Readers weigh in on JFK conspiracy theories and America's obsession with "faux news."

Published November 27, 2003 8:07PM (EST)

[Read "The Man Who Solved the Kennedy Assassination," by David Talbot.]

I enjoyed David Talbot's article about Robert Blakey, who has always struck me as the most sensible of the critics of the Warren Commission, but I'm not ready to agree that he's solved the Kennedy assassination just yet. Blakey's good sense is evident in the fact that he acknowledges that it was undoubtedly Oswald, firing his Mannlicher Carcano rifle from the sixth floor of the Book Depository, who killed Kennedy. It's the conspiracy part that's still not proven.

No doubt the Mafia had plenty of motive to kill Kennedy, but so did a lot of other groups and individuals, as the proliferation of conspiracy theories amply demonstrates. Motive alone, therefore, means little. Like Blakey, I'm intrigued by the connections between Marcello and David Ferrie, who probably knew Oswald as a teenager in the Civil Air Patrol. But even these connections prove nothing. And standing against the connections are two sets of facts I don't think Blakey gets around. First, Oswald is the last person anyone would recruit as an assassin. No one would be more undependable (see both Posner's book and the Norman Mailer pseudo-biography of Oswald). More important, no conspiracy buff has ever gotten around the fact that Oswald's employment at the Book Depository, which was critical to his ability to carry out the assassination, was total happenstance. Ruth Paine heard that the relative of a friend had gotten a job there, and that they were still hiring, and suggested Oswald apply there. This happened before the motorcade route was even decided.

-- Brian Farrington

So if Ruby was hired by the Mafia to murder Oswald to keep Oswald from ratting out the fact that the Mafia had hired him to murder Kennedy, how is it that none of this came out during all the years Ruby was idling away his life in federal prison for the murders? When he had many opportunities to provide the details to anyone he might have cared to inform -- including during the period he knew himself to be dying of cancer and therefore had little to fear from Mafia retaliation?

Blakey's theory is silly and typical of all people who have spent years soaking their brains in the details of this case -- they see so many trees that they lose the ability to see the forest.

-- Dallis Radamaker

As someone who spent more than 10 years investigating this and who has read virtually every primary source available, I am absolutely convinced that JFK's murder was the result of a struggle for control of the country.

Consider the enemies JFK had made as a consequence of his foreign policy decisions (the test-ban treaty, a neutralized Laos, the executive order that began withdrawal from Vietnam, the firing of top CIA officers -- including Allen Dulles -- and the Alliance for Progress). Consider his domestic enemies (J. Edgar Hoover, big oil, the steel industry) and what was at stake. Consider, too, the established evidence of conspiracy, including a rigged military autopsy, wholesale destruction of documents, the killing of more than a hundred witnesses seemingly with impunity, and the violation of security measures so basic that Charles de Gaulle said, upon hearing of Dallas, "The police did it."

Existing evidence, including the Zapruder film and the unanimous agreement among all Parkland Hospital doctors who saw Kennedy's wounds that he had suffered two bullets from the front -- a massive wound in his right temple that blew out a large part of the back of the skull, and a wound of entry in his throat -- alone proves a conspiracy. And of course the 5.6 second window in which all shots were evidently fired (the Zapruder film works as a clock). One shot is known to have missed, wounding spectator James Tague near the triple underpass, and at least one bullet inflicted the massive, fatal head wound; in the absence of more than three shots (the "Oswald" rifle could not be fired more than three times within the time frame) the third bullet necessarily caused a wound in Kennedy's back, the throat wound, and wounds to Governor Connally's back, chest (breaking a rib), right wrist (breaking the radius), and left thigh. Commission Exhibit 399, said to have caused these wounds and emerged unscathed, was "matched" with Oswald's rifle. No competent pathologist believes that to have been possible.

The Mafia can and does, presumably, carry out executions; it hated the Kennedys. But the Mafia could not have orchestrated a massive, obvious cover-up that began the minute Kennedy was killed and is still extant. I urge all Salon readers to look at all of the evidence and apply independent, fearless judgment. The political assassinations of the 1960s utterly changed the political landscape. That was the point. Until we exhume the unutterably sad truth about what happened to America in Dealey Plaza (and Memphis and L.A.), we will not be able to reclaim our country.

-- Richard Raznikov

[Read the latest edition of "Right Hook," by Mark Follman.]

You gotta love James Lileks, even if his reasoning is of the tortured, convoluted, right-wing apologist variety. His characterization of Michael Jackson as "a pervy slab of albino Play-Doh" and "a washed-up, crotch-grabbing yee-hee! squeaking nutball" is just about perfect.

Would that he could apply that same creative borderline-libel to Faux News, whose pandering to the lowest common denominator of couch potato is at the heart of our current information dilemma. Faux didn't start it, but it certainly magnified the "news value" of O.J., Laci Peterson, Susan Smith, JonBenet Ramsey, John Wayne and Lorena Bobbitt, and a whole spectrum of lesser lights.

But shoot, far be it from me to accuse the right of engaging in double standards. And, while we're talking about Ann Coulter ... well, let's not.

-- Dan Smith

By Salon Staff

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