Attacking Trump’s JFK theories, the New York Times neglects the facts

The disturbing shadow of John F. Kennedy’s assassination remains visible in American politics and journalism.

Witness the appearance of Roger Stone, adviser to Donald Trump, at a symposium on Lee Harvey Oswald in New Orleans, which drew the attention of the New York Times (and the pro-Clinton attack group Media Matters.)

“At a time when talk of having lost the country is very much in vogue, along with deep suspicions of a powerful and secretive elite, the symposium seemed remarkably of the moment,” writes reporter Campbell Robertson.

Of course, reporting on how fears of secret power are driving the discourse of the 2016 presidential election is an eminently timely and worthy subject. But reporting is what Robertson failed to do. Instead of learning the latest JFK facts, Times readers were served a birthday cake.

Oswald's birthday cake

All the facts fit to eat.

For the editors of the Times, rightly worried about the possibility of a Trump presidency, depicting the “conspiracy theorists” who support him as a monolithic threat is a tempting editorial choice.

It is also a journalistic mistake. In seeking to capture how Trump and his advisers appeal to a fearful nation, the Times neglected to do its job: supply new and relevant information about topic of wide public interest.

Avoiding facts

joan mellen

Joan Mellen, forensic scientist

Robertson reported that symposium participants expressed “general approval” for Trump’s baseless claim that Ted Cruz’s father was somehow involved in JFK’s assassination. It might have been worth mentioning that not a single credible JFK conspiracy author agrees.

Nor did Robertson note that Roger Stone’s “LBJ done it” theory of JFK’s assassination is rejected by most serious scholars, including diplomatic historian David Kaiser, Salon founding editor and best-selling author David Talbot, theologian James W. Douglass, and literary critic Joan Mellen.

Indeed, in her new book on LBJ, Mellen, a tenured professor of literature, demolishes one pillar of the “LBJ done it” theory. Using forensic science Mellen debunks the oft-recycled claim that the fingerprint of an LBJ associate was found in the Texas School Depository. In the context of Stone’s claims, Mellen’s findings surely qualify as newsworthy.

David Talbot

David Talbot, CIA-certified expert

So too with Talbot’s latest book, The Devil’s Chessboard, which argues CIA director Allen Dulles was complicit in JFK’s assassination. The book was just reviewed respectfully by the Web site of the CIA itself!

Robertson quoted the host of a low-rated late-night conspiracy radio show? Why not ask Talbot, or some more credentialed source, for more informed perspective on fears of secret power in American life?

Instead of seeking balance and authority, Robertson and his editors made sure that Times readers saw a picture of birthday cake for Oswald, provided by Judyth Baker who claims–without evidence–that she was Oswald’s girlfriend.

JFK and the next president

More importantly, Robertson and his editors also missed the news.

As has been widely reported, the CIA is obligated by law to release 1,100 still-secret JFK documents by October 2017. In an campaign story, the Times certainly should have noted that President Trump (or President Clinton) will have to decide if the CIA can continue to conceal these records from the public view.

The cake, it seems, was tastier.

In a story about “suspicions of a powerful and secretive elite,” the Times might have mentioned that these “potentially embarrassing” JFK files concern undercover CIA officers who: 1) were involved in  assassination conspiracies; or 2) informed about Oswald’s travels, politics,and foreign contacts while JFK was still alive; or 3) implicated themselves in JFK’s violent death.

(See “7 JFK files the CIA still keeps secret”)

By not reporting the facts, the Times overlooked one historical cause of JFK suspicion, as well as the contemporary actions of the secretive elite at the CIA.

All of which begs the question: why report on a birthday cake baked a dubious source but not on a key secrecy decision facing the next president of the United States.

Conspiracy theories in 2016

The biggest reason is Trump.

News editors and reporters who want to expose the fallacious conspiracy theories of Roger Stone and Donald Trump don’t want to give their authors any credence, even indirectly, by acknowledging the essential truth of what JFK “conspiracy theorists” have been saying for five decades:  the fact pattern of JFK’s assassination is suspicious, if not disturbing, if not evidence of a unsolved crime.

At the Times, the partisan impulse in liberal culture controls the discourse: Better to avoid the JFK facts than to risk helping Trump. For a partisan organization like Media Matters, that is a perfectly defensible stance. Not so much for a news organization..

Another reason is personal.

Robertson did not fail to report because he’s a corrupt tool of the Clintonian global elite who wants to keep the secret of Bill’s love child. Judging by his articles, Roberston seems to be a versatile writer–a graphic artist and a theater critic as well as correspondent of the South.

But he has absorbed key lesson of the culture of mainstream news organizations:

To have an open-mind about the very real possibility that President Kennedy was ambushed by his enemies is an invitation to commit professional suicide.

Factually, the editors of the Times know full well that the possibility of a conspiracy in Dallas isn’t absurd. Savvy power players including Jackie Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Charles DeGaulle and Fidel Castro all came to believe it.

But professionally–at least for elite reporters and editors–one of the most plausible JFK scenarios is literally unspeakable.

News fit to print

So when Robertson reported on Roger Stone’s JFK fulminations, he had to avoid reporting new JFK facts, if only to protect his future as a journalist. That, too, is understandable, if not exactly defensible.

Let me add that I’m sure Robertson is sincere in whatever he thinks about the Dallas tragedy. I’m equally sure the editors of the Times are sincere in believing that, at this moment, the new facts of JFK’s assassination are less important than the old theories.

They are merely wrong–empirically and professionally.

Roger Stone’s conspiratorial rants are indeed “of the moment.” But so is the plain truth that the country’s newspaper of record needs to be reminded that the facts of the JFK assassination story are more important than the theories.



From a 5-Star Amazon review of Jefferson Morley’s CIA and JFK: The Secret Assassination Files,

“Can’t imagine a more meticulous take down of the CIA’s decades-long subterfuge surrounding the assassination.”

Jefferson Morley’s new ebook, CIA and JFK: The Secret Assassination Files, available on Amazon, provides the fullest account of the role of CIA operations officers in the events leading to the death of JFK, with a guide to what will be declassified in October 2017.






  1. Kennedy63 says:

    There are no “conspiracists,” only information and facts that point to a conspiracy in the 11.22.63 coup in Dallas. One can not merely believe in conspiracy, as belief requires a leap of faith without a factual basis. We are not leapers, but citizens seeking the truth, which we realize agencies of the US Government have long withheld from the public, citing unsubstantiated “national security”(read: embarrassment) concerns that, once outed, will obliterate the public’s blind allegiance to government propaganda pertaining to the JFK assassination. We hold the government responsible because of the working association and relationships with people and groups antithetical to the goals of JFK’s administration and the stated ideals of the New Frontier (articulated in JFK’s inaugural address). There is invective aimed at establishing a psychological basis for citizens rejecting the official version of the Dallas coup; namely, that such citizens refuse to accept that a powerful man like JFK could be felled by a portrayed nobody like Oswald. So the JFK coup ends up becoming a stumbling block for truth seekers and a rock of offense to adherents of the official and discredited version of the JFK coup. Propaganda, when masquerading under any other name, retains its deceptive scent and exposes the perpetrators of the JFK murder plot.

  2. Ronnie Wayne says:

    Trump’s conspiracy theories have gone to a new level. The whole election is rigged, Hillary hired the Women to come forward with the stories about groping. He damn well knows it’s rigged because he’s done just as much rigging of the system as Hill & Bill over the years. The real Gov’t. trusts Billary more than the chump.

  3. Charles says:

    If you are at all curious to see how deep the rising contempt goes for “journalism” that performs a gate-keeping function, look no further than this video.

    Warning: contains language not suitable for sensitive listeners

    Be honest with me Mr. Morely. Aside from JFK’S murder, has the media ever been more openly propagandistic then now with this election? It has convinced me that corporate media only serves power. Facts and accuracy have become irrelevant concerns.

  4. M. J. Harrington says:

    If I were a conspiracist, I would think that Donald Trump had been set up because he is the only Republican candidate that Hillary Clinton could beat.

  5. Kennedy63 says:

    The National Security apparatus, in the form of media assets, must cling to the version officially sanctioned by the US government’s Warren Commission. Deviation from this official tome infers an internal schism. The Federal government must adhere to it’s bought and paid for conclusion that Oswald alone murdered President Kennedy on 11.22.63, to ensure that the then governmental forces/agents behind the coup remain cloaked in deep secrecy. What would happen should the American people learn that, in 1963, their POTUS was snuffed out by a conspiracy originating in the muck and miry alphabet soup agencies (i.e., CIA, FBI, NSA, ONI, SS), and carried out by lower-level paid assassins operating from a global stable of contract killers assembled and available to the CIA and Mafia? We know the MSM has been compromised as a result of operation MOCKINGBIRD beginning in the 1950’s to present. Lamenting the bias of the MSM in the JFK coup is just more spilled milk. Citing the Warren Commission as a credible source indicts the authors/editors on several counts of intentional misinformation at best, and sloth in its most neglectful form. The public, and US government, will best be served by replacing the Warren Report (1964) and adhering to the conspiracy version pronounced by the HSCA in 1979. Having only one “official theory” of the JFK coup is highly recommended.

  6. David S says:

    Jeff is far too kind about the NY Times’ journalistic malpractice on this issue.

    First, just report what the folks at the conference discussed.

    Second, dismissing the conferees as conspiracy theorists isn’t reporting. It’s just following the narrative. A false narrative to boot. That too is journalistic malpractice.

    Third, connecting the conspiracist to Donald Trump is poor journalism as well. The issue isn’t Ted Cruz’s father in an old picture with Oswald. The issue is, what happened in Dallas in November of 1963 and how it changed our lives and the life of our country.

    I guess Jeff and the folks here take those questions more seriously than the NY Times.

  7. John Platko says:

    Just so I’m clear on this. Is it a fact that Rafael Cruz was not in the picture with Oswald when he was handing out pamphlets in New Orleans?

    Have all the people in that picture been identified?

  8. Bogman says:

    A CIA cover-up is beyond dispute. A set-up of the assassin is very strong based on the circumstantial evidence in the ARRB files. All that’s needed now is evidence of a direct connection to Oswald which could very well be in the files scheduled for release in Oct 2017.

    Shame on the NYT and MSM to choose to ignore all this. IMO, the unresolved JFK assassination case still gnaws at the soul of the people and explains a lot of what’s going on today. We can’t progress as a democracy without knowing the truth.

  9. Charles says:

    I am sick of hearing political criticism and suspicion slandered as “conspiracy theory.”

    When the term is used to stifle dissent or critical inquiry, fight back and label it what it really is: HATE SPEECH.

  10. Antonio D'Antonio says:

    When it comes to the JFK assassination, mainstream media outlets have been serving the same stale cake for over 50 years.
    Unfortunately, too many people who dine on a steady diet of mainstream propaganda suffer from damaged taste buds.

  11. J.D. says:

    It’s telling that the Times, which didn’t even bother to review David Talbot’s book on Allen Dulles, found space to cover a conference that features the likes of Judyth Baker and Roger Stone. Paying attention to “researchers” like this serves to discredit JFK skepticism more effectively than Bugliosi or McAdams ever could. It makes smart people want to stay away from this subject.

    Here’s a perfect example: When Trump first made his nonsensical charge about Ted Cruz’s dad, Salon’s Amanda Marcotte wrote that Trump was wrong, not because the charge was baseless, but because the Warren Commission had determined that Oswald had acted alone. Good grief, I thought. What about the HSCA’s conclusion that there was a second shooter? What about the new evidence uncovered by the ARRB? What about the overwhelming evidence that Oswald was impersonated in Mexico City? At the very least, acknowledge that the story doesn’t end in 1964 with the Warren Commission. But if serious people come to associate skepticism toward the official account of JFK’s murder with the conspiracy-mongering style of Trump and Stone, they’re going to say “Thanks, but no thanks.”

    • dan clark says:

      Absolutely spot on with your comments re: Judyth Baker and Roger Stone vs. the NYT reviewing The Devil’s Chessboard. I hate to be that guy but I really wonder sometimes whether that’s the agenda now of the press (operation mockingbird still in effect?). If you absolutely HAVE to talk about JFK, bring some nutters into the equation and bam, everyone turns away from the story.

      The truth of the matter is that any journalist with any integrity whatsoever and 1/2 a brain who’d given even a cursory glance to the facts that have come out since 11/22/63 would be, like us, demanding full disclosure from the agencies involved and would not be satisfied with the conclusions of the dulles commission.

      I mean even disregarding the witnesses not interviewed by the DC, or the witnesses badgered by fbi agents, or the notion a mauser was found and on and on…wouldn’t a credible journalist at least be SOMEWHAT troubled by some of this:

      From the book JFK Assassination file
      Jesse Curry (dallas chief of police)– “We don’t have any proof that Oswald fired the rifle, and never did. Nobody’s yet been able to put him in that building with a gun in his hand.”

      David Sanchez Morales (cia) – “I was in Dallas when we got the s.o.b. and in Los Angeles when we got the little bastard.”

      Lyndon Johnson interview with Walter Cronkite –

      David Phillips “Late in life, Phillips told former HSCA investigator Kevin Walsh that he thought JFK was killed by unnamed “rogue” CIA officers.” And admitted to being in Dallas on 11-22-63 (quoted from this very site)

      Antonio Veciana sees LHO with David Phillips in New Orleans in September of 1963.

  12. Russ Tarby says:

    Jeff has penned a scathing overview of the mainstream media’s tunnel vision of the JFK murder…don’t forget, in a page-one headline on Nov. 25, 1963, the NY Times identified the late Lee Oswald as Kennedy’s “assassin.”
    Talk about a rush to judgment!
    Now all these decades later media such as the Times continue to echo the company line of two lone nut shooters while painting critics as cranks. Common sense tells the American people — and experts such as Morley, Talbot, Mellen, Simpich, Scott, DiEugenio and Hancock — that JFK was whacked as a result of a conspiracy, but the mainstream media will never admit that it failed to solve or even report on the biggest murder mystery of the 20th century.
    but they will let us eat cake. sigh!

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