Gladwell’s JFK theory revisited

In the Wall Street Journal Dorothy Rabinowitz reminds us that Malcolm Gladwell has endorsed the “derangement” of “the Secret Service Man done it” theory of President Kennedy’s assassination.

I think Gladwell will recant this dubious proposition if asked. I hope so.

The long-since refuted “Secret Service Man did it” theory is getting recycled on an upcoming REELZ cable channel and needs to be labelled non factual.


  1. Malcolm Street says:

    Colin McLaren’s radio interview can be found at It’s one of a weekday series on ABC radio called Conversations, goes for over fifty minutes and covers material not in the TV program.

  2. Photon says:

    At least he identifies a shooter, which no other conspiracy theory has done in 50 years.

    • Frankie Vegas says:

      Even if he is wrong and defaming this person he is naming. I personally find that shameful. It makes us all look bad.
      People don’t go naming shooters because that is wrong and awful and could lead to a defamation suit. I hope someone in Hickey’s family also feels this way. Disgusting!

      • Malcolm Street says:

        What he’s saying is that the shot that killed Kennedy came from an AR-15. The only person in the motorcase with an AR-15 was Hickey, and his location matched the ballistics. He’s not accusing Hickey of being an assassin – he sees it as a tragic accident that was brought about by a new weapon being put in the hands of someone who hadn’t been trained in it.

  3. Malcolm Street says:

    Just watched the program after listening to the extended radio interview with Colin McLaren last week). The WSJ article says it’s a “docudrama” – it’s nothing of the sort – it’s a documentary that includes reconstructions that are obvious as such. That doesn’t give me much confidence in the rest of the article.

    I couldn’t give a rat’s posterior about Malcolm Gladwell. As McLaren said on the radio interview, not being American has given him the ability to look at the case (over four and a half years) with fewer preconceptions and just approach it as another cold case by going over the evidence at the time.

    The great strength of McLaren’s theory IMHO is that it fulfils the old journalistic maxim that if you can explain something by a stuff-up or a conspiracy, take the stuff-up every time. Yes, he says, there was a conspiracy involving the Secret Service, but it was a conspiracy to cover up their stuff-up.

    The issue of George Hickey suing over “Mortal Error” is covered in the program – apparently Hickey was sent (and received) pre-release copies of the book and did nothing, only suing after *two years* had elapsed. Why did he wait so long? It was settled out of court.

    I’m no expert on the JFK assassination and am willing to be persuaded of other theories, but this one ties up more knots than any I’ve come across without getting into tinfoil hat territory. Perhaps that’s the problem with it – there seems to be need for Americans to see a tragedy of such magnitude as the result of a conspiracy and the idea that it could be the result of a squalid stuff-up perhaps seems to diminish it.

  4. Hans Trayne says:

    Those who remember the shock waves the HSCA sent out to the global public about the CIA working with Mafia godfathers & their operatives during the JFK Presidency, followed by 1981’s imagination provoking ‘Blow Out’ movie (that insinuated Abraham Zapruder had foreknowledge of JFK’s violent & deadly ambush) probably remember Internet message board posters speculating that the SS Agents simply murdered JFK on Elm Street so as Zapruder could record their evil deed. This distrust evolved into the kinder, gentler theory that a careless SS agent accidentally did the deed while attempting to waste Lee Oswald; something incompetent Treasury guards would never admit to.

    This particular theory answers many questions for some people while antagonizing others. Those of us who collect original ambush visuals will keep an eye out for good versions of them in the latest documentaries released in 2013 while ignoring the snake oil bubbling in a pot on a stove top in the background of the video documentary.

  5. Mark Wright says:

    This show will be screen tonight in Australia, the man behind it was on Sydney radio and I rang into the host before he came on air to tell the listeners that this theory was disproved 20 years ago. The author and publisher were sued by SS Hickey at the time.

    Theories like these are a grab for cash.

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