How CBS News aided the JFK cover-up

Jim DiEugenio has a fascinating piece about How CBS News Aided the JFK Cover up, based on the reporting of the late Roger Feinman, a CBS News employee who pushed for a serious, independent coverage of the Warren Commission report and was thwarted by his superiors who were determined to endorse the official theory of a lone gunman.

CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite

The documentary detail that Feinman collected, and DiEugenio presents for the first time, makes it almost impossible to dispute that senior CBS decision-makers refused to examine the new JFK evidence with an open mind, ie, they didn’t act journalistically. Indeed, they secretly collaborated with John McCloy of the Warren Commission to make sure CBS viewers didn’t get the whole of the story.

The question, of course, is why? I don’t think these men knew the official theory was false and deliberately perpetrated a story they knew to be untrue. I think they were too invested, intellectually and financially, to consider the possibility the eminent men of the Warren Commission could reach a mistaken conclusion. Or that that senior officials of the CIA and the FBI deliberately withheld and destroyed material evidence in the case of the murdered president. Today it is beyond any dispute that they did.

In other words, the government played CBS News for suckers. And nobody likes to admit they were fooled. The CBS News leaders were like Howard Willens of the Warren Commission. They were “naive to say the least” about the CIA. They were also unprofessional in their approach to journalism and did a disservice to their viewers.

Now with the benefit of history, hindsight, and a much deeper and richer historical record of the JFK story, you might think that CBS News might revisit the story That’s almost certainly not going to happen. CBS has a lot to lose, reputationally, by admitting its JFK journalism was profoundly flawed and its brand-defining personalities (from Cronkite to Rather to Safer) failed to get the story. I would say they have something to gain–namely viewer’s trust–by admitting a mistake and looking anew at the evidence. But I’m not TV network executive.

And as DiEugenio and Feinman show in detail, there were people inside CBS who were willing and able to practice real journalism around the JFK story. They were shut down and shut up and by defensive defenders of a government that was losing credibility. Its a sad story but it needs to be told.



25 thoughts on “How CBS News aided the JFK cover-up”

  1. While heaping well deserved criticism on CBS, let’s not forget ABC and the its unlamented Canadian lackey, Peter Jennings.
    Several years ago, in “Beyond the Magic Bullet,” Jennings endorsed the absurd Dale Myers cartoon. Then, attempting to explain the violent rearward movement of the president’s head after 313, stated “gunshot victims can move in all kinds of directions.”
    This defies the laws of physics and the experience of hunters. I have hunted deer and waterfowl all my life. I have never seen an animal move closer to my line of fire after having been hit by a shot. It is patently absurd.

  2. Come on…Almost every major media outlet in the U.S. had long been infiltrated by the powers that be at that time, and it’s even worse today.
    The Mockingbird doctrine is alive and well, and even healthier(?) today than in 1963.

    Most of the independant media is gone, and the very few control almost all of the many media outlets today, and that is not specific to the U.S., as we have the same problem here in Canada.

    Fortunately, Youtube appears to have been able to “resist” to some extent, and you can still find video of Katie Couric telling 9/11 witnesses and victims what they “really experienced” and how they must have been confused by the shock of what they had been through, contrary to their own statements based on living those experiences.

    You can still see footage of the discovery of the Mannlicher-Carcano showing no clip in it.

    The psychology of marketing(informing)for a purpose(influence) is a long established practice used to induce beliefs in the public, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

    How did Hitler keep the German people believing that they were winning the war…?

    1. I think the majority of journalists at the time thought they were “helping their country” by sweeping anomalies from the case under the rug, rather than seeing them as signposts to something more.

      The media community today just doesn’t feel any audience pressure to upset the apple cart, even though there’s been numerous truly newsworthy opportunities to do so, such as the Joannides revelations and Blakey’s recant of his support of the CIA’s veracity.

      Sad state of affairs.

      1. That “helping their country” thing has been taken advantage of, as has the thoughts of “how could my government do something like that?”.

        A thread on this website recently posited: “How is 9/11 like a CIA history?” or something very similar to that, and my response to that is: 9/11 IS a CIA history.


        and there are hundreds of examples in the interim…..

      2. With exceptions like Dorothy Kilgallen and Larry Stern (WaPo) who both died under highly questionable circumstances — with Dorothy saying she had the story of a lifetime after interviewing Jack Ruby down in Dallas, and Larry Stern, on vacation at Martha’s Vineyard, where he was going to write the tell-all book on the perpetrators behind the JFK assassination!

    2. “How did Hitler keep the German people believing that they were winning the war…?”

      Actually, he didn’t. By the end of 1943, if not earlier, the German public knew the truth because it was literally falling from the skies onto their heads in the form of high explosives. Also, the Wehrmacht and the SS were winning their glorious victories far closer to Germany’s borders than had been the case only a year before.

  3. Oh Photon,

    Let us allow Mr. Morley, who is ACTUALLY suing your beloved CIA, to get to the heart of the “real” investigation:

    “Or that that senior officials of the CIA and the FBI deliberately withheld and destroyed material evidence in the case of the murdered president. Today it is beyond any dispute that they did.”

    Oops. So much for a “blue ribbon” report.

  4. CBS was clearly complicit with CIA as evidenced by the presence of Ellen McCloy as secretary to a top network news executive, one of several facts astutely noted by DiEugenio.

    the one and only time CBS even hinted at conspiracy was on the late afternoon of Sunday, Nov. 24, when the network repeatedly aired the film shot by KRLD cameraman George Phenix of the aborted transfer of Lee Oswald that morning in the basement of the Dallas Municipal Bldg. Phenix’s film clearly showed Oswald looking directly at Ruby in the moments before Ruby pulled his .38 and murdered the accused ex-Marine.
    the late CBS producer Don Hewitt — who was managing the network’s coverage that day in New York City — told me it was his decision to show the eye contact revealed in Phenix’s film.
    Nowadays you have to dig deeply into the archives to find that revealing film footage…

    years ago, in his online book, “The Taking of America 1 2 3,” Richard E. Sprague provided a detailed analysis of the MSM’s absolute failure in regard to the JFK killing, and he took an especially close look at CBS:

    1. ‘CBS was clearly complicit with CIA as evidenced by the presence of Ellen McCloy’ — Russ Tarby

      I argue this needs to be teased out far more than it has been. Who was carrying the water for whom? Did these captains of finance and industry take orders from THE Central Intelligence Agency? Dulles Brothers were powerful, but the reality is their personal wealth was tied to their law practice that would have been in service to their clients and not vice versa. Allen may have purported to be driven solely by ideology, but brushing shoulders with the most powerful people in America was equally appealing.

      As an example of how interlocking the CBS board was at the time, Robert Lovett’s family co-founded Brown Brothers Harriman and W.A.M. Burden consulted BBH for years related to investment in the aviation industry. Burden and McCloy shared the board of Allied Chemical and Burden was long-time member of the board of military contractor Lockheed. Burden as an inheritor of Vanderbilt wealth would be interested in the success of Freeport Sulphur over the decades whose major share holders included the Vanderbilts, the Rockefellers and the Whitney dynasty for whom Stephen Lemann‘s Monroe Lemann law firm was counsel in New Orleans. We know from other threads on this site the significance of Lemann/NBC et al in relation to the attempt to silence the Garrison case.

      When Allen Dulles selected his private office in NYC on retirement from the CIA, it was in the International Building in Rockefeller Plaza where W.A.M. Burden’s corporate headquarters were located. (Burden sat on the exclusive board of Rockefeller’s Museum of Modern Art for years). Burden’s key executive at Cerro was JH Tomlison who sat on the small board of military contractor ITEK.

      Recognizing that reader’s eyes glaze over when presented with more than 3 or 4 vignettes at a time that point to central players within the Military Industrial Complex who were in key positions to effect the investigation and the cover up, suffice to say that there are others on the CBS board equally entwined with vested interests, both financial, political and ideological. Were they all afraid of James Jesus Angleton or Richard Helms?

      1. I fully agree, Leslie!
        the interlocking chains can be burdensome but following the trail, however noxious, can be quite revealing.
        I applaud your tenacious research…it takes stamina and courage.

    2. I’ve seen that film, you cannot see Ruby’s face, but it’s obvious that Oswald is looking right at him and the eye contact between the two men is unmistakable. Oswald actually starts to smile when he sees Ruby. It’s quite chilling.

        1. Hello David!

          that History Channel link offers a heavily edited version of what was actually aired by CBS-TV on Nov. 24, 1963, broadcasts that were witnessed by millions of Americans such as myself…

          Now among the video archives at the Museum of Radio & Television in Manhattan and Los Angeles, researchers can find a CBS-TV documentary titled “One Sunday in November,” which refocuses on the Oswald shooting. In includes KRLD cameraman George Phenix’s historic footage as narrated by Dan Rather on 11/24/63.

          Phenix found a spot at the base of the Main Street ramp, about 30 feet from the double-doors from which the accused assassin would be led out. Having switched from a Bell and Howell film camera (which he had toted to the Trade Mart on Nov. 22) to a 40-pound Auricon 16 mm sound camera, he set the big gizmo up on a single-pole unipod, and waited…
          As it happened, Phenix’s vantage point left him positioned just a few feet to the left rear of Ruby as the assailant awaited his prey.
          To the young cameraman, who didn’t know Ruby, “It just looked like he was there for a while.”…

          the Phenix film shows Oswald looking directly at Jack Ruby for several seconds just before the gunshot rings out.
          That alarming look of recognition was, in turn, recognized almost instantly by CBS television news producers in NYC, including Don Hewitt, who prepared the KRLD film for national broadcast a few hours later.

          ‘Watch the hat’

          Texas-bred reporter Dan Rather narrated a slo-motion version of Phenix’s film as it flickered before a national viewing audience on
          the afternoon of Nov. 24, 1963:
          “Now we will show you the film of Oswald being shot, still-framed,” Rather says.”Watch the hat in the right-hand corner of the frame. Watch Oswald’s eyes as they seem to catch the eye of the assassin {Ruby}. His head turns, he looks at
          the assassin and his eyes never leave him. The assassin moves in…and a few inches from {Oswald’s} abdomen, fires a shot.”
          On Nov. 24, as Rather threw the CBS broadcast back to anchorman Charles
          Collingwood in New York, he describes Dallas as “grim, solemn and shamed.”
          Collingwood, meanwhile, reminds viewers that the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald only “deepens the mood of national misgiving.”

  5. Ramon F Herrera

    Jeff wrote:

    “the government played CBS News for suckers. And nobody likes to admit they were fooled. The CBS News leaders were like Howard Willens of the Warren Commission. They were “naive to say the least” about the CIA.”


    “you might think that CBS News might revisit the story That’s almost certainly not going to happen. CBS has a lot to lose, reputationally, by admitting its JFK journalism was profoundly flawed”


    I would like to invite the esteemed readers to visit this:

    Click (once) into “Full Video” and watch the HSCA.mp4 videoclip.'Reilly_%28political_commentator%29

    It is important to mention that Prescott Bush was one of the founders of CBS. My point is that CBS (media in general) is not like the Vatican, with John Paul II apologizing to Galileo 500 years later.

    One of the preferred, rather effective, strategies in politics and business is


  6. Ramon F Herrera

    “And nobody likes to admit they were fooled.”

    Jeff: The JFK murder is such a complex case (almost with alternate realities or time travel) that there is no shame in being mistaken.

    See how you persuaded prof. Robert Blakey (open quote – “they fucked you, Bob!” – close quote) and he is now broadcasting the depth of his foolishness for the world to see.

    Furthermore, let’s say that some very intelligent space aliens (Mr. Spock, Data) arrive and start investigating the case. Pretending to go from point A (total ignorance) to point B (case fully resolved) in a straight line can only be done by God.

  7. Jeff is incorrect in stating that Jim DiEugenio has told this story for the first time. Roger Feinman himself told this story for many years, most prominently in a PowerPoint presentation that he put up online. I discovered this presentation 12 years ago or so, and made reference to it in part three of my video series, The Mysterious Death of Number 35. I also screen-grabbed some of the documents Feinman acquired while at CBS, and used in his presentation. Since the presentation in itself is no longer available, I have put these up on my website, here:

    (And yes, I know. Some of the docs are pretty blurry, and some of the memos are incomplete. But look closer and you’ll see that one of the memos is by John J. McCloy, and that he is giving guidance to the 1967 special, and that some of the memos towards the end are by McCloy and Salant, in which they insist McCloy provided no such guidance.)

    1. I’m sure you covered this as well Pat, that McCloy’s Yale mate and close friend Robert Lovett was on the board at CBS at the time and that McCloy’s daughter was employed there. Also on the board was W.A.M. burden, industrialist and aviation consultant and former Asst. Sec. Air Force and member of the Vanderbilt dynasty. To suggest that reporters, journalists, producers and directors are not subject to pressure from the Board of Directors of these corporation or that the board does not impose its political and ideological will is naive at best.

  8. Yeah, I’m not holding my breath. The MSM won’t even admit basic facts that aren’t necessarily conspiracy-related but show a truer picture of the case, e.g.

    o LBJ formed the Warren Commission to stop proposed Congressional hearings “where they’re testifying that Khruschev and Castro did this and did that and kicking us into a war that can kill 40 million Americans in an hour.” He was especially concerned about “what Hoover told me about a little incident in Mexico City.”

    The “little incident” he was referring to was from CIA wiretaps of the Russian embassy in Mexico City showing Oswald – or someone claiming to be Oswald – saying he had met with Valeriy Kostikov, part of KGB’s Department 13 “wet” operations – sabotage and assassinations.

    I have yet to hear this part of LBJ’s taped conversation with Bissell played on MSM, or even the History Channel.

    o As Jeff has pointed out numerous times, the CIA HQ’s reassuring memo about Oswald to the Mexico City station after his visits to the Cuban and Russian embassies was later shared with the FBI, resulting in Oswald’s removal from the bureau’s security watch list. If he’s on that list, he’s closely monitored during a presidential visit. It’s a huge blunder that led to the president’s death, whether you want to cast it as conspiracy or not.

    1. Bogman,

      Can you tell me the basis for “If he’s on that list, he’s closely monitored during a presidential visit”?

      I could be wrong, but all I’ve ever seen as an explanation is the memo (P. 517 of your link) that criticizes Gheesling for canceling it and says “we [the FBI] might have missed further arrests without stop in Ident.” This was a “Stop” in Oswald’s FBI fingerprint file that would’ve alerted the FBI if he were arrested and some law enforcement entity checked his prints. The stop was removed by Gheesling after Oswald went to Mexico but not necessarily because of anything that happened there.

      Again, I could be wrong, but I don’t think Hoover mentioned Kostikov to LBJ before he talked to Russell. I think the “little incident” was the claim that Oswald had gotten $6500 from the Cuban Consulate:

      LBJ wanted to head off several competing investigations that were firing up, including one by James Eastland’s ultraconservative House UnAmerican Activities Committee. You think the WC was bad, be glad we were spared that one.

      1. Jean —

        The first recording I see of Hoover telling LBJ about Alvarado and the $6,500 story is on the same day he’s talking with Russell about Warren, who he also spoke to that day. So it’s hard to say which “incident” in MC he’s referring to that Hoover told him about. It could’ve been Alvarado, could’ve been Kostikov. John Newman thinks it’s Kostikov, which would tie it more to the USSR and would more likely result in nuclear war as LBJ says:

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