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UPI Reporter tells about the last day


Robin Unger
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I found this an interesting read, especially the part about the limo occupants and the caos at parkland.

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Merriman Smith was a legendary journalist and won the Pulitzer prize for his on the scene reporting of the assassination. He was friendly with LBJ. He killed himself after his son got killed in LBJ's war in Southeast Asia.

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I found this an interesting read, especially the part about the limo occupants and the caos at parkland.

Merriman Smith was a legendary journalist and won the Pulitzer prize for his on the scene reporting of the assassination. He was friendly with LBJ. He killed himself after his son got killed in LBJ's war in Southeast Asia.

Thanks Pat.

I must admit, i am not very familiar with Smith's work. !

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He several times mentions the bubble-top, but as we all know, there wasn't

a bubble top mounted on JFK's car during that motorcade.

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I found this an interesting read, especially the part about the limo occupants and the chaos at Parkland.

Minnesotan's Kennedy Assassination painting destined for Vatican

Minnesota native Mark Balma has painted Presidents before, including Ford, Reagan and George H.W. Bush, but they always posed and were depicted is a scene from their lives. Now, Balma has rendered a presidential work darker and much more spiritual.

It is a moment of history, a snapshot of the Kennedy assassination that was never captured by any camera.

"Mrs. Kennedy, after arriving at Parkland Hospital, refused to let go of the President," Balma explained, recalling one line in the Warren Commission Report that caught his attention. The First Lady had to be gently coaxed to release the mortally wounded President from her lap in the limousine, so he could be taken to the emergency room.

The 1963 murder in Dallas was the end of innocence for a generation of Americans, including the now 50 year old Balma. There is a distinct difference between this work and his earlier paintings.

"Well, in this painting, I really tried to capture the idea of both frenzy and yet a still moment. In the background, there are figures which are softer and even slightly blurred and almost like a movie still where there is motion in the background and where the most amount of refinement is in Mrs. Kennedy."

Full Article: http://www.kare11.com/news/news_article.aspx?storyid=138787

Note: To see details of the painting, watch the video. Be prepared for a 10 second ad at the beginning. http://www.kare11.com/video/player.aspx?aid=37288&bw=

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He several times mentions the bubble-top, but as we all know, there wasn't

a bubble top mounted on JFK's car during that motorcade.

Yes I was just wondering about that myself whilst reading the above article. Maybe he was rushing to get the account written down and just made a mistake but it seems an odd one to make over something that quite clearly was not on the car.

I was also interested to read that there was a 'mobile radio telephone' in the press bus. Does anyone know what one of these thing would have looked like back then? I wasn't evn aware there were any kind of 'mobile telephones' around that far back?

Sad to read he killed himself, didn't know that.

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He several times mentions the bubble-top, but as we all know, there wasn't

a bubble top mounted on JFK's car during that motorcade.

Yes I was just wondering about that myself whilst reading the above article. Maybe he was rushing to get the account written down and just made a mistake but it seems an odd one to make over something that quite clearly was not on the car.

I was also interested to read that there was a 'mobile radio telephone' in the press bus. Does anyone know what one of these thing would have looked like back then? I wasn't evn aware there were any kind of 'mobile telephones' around that far back?

Sad to read he killed himself, didn't know that.

Gotta wonder about the artist's agenda too. He made a point in his interview of saying the painting wasn't about conspiracy theories, it was about "closure."

Closure my ass. This is an unsolved crime. The criminals all profited richly. President Kennedy did not get justice. The cover-up continues as his reputation and accomplishments are strategically distorted.

The investigation continues and the truth will be told. And even then there will be no friggen "closure."

...Nice painting though.

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ON MERRIMAN'S SMITH'S ROLE IN THE CORPORATE MEDIA'S LEGITIMATION OF THREE SHOT SEQUENCE:

"During the shooting, Merriman Smith of (UPI) was seated in the same pool car as Bell.

LIKE BELL HE DID NOT SEE THE EVENT BUT DID HEAR THE SHOTS(my emph) Over the

pool cars radiophone...

(one journalists perception (rendition?) becomes socialized to a bussload of reporters under pressure, because, well they were in Dallas and got scooped by dressmaker in the Hit of the American Century. Even if you believe he was advanced dressmaker, try to imagine what these reporters were feeling, when they missed the shots because they were three vehicles (and a turn?) behind. Might they have professional motive for trusing Smith's perception(rendition?)

... he reported that "three shots were fired at President kennedy's motorcade in downtown Dallas'

Seeing but not knowing, hearing but not seeing, neither seeing nor hearing: such were the

foundations on which journalists built thier accounts of the event. As William Manchester later

said of Smith: Smith was not as astute a reporter as he seemed. Despite extensive experience

with weapons, he had thought the sounds in the plaza were three shots form an automatic

weapon, and in a subsequent message he identified them as bursts...

Note that bursts is an obsucure term in terms of number of bullets. This is different from the "three shots

were fired we are told he said over the "car's radiophone" (agreed that I dont know exactly what this means)

... But his speed was remarkable" Initial reports of th assassination, while rapidly transmitted,

thus dusplayed partial knowledge (Covering The Body, Zelizer, pp. 53-54)

Smith is later selected ( in an interestingly indirect (or directly in order to make it seem direct) manner

to be one of the three journalists with a shot of covering the Swearing In ceremony at the airport. Zelizer

describes Johnson's swearing-in as

one of the few times during the assassination weekend when journalists played an officially

recognized role as eyewitnesses. Three journalists agreed to serve as the press pool.

Merriman Smith of UPI said 'Jiggs Fauver(thread?) of the Whitehouse transportation office

grabbed me and said (Malcolm) Kilduff...

Former navy something, burried at Arlington after dying in 2003, Malcolm Kilduff served as Acting press

secretary for the Dallas trip. It was his first time as acting press secretary outside of DC. Check out how he

describes telling Johnson that Kennedy was dead, just minutes before telling the press:"I just gave my best shot, and I called him 'Mr. President,'" Kilduff recalled in 1988 for an Associated Press article marking the 25th anniversary of the assassination. "Lady Bird kind of screamed. ... She realized what I was saying." No

mention of Lyndon's reaction. Seem a bit odd? Maybe if you go by sound Ladybird was louder, but I still think the bearer of such news whould be focussed on something a little more newsworthy... or news-proof.

The Arlington Cemetary site claims that after informing Johnson about his new job in the above maner typed above "Fearing a widespread plot against other top-ranking officials, Johnson ordered Kilduff to withhold the announcement of Kennedy's death until Johnson was safely aboard Air Force One." Perhaps protesting too much(?) the Arlington site continues, " Kilduff's place in the assassination story came only by chance.

wanted a pool of three men immediately to fly back to Washington on Air Force One, the

Presidential Aircraft..... Down the stairs I ran and into the driveway, only to dicover Kilduff

had just pulled out in our telephone car. Charles Roberts ( of Newsweek) Sid Davis ( of

Westinghouse Broudcasting) and I implored a police officer to take us to the airport in his

squadcar' Davis went aboard the plane to cover the swearing in but did not return to

Washington. He INSTEAD SUPPLIED POOP COVERAGE OF THE EVENT TO A BUSLOAD OF

REPORTERS WHO ARRIVED AS THE PLANE TOOK OFF (my emphasis) (p. 57)

Without in anyway highlighting it, Zelizer has thus described two situtions in which one reporters narrative

is thus structurally ( and in perhaps a premeditaded manner?) transformed into a proclamation to buslaods

of reporters:

Said one reporter, "I shall not soon forget the picture in my mind, that man (Davis) standing

on the Trunk of a white car, his figure etched against the blue, blue Texas sky, all os us

massed around him at his knees as he told us of what had happened in that Crowded compartment

in Air Force One" (P. 57)

Note the way this journalist recalls the situation as if it had been sculpted like a rite of passage or some

party like at the end of Eyes Wide Shut ( frigin masterpiece, dont believe the idiot critics, but you have to see it on the big screen, or you will agree with the critics.)

Meanwhile BACK TO THE THREAD TOPIC MERRIMAN OF UPI

Shortly after the assassination in the professional journals, Merriman was "castigated for what they saw

as his selctive memory of what had happened. In (Mark) Lane's words, Smith "had been awarded the

Pulitzer Prize for his eyewitness reporting of the assassination. If ever one wishes t develop an agrument

against such awards, one need merely reread the Smith dispatches from Dallas in the light of the facts

now known, making allowances for the fact that standards which an historian might be expected to adhere to cannot be applied to a reporter" (p. 108)

Edited by Nathaniel Heidenheimer
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Another interesting thing about Smith's award-winning account is that it makes clear the first shot sounded different than the others. (James Tague focuses on this as well.) In 1966, after conspiracy books began raising doubt that Oswald acted alone, he wrote a follow-up article stating that the shots sounded different because he was passing b eneath an overpass by the TSBD. No such underpass exists, of course.

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The Man Who Named the Grassy Knoll

by Gary Mack, Curator

The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thirty-five years after the Kennedy assassination and speculation about a conspiracy, "grassy knoll" has become a generic term connoting hidden plots and subterfuge. But who coined the phrase? Until now the answer has remained elusive, yet newly-discovered information identifies the source as a member of the news media. Here's how it happened.

The Kennedy motorcade from Love Field through Dallas included a news "pool car" loaned by the telephone company. It was the fifth car behind President Kennedy. Riding in the right front was Malcolm Kilduff, Mr. Kennedy's acting press secretary. In the middle sat senior White House correspondent Merriman Smith of United Press International (UPI). Thanks to a long-standing agreement to alternate seats with the competing wire service, Associated Press (AP), Mr. Smith sat directly in front of the car's only radio telephone. In the back seat sat the AP's Jack Bell, Robert Baskin of The Dallas Morning News and Bob Clark of ABC News.

When the shots were fired, Mr. Smith's car rode several hundred feet behind the president. The reporter had time to hear and see reactions from the crowd and police escorts, one of whom, Bobby Hargis, immediately stopped, jumped off his Harley-Davidson and raced up the nearby hill to a low concrete wall, passing horrified spectators lying on the ground.

As officer Hargis ran, the pool car picked up speed entering the Triple Underpass to Stemmons Freeway and the wild race to Parkland Hospital. Mr. Smith grabbed the radio telephone and called the Dallas UPI office, which sent out his dispatch at 12:34, four minutes after the shooting. "Three shots were fired at President Kennedy's motorcade today in downtown Dallas," he reported, and news bulletins around the world began with that short statement.

Meanwhile, in Anna, Illinois, WRAJ-AM owner and manager Don Michel responded to the UPI teletype warning bells and relayed those early reports to his startled listeners. Fortunately, Mr. Michel did something few others had presence of mind to do. He saved the UPI dispatches and filed them away, figuring someday they would be valuable for history. He was right. Mr. Michel placed those rare pages on loan to The Sixth Floor Museum, where several have been on display since opening day in 1989.

One of the pages in our archive reveals that in a dispatch sent almost exactly 25 minutes after the assassination, Mr. Smith reported "Some of the Secret Service agents thought the gunfire was from an automatic weapon fired to the right rear of the president's car, probably from a grassy knoll to which police rushed."

No other news reports or witness interviews are known to contain the phrase "grassy knoll" at that time. In fact, tapes of local news coverage reveal that "grassy knoll" was later repeated by a few other reporters for several hours until investigators became convinced the shots originated from the old Texas School Book Depository. Yet it remains an historical fact that police and spectators immediately ran to the grassy knoll, not to the Depository building. And UPI's Merriman Smith reported it first.

Edited by Robin Unger
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Interesting that merriman also states that the president was face down " on the seat " being cradled in Jackies arms as she bent down over him.

Possibly to cover his head from view of spectators.

Was agent hills jacket over jfk's head at this point. ?

No mention of the jacket by Smith.

He also states that Connally was on his back on the FLOOR of the Limo, not lying back across the jump seats. ?

If that is right, it means that both he and nelly had to have jumped over the back of there jump seats.

That doesn't sound right to me. ?

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In regards to the Bubbletop.

I beleive that the limo may have been reffered to as the "Bubbletop Limo" as a generic term by the press pool.

Much the same as we call the Texas School Book Depository the " TSBD "

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