Gerald Ford (left) looks on as Chief Justice Earl Warren presents the Commission’s report to President Lyndon Johnson
It was a private moment between two aspiring statesmen.
On the evening of May 19, 1976, President Valery Giscard d’Estaing of France visited President Gerald Ford in Washington. Giscard, a calculating centrist, had come for a state visit. Ford, the former Michigan congressman, had succeeded the disgraced Richard Nixon. Both men were new to their high offices.
In the limousine ride to the state banquet at George Washington’s home in Mount Vernon, Giscard asked Ford about a sensitive issue: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy 13 years before.
‘Here is an indiscrete question, Giscard said, “You were with the Warren Commission. What was your take?’ Read more
In JFK Files: Holland’s Magic Bullet, Dale Myers critiques Max Holland’s recent writing on the first gunshot fired President Kennedy’s motorcade. Holland has argued that the first shot grazed the arm of a lamp post and missed the motorcade, hit a curb and injured bystander James Tague.
In characteristically sharp language, Meyers finds Holland’s version wanting in evidence and logic. Myers argues for the Warren Commission’s version of the gunfire.
A few things are known for sure. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, 34 years old and dressed in a U.S.-made knock off of a pink Chanel suit, was looking at her husband’s face with concern from inches away when a bullet shattered his head.
After that horrible moment, Jackie had to pull herself together, give Jack the funeral he deserved. She assumed that her husband’s enemies had killed him. A week after the assassination, she and her brother-in-law Robert Kennedy confided in a friend, William Walton. They said they believed Dallas was the work of a high-level domestic plot, meaning JFK’s enemies on the political right.
But mostly Jackie didn’t want to think about who killed Jack. She was close to insane with grief, clutching to her brother-in-law who was devastated as well. She was often suicidal. And so Jackie fades from the crime story. The men who dominate the discussions of JFK conspiracy theories are often united in ignoring the views of the woman closest to the crime.
A middle-schooler in Birmingham, Alabama, writing a paper for English class, recently asked me for my thoughts on the famous Single Bullet Theory, the keystone of the official theory of the Lone Gunman.
One problem with the Warren Commission’s report surfaced in the October 14 issue of Vanity Fair: First Lady Jackie Kennedy didn’t believe the single bullet theory on which the Commission’s findings depend.
“On March 23, 2015, at 2:08 p.m. [in the JFK Facts Comment section], Jean Davison ended a message to someone named “Willy” with this comment: ‘This is what you get when you rely on secondary sources instead of reading the original testimony and documents: a distorted version spun through someone else’s head.’ ”
“Almost no one knows — or cares — that the young men who staffed that investigation worked honestly and hard. Most went on to remarkably successful careers reflective of their selection as the best and the brightest to take on the awful task of determining who killed the president. That modern science has repeatedly affirmed their findings does little to abate the continuing doubt.”
The PBS NOVA show, “Cold Case JFK,” which aired Wednesday night, had a very limited agenda: proving that Single Bullet Theory (SBT) is plausible and show that a grassy knoll shot was impossible. The show’s focus on ballistics served to exclude the context of JFK’s assassination, and thus distorts the event’s importance by ignoring its political meaning.
Has anybody noticed that the conservative Fox News network is more open minded about the JFK assassination story than its liberal competitors?
The embedded player above isn’t working. So click on this sympathetic report on James Tague, a Dallas man who suffered a superficial injury from a gunshot that missed President Kennedy’s limousine on November 22, 1963. Fifty years later, Tague has not been invited to the official ceremony commemorating the anniversary of Kennedy’s death in Dallas.
Philadelphia University has a good idea for commemorating the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination: create a learning experience where people can explore one of the central controversies of the story and decide for themselves. The question is whether the exhibit designers are truly open-minded.