Former PBS news anchor Jim Lehrer appeared on the Diane Rehm’s NPR radio program yesterday and talked about his suspicions of conspiracy in the assassination of President Kennedy.
His careful comments broke from the orthodoxies of American journalism.
In 1963 Lehrer was a reporter for the Dallas Times Herald, the city’s afternoon paper, assigned to cover the arrival of the Kennedys at Love Field on the morning of November 22, and their scheduled departure that afternoon. He is also the author of new novel about JFK’s assassination entitled “Top Down.”
The conversation went like this:
REHM: “Jim, you know far better than I that there are still many people who believe that President Kennedy’s assassination was the result of a conspiracy, that Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone. That Jack Ruby was placed in there to kill Lee Harvey Oswald so he couldn’t talk. What was your conclusion after all of your own investigation?
LEHRER: “It’s complicated. I spent, as I say, six months or even longer believing all of that what you just said, it had to be — it just seems so obvious that one guy couldn’t have done that. And it had to be a conspiracy. You know, one crazy guy just could not get away with killing the president of the United States. ….
“And so it was — disbelief was there for everybody, particularly among reporters. And our job is to test everything or whatever. So what — I went at my reporting or the idea that there had to be a conspiracy. The only issue was, what kind of conspiracy? So I checked out every one of them, as did everybody else. And it was all said and done, I came away with a conclusion after several years, after a few years that there may have been a conspiracy.”
“And — but it’s not provable and that the lone gunman stands alone as the probability at this point. However, I always personally believe that one day, you know, when they still had the old wire machines with the bells ringing and all that sort of stuff, that one day I was going to hear the bells ring and there was — there’s going to be a bulletin, somebody on a death bed or whatever who said, okay, I’m going to tell my story.”
Lehrer’s comments, appropriately careful given the contradictory evidence, show a refreshing willingness to describe the evidence, as opposed to pronounce on theories. Along with the new book, “The Kennedy Half Century,” by veteran pundit Larry Sabato, Lehrer’s comments signal a new willingness among some mainstream journalists to speak candidly about the causes of JFK’s assassination.
You can listen to the whole conversation here.