May 12, 2013

No end for conspiracy theories surrounding JFK assassination

A new generation is ready to cash in on the controversy that followed the Warren Commission.

By ALLEN G. BREED/The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

President John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline Kennedy, arrive at the airport in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, shortly before JFK was assassinated. PBS says its fall schedule will include a variety of specials marking President Kennedy’s death 50 years ago.

The Associated Press

click image to enlarge

A vendor holds a publication titled “JFK The Case For Conspiracy” in Dallas in 2003.

The Associated Press

The book has since sold millions of copies in hardcover and paperback, Lane says.

Since then, dozens of books with titles like "Best Evidence," "Reasonable Doubt," "High Treason" and "Coup D'Etat in America: The CIA and the Assassination of John F. Kennedy" have sought to lay responsibility for JFK's death at the highest levels of the U.S. government -- and beyond.

British journalist Anthony Summers, whose BBC documentary became the 1980 book "Conspiracy," says many conspiracy buffs "are fine scholars and students, and some are mad as hatters who think it was done by men from Mars using catapults."

Unlike the later coverage of Watergate, there were no reporters like The Washington Post's Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, who were told by their editors, "Get on this and don't get off it," says Summers, whose works focused on people and events largely ignored or treated cursorily by the official investigations. "Nobody went down there and really did the shoe leather work and the phone calls that we're all supposed to do," he says.

For many, the Kennedy assassination has become "a board game: 'Who killed JFK?' So you feel free to sit around and say, 'Oh! It's the mob. Oh! It's the KGB' ... and have no shame," scoffs Gerald Posner, whose 1993 book "Case Closed" declared that the Warren Commission essentially got it right.

The Oswald-as-patsy community has vilified Posner.

Unlike Posner, Vincent Bugliosi, author of 2007's "Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy," embarked on his book expecting to vindicate the Warren Commission.

What he didn't expect was for it to balloon into a 1,650-page behemoth -- with a CD-ROM containing an additional 960 pages of endnotes -- that cost $57.

"STOP writing," he recalls his wife telling him. "You're killing the sales of the book."

The 78-year-old lawyer blames the conspiracy theorists. "We're talking about people," he explains, "who've invested the last 15, 20, 25 years of their life in this. They've lost jobs. They've gotten divorces. Nothing stops them."

"Like a pea brain," he says, he responded to all of their allegations. "It's a bottomless pit. It never, ever ends. And if my publisher ... didn't finally step in and say, 'Vince, we're going to print,' I'd still be writing the book."

Despite its girth and hefty cost, "Reclaiming History" had a respectable first printing of 40,000, says Bugliosi, best known as the former deputy Los Angeles district attorney who prosecuted Charles Manson.

Many other conspiracy authors have similarly immersed themselves, often coming to the same conflicting conclusions, but the books continue to sell.

Hollywood has also found the conspiracy to be fertile ground:

Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro are to star in a feature film version of the book "Legacy of Secrecy" -- with a reported cost of up to $90 million.

Meanwhile, Marcia Gay Harden and Billy Bob Thornton have signed on for the Tom Hanks-produced "Parkland," named for the Dallas hospital where Kennedy was pronounced dead.

And a TV movie is to be made from another new book, "Killing Kennedy," co-written by Fox News host Bill O'Reilly, which had sold 1 million copies within four months of its release in October.

While even some conspiracy authors admit to having doubts about the value of the endless stream of material, there is little doubt among most that after the anniversary arrives, it won't bring the last word on the subject.

 

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors




Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)