Reason and Rationality in Public Debate: The Case of JFK
Jim Fetzer and Douglas Horne
As an illustration of the depravity of the main stream media in this country today, I have been struck by the astute observations of Douglas Horne, who was the Chief Analyst for Military Records for the Assassination Records Review Board, a five-member civilian board entrusted with the responsibility for declassifying documents and records held by the CIA, the NSA, the FBI and the Secret Service, among other agencies of the government, created by an act of Congress in the wake of the resurgence of interest in the death of JFK generated by Oliver Stone’s film. They had been classified for 75 years by the Warren Commission on the ground of national security. If its conclusion–that JFK was assassinated by a lone, demented gunman named “Lee Harvey Oswald”–were true, however, there would have been NO “national security” aspect to this issue.
Moreover, by classifying them for 75 years (which just happens to correspond to the lifetime of an average American), they insured that no one who was living at the time would be available to contradict whatever those records might reveal. The House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), which reinvestigated the case in 1976-79, likewise decided to sequester many sensitive documents, especially those in the medical arena that contradicted its own conclusions, for 50 years, which Oliver Stone emphasized in his film, “JFK”. As those of us who have devoted ourselves to the evidence in this case are well aware, Oswald could not have committed the crime and was used as a “patsy” to distract attention from the conspirators, who included the CIA, the Joint Chiefs, anti-Castro Cubans and elements of local law enforcement. An overview of what we know about how it was done, who was responsible, and how it was covered-up may be found at “Dealey Plaza Revisited: What happened to JFK?” I have also interviewed Doug several times on “The Real Deal”, where those interviews are accessible at the following links:
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 13, 2010
INSIDE THE ARRB (2009)
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2010
INSIDE THE ARRB (2009), Part II
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 31, 2010
INSIDE THE ARRB (2009) Vol. V
The JFK Assassination: Still a Taboo Subject for the Mainstream Media in the United States
September 30th, 2011 8:37
Almost 48 years after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963, the mainstream media (MSM) in this country still treats it as a Taboo Subject. This is a strange state of affairs, given the MSM’s propensity to tout its own courage and independence, and its important role as the Fourth Estate in our democracy.Let me provide just two recent examples. Last year, as MSNBC “Hardball” host and moderator Chris Matthews interviewed the author of a book about the JFK assassination, he employed a sneering, dismissive tone toward all persons who are convinced there was a conspiracy to murder the 35th President–by implication, tarring all such people as misguided idiots, and irresponsible. As usual, he characterized such persons as nuts, cranks, crazy people, and conspiracy theorists (the ultimate insult employed by anyone still supporting the Warren Commission’s seriously flawed and unsupportable findings), and in a rather brutal and intellectually overbearing and arrogant manner, proclaimed that Lee Harvey Oswald was a crazy person, a lone nut, who killed JFK all on his own. In doing so, he was disagreeing with (and insulting) over 75% of the American people, but this didn’t seem to bother him.
The real question is, WHY does he continue to proclaim this stance in such an insistent manner? Aside from this issue, Matthews appears to be a pretty bright and well-informed guy. How, I asked myself, could he so loudly and insistently proclaim that the Warren Commission got it right, when there is so much overwhelming evidence that its conclusion cannot possibly be true? On this one issue he has consistently shown a very ugly, and obnoxious side of his personality–a “dark side,” if you will. I wondered last fall if he really believed the nonsense he was spouting, or whether he was reflexively adopting a stance he had been instructed to adopt in public. And if he had been so instructed, who provided him with his JFK assassination marching orders? Was it the management structure at MSNBC, or was it a cadre within the American intelligence community that remains fixated on this subject (and others that are crucial to the attitudes of Americans toward their own governmental institutions)?
Sadly, Keith Olberman and Rachel Maddow, two MSNBC journalists whom I highly respect most of the time, have also spoken derisively about “conspiracy theorists” and have painted anyone who believes that JFK was assassinated by a conspiracy with this overused tar brush.This past week, a new public opinion poll was released showing that the number of Americans who now trust the American government to “do the right thing all or most of the time” is at an all time low–it is now down to only 15% of those polled. CNN, in reporting this story and providing context, then proceeded to promote inaccurate history about the polling numbers in its background pieces on the story. CNN stated that under President Eisenhower, in the late 1950s, this trust figure was as high as 73% (which is true), and then falsely implied that this was as high as the trust figure had ever been.
THIS WAS UNTRUE. In his 1994 book “Arrogant Capital,” conservative author Kevin Phillips wrote that in January of 1964 this figure was 78%, and that this was the all-time high watermark for trust in the American government. He published a graph showing that from 1960 through January of 1964, the figure was continuously rising, and therefore, it is clear that the figure rose from 73% to 78% during the Presidency of John F. Kennedy, America’s 35th President: a rationalist who touted openness in government, who opposed withholding information from the American people, and who even gave a speech against secrecy and secret societies. (I published the graph used by Phillips as Figure 71, in my own book, “Inside the Assassination Records Review Board,” published in 2009 and still available at Amazon.com). Study of the graph reveals that this trust starting dropping precipitately after January of 1964.
The CNN talking heads and anchors proclaimed this past week that the primary reasons for the sharp decline of the high numbers seen in the late 1950s were the Vietnam War and Watergate. But this is only a half-truth, at best. They conveniently omitted mentioning when the figure was at its highest (at the end of JFK’s Presidency), and also conveniently chose not to mention that the rapid decline in confidence in the U.S. government began very shortly after the JFK assassination. It is clear to me when studying this graph (you can access it in either Phillips’ book or in mine), that the American people began to lose faith in the American government immediately after the JFK assassination; no doubt people smelled a rat when LIFE magazine, and later the Warren Report, began to blow smoke up our collective asses about how (and why) JFK was murdered.
The sharp decline on the graph accelerated in 1968. And what happened that year? Three things: the Tet Offensive in Vietnam (when the American people finally realized the USG had been lying to them about the conduct of the war and the prospects for victory); the Martin Luther King assassination; and the Robert F. Kennedy assassination. These two assassinations, like JFK’s, were all blamed on lone nut individuals acting on their own—and in each case, there is strong evidence that the official story is not true. The next sharp drop in confidence in the graph occurs between 1972 and 1976, and almost certainly reflects the Watergate scandal, and America’s unceremonious ejection from Vietnam, after losing a war for the first time. The nosedive in confidence continues at a rapid rate through 1980, and it is likely that one contributor was the unsatisfactory way in which the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) handled the JFK and MLK assassinations. The HSCA stirred up the muck of bad memories and feelings about those two events, and the electrified public which had demanded the Congressional investigations into the JFK and MLK murders was more than a bit nonplussed about the HSCA whitewash of both events.
So what happened this past week with CNN? I explain it in this way: if the high watermark for faith in the U.S. government during JFK’s presidency is event A, and the rapid decline in faith in government after January 1964 is event B, then the MSM could not mention A, without mentioning B and WHY it occurred. Event B (the loss in confidence in government) began immediately after the assassination, clearly caused by the government’s attempt to calm public opinion with soothing lies after JFK was murdered. NBC, CBS, and ABC (most of the time, but not all of the time) have all been participating in the same collective “groupthink”—namely, that Oswald was the lone assassin who killed JFK and that he did it all on his own—since December of 1963. The MSM would have us believe that that JFK’s assassination was the work of a lone malcontent, devoid of any political significance. CNN has now joined the club. FOX news is…well, FOX news; one week before air time, the network removed my interview clips (containing explosive new material which the producer had promised me would be used) from its 2003 documentary about the JFK assassination after network officials objected to the content.
The anchors and reporters employed by the mainstream networks have obviously been instructed by managing editors and company vice presidents that you do not mention the JFK assassination, unless it is to (1) blame Lee Harvey Oswald for the event; and (2) disparage any contrary views as the unstable thinking of “conspiracy theorists.” (A corollary to this pack mindset is that you don’t mention JFK in a historical context unless it is to disparage him or tear down his reputation–since doing so tends to make people not care as much about his assassination.) Event A could not be reported because it would have forced CNN to report event B. If CNN had reported event B, it would have highlighted the fact that the American media had missed the story of the century–had either been asleep at the switch, or muzzled by the government–from December of 1963 throughout 1964. (And indeed, for the most part, it has kept its head in the sand, like an ostrich, ever since the Warren Report came out as well.) The American media is not fond of reporting on its own failures. Doing so, in this case, would raise the ugly specter of why the mainstream media continues to aggressively promote an editorial position on this subject which is diametrically opposed to the opinions of over 75% of the American people.
So in my view, CNN could not mention the truth–that the trust in government was continuously going up (above Eisenhower’s numbers) during JFK’s presidency, and that it fell precipitately after his assassination, because to do so would attract attention to the positive aspects of JFK’s presidency (certainly not in vogue within either conservative or mainstream circles), and would also show, in a way that ANYONE in the viewing audience could understand, that there was a linkage between the corrosion of trust in the USG and JFK’s assassination. The continuous government and mainstream media assassination spin from December of 1963 through the summer of 1964, and the public conclusions of the Warren Report–issued in September of 1964–were clearly the proximate cause of the sharp decline in trust in government, which began in 1964. CNN (and no doubt other networks reporting the same story) could not tell the whole truth about the confidence polling because the whole truth would have contravened the wishes of their corporate and intelligence community masters.
In 1975 reporter Carl Bernstein (in a “Rolling Stone” article) and The New York Times (in a series of piggyback articles) both reported that the CIA had used over 400 media “assets” (both abroad and domestically) to promote its spin on world events to the publics of the world—in other words, for propaganda purposes. Author John LeCarre (British master of spy novels and a former MI 6 agent himself) recently stated in an interview that in the 1960s, when his book “The Spy Who Came in From the Cold” was about to be made into a film, he was flown to America and questioned about his loyalty to the West by American intelligence. (They were not happy that the theme of his book, at the height of the Cold War, was “a plague on both your houses.”) In his interview (on the Criterion bonus DVD about that same film), LeCarre stated that most people would be absolutely amazed if they knew how many people in the American intelligence community were sitting around doing nothing but thinking about ways to influence public opinion. (This is clearly against the CIA’s charter, by the way—and unlawful—since it is not supposed to participate in any domestic activities.)
If you think this activity has stopped just because of the Church Committee Hearings in the mid-1970s, then I have a bridge to sell you in the Gobi desert.
There are things that we know and believe, and then there is the much smaller universe of things that can be proved in a court of law. There is no doubt in my mind that the MSM’s blindness about the true facts of the Kennedy assassination and the ensuing government cover-up (and its continued denigration of his reputation) is self-willed, not inadvertent–and that the media’s collective groupthink about the Kennedy assassination (namely, blaming it on a lone nut in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary) is evidence that the CIA is still playing the “Great Wurlitzer” of the media like an impresario. The CIA has in the short term succeeded brilliantly, in that it has gotten the MSM to think and speak in unison, tarring all JFK researchers as “conspiracy theorists” in an effort make them a subject of ridicule, and thereby marginalize their work. When it can, it orchestrates media blackouts of serious new research and new books (such as mine, and Phil Nelson’s), for fear that the general public would learn about them and read them, even if they were to be trashed by a hostile reviewer.
In the long term the CIA/MSM propaganda war against JFK researchers is counterproductive and has failed, because lying to the citizenry of a democracy “to protect its institutions,” in an attempt to bolster trust in the government, only ends up destroying respect for those institutions, when the lies are eventually revealed. And they are all (or most, anyway) eventually revealed, since as Shakespeare noted, “The Truth Will Out.”
Individual reporters dare not report about the overwhelming evidence of conspiracy in the JFK assassination, or the ensuing government cover-up, if their editors forbid them to file such stories, and if they know they will lose their jobs if they attempt to do so. This has been going on since December of 1963; everyone in the MSM knows it; and most of them will not even try anymore for fear of losing their jobs.
This is what we all face as the 50th anniversary approaches. When you are bombarded by even more bullshit and government spin about the assassination of the 35th President two years from now, do not be surprised. Learn to think critically and independently; read as many books as you can; and make up your own minds about what happened in America in November of 1963. If you do not, there is a vast disinformation and propaganda machine out there that will be happy to tell you what to believe on the 50th anniversary of JFK’s murder.
The national security spinmasters, Obama’s information CZAR Cass Sunstein, and the corporate media would prefer that you spend all your time obsessed with game shows, singing and dancing contests, so-called “reality shows” that are cheap to produce (and are, in reality, garbage), and modern age gladiatorial contests in large outdoor stadiums and indoor sports arenas. When you do focus on history from time to time they want you to accept the vanilla, mainstream, and simplistic interpretations of events ground out like sausage by mainstream historians and the MSM. They want you to engage in Goodthink, and think Goodthoughts. “But don’t think too deeply, please.” They don’t want the American people to think too much about deep politics or historical trends; when we do focus on politics every two years or so, they want us to focus on “the horserace” each election cycle, and not on substantive issues. They definitely don’t want us to focus on what has gone wrong in this country since the end of World War II—after all, if we all really get mad as hell, we might demand basic structural changes to our society and our system of government.
These controlling elements of our society prefer that we adopt a “father knows best” mentality, and simply trust the national security elite to manage this nation’s international affairs and military policies. They depend upon their allies and assets in the corporate mainstream media (whores, actually) to keep us distracted with pablum, and to define for us, on a daily basis, the bounds of what is “acceptable” for us to publicly discuss, and what is “not acceptable.” [This is the game Chris Matthews of MSNBC, and CNN and the other major networks on television, are engaged in.] The loss of independence by the MSM and its failure to ever seriously oppose the nation state with any really hard-hitting investigative reporting on substantive issues (such as war and peace, and why people get assassinated) should be of very serious concern to us all. Once an independent media is lost, tyranny is only one step away.
Jim Fetzer, a former Marine Corps officer, is the editor of Assassination Science (1998), Murder in Dealey Plaza (2000), and The Great Zapruder Film Hoax (2003).
Douglas Horne served as the Chief Analyst for Military Records with the Assassination Records Review Board and published Inside the ARRB (2009), a five-volume report of their findings.