The PBS NOVA show, “Cold Case JFK,” which aired Wednesday night, had a very limited agenda: proving that Single Bullet Theory (SBT) is plausible and show that a grassy knoll shot was impossible. The show’s focus on ballistics served to exclude the context of JFK’s assassination, and thus distorts the event’s importance by ignoring its political meaning.
I’ll leave aside a couple of big problems with the ballistic presentation on Cold Case JFK. The Haags claim that a competent marksman could easily repeat Oswald alleged feat of arms — but we never see anyone do it. And the recreation of the magic bullet makes no attempt to show the effects of a Carcano bullet hitting bone as happened with Gov. Connally.
But even if one accepts the show’s conclusions as accurate, the focus on the ballistic evidence serves to limit understanding of the event. It extracts JFK’s assassination from the reality in which it occurred. This simplification enables the kind of narrative closure that makes for satisfying television. But it requires avoiding mention of the troubling facts that have emerged in recent years such as the CIA’s deep and continuing interest in Oswald before JFK was killed.
I was interviewed for the show and talked extensively about what has been learned in recent years. None of my on-camera comments about continuing CIA secrecy were included. The result is a show that is more reassuring than reality warrants.