Keep in mind that, while I'm critical of what I've thus far read, I also recognize my own general ignorance of the topic, as well as the need to absorb more information -- the idea being that perhaps the topics of these articles may depend on previous works that I'm not familiar with. In any case, the below is a first impression of what I've looked at so far, but you should realize that it's only a first impression, one based on suppositions established by the authors in 1992. I haven't reached any strong conclusions, although I have noted a few details regarding the conclusions reached by others that tend to bother me a bit.
I finally finished reading "JFK: How the Media Assassinated the Real Story" and I found it a chore as a result of the assumptions made without taking into account the actual context of the times. You need to understand that I may not see things the way many others do, because my knowledge isn't as thorough as that of many folks who believe in such a high-level conspiracy. That being said, the authors of this particular piece have reached a number of conclusions that they have refused to explain with anything even approaching a full understanding of the issue, and they did so while ignoring many of the facts associated with the environment the story is located in. The result is an overly paranoid bit of writing that they've either been unable to support with actual facts or are unwilling to do so. While I'm admittedly less nowledgeable regarding the various players in the conspiracy theme, I also pride myself on the well-versed and accurate consideration of historical context. I think it's without doubt the single most important factor to consider when attempting to understand an event, and it's this point of view I rely on most when considering such matters.
The first problem I've noted is one that places the paranoia evinced in exactly the same ballpark as that of the UFO conspiracies and any other fringe theories that have not been properly supported: the mainstream media is lambasted while public opinion is praised. No offense, but none of that is relevant to this case. The press has ethical guidelines to follow, which those resources with higher-minded reputations like The New York Times or The Washington Post are very careful to abide by -- ethical guidelines that are most often ignored not by the resources castigated by Hennelly and Policoff in their article, but by the very "alternative weeklies, monthly magazines, book publishers, and documentary makers" they praise.
As for the American public, 77-percent of which allegedly reject the Warren Report's conclusions, so what? They also believe in UFOs; they re-elected Presidents Richard M. Nixon and George W. Bush; they overwhelmingly accepted Reagan's "trickle-down theory" as a verifiable fact of human economic nature; they believe that American freedom cannot exist if there are any conditions applied to the sale and ownership of explosive-based projectile weapons; they consider the Rapture to be a factual element of Christian prophecy, when the idea was only introduced in the 19th century by an American cult leader who insisted that God wouldn't be so cruel as to punish his true believers and other ethically-minded followers by forcing them to experience Armageddon first hand; they also believe that while God made sex the single most enjoyable act most humans are capable of experiencing first-hand, and supposedly commanded man to "go forth and multiply", "good" humans aren't supposed to seek it out for themselves unless they're married -- and even then, only when actively trying to create more little humans to reach opinions of their own someday. The American public is so far from being the ultimate arbiter of human truth and decency, that it is not surprising to me at all that most reject the Warren Report's conclusions. Most also reject the consideration that the free-market system should be regulated for the health and benefit of the nation. My primary reaction is so what?
The authors state that from "the first reports out of Dallas in November of 1963 to the merciless flagellation of Oliver Stone's JFK over the last several months, the mainstream media have disgraced themselves by hewing blindly to the single-assassin theory advanced by the FBI within hours of the murder", failing to note that (1) years passed by in many cases before other theories and layers of evidence were introduced, so the press wasn't necessarily at fault here, (2) JFK was an admitted work of fiction, not a documentary, that got many facts wrong, did not accurately portray Garrison's book in regard to he events that took place, sacrificed numerous explanations and introduced numerous fictional elements for the sake of streamlined storytelling that even Oliver Stone defended with claims that "it makes a better story" and "we were looking at it from an artistic point of view", and (3) "the single-assassin theory advanced by the FBI within hours of the murder" was the end result of a very standard and inclusive investigation that the press had nothing to do with. In 1963, moreover, the relationship between press and government was very different than it is today, and the press was not inclined to conduct investigations of anything at the level being discussed here. You can't disgrace yourself by acting in the manner accepted and often demanded within the corporate structure of contemporary professional norms.
The press didn't "disgrace" themselves -- they acted within the accepted bounds of their profession under additional guidelines requested -- not demanded -- by the FBI and the State Department in order to prevent the sort of mass panic the could very well force the government to consider if not take military action against the Soviet Union. The Cuban Missile Crisis had terrified the population of the entire world, and Oswald had recently left the Soviet Union. He was considered a traitor by most of the American populace, and many people thought he should have been arrested on espionage charges the second he stepped back onto U.S. territory. This fact alone necessitated a little more careful handling than the press today would be inclined assert. But in 1963, the press was very different, and the entire world was very aware that a nuclear war had only barely been avoided. A more delicate touch was absolutely necessary. The press acted admirably in the face of such an environment. Since then, the "alternative weeklies, monthly magazines, book publishers, and documentary makers" who have reached different conclusions have been derided by the press for reaching their conclusions by ignoring the context of their claims, and by refusing to acknowledge the mediocrity of the evidence they have uncovered -- exactly as the UFO controversy has also been handled by the press of today. This derision is not evidence of a conspiracy between the press and the government; it's basis originates primarily within the media's contempt for such sources as unethical and unsound.
As for the language used in this article, it's just disgraceful, manipulative, and overbearing rhetoric in my opinion. The Village Voice "has discovered a pattern of collusion and co-optation that is hardly less chilling than the prospect of a conspiracy to kill the president"? Seriously, gimme a break. In any case, that charge certainly isn't backed up by the contents of the article -- only the fiery language that's been used throughout the article. That's just my opinion, true, but I don't think the case was even suggested by the evidence proposed, let alone made. In my opinion, the historical context alone gives the FBI and the State Department good reason to control the story as it developed over the following months, and the fact that the national media tried to maintain an independent survey in the midst of those attempts to control the story is to their credit -- it's not something to find fault in. There was a presence of mind indicating, or at least belief in, a very real danger that any over-reaction could have started a war, and that's what everybody was so concerned with. I think they were absolutely right to be so concerned, and I'm thankful that the national press took such care to avoid inciting an already volatile populace.
I also don't like the way the authors of this piece failed to explain how they reached some of their conclusions. They say, for instance, that "The Voice has discovered that: Within days of the assassination, the Justice Department quashed an editorial in The Washington Post that called for an independent investigation; within two weeks the FBI was able to crow that NBC had pledged not to report anything beyond what the FBI itself was putting before the American people", implying that the editorial was quashed because it called for an independent investigation, when it was more probably quashed for calling for an independent investigation to determine whether the Soviet Union or Cuba was involved in the assassination, the sort of claim that could very easily have resulted in calls for an immediate invasion of Cuba, followed by insistent demands for missile defenses extending into Turkey -- either of which would have been disastrous. NBC's pledge wasn't a pledge to hold back on the story -- it was a pledge not to publish dangerous and misleading conjectures or suspicious presumptions that could have led to public demands for retaliation. Nearly all of the evidence discussed in that article can very easily be interpreted as smart business practices, unsuspicious reliance of inside information, or corporate productions that reached the same independent conclusions as the Warren Report, not necessarily reaching the same conclusions as the Warren Report under orders to do so by government agents.
The whole "Dad says" memo is nothing more than a red-herring tossed into the fray after being reinterpreted as some kind of conspiratorial reflection of dictatorial powers that have yet to be established. Maybe other articles and stories substantiate these claims better, but this one does not -- it establishes hidden secrets and dangerous designs on the command and control of the nation in exactly the same way the UFO maniacs try to establish ET taking out our missile defense systems -- and they fail just as dramatically. If CBS accepted the truth of the Warren Report's findings, than of course they would have tied additional evidence supporting it. That's what people do to support their individual beliefs. It doesn't mean they were bought and sold by the government if they can actually make a valid case -- and they were able to do so. The Voice might not agree with their claims, but they were certainly not able to prove that anybody knowingly lied. And their labeling of this practice as "unethical and immoral" shows a leap to that conclusion without presenting sufficient evidence to back it up.
The article charges that "the media completely relinquished its usual skepticism and opened the door for the government to do whatever it found most expedient", yet fails to prove the point, and neglects to mention that in 1963 the media could not be characterized as skeptical of government in the first place. Americans, for the most part, trusted their government throughout the 1950s and that trust continued into the sixties, only falling apart as a result of the far more obvious interferences of the Vietnam War. Skepticism was NOT usual -- it developed along with all of our other doubts in government motivations throughout and as a result of the political environment that came about after the assassination. The press became skeptical of government because of Vietnam, the Pentagon, Watergate, and other travesties of government operation -- and it wasn't in practice and typical until then. More importantly, what government found expedient after Kennedy's murder was necessary. It was trying to keep us out of a very dangerous war in the western hemisphere that could have very easily annihilated everything. The national security debates that continued from Eisenhower's administration make it very clear that almost everybody in government was scared to death about provoking the Kremlin into taking the nuclear initiative, even in a limited way. They weren't trying to protect the American people from learning the truth of Kennedy's murder; they were trying to protect the American people from a very early nuclear winter. It represents a war on rhetoric, not a war on facts.
I've got to be a bit frank with you -- there are also a number of assertions that are just offensive. "Many of the editors who were calling the shots on assassination coverage had come out of World War II. Their country took precedence over the truth; the CIA and FBI were entitled to the benefit of the doubt; the "free press" was sometimes confused with the Voice of America", all the while presenting nothing to back up those ridiculous claims. This is also the primary strategy of UFO proponents.
The Justice Department's Katzenbach memo is characterized as an immoral strategy, but every prosecution of crimes in the United States establishes similar strategies -- in a case so complex, it isn't strange at all that such matters would be discussed and shared with other offices. Oswald was dead, so it's perfectly understandable that in the absence of a trial, the Justice Department would want the public to be satisfied with that closure; anything less was incapable of preventing very real problems that nobody needed, especially after a few years had gone by and very real controversies were capturing the attention of the public. The fact that the Justice Department didn't want people associating Oswald's motivation with "a Communist conspiracy or (as the Iron Curtain press is saying) a right-wing conspiracy to blame it on the Communists" was understandable; anything less carried with it the potential for a disastrous war or, at the very least, heightened adversity between the US and the USSR -- which was already bad enough. It doesn't mean that they were preventing such speculation because it was true. " Unfortunately the facts on Oswald seem about too pat—too obvious (Marxist, Cuba, Russian wife, etc.). The Dallas police have put out statements on the Communist conspiracy theory, and it was they who were in charge when he was shot and thus silenced" is an outline of concerns, not an admission of deceit. I'm personally very happy they were concerned -- that's their job. And the fact that the Warren Report supports the needs outlined in the memo is not proof that the Warren Commission was purposely manipulated to reach those conclusions. In fact, every member of the Commission has responded to such suggestions with derision, as well they should have, since suggestion without evidence is pretty insulting to anybody trying to reach a judicial assessment of a crime. Regardless what side of the issue you may align yourself with, Katzenbach's suggestion that a "Presidential Commission of unimpeachable personnel" be appointed to examine evidence and reach conclusions is an appropriate one.
The FBI materials were very well covered by the authors, I thought. But even within this point of view, the eventual conclusion that "top FBI officials were continually concerned with protecting the Bureau's reputation", in conjunction with Katzenbach's concession that J. Edgar Hoover would never "let the agency be embarrassed by any information on the bureau itself" isn't an admission that is contextually relevant to conspiracy, but one which Katzenbach explains under terms evincing innocence and ignorance in regard to Hoover's predelictions: "He just would never show it. But how would you know it? What could you do?" Nobody was aware that Hoover was more interested in protecting the FBI than in properly investigating the murder of the President. But even here, Katzenbach's insistence that nobody was aware of this peculiar quirk characterizing Hoover's administration of the matter (and I do understand that this description tends to lessen the severity of Katzenbach's charge), it still doesn't indicate that the FBI's investigation was one-sided to such an extent that justice was subverted; it shows only that Hoover's character was sufficient to suspect such a conclusion. UFO proponents very often reach conlusions on the same basis, e.g., the USAF is lying about UFOs, because the conclusions the USAF reached in regard to UFOs is that they pose no danger, their representation has no effect on national security, and there is no compelling reason for the USAF to continue investigating them; or the USAF is hiding proof of UFO interference with nuclear missile facilities, because many aspects of nuclear missile technology and administration is highly classified. These are fallacious arguments. Definitive conclusions are not supposed to be reached on the basis of possibility, but real evidence indicating proof or even probability.
Even Katzenbach's admission that "the Department of Justice seriously hoped that the Washington Post would not encourage any specific means by which the facts should be made available to the public", noting that such an act would merely "muddy the waters, creating further confusion and hysteria", is an understandable reaction to the murder of the President. In addition, the expressed need for "a presidential commission to investigate the assassination" essentially advocated a premature interference with the FBI's investigation, the completion of which would determine whether or not such a commission would even be necessary. It's a justifiable reaction based on the need to gather facts and witnesses without interference. Even Hoover's FBI memo stating "I called Mr. Walter Jenkins at the White House and advised him that we had killed the editorial in the Post" is absent of conspirancy. It's not triumphant boasting to inform the White House that a point of concern no longer qualifies as a point of concern.
As for the teletype to J. Edgar Hoover indicating that "NBC had given the bureau assurances that it would "televise only those items which are in consonance with bureau report [on the assassination]", the fact that NBC had already developed leads they were considering for publication is the only motivation needed to explain the above acts; publication would enable public debate in regard to issues that had not yet been fully investigated or analyzed. Even today this practice is a common resort used to limit public assessments of open cases; any such debate can very easily change its outcome, in that it would influence the testimony of witnesses. The need reflects the necessity to protect the investigation, not to influence the public to reach premature conclusions of a conspiracy.
The whole New York Times discussion is pretty sad. Publication of the Warren Report does not indicate complicity in a plot to withhold the truth from the American public. After all, they published The Pentagon Papers as well. In addition, the fact that they may have left out statements by those with stories contrary to what other witnesses testified to is not necessarily a fault; they had no intention of ever publishing anything other than an abridged version of the original report, so leaving out witnesses who gave testimony that could not be confirmed and did not match other testimonies isn't exactly problematic. And the claims that "any vigorous critical evaluation of the Commission's findings at this juncture would have jeopardized this great relationship" is nonsense. Chief Justice Earl Warren merely facilitated a publishing venture of a singular document; any "great relationship" needs to be substantiated first, and even then, there's no indication of a conspiracy.
The magic bullet discussion is old news -- I don't buy the authors' conclusions. Many recreations of the assassination have been completed, and there are consistent assessments that the assassination took place just as the Warren Commission found -- shots from behind. There are numerous unanswered questions, but the question alone do not signify a conspiracy -- they tend to pop up in many homicide investigations. In any case, demands for another investigation by some, with contrary assessments and demands is not an indication of conspiracy -- only of differing opinions.
To a great extent, all of the controversy involving the Zapruder film is focused on copyright violations -- not hiding the truth from Americans. Even here, the authors' reach conclusions on the basis of evidence that has yet to be presented. In any case, the growing cynicism of the public is also not an indication of a conspiracy. In the late 1960s, growing cynicism was universal, but it had no bearing on the facts; what it did do, however, is create a market for ever-more sensational accounts and publications. As a result, both the American public and the authors of books holding a cynical viewpoint fed off of each other, creating an audience that had no need to examine the claims being made by authors who in turn failed to consider contrary opinions or the evidence supporting them; most neglected any attempt to examine the evidence in favor of a single shooter. It even took about twenty years for anyone to publish a thorough biography of Oswald. For years, people did whatever they could to publish evidence suggesting a wide-ranging conspiracy. With the exception of the Warren Report, most ignored entirely any attempt to prove otherwise, and their acts are just as prejudicial as anything authored by those supporting the Warren Report. From what I can tell from the CTKA webite, this characer of the controversy on both sides has established a complete mess of facts and figures that left me feeling disgusted with the entire investigation. I have yet to see any comprehensive work that actually measures the strongest cases inherent to both sides of the matter. To be blunt, I found it very tiring. Even CBS's attempts to conduct such an investigation was plagued by ignorance and a desire to prove pet theories. Due to that, nothing productive was actually obtained -- at least that's how it appeared to me.
It seems apparent, however, that the press did at times neglect further investigation and, in some cases, actively suppressed the results of their investigations. Whether you blame this on ratings, a desire to support those holding stock options, or a concern to elicit closure-based conclusions, there's nothing but speculation to support any theories defining a conspiratorial link between press and government. It's either not there, or I haven't yet found the evidence establishing it. Seriously, it's a huge mess regardless of the position you take, and both sides are responsible for it, a quality that is once again shared with UFO-based controveries.
The whole John J. McCloy discussion can be easily interpreted as an action intended to correct errors in CBS's investigation of the case -- none of it suggests attempts to control the investigation. In addition, most of it is barely suggestive of a conspiracy, being almost irrelevant to that conclusion.
To close, I find the quote stating that while "Stone's film does take serious liberty with history, the virulence with which the film has been attacked seems to say more about a defensive press that missed and continues to miss a major story than it does about any flaws in JFK" is another case of misleading rhetoric that's irrelevant to the real issues. The same reaction was garnered from The Last Temptation of Christ, The Life of Brian, and The Human Centipede, and nobody tried to blame the press for being overly "defensive" because they not only missed the story that Christ was a man, they also missed the story establishing the biological basis of the The Human Centipede. Maybe it's because I don't have enough knowledge to properly argue the controversy, but I honestly don't see anything that convinces me of the authors' affirmations. I'll keep looking through the articles on the CTKA website, but so far it's kind of a bust. In any case, I'll start working on the Gus Russo pieces next, primarily because I don't know who he is.