of his then 90-minute program to the DA from Orleans Parish.  In those days, the show was still broadcast live from New York, making it edgier, less predictable and, sometimes, dare it be said, thought-provoking. Mort Sahl, a political satirist and occasional Tonight guest, paved the way for Garrison's appearance. Sahl had begun eschewing comedy for political lectures after the assassination, and was one of Garrison's many "volunteer investigators," who put themselves at the disposal of the DA.  Sahl had previously appeared on the Carson show, discussed the assassination, and asked the audience if they would like to hear from Garrsion directly. The response was so affirmative that it left Carson and the network with no alternative, and a telegram requesting his appearance arrived a few days later. Sahl persuaded Carson that, if Tonight was to give Garrison the venue to explain his evidence, everything would become transparent.

When Garrison showed up at the NBC studio the afternoon of his scheduled appearance, he later wrote that "three or four well-dressed men," apparently NBC lawyers, entered the room and started grilling him for several hours. Carson himself, "stiff and ill at ease," popped in for some small chat and then just as quickly disappeared. A few hours later, Garrison was back for the taping. Carson's "small humorless eyes, like a pair of tiny dark marbles, were fixed on me," writes Garrison. The talk show host fired off questions from a list prepared for him by the NBC lawyers. Garrison refused to play along with the pre-arranged script. Carson out of frustration finally asked why the government would still be concealing evidence. In a response that evoked a palpable response from the studio audience, Garrison responded:

“Don't ask me, John … ask Lyndon Johnson. You know he has to have the answer."

A January 2005 article written by freelance journalist Larry Chin describes the interview. Over the course of 90 minutes, the smiles and laughs went silent. Carson, America’s nighttime friend, was the assassin. He badgered, belittled, and mocked Garrison, repeatedly interrupting Garrison as he made an impassioned plea to the audience to question the official story. Garrison handled himself quite well during the broadcast and didn’t lose his cool, even though Carson interrupted him on numerous occasions, as it became evident that Johnny wasn't buying into the story. When Garrison attempted to show the photograph of the “Three Tramps”, Carson made sure America would not see it. He yanked Garrison’s arm aside and cut the cameras. What happened in the next few seconds was unsettling.  As Garrison held the pictures in front of the camera, Carson "lunged at my arm like a cobra, pulling it down violently so that the pictures were out of the camera's view. 'Photographs like this don't show up on television,' he said sharply." Garrison later mused:

“Why had I been debriefed in advance so that Carson could be apprised of my likely answers? Why had Carson pulled my arm away so that the photographs were out of camera range? And why had the director and the control room switched the camera so that the photographs could not be seen? The only reasonable, realistic explanation, I found myself concluding, was control. Some long-cherished illusions of mine about the great free press in our country underwent a painful reappraisal during this period. The restraint and respect for justice one might expect from the press did not exist”.

One series of questions and answers was particularly prophetic:

Garrison: "I am trying to tell you that there is no question as a result of our investigation that an element of the Central Intelligence Agency of our country killed John Kennedy, and that the present administration is concealing the facts. There is no question about it at all."

Carson: "That is your opinion."

Garrison: "No, it is not. I know it, and if you will just wait you will see that history will support this as fact." 

One critic wrote that the “unholy alliance between the media and the government,” in covering up government crimes, was evident that night. By 9:00 am the next morning, Garrison had received more than 2,000 telegrams from district attorneys across America, who felt that Carson’s “nervous antagonism,” was a sign that Garrison was onto something. Feeling the need to apologize for Carson’s demeanor, NBC sent out thousands of form letters saying, “The Johnny seen on TV that night was not the Johnny we all know and love. He had to play the devil’s advocate, because that makes for a better program.” Carson was furious about NBC’s letter, and promised never to allow Garrison on his program again.  Mort Sahl was never invited back to the Tonight Show. Steve Allen, the original host of the Tonight Show, had another talk show at this time and invited both Garrison and Sahl on, but also invited critic Bob Dornan on that same panel, who effectively derailed the interview (and Mort Sahl's career in the process). Sahl presciently summarized the assassination plot as follows:

“The scenario points toward a coalition of anti-Castro, Cuban exiles, oil rich psychotics, according to the district attorney in Texas, retired militarists, various voices of the right. That is at an operational level of the conspiracy and at the planning level. The Cubans were a good setup up because they were disenchanted with the Kennedy administration and also, they were lawless. You've got to remember that these informants who worked for the CIA along the way, if you have government by hoodlum, what are you spawning?  The CIA keeps them on staff for 20 years and gives them a watch at the end of their service. This undercover thing of doing what you want to, and countermanding orders of the President, and writing blank checks, and not being checked by the Congress, spawns a government by hoodlums.”

Carson played the role of "Devil's advocate" but he played the role too well which "surprised" viewers by the thousands, who complained to NBC the next day, that Johnny was a very rude host. Carson challenged Garrison at every point and turn, to point of being uncomfortable when you hear how Carson is all over him. Garrison, to his credit, stays very cool, wins the audience over, and frustrates Carson. A broadcast media blog wrote that "Garrison in contrast is wonderful, and the exchange between the two is amazing". Today, we think of Johnny Carson as charming, epitomizing the goodness of middle America.  His Garrison interview - the one glaring moment that exposed Carson (as Jim Marrs states) as a servant of larger forces - continues to be studiously avoided. Carson had the power to change the world on that night in 1968, but he chose to use that power to destroy a courageous whistleblower, kill truth, and keep America naïve and stupid. Near the end of the awkward, occasionally tense, 48-minute segment, Carson aptly stated that Garrison's grand conspiracy was "a much larger fairy tale than to accept the findings of the Warren Report."  Jim Garrison concluded the Tonight interview with this statement.

"Am I asking the people of America to believe all this? I'm doing more than that! I am trying to tell the people of America that the honor of this country is at stake. And if we don't do something about this fraud. We will not survive. And there is no way to survive if we don't bring out the truth about the how our President was killed four years ago. And the investigation by the Warren Commission wasn't even close.  

Walter Sheridan, who authored the Frank McGee "white paper" entitled “The Case against Jim Garrison” discredited and defamed Garrison publicly.  NBC was not going to allow a rebuttal of their white paper on national TV, and prepared Carson in advance; in other words, it wasn't an interview. But by the end of the show, the audience became sympathetic to Garrison, and Carson was humiliated.  

 

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What happened with Mort Sahl was even more direct.

Mort was waiting back stage. After the show Carson was so angry he confronted him with: "You will never be on this show again!"  And he was not until Jay Leno took it over.

As you note, the key was the NBC special on Garrison that had aired previously.  There was no way on earth that the Sarnoffs were going to let Garrison have a fair shake.  And at that time, Carson had not renegotiated his contract.  Therefore his career was pretty much in their hands.  He went along with it.

BTW, all you need to know about what a "free press" we have in this country is this fact: the NBC hatchet job, the CBS 4 hour propaganda machine, and then Johnny's briefing all came within a few months of each other.  

BTW, NBC and Carson realized what a black eye that was on Carson's career so they deep sixed it. For decades there was only an audio of it available. In recent years, there have been certain videos on TV but I have never seen the entire show.  

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21 hours ago, Ron Ecker said:

Right after the RFK assassination, Carson dispensed with his usual format one night and had a roundtable discussion on whether we live in a violent or sick society. The only participant I remember besides Carson was the comedian Alan King. IOW they were discussing whether American society is to blame, like we're all a bunch of lone nuts, for the assassinations. Any questioning of the official government version of events was not even considered. It was all about what's wrong with the American people. The only conclusion from the discussion that I remember (what was there to conclude?) was Alan King's announcement that he was through telling jokes.

 

 

That is interesting Ron.  For more than one reason.  But I recall one night after the RFK murder where Truman  Capote came on and he questioned the whole motif of the major assassinations. He said that the idea that all of these men would have diaries was weird.  He was a writer and he did not have a diary.  But Oswald and Sirhan did?  It would not surprise me if Carson did the other show to counteract Capote. 

BTW, Melanson wrote about the Capote appearance in his book on the RFK case. Carson really showed his true colors with those cases.  

Edited by James DiEugenio
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That interview is shocking to watch and listen to ... I was a fan of Carson (as was everyone) in those days, but he really showed his true colors.  I would assume many folks in those days (me included) had no idea how well-informed (or who) Jim Garrison was, and how close he was to a more truthful account of JFK's murder.  That fact was effectively suppressed from the public for many years.  The interview occurred at the end of the chaotic 60's when I was a senior in high school; Bobby would be killed that coming June, race riots were erupting all over, and we would all soon find out about the evil of Richard Nixon. The Vietnam War subsequently polarized the country, and we started to acknowledge the unthinkable (at the time) ... namely, that our government would deceive us. Trust in government and politicians became lost. The night of my college graduation was the Watergate break-in, and it all went downhill for the next 5 years.  There was some hope when the limited hangout known as the HSCA was formed from 1976-78 ... and that was thought to appease the public skepticism for a time.  Garrison had been effectively silenced, and remained out of the public eye for the next decade, content to author books on the subject.  Zachary Sklar, a professor of journalism at Columbia, altered that quiet ignorance in 1988 with publication of On the Trail of the Assassins. Oliver Stone obtained a copy of the book and bought the film rights with $250,000 of his own money, to prevent talk going around the studios about projects he might be developing.  The rest as they say, is history.

The media reaction to Stone was as vicious as that given Garrison himself.  A few weeks after Stone began shooting in May 1991, the Chicago tribune wrote that JFK was "an insult to the intelligence." Five days later, the Washington Post followed suit with a scathing article by George Lardner titled, "On the Set: Dallas in Wonderland" that used the first draft of the JFK screenplay to blast it for "the absurdities and palpable untruths in Garrison's book and Stone's rendition of it."  The article pointed out that Garrison lost his case against Clay Shaw and that he inflated his case by trying to use Shaw's homosexual relationships to prove guilt by association. Other critical articles soon followed. Anthony Lewis in the NYT stated that the film "tells us that our government cannot be trusted to give an honest account of a Presidential assassination."  Washington Post columnist George Will called Stone "a man of technical skill, scant education and negligible conscience."  Jack Valenti, then president and chief executive of the Motion Picture Association denounced Stone's film in a seven-page statement: "In much the same way, young German boys and girls in 1941 were mesmerized by Riefenstahl's "Triumph of the Will", in which Adolf Hitler was depicted as a newborn God. Both JFK and Triumph of the Will are equally a propaganda masterpiece and equally a hoax. Mr. Stone and Leni Riefenstahl have another genetic linkage: neither of them carried a disclaimer on their film that its contents were mostly pure fiction."  TIME magazine ranked it in "Top 10 Historically Misleading Films."  Historian David Wrone stated that "80 percent of the film is in factual error" and rejected the premise of a conspiracy involving the CIA and the military-industrial complex as "irrational."  Warren Commission attorney David Belin called the film "a big lie that would make Adolf Hitler proud". 

Strange praise, given that Stone's movie helped prompt the JFK Records Act and the AARB ... as we continued to kick the can forward.  Its no surprise that you've focused on the Garrison story in Destiny Betrayed ... and as Joan Mellen posits, you can tell which side people are on by how they react to the name Jim Garrison.  Even today, there are many good people that I know who have a very difficult time digesting all of this, and the government's behavior in 1963. 

 

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David Wrone said 80 % of the film JFK is in factual error?

That is not the case, and it pains me to write that since I like the professor.

In my book, The JFK Case: The Evidence Today I go through about the first  third of the film from the director's cut on the DVD.  There was not one scene that  was factually unsound.  

I then summarized the rest of the film and I thought that on the issue of dramatic license, allowing for when the script has Costner say, "let's speculate shall we" that the film was fairly accurate.  Some of the story has been made even stronger, like Kennedy's intent to withdraw from Vietnam and Clay Shaw's CIA status.  But the achievements of the ARRB have also been ignored.  So that media does a lot of CYA in that regard.

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