The re-broadcast of National Geographic’s JFK documentary, The Lost Bullet, in Canada last weekend is another reminder of how stilted and weird the mainstream media discussion of JFK assassination is. I haven’t seen the film yet, so I won’t comment on the particulars of its thesis.
But the film’s not-terribly relevant point illuminates a curious phenomenon: how the obsession with conspiracy distorts, defines and limits the editorial vision of news organizations. It is a species of un-journalism.
On Monday January 7, 1963 Lee Harvey Oswald reported to his job at Jaggars-Chiles-Stovall, a graphic arts company in Dallas, where he had started working in October 1962. He would work there through April 1963.
Oswald’s time card
At the time Oswald was quarreling with his wife and corresponding with several leftist organizations. Various agencies of the U.S. government were also keeping track of him. When Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev wondered “What really happened?” in Dallas and doubted that U.S. security forces were so “inept,” he had a point: When it came to watching Lee Harvey Oswald, the U.S. government was not inept.
In this balanced, if breathless, 1998 History Channel video entitled “Missing Files,” we learn what the government sought to hide from public view. The approach is skeptical without crazy conspiracy mongering.
Hollywood heartthrob Zac Efron has joined the cast of Tom Hanks’ forthcoming JFK flick, Parkland, along with fellow A-listers Paul Giamatti and Billy Bob Thornton.
Student of the Warren Commission?
With its all-star cast and reassuring agenda, Parkland is shaping up as the feel-good event of 2013 for those who don’t want you to worry about the legacy of the American national security state. Pre-production publicity makes clear that Parkland (the hospital where JFK was declared dead) aims to breath new life into the government’s old theory that the violent removal of the liberal president from office in 1963 was a meaningless deed committed for no reason by a lunatic. Matinee message: eat your popcorn and swallow the “tragic absurdity of life.”
The site is dedicated to improving media coverage and public understanding of JFK's assassination, educating the young, and demanding the release of records still held in secret by U.S. government agencies.
Jefferson Morley, author and former Washington Post reporter, is the moderator of JFK Facts.
Morley has written about the JFK story for national publications including the Post, New York Times, New York Review of Books, Slate, Salon, TheAtlantic.com, and the Washington Monthly. He won the 2009 PEN/Oakland Censorship Award for his JFK reporting. He is author of "Our Man in Mexico; Winston Scott and the Hidden History of the CIA" (University Press of Kansas, 2008).
Rex Bradford is the webmaster of JFK Facts, He is creator of MaryFerrell.org, the most comprehensive Web site of government records on the assassinations of JFK, Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King.