Ignorance goes viral: Discredited JFK hoax spreads around the world

Malcolm Gladwell is not alone in endorsing a dumb JFK conspiracy theory.

The just-announced Reelz Channel JFK documentary, which peddles the long-since debunked conspiracy that a Secret Service man shot President Kennedy, is getting credulous attention from factually challenged news sites around the world.

Even the usually reliable Associated Press managed to report the bogus speculation without consulting with a single historian, journalist or former investigator of JFK’s assassination, any number of whom could have pointed out that there is NO photographic, eyewitness, or forensic evidence to support the fiction that a Secret Service agent named George Hickey Jr., now deceased, shot JFK.

None.

But now Reelz Channel’s lie about the late and blameless Mr. Hickey has traveled around the world before the truth could get its boots on.

The Daily Mail in England, one of the world’s most popular websites, ran the story with a triple decker heavy breathing subhead. The Boston Globe and Christian Science Monitor, both of which should know better, picked it up. So did the New Zealand Herald.

Glenn Beck reported the story, calling it “controversial.” If the claim that the earth is flat is “controversial,” Beck has a point.

Debbie Lord of AL.com, a blogger for a news site of a number of Alabama newspapers, says the film makes a “startling claim.” No, Debbie. The claim at the heart of “JFK: The Smoking Gun” was startling when it was first made in a book, “Mortal Error,” 20 years ago. After the book’s thesis was definitively debunked, this JFK conspiracy theory is more accurately described as “discredited.”

Amanda Crum of WebProNews says this preposterous theory is “one of the most intriguing” JFK conspiracy theories to surface this year. Wrong, Amanda: It is is moldy and ridiculous. Ask any historian who has written about the subject.

Mark Zaid, a well-known national security litigator, successfully sued the promulgator of this fantasy on Hickey’s behalf when it first surfaced in the 1990s.

Zaid also sued St. Martin’s Press, which published the book, and Simon & Schuster, which released an audiobook version. “Settlements were reached in each case and the publisher apologized,” Zaid wrote on Facebook this week.

“I wish George Hickey, Jr. was still alive,” he went on. “I would have filed a lawsuit against this theorist and film company, as well as any media entity that gave his story any play.”

Zaid adds:

“I have been involved in research and issues involving the JFK assassination for almost 40 years, since I was seven years old. I have represented numerous JFK authors/researches, given numerous speeches and media appearances, and helped secure the declassification of thousands of records. This is one of the most BS theories that has ever been promoted and anyone who believes it is a complete moron (and I never use that word on a public message board so that should tell you something).”

For those who have any doubts, please consult the successful libel lawsuit against the original perpetrators of the hoax.

 

 

 

 

41 comments

  1. Avinash says:

    Quite disgusting to see this disinfo get spread around by the media. Can’t journalists do some research?

    • Jeff Pascal says:

      I saw this nonsense in my local paper which hasn’t had any Assassination related articles in years.Not only is this getting massive coverage here and in Europe, but also there has been a troubling component that bothers me in how the JFK Assassination is handled in that the media can be objective and biased at the same time- for example this fall there are bound to be some big revelations with several major books to come out and the upcoming articles may be considered journalistically fair, however one can’t in good faith equate a shot from the grassy knoll which has a lot of evidence going for it, with this as equal theories.

  2. John Kirsch says:

    As a former journalist, I would say the answer to your question is “yes.” But I don’t know what a journalist is anymore. Maybe Snowden is, inadvertently, the most important journalist of our time. He is, I think, the most important truth-teller of our time and truth is what journalism is supposed to be about. At least that’s what the professors told me in journalism school.

  3. Ronnie Wayne says:

    Operation Paperclip in action.

  4. Andy Young says:

    I think it a case of getting people talking nonsense, deflecting minds from more fruitful questions.

    Question – why are the media covering this? might they be taking paynent for running it? Are all journalists lazy, and just reprinting a story?

    Possible answer – the media is not a true media.

    Maybe as the 22 nov approaches the 3 midgets will appear again!!1

    The media have continually and consistently ignored evidence and critics for 50 years, there is something wrong, very wrong.

  5. Nathaniel Heidenheimer says:

    NEGATIVE TEMPLATE: If it’s sewage theory the media will print it guaranteed. Look at what is best sourced, has the best references but they NEVER print: CIA. Negative Template, just like a photo negative. See Why JFK and the Unspeakable has never been reviewed> it unambiguously points to the CIA for the Coup of 1963.

  6. Nathaniel Heidenheimer says:

    “It is so important to understand that one of the primary means of immobilizing the American people politically today is to hold them in a state of confusion in which anything can be believed but nothing can be known, nothing of significance that is.

    And the American people are more than willing to be held in this state because to KNOW the truth–as opposed to only BELIEVE the truth– is to face an awful terror and to be no longer able to evade responsibility.”

    — Dr.E. Martin Schotz, History Will Not Absolve Us: Orwellian Control, Public Denial, & the Murder of President Kennedy

  7. Paul Arrighi says:

    I have seen all the documentaries re grassy knoll etc over the years and the new ‘JFK: The Smoking Gun’ is the only explanation of the three shots that appears plausible and based on fact. You say it is discredited – how?

    • Frankie Vegas says:

      You might want to do more research than just watching documentaries. In order to buy into the smoking gun/mortal error theory you first have to agree that the single bullet theory is correct. That alone has been discredited over the last 50 years. The original theory on this, Mortal Error as you can read above, was proven a sham in court.Hence the settlement to Agent Hickey.
      Here is a good link to check out on why The Smoking Gun is actually just a polished turd.
      http://www.assassinationresearch.com/v1n1/griffith1.html

      • Mariano says:

        The financial settlement was a commercial decision by the publisher to avoid further legal costs. They never repudiated the credibility of ballistic evidence of the book.

        • Gerry Simone says:

          A defendant settles early to avoid losing in court and mitigating costs when a successful legal battle against a credible plaintiff is unlikely or too expensive.

      • Ace says:

        The Reelz documentary puts forth a valid argument and one of the most compelling, I cannot believe the argument that this theory is debunked is because it is not crazy enough for the conspiracy theorists. The document linked above doesn’t not discredit the ballistic evidence but that it doesn’t address the many large conspiracy theories…which is ironic as a SS coverup for human error, which by the way would be extremely devastating to the public is unbelievably stupid.

  8. Charles Vergados says:

    May watch the reelz show ,but i’ve discounted the theory for 20 years. I was a member of the Cambridge based AIB,founded by Bob Katz and the late Carl Ogelsby and have followed the case since the day it happened. I’ve discussed it with Carl,Paul Hoch, Bill Drenas and Gus Russo over the years. Still believe in conspiracy,but so many villains to choosefrom. JFK had accumulated many enemies, and I would say that most of his enemies ,domestic or foreign,were our enemies-inimical to the interests of the people of the United States.

  9. The problem with the media nowadays is that they spread news about this and that even though a large part of it is not true or it was fabricated just for the buzz and attention. We live in the age where everything that we see online or on the news should be verified because news outlets, for most of the time, are just making fools out of us.

  10. Mariano says:

    It is clearly too unbearable for many people to concede that the fatal shot to JFK might have accidentally been discharged from a SS firearm. Not one respondent thus far has even debated any of the evidence presented by the documentary, except express in some instances very animated vitriol.
    Donohue spent 25 years compiling evidence; Mclaren spent 4 years investigating the validity of Donohue’s contention (it is unfortunate that no American sought the need to carry out a cold case investigation). The trajectory of the fatal bullet was from behind low left to right (a frangible bullet); the frangible bullet fragments in JFK’s skull; the many reports of gunpowder smelt at ground level(behind the Presidential vehicle); the testimonies placing the AR-15-raised with Hickey at the time of the gunshot; the coincidental removal of the AR-15 from operations after that day; the reticence to admit the presence of the firearm by the SS chief; the tampering of evidence of skull x-rays (to hide the fact of the frangible bullet fragments); the disappearance of many photo’s taken and notes taken at Bethesda by SS; the heavy pressure imposed at Bethesda as to rush the autopsy; the hasty removal of evidence from the Presidential vehicle as well as the replacement of the damaged windscreen;provide some no less than compelling evidence of a plausible source of the fatal shot.

    • Neil says:

      The “accidental shot” theory seems pretty compelling and definitely worthy of further discussion. I don’t believe it but I don’t think it’s implausible…

    • Alex S says:

      OK, I’ll bite.

      - “The trajectory of the fatal bullet was from behind low left to right” – Unproven conclusion based on dubious interpretation of the flawed and contradictory medical evidence (Personally, I weigh Adm. Burkley’s statements, via lawyer to HSCA and directly to Henry Hurt, quite strongly as confirmation of Parkland doctors’ observations)
      - “the frangible bullet fragments in JFK’s skull” – Likely, but hardly exclusive to Hickey
      - “the many reports of gunpowder smelt at ground level” – Ditto
      - “the testimonies placing the AR-15-raised with Hickey at the time of the gunshot” – Someone will have to back me up on this, but I’m pretty sure this is disproven in the photographic record
      - “the coincidental removal of the AR-15 from operations after that day” – Several possible reasons, including, yes, coincidence; other possibilities: CYA, change in procedures believed to be compromised…
      - “the reticence to admit the presence of the firearm by the SS chief” – Again, several possibilities: CYA, institutional protection of protective procedures, etc.
      - “the tampering of evidence of skull x-rays” – Many possible reasons for this; also undermines previous claim of certainty, re: origin of fatal shot
      - “the disappearance of many photo’s taken and notes taken at Bethesda by SS; the heavy pressure imposed at Bethesda as to rush the autopsy; the hasty removal of evidence from the Presidential vehicle as well as the replacement of the damaged windscreen” – Indications of cover-up, many possible reasons, nothing specifically indicative of a Hickey shot

      Pretty flimsy stuff, and a lot of square pegs pushed into round holes. Typical symptoms of research driven by “solve-the-case” syndrome

      • Gerry Simone says:

        Yup (I believe there’s another thread which covers this topic).

        The photographic or film record doesn’t support this.

        The SSA did it theory relies on dubious evidence or assumptions, namely:

        1. That the SBT works;

        2. That there was no unobstructed view from Hickey to JFK.

        3. Hickey fell back when his car sped up, but this isn’t possible if Greer slowed down just before the fatal shot.

        4. The revised BOH wound and trajectory, which are based on photos and x-rays that have been called into question.

        • Avinash says:

          Agent Sam Kinney,not Greer was driving the Car Hinckey was riding in.

          • Gerry Simone says:

            Yes, but my point, which is significant IMO, is that Greer slowed down the Presidential limo which was in front of the car driven by Kinney in which Hickey was in.

            You can clearly see this in the Nix film.

            So if Greer slowed down (after the 1st shot but before the fatal shot), Kinney would be forced to slow down too.

            Therefore, it would be impossible for Hickey to fall back and accidentally fire his AR-15 since the car he was riding in could not have accelerated at the right time.

      • Ace says:

        Really? Your arguments whether you know it or not validate the points made by Mariano…you provide no basis of discrediting them. You say possible cover up but because it does not fall in line with a premeditation you don’t accept it. The ballistic evidence is the only evidence that can actually be credible and the first theory I actually believe which I am very familiar with.

        And lastly there is photographic proof of the motorcade shortly after speeding up to Parkland that puts the AR-15 in his hand.
        http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/images/volkland.jpg

        As well as the front page of the Christchurch paper reporting on Kennedy’s assassination that quotes “Secret Service men immediately unslung their automatic weapons and pistols.” http://christchurchcitylibraries.com/Heritage/Newspapers/Star23Nov1963/PDF/ChristchurchStar23Nov1963-page01.pdf

        • Alex S says:

          “You say possible cover up but because it does not fall in line with a premeditation you don’t accept it.”

          That is not true.

          Where I point to indications of a cover-up, such as SS denials of having an AR-15 in the motorcade, YES, it MIGHT indicate covering up a shot by Hickey. However it does not provide any specific grounds for asserting a Hickey shot, which is what is needed to make such a significant claim.

          The only specific grounds cited which would provide positive proof of a Hickey shot are the alleged fatal bullet trajectory and the claim that he was raising the gun at the moment of the fatal shot. And I’ve already mentioned that neither of those points is valid.

          You can reject my opinion on such a dubious basis as the photo of Hickey holding the gun in the Queen Mary SEVERAL MINUTES after the assassination, but it doesn’t change the fact that all you are doing is GUESSING.

        • Gerry Simone says:

          I’m returning to this thread because I found an enhanced frame from the other Dealey Plaza assassination film by Charles Bronson.

          I don’t remember the source, so I can’t credit the author, who added a descriptive for it explaining that Hickey could not have accidentally shot JFK because he was still sitting down at the crucial moment.

          Here is that photo link via TinyPic (you can view an enlarged image there):

          http://tinypic.com/r/291nz0y/8

    • John McAdams says:

      the frangible bullet fragments in JFK’s skull;

      This is the most fundamental of Donahue’s errors.

      A full metal jacket, Mannlicher-Carcano bullet will indeed fragment when it hits the hard bone of the skull in the cowlick area.

      See the experiments of Olivier (for the WC) and Lattimer.

      • Gerry Simone says:

        Not according to Orlando Martin (Analysis of a Shooting), who is a decorated Marine Drill Instructor.

        Also, why would a FMM MC bullet NOT fragment when it allegedly smashed 10 cm of rib and radial (wrist) bones through Governor Connally*?

        *(John Hunt argues that the alleged velocity of CE399 was sufficient for its deformation).

  11. Bob Truitt says:

    I can say that after the Warren Commission that I read Mortal Error (probably because it was dirt cheap), and it got me involved in a big way researching the murder. It was prior to September 11, 2001 that I read ME. I learned that the author owned a retail gun shop in Towson, Maryland but had passed away. I also found out that former Secret Service George W. Hickey Jr. was in a local Veteran’s Hospital here in Maryland. I was thinking about how to approach Mr. Hickey, what to ask him, when 9-11 occurred. By the time I got back to it, Mr. Hickey had been discharged from the hospital.
    The murder of President Kennedy is personal to me. I was in the crowd on November 14, 1963 when the President dedicated the opening of the what we now know as I-95 (later changed to the Kennedy Highway) several miles from the Delaware/Maryland line. In addition, it was also the 200th anniversary of the Mason and Dixon Line.
    I hope I’m wrong but…our government including the intelligence agencies will keep the most secret of the Kennedy assassination files hidden until we that were alive at the time are dead (or so elderly that we can’t have conferences, write blogs, etc.) because for us it is personal and will remain so for those of us who remember.

  12. Jeff Harker says:

    It’s really scary to see the magnitude of deception that’s coming over people in these times we live in. Anyone who has used firearms even a tiny fraction as much as some of us, knows that even if something so bizarre had actually happened, it would have been 100% impossible for it to not have been understood immediately fully by virtually everyone in the immediate vicinity of the gun! Oh yeah, and his gun just accidentally discharged while just accidentally being aimed in the exact location the assassin(s) intended to fire at the exact time the assassination was being attempted. The theory is out of touch with reality and ignores massive volumes of information that we have on the acoustics and other data on the assassination. Pure deception in lala land.
    Jeff Harker

    • Ace says:

      If you have handled firearms, what happens when you pick up an ar-15 under fire? Unless you have the hands of a 10 year old the handle is too small to grab and have leverage without putting your finger on the trigger. Through testimony this weapon was loaded…where is the safety for the AR-15? Easily accessible from on flip of the thumb? If you have one which I doubt…bend over and grab it and then fall back like a car accelerating…what does your body do? Relax or Tense up?

      Your problem is you are convinced the head shot was meant to be the final result…rather than accepting the very plausible conclusion that the assassination attempt was flawed and almost failed because he/they already missed. Its not like there are many attempts in history that a presidential assassination didn’t actually result in the death of a president but wounded them and they survived.

  13. Mark Barsotti says:

    The press release about the Reelz show is from May 2013, and it aired last Nov. Never too late to re-debunk a bad theory, but this is all old news. That said, any particular reason for rerunning this, Mr. Morley?

  14. Pat Speer says:

    I reviewed the documentary in question and received a response from its star, Colin McLaren. I added his response to the review.

    It can be found here:
    http://www.patspeer.com/the-smoking-gun-that-lied

    • John McAdams says:

      You note in your review that a fair number of people have asked you about that theory.

      I’ve had a fair number of people ask me about it. Unfortunately, it seems to be more a part of public consciousness than any mainstream account, conspiracy or lone assassination.

      • BradR says:

        This is nothing but disinformation, pure and simple. It is an attempt to discredit legitimate research by setting up a totally improbable story as a possible “conspiracy theory” thereby implying that conspiracy research is not credible.
        Unfortunately it seems a common event. Mr. Weisberg seems even more astute now than when he was alive.

        • John McAdams says:

          This is nothing but disinformation, pure and simple.

          Let me repeat something I have posted before:

          Never attribute to conspiracy things that are adequately explained as mere incompetence.

          • Gerry Simone says:

            Yes.

            Disinformation is usually intentional or malicious. It can be motivated by profit or to cover up the truth.

            However, it can also arise by accident, incompetence and negligence.

            The Greer-did-it theory is a good example of disinformation from incompetence.

            The Hickey-did-it theory has some possible foundation in fact, but once truly vetted against all other evidence, falls short of a being a plausible scenario.

  15. Mariano says:

    The HSCA determination on the location of entry and exit wounds based on photos/x-rays/and the majority of witness interview accounts at Parkland, led to the entrance wound being located 4″ higher than the WC position. This evidence provided a basis for
    a behind-low-left to right trajectory of the fatal shot.
    Dr. Olivier conducted ballistic tests on ten skulls with FMJ bullet (nickel-plated) – the Carcano bullets were copper-jacketed -with the result that bullets could break up into a few small pieces and some big pieces (the most was 9 small and 2 large). However, in no case did these bullets break into numerous fine fragments. JFK’s skull displayed numerous fine fragments (as would occur if a frangible bullet was used).
    Furthermore, the entrance wound diameter found on JFK’s skull matched the AR-15 rifle, not the Carcano rifle with a wider bullet.
    Quite a number of people in the motorcade behind the follow-up car including the motorcycle policeman by the presidential vehicle, smelt gunpowder at ground level (people in close quarters to the motorcade, not up in the TSBD).
    Admittedly there is no photographic evidence of Hickey with a raised rifle at the time of the shooting (though there is a photograph of Hickey, gun raised seconds later). However, there are witness accounts of Hickey, with raised rifle at the time of the shot, one of which claims he shot the rifle, and two others that thought they saw the rifle shot in the motorcade. At interview Hickey claims not to have raised the rifle till after reaching the overpass. A fellow SS agent claims that the rifle was cocked and ready to go, whereas Hickey claims that the rifle was not cocked.
    The SS head provided little or no cooperation with WC efforts to investigate the AR-15. The SS cleaned-up or removed all evidence in the Presidential vehicle far too early in the investigation cycle (what of the blood/brain tissue/bone fragments/bullet fragments/dints and holes on the windscreen and vision mirror), that could have been relevant to the investigation in many ways including trajectories. The disappearance of photos/pathology slides/x-rays/brain evidence? Why?
    Why would the SS attempt to falsify the x-ray of bullet fragments to JFK’s skull? Why was there something to hide in respect of the bullet wound?
    Why was any of the physical evidence the subject of a concerted effort by SS agencies to obscure?
    Why did the SS’s compromise almost every effort to investigate the Assassination of a President?
    To ask questions as to the behavior of parties to the investigation of JFK’s death is not in all cases attributing a direct link to a theory. It is a reminder as to the suspicious machinations that were occurring at the time, lest we forget.
    Later analyses of the evidence brought to the WC have brought us closer to the truth.
    Empirical evidence such as the many witnesses, and witness accounts that were ignored or lost on the WC, and many mainstream communicators, could assist in the pursuit of truth.

    • Pat Speer says:

      Mariano: “The HSCA determination on the location of entry and exit wounds based on photos/x-rays/and the majority of witness interview accounts at Parkland, led to the entrance wound being located 4″ higher than the WC position.”

      This is not accurate. The HSCA FPP’s determination of a cowlick entrance was based entirely on their interpretation of the photos and their faith in the Clark Panel, and went against the statements of every person to actually view the body, whether at Parkland or Bethesda.

  16. Mariano says:

    After assessing the photos and x-rays again they arrived at the conclusion of a revised location for the rear of head entry wound.

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