Fact check: Did a Pepsi-Cola executive kill JFK?

Here is a useful example of a dumb JFK conspiracy story that combines good information with bad analysis to generate results that are both confusing and worthless.

The author misuses a genuinely signficant new document discovered by the investigator Russ Baker — a June 1963 letter from former Vice President Richard Nixon to Donald Kendall, CEO of Pepsi, that makes reference to the CIA’s failed invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs in April 1961.

The letter is interesting because it documents Nixon’s long-standing interest in the fallout from Bay of Pigs, which his chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman, believed was related JFK’s assassination and because Kendall is not known to have any role in the Bay of Pigs operation.

Unfortunately, the author uses this promising material to inflict on readers an incoherent mash of factoids and speculation ending with the unsupported and improbable insinuation that Kendall had something to with JFK’s death. If taken seriously, it will only confuse people seeking to understand the causes of Kennedy’s death.

Please don’t tell me that this line of analysis is “interesting” or “raises important new questions.”  It isn’t and it doesn’t. There is no reason to believe — and no evidence to suggest — that Kendall was involved in Kennedy’s assassination. The Nixon letter is interesting. This writers’ handling of it is amateurish and not worthy of interest.

Which, alas, is true of a lot of dumb JFK conspiracy theories.


More JFK fact checking:

“Did the Fed kill JFK?” (JFK Facts, Jan. 25, 2013)

“If there was  JFK conspiracy, wouldn’t somebody have talked?” (JFK Facts, Jan. 2, 2013)

“Did the CIA track Oswald before JFK was killed?” (JFK Facts, Jan. 8, 2013)




  1. “Dumb” is anyone who does not think the JFK assassination was solved decades ago and that the government murdered John Kennedy.

    “Dumb” is not recognizing that the JFK assassination is a “False Mystery” a la Vince Salandria.

    • EconWatcher says:

      It’s a basic proposition of law and common sense that you may draw adverse inferences against a party that has destroyed evidence or otherwise attempted to obstruct the search for truth.

      Allen Dulles, the guy with a double grudge against Kennedy (because of the Bay of Pigs and because Kennedy fired him as head of the CIA) got himself appointed and played a huge role in shaping the investigation of the Warren Commission, while knowing secrets that should have disqualified him from participation as anything but a witness. That’s Round 1.

      Then the CIA appointed George Joannides as the CIA’s liaison to the HSCA, while concealing that Joannides was deeply enmeshed in the anti-Castro activities that were a subject of the investigation. Robert Blakey thinks the CIA committed criminal obsruction by fraudulently offering him as the liaison. That’s Round 2.

      Is that enough to prove the CIA is guilty of involvement in the assassination? No. But it should be enough to make any sensible person reserve judgment about the notion of a government conspiracy, especially where the evidence already disclosed shows CIA interest in Oswald at the highest levels, and so many relevant files remain hidden.

      I don’t know, and you don’t either.

      • jeffmorley says:

        And how did Pepsi benefit from the Kennedy assassination?

        • EconWatcher says:

          The pepsi theory sounds nuts to me. I was just responding to Mr. Morrow’s comment that only a fool could still think a government conspiracy was possible.

        • Scott says:

          Facts: Soft drinks are highly profitable; Pepsi is a soft drink; Kendall was a Pepsi executive; Kendall was also a former CIA executive; pre-Castro Cuba was a huge source of very cheap sugar; that cheap sugar was cut off by the revolution; Kennedy would not allow the CIA to overthrow Castro and install a more sugar-friendly government in Cuba.

          Speaking for myself, not a good reason to kill a man, but Kendall may have had different views.

          • Bo Ericson says:

            This is a good point, Scott. Don´t know if anyone read this line anymore, but I just wanted to add that even though Kendall didn´t press the trigger himself, he might have known what was going to happen. Kendall, and/or other executives from Pepsi, could have been part of a bigger power elite working in the background to get rid of President Kennedy. A power elite or High Cabal as Winston Churchill called it, with tremendous power and economic wealth. Bankers, businessmen, intelligence and military men working behind our elected politicians as the invisible power elite Fletcher Prouty writes about. In addition, Mr Prouty also mention in his book JFK [1992] on page 351 that “the son of another Pepsi-Cola executive was in Dallas at that time and had dinner with Jack Ruby, Oswald´s killer, the night before JFK was murdered.” I haven´t seen that information anywhere else, but if true, it certainly adds some interesting questions into the assassination theories. Thank you.

  2. Jonathan says:

    “Dumb” is coming to a conclusion not grounded in logic and verifiable fact.

    “Dumb” also includes rejecting a verified fact simply because it conflicts with one’s sense of reality. For example, rejecting the improbability of Oswald’s alleged shooting feat because one believes Oswald did it. “Dumb” here is committing the logical fallacy of assuming the conclusion.

  3. If a Pepsi exec did kill JFK, I would suggest that Nixon was in on it, as the 37th POTUS was in Dallas that week-end for a Pepsi Co. meeting.

  4. A dumb analysis on the part of Jeff Morley. Jeff posits that because Pepsi CEO Donald Kendall was not involved in the Bay of Pigs invasion that this means that Kendall did not play a role, along with his buddy Richard Nixon, in the JFK assassination. Pepsi had big time commercial sugar interests in Cuba, and CEO Kendall was not happy when Fidel Castro nationalized Pepsi’s assets. Jeff Morley should not have such a difficult time connecting the dots.

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