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The NY Times’ Ostrich Act on JFK Assassination Getting Old

The NY Times' Ostrich Act on JFK Assassination Getting Old

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Despite overwhelming contrary evidence, Oswald still labeled "leftist"

Nobody's perfect. But it's hard to think of anything as unworthy of a
high-quality journalistic institution as the New York Times'
decades-long determination to never, ever, find any reason to question
the original story spun by the Warren Commission on the JFK
assassination. No matter how much new evidence has come out to the

It reminds a bit of the forever-blinkered character Sgt. Schultz on
the old tv show Hogan's Heroes ("I see NUUU-singg"here's a good clip,
watch first minute of so…)

Ask any reporter, privately, what he or she thinks on this issue.
Putting aside those who will demur on the basis of not having read
widely on the topic (a surprisingly large number), you'll find most
believing that the "lone nut" or "Leftist loner" narratives about
Oswald are utter junk. This would certainly apply in the New York
Times newsroom.

And yet just the other day, there was this obituary. It's about Warren
Leslie, a Dallas reporter who wrote a book on right-wing animosity
toward JFK in Dallas at the time of the assassination. Yet, skip down
to paragraph 17, and you have this contradictory little morsel:

the lone suspect in the assassination, Lee Harvey Oswald, far from
being a right-winger, was an ardent leftist with Communist sympathies.

It's just neatly slipped in as if it's an uncontested fact, like the
day's sports scores.

Why take this angle? I called and e-mailed the obituary writer, Times
staffer Dennis Hevesi, to ask him, but did not hear back by the time
this was posted. In any case, it's unfair to single Hevesi out, since
this has been a long-standing Times policy on the matter.

Indeed, the obituary was typical of The Times' way of handling the
subjectevery so often, run a kind of "curiosity" piece about some
reporter or character, but then subtly undercut their findings.

Take the paper's coverage of former Washington Post reporter and
author Jefferson Morley's ongoing research on Oswald, which again
points toward Oswald not being a "leftist sympathizer" or Communist
agent at all. The Times article, generally sympathetic toward Morley,
actually began with the following disclaimer, which essentially
contradicted the article's thrust:

"Is the Central Intelligence Agency covering up some dark secret about
the assassination of John F. Kennedy? Probably not."

We have to wonder if that opening nullifier was dictated from on high.
After all, though Scott Shane, who wrote that piece, called Morley's
reporting "meticulous," for some reason the article never provides the
name of Morley's book ("Our Man in Mexico") nor provides a link to it,
but quotes the main "no-conspiracy" author, and cites the name of his
book instead.

There are literally hundreds of interesting, often excellent books on
the JFK assassination. The vast majority of those written by serious
researchers and scholars, and backed by extensive documentation and
footnotes, come down on the side of Oswald having been recruited years
earlier to do covert work for US government entitieswith the
"left-winger" story serving as constructed cover until his untimely

I myself ran into the depth of the subterfuge and the institutional
resistance to disturbing revelations while researching the Bush
family's past for my investigative history, Family of Secrets. I
learned, for example, of George H.W. Bush's secret intelligence
connections, which preceded his CIA directorship by several decades. I
learned that the elder Bush had a lifelong friendship with a
Dallas-based Russian émigré (anti-communist) oil and intelligence
operative named George de Mohrenschildtwho himself was of intense if
passing interest to the Warren Commission. And I learned that de
Mohrenschildt had essentially guided Oswald for a good part of the
year before the assassination.

There's paperwork on all this, even a letter on the topic of Oswald
from de Mohrenschildt to Bush, with Bush's reply. Plus connections
between de Mohrenschildt and right-wing Dallas moguls of exactly the
sort that the late Mr. Leslie wrote about more generally.

Nothing on this Oswald-de Mohrenschildt-Bush connection has ever been
mentioned by The Times (save a one-sentence pooh-pooh in the paper by
the late establishment historian Stephen Ambrose in 1992.) However,
The Times did cover de Mohrenschildt's suicide, shortly after his
final correspondence with Bush and shortly before he was expected to
testify before the new House Select Committee on Assassinations.

Speaking of which, The Times rarely reminds readers that the House
committee itself concluded that Kennedy's death was probably the
result of an elaborate conspiracy (i.e., it was not a "loner"
operation), but with no Soviet or Cuban government involvement.

How to explain this see-no-evil act? There are many reasons that news
organizations will not tell the whole story, or fudge what could be
revealed. Whatever is behind this shameful failure, reporters and
editors know that the JFK assassination is just "too hot to handle,"
that it is a kind of electrified third rail that can destroy a
journalism career. But even well-founded fearof being ridiculed,
marginalized, demoted, or otherwise penalizedis no justification for
this unrelenting pattern of behavior at an institution that promotes
itself as a "paper of record."

Anyone who calls him- or herself a journalist must be willing to take
risks for the truth. After all, if the public can't count on
journalists to get it right on the big stories, why should they trust
us on the rest? And if journalism can't be trusted, democracy is on a
slippery slope.

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