Saturday, 30 January 2016 15:12

The Decline and Fall of Jim Fetzer

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Jim DiEugenio reviews the career of the University of Minnesota professor of philosphy of science, observing that his rather lax attitude toward critical analysis of scholarly sources, coupled to his taste for the "Sensational Solution", are responsible for the demise in respectability of this self-proclaimed authority on conspiracies.


Part One

James Fetzer was born in California in 1940. He attended South Pasadena High School, and then Princeton. After graduating, he joined the Marines and ascended to the rank of captain. He resigned to attend graduate school. In 1970, he attained a Ph. D. from Indiana University. His areas of concentration were history of science and philosophy of science. He began teaching philosophy at the University of Kentucky. He then taught at a series of colleges in the south and east before getting a tenured position in 1987 at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. He retired from that position in 2006, having attained the Distinguished McKnight University Professorship. During his long academic career, Fetzer wrote or edited over 20 books and published over 100 essays.

The first time this author ever encountered Jim Fetzer was when I looked at a copy of the first JFK book he had edited. It was called Assassination Science. The reason I ended up buying this anthology—many years after it was published in 1998—was because it contained two articles by Dr. David Mantik. I considered Mantik a good authority on the medical evidence, and I wished to reference him in the second edition of Destiny Betrayed, and also in Reclaiming Parkland. In those two articles, the book lived up to its title, since Mantik was at least trying to reason scientifically based upon the autopsy evidence. For instance, he argued there was reason to believe, based upon optical densitometer readings, that the Kennedy autopsy x-rays had been manipulated. Chuck Marler also wrote a quite interesting piece about how the Warren Commission had altered surveyor James West’s plat map of Dealey Plaza. This was done under the supervision of junior counsel Arlen Specter.

But elsewhere, the claim that the book was completely based upon science does not ring true. For example, near the end of the book, in a chapter called “Assassination Science and the Language of Proof”, Fetzer begins to reel off a bullet audit list. This is labeled Proof 1. (p. 352) That is, proof demonstrating there were more than three bullets fired in Dealey Plaza that day. But the very first pieces of evidence he uses, he misconstrues. Referencing David Lifton’s Best Evidence, he writes that, in that book, Lifton shows the reader photos of two “substantial bullet fragments”. He then adds that they were recovered from the presidential limousine and that they thus denote, for his purposes, two bullets.

Unfortunately, this is incorrect. And it’s rather easily proven so. For if one goes to the Warren Commission exhibits which picture the two fragments, it is plainly captioned that they are the head and tail of one bullet. Since Fetzer lists the Commission exhibit numbers, it is odd that he got this wrong. (See Commission Exhibits 567 and 569)

Then Fetzer’s scientific reasoning veers off even more. He writes that the probability in favor of the Secret Service setting up President Kennedy are anywhere from a million to 1 to a billion to 1. (See p. 367) Quite naturally, he then concludes that the evidence that the Secret Service set up President Kennedy is overwhelming. He uses the usual litany of complaints here—e.g., someone wiped out the back of the limousine outside of Parkland Hospital.

My question: Did Fetzer ever try and find the man who used a bucket to wipe out the back of the limousine? To my knowledge, he remains nameless to this day. Therefore, there is no interview with him to see why he did what he did. Or if he did it of his own volition, or someone told him to do so. If these factors are not known, then how can one assign a mathematical probability to them happening? These are the things that our side has to demand if we are going to assign statistical probabilities to events.

Fetzer now veers off even more from the book’s title. He now states that his witness Chauncey Holt reported in a radio interview that he was a counterfeiter who worked for the CIA in 1963. (ibid, p. 368) He was ordered to bring false Secret Service identifications to Dealey Plaza on 11/22/63. That he disguised himself as one of the three tramps in the famous photographs of these hoboes who, after being unloaded from a train car, were escorted through Dealey Plaza on the way to police headquarters.

If we added up all the researchers who have made claims about who these three tramps were, the number would probably be in the double figures. To say, on the basis of a radio interview, that we know who they are and that Holt is credible, what is scientific about that deduction? What is even forensic about it? Suffice it to say, other researchers have dug into Holt’s story at great length, and have shown great doubt about his claims—for instance, that Holt traveled to New Orleans to deliver pre-printed leaflets to Guy Banister’s office for Oswald to pass out, when in fact there is evidence these were printed in New Orleans and Oswald hand-stamped the leaflets with Banister’s address.

From here, Fetzer’s book gets even worse. He starts writing about Madeleine Brown and the infamous Murchison party. Like the Three Tramps, this “party” has become a matter of evolution. Except in this case, it’s not the identities that have evolved, it’s the sheer number of persons reported present. Fetzer goes in all the way on this one. He has George Brown of Brown and Root, J. Edgar Hoover, John McCloy, Richard Nixon and LBJ all on hand. (p. 369) When LBJ arrived, there was a closed-door private meeting of about 20 minutes in length. When it was over, Johnson told Madeleine that Kennedy would be taken down. To go through all the problems with this rather tardy “night before” planning and the credibility of Ms. Brown would be both laborious and cruel. Suffice it to say, Seamus Coogan has done some nice work on this Murchison gathering, and found some good reasons to qualify it as suspect. (Click here and slide down to “A Short Dissection”.)

II

Two years later, in 2000, Fetzer edited another anthology. This was more modestly titled as Murder in Dealey Plaza. This book was, I felt, better than the first one. And for a very simple reason. Dr. Gary Aguilar joined Mantik, and the two each wrote long essays for the volume. Combined, they account for about 125 pages. In this reviewer’s opinion, they make for fascinating reading in any informed debate about the medical evidence in the JFK case today. The book also contained an interesting essay by the late Doug Weldon on what happened to the Kennedy limousine after the assassination; a good essay by Vince Palamara on the Secret Service, and ARRB researcher Doug Horne’s argument for two brain examinations in the JFK case. Further, Mantik had edited and highlighted three medical evidence depositions conducted by the Assassination Records Review Board. In my view, this marked the high point of Fetzer’s contributions to the JFK case.

But there was a qualifier to note. As opposed to the first book, Fetzer personally contributed very little to this volume. His writing amounts to about 35 of the volume’s 420 pages of text. About half of those pages consist of a review of Jesse Curry’s book JFK Assassination File, a summary of Assassination Science, and a letter to a Justice Department attorney about the Zapruder film.

This last revealed a growing obsession of Professor Fetzer’s: namely that the Zapruder film had been altered. And not by a little, but by a lot. Fetzer’s argument is for wholesale alteration of the film. In fact, it was this strong belief by the former professor that led to a bitter and personal feud with author and private investigator Josiah Thompson.

Thompson had based his 1967 book, Six Seconds in Dallas, largely on an analysis of the Zaprduer film, which he was allowed to view at the headquarters of Life magazine. That publication had decided to sponsor a small, closely held reinvestigation of the JFK case in the second half of 1966. Thompson had been a part of that team, which also included reporters Dick Billings and Hugh Aynesworth. It resulted in a preliminary report in Life entitled “A Matter of Reasonable Doubt” on the third anniversary of Kennedy’s murder. This inquiry was disbanded when, in New Orleans, it ran into the early stages of Jim Garrison’s investigation. Why? Because Holland McCombs, a top executive at Life, was a close friend of Clay Shaw. It was further sandbagged by the employment of Aynesworth, who was really working as an undercover agent. In fact, after an interview he did with Garrison, he reported back to a colleague, that they must not let on they were working both sides.

But because of this endeavor, Thompson was allowed to have extensive access to the Zapruder film, for the simple reason that Life owned it. He consequently examined individual frames with a magnifying glass, was allowed to view transparencies, and so on. No author at that time had anywhere near his exposure to the film. As a result, Six Seconds in Dallas was written something like a visual essay, using drawings made from the film. It is probably not too broad a statement to say that, without his access to the film, Thompson’s book would not exist—at least in the form it does today. It is therefore not unfair to claim that Thompson had a vested interest in the film being genuine.

Since Fetzer did not edit his first anthology until 1998, he had no such vested interest. In fact, as we shall see, Fetzer seemed to enjoy challenging established shibboleths in the JFK case (and, as we shall also see, in other fields.) He seemed to actually revel in the combined role of trailblazer/hell raiser. Hence the feud between Fetzer and Thompson took on not just an inherent generational aspect—that is, between the established entity and the New Kid on the Block; it was also a debate over style, and the way evidence was weighed and measured. Thompson represented a more conservative, considered, traditional approach. Fetzer, who seemed to be radicalized and energized by his feud with Thompson, now seemed intent on picking up on almost any offbeat novelty in the field to further his self-styled role as the brave, bold, brass-balled iconoclast.

So almost as an extension of his Thompson blood feud, Fetzer’s next collected essay anthology was entitled The Great Zapruder Film Hoax. This came out in 2003. And if one goes over to Amazon.com, one will see that Thompson promptly posted a fully negative review about it. That same year, Fetzer held a seminar at the University of Minnesota in which he invited several speakers from his book to address a live audience on the subject. In this instance, Fetzer decided to disable comments on YouTube. In other words, there was no arguing with the professor on this issue.

III

My first personal dust-up with Fetzer came in the same year that his Zapruder film volume was published. For at the end of 2002, a rather mysterious book entitled Regicide was published. It was mysterious for two reasons. The author, a man named Gregory Douglas, was very much an unknown quantity in the critical community. Secondly, the book actually pretended to explain exactly how the assassination of President Kennedy came about. It did so through documents allegedly penned by the CIA’s Chief of Counter-Intelligence James Angleton. In other words, Angleton had masterminded the assassination, worked with other power groups—like the Pentagon and the Mafia—and left behind meeting logs of his conferences with them. (Hmm—oh really?) Somehow, Douglas had discovered the documents. From them he had written the ultimate solution to the JFK case.

Fetzer accepted this. He jumped on Amazon.com and gave the book a five star review. I had heard about the book but delayed reading it, or making any judgment about it for two simple reasons: I had no idea who Douglas was, or how he had come into possession of the documents. I poked around on these issues and I discovered through former CBS reporter Kristina Borjesson that Douglas was deliberately mysterious, and he used more than one name. She found this out since she had previously tried to run down a story put out by him. I then asked Lisa Pease—who had a strong interest in Angleton—if she had heard about the book. She said she had. Someone had told her that Douglas was a rather unsavory character who, before Regicide, had been accused of forging documents, and using them to write books, this time in regards to the Third Reich.

I decided to do some research on Mr. Douglas. It turned out that, if anything, both of these reports were putting it mildly. For Douglas also went by the name Walter Storch, among others, and he ran a weird news blog called TRB News. To make a long story short, the book is almost certainly a hoax. And Douglas had a long history as a confidence man. I wrote an essay that was partly focused on Douglas and his book called “Beware the Douglas/Janney/Simkin Silver Bullets”. (Click here to read it) In that essay I compared this book to other previous hoaxes like Nomenclature of an Assassination Cabal (aka The Torbitt Document), and Farewell America. I mentioned Fetzer’s initial acceptance of the book, and his later distancing himself from it.

The professor did not appreciate me bringing up this issue. He got in contact with me and expressed his umbrage in no uncertain terms. I defended myself by saying it was not at all difficult to find out about Douglas/Storch’s past. All one had to do was to do a name search on Google. He replied that we had a difference of opinion about the quality of sources. To this day, I really do not know what that meant. Was he saying that he still put some faith in Douglas? Or that his book still had some validity? I didn’t see how that could be the case. Or was he reflexively trying to defend himself from missing a relatively easy to find truth about the matter?

Whatever the reason was, this episode indicated two traits about Jim Fetzer that would manifest themselves more fully in the future. First, a rather lax attitude toward critical analysis of scholarly sources, which was odd coming from a former philosophy professor who wrote books with titles like Scientific Knowledge: Causation, Explanation and Corroboration, Philosophy of Science, and Philosophy, Mind and Cognitive Inquiry, among many others. (To be exact, he edited the last.) The other disturbing trait exhibited by the Gregory Douglas episode was Fetzer’s taste for, let us call it, the Sensational Solution. That is, the idea that there were large areas of the case that were yet to be discovered, and that only through some inside or offbeat source could the complete truth about the murder of JFK be found.

IV

There was a third character trait Fetzer exhibited that was not really suitable for the scholarly study of a complex phenomena like the JFK case. That was an overweening self-righteousness. He was right no matter how much data there was against him; no matter how many people could show he was wrong; and no matter what their qualifications were. All these traits would come to the forefront in three instances that would soon surface on various forums dealing with the JFK assassination. Specifically, these were the cases of Judyth Baker, Ralph Cinque and Peter Janney. And by this time, not only was the professor online, he had his own internet podcast show called The Real Deal.

Let us deal with the first two instances. At what was then John Simkin’s Spartacus Educational JFK Forum, Jim Fetzer was directly responsible for two of the longest, most controversial, most volatile threads ever created there. They dealt with first Baker, and then Ralph Cinque and his Doorway Man theory. Fetzer had Baker on his podcast and was vouching for her as a new, late-arriving witness who was absolutely imperative to the JFK case.

To say the least, many people disagreed with him. There were Oswald biographers—like David Lifton and John Armstrong—who did not buy her. And there were people who had thoroughly studied the New Orleans aspects of the case—like Bill Davy and myself—who did not buy her. I was also influenced by the work of the fine Florida researcher Carol Hewett. Hewett had done some work for 60 Minutes on Baker. That program had seriously thought of doing a segment on the woman. After Hewett presented her case, they decided not to. (See here for a critique of Baker)

No matter how many people pointed out good reasons not to buy into Baker, Fetzer would not backtrack. (And this is after he said that he would change his mind if confronted with contradictory information.) Some pointed out his incredible stamina. Others, like myself, privately e-mailed him and advised him to desist since he was dealing with aspects of the case he was not familiar with. Fetzer communicated back that he would do no such thing. This genuinely puzzled me, since it defied his identity as a scholar. New Orleans is a very complex, multi-layered area of study in the JFK case. It literally takes years to understand it. Yet Fetzer—who had not done any real study of that area—was endorsing someone who made bizarre claims, and had little back up for them. As many have stated about the JFK case: extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence. Which Baker did not have. Yet that seemed alright with the professor; her claims were enough.

Fetzer even titled a thread he started at Spartacus, “Judyth Vary Baker: Living in Exile.” Then Glenn Viklund—who I disagree with about everything else in the JFK case—posted documentary information that this tenet was false. Baker had applied for political asylum in Sweden. That request was denied. Baker appealed and the appeal was denied in early summer of 2008. She left. Her status the whole time was as an asylum seeker. She was never living in exile.

The problem here for Fetzer was twofold. First, the liberal Swedish government did not think that Baker had any personal problems due to her alleged involvement with Oswald. And they ruled on the case twice. Secondly, Viklund wrote that these documents about Baker’s case were a matter of public record. He spent about four hours going through them and he made four phone calls to Sweden to garner further information. The obvious question was: Why didn’t Professor Fetzer do the same before mistakenly titling his thread? Fetzer’s lack of due diligence—as exposed in both the Gregory Douglas and Baker cases—was becoming a chronic problem. (Click here for that thread)

V

About two years later, in January 2012, Fetzer was back at work on Spartacus Educational. He was also writing for an online magazine called Veterans Today. He was using that journal to promote his ideas about the JFK case. This thread also ended up being very long (although not nearly as long as the Baker thread). It ended up with nearly 700 replies. It got so vociferous, so belligerent, that it eventually was locked. (Here is a link to the thread)

I am not going to detail here what Fetzer and Ralph Cinque were propagating. It seemed to me to be so wild, so far out, that it was almost a caricature of what those so-called “tin foil hat” JFK researchers were all about. So I refer the reader instead to their Oswald Innocence Campaign home page in which they spell out what they mean. For those who don’t care to wade through all those pages, in a nutshell, what they were saying was that in the famous Altgens photo, the facial features of the figure in the Texas School Book Depository doorway were done over in an attempt to hide its, i.e., Oswald’s, identity. The object was to make it appear that it was Billy Lovelady. In other words, the photo was altered.

To say this one was met with some resistance does not at all register how bad the reception was. (For an example, click here) The main problem with this is that there were at least three pieces of evidence in the record that undermined it. And again, Fetzer missed all three of them. But let us begin with how the controversy began.

When Lovelady, a fellow worker at the Texas School Book Depository, showed up to have his FBI photo taken, they did not tell him to wear the same shirt he had on the day of the assassination. So he wore a striped shirt and not a plaid shirt. This left the door open for some notable people to deny the Altgens doorway photo was of him: e.g., Harold Weisberg.

As others pointed out, there were films from that day which showed Lovelady outside the Book Depository with a plaid shirt on, and another film from inside the Dallas Police Department. That latter film showed both Lovelady and Oswald in the same room at the same time. One can see that Lovelady had a shirt on that was similar to the figure in the doorway. Further, a central tenet of Fetzer and Cinque was that the Doorway Man figure was wearing a V-neck undershirt. Yet when one looks at Robin Unger’s finer resolution of the photo, to put it kindly, this is not readily evident.

And it later turned out, through better photo renditions and comparisons, that the Fetzer/Cinque V-neck appeared to be an illusion from a chin shadow. This created a serious problem, since part of their argument was that Lovelady was wearing a round-necked T-shirt, and Oswald was not.

For his version of Altgens, Fetzer had used a scan from Life magazine. Which, of course, did not make for a very good rendition of the photo. Finally, Pat Speer pointed out that Oswald had changed his shirt after he left the Depository to go back to his rooming house. (He did this since he did not think there was going to be any more work to do.) Thus the shirt that Fetzer claimed Oswald was wearing at the police station was not the same one he was wearing before the assassination. This in turn meant there was no control factor for the comparison, because we really do not know what shirt Oswald was wearing in the Depository. And the Altgens photo was a black and white picture, so it was not easy to be definite about its color and pattern.

This thread became so obnoxious and so insulting that the moderators had to clean it up about a third of the way through. And warnings were given to the participants to calm down. About thirty posts past this warning, the moderators eliminated an entry in which Fetzer “included a number of insults directed at the Forum membership, including one particularly crude reference.” But Fetzer did not get the message. On February 8, 2012, he posted this about Pat Speer: “You must have led a strange life Pat, to have grown up with such a grotesque tendency to distort, misread, and mislead those who read your posts.” And Speer was a moderator! And he was actually letting Fetzer guest host Cinque’s comments, since Cinque was not a member!

It got so bad that former friends, Fetzer and Greg Burnham, now became opponents. Burnham posted the following: “I withdraw from this debate. I concede exasperation.” But he returned, which was a mistake, since the thread ended up with Greg telling Fetzer that he and his wife now considered Fetzer persona non grata in their home. Cinque told Duncan MacRae, “MacRae, you’ll be eating my shorts before I eat that.” Cinque then told another moderator, Jim Gordon, “But, if you can’t find any other such examples, then you can take your composite theory and shove it in the same place I told Lamson to shove his angle of incidence. Is that clear enough? Are we communicating?”

Incredibly, at the conclusion of this eventually locked thread, Fetzer and Cinque then tried to bring up this issue again. Except this time they now argued that in the film inside the Dallas Police station, it wasn’t actually Lovelady. Lovelady had been substituted by an actor. This corollary to the original thesis was met with even greater cynicism than the first time around. It was so preposterous that it eventually led to Fetzer being banned from Spartacus Educational. These two incidents at that forum—with Baker and Doorway Man—showed that Fetzer simply could not admit he was wrong. No matter what the arguments against him were, no matter how powerful the evidence arrayed against him was. And all of this led some to elevate his name into a pejorative term which has gained online notice (for instance, in the Wiktionary).

VI

Around this same time, 2012, Peter Janney’s book Mary’s Mosaic was published. Fetzer now raised his saintly, self-righteous manner to even higher amplitude. On Amazon.com, he called Janney’s book a litmus test for the research community, one that would “separate the competent from the frivolous, the courageous from the cowardly and the honest from the dishonest”.

But, as with his commentary on Judyth Baker, what became obvious in his review of Janney was that he knew little or nothing about the Mary Meyer case before he read the book. He simply accepted just about all that the author wrote as if it were fact, despite Janney actually using people like Gregory Douglas as a source. Janney also appeared on Fetzer’s podcast more than once. Again, Fetzer did not challenge any of the tenets of the book. For instance, Janney had written that his suspected killer, William Mitchell, had disappeared off the face of the earth; yet, lo and behold, researcher Tom Scully—armed only with a computer— had found him living in northern California. And it was the correct Mitchell.

If that were not embarrassing enough, Scully’s information on Mitchell revealed that he was in his seventies at this time. Yet the late Leo Damore—Janney had adapted and used his work profusely in his book—said he had met Mitchell in the early nineties, and he was 74 at that time. How can a man not age in a generation? Further, Fetzer suggested that since Janney could not find any details of his academic career at Harvard—where he allegedly attended—that record must have been purged. But Scully found those records, once again armed only with a computer. (Click here)

This episode revealed in excelsis the severe shortcomings in Fetzer’s critical apparatus. As this author has stated, criticism is nothing if not qualitative analysis. That is, one must examine the data the author adduces, where he got it, and how solidly backed it is. That rule is a common one in historical analysis. But it is even more important for the JFK case, for the simple reason that this field is littered with fraudsters, politically motivated smear jobs, and deliberate disinformation. And these kinds of problems have proliferated of late since it is relatively easy to get a book published today. Decades ago, one had to sell an editor and publishing house on a book. Today one can just sign up with, for example, Create Space, and start typing away. Presto! one has a Kindle edition.

Beyond qualitative analysis, the responsible critic must also apply comparative analysis—that is, how does the book compare with other related work in the field. Janney’s book went way beyond what anyone else had ever proposed in the Mary Meyer case. He was proposing an exotic, high tech precision assassination team that was taking out Mary Meyer because she was transforming the former Cold Warrior Kennedy into a visionary statesman. So in addition to the actual mechanics of the murder of Mary, there was also the portrait of Kennedy to deal with. For if that portrait was faulty, then the motive for murder was dubious. This required a comparative analysis of the latest scholarship in the field of Kennedy’s foreign policy, which, again, Fetzer had not done. Or if he had, it was woefully lacking in his discussion of the book. So why was he calling the book a litmus test when it was apparent he had not done his homework before jumping onto Amazon to praise the book? (CTKA’s two-part review of the book is here)

It was this book, and Doug Horne’s five-volume series Inside the ARRB, that began Fetzer’s lashing out at Lisa Pease and myself. In my view, Horne’s book was much better than Janney’s, though in my review of that very long book I did make some criticisms. (Click here for that review) And that was enough for Fetzer to start attacking me on some forums.


Part Two

VII

As noted in Part One (above), a most puzzling fact about Jim Fetzer’s approach to the JFK case has been his lack of any rigorous critical methodology. This failing allowed him to accept and embrace people like Judyth Baker, Ralph Cinque, and Peter Janney and his book Mary’s Mosaic. This last example—his acceptance of a faultily premised book—leads into two other works that Fetzer accepted pretty much in their entirety. I am speaking here of Philip Nelson’s tome, LBJ: The Mastermind of JFK’s Assassination and John Hankey’s documentary film, first titled JFK 2 and then retitled Dark Legacy: George Bush and the Murder of John F. Kennedy.

To say that Fetzer praised the Nelson book would be putting it much too mildly. In fact, it would be a misrepresentation. Jim Fetzer called Nelson’s book “a masterpiece”. He also tried to draw a parallel between it and James Douglass’ book on the JFK case. He called Nelson’s book the equivalent of JFK and the Unspeakable in the Lyndon Johnson field.

This last assertion puzzled this author, because it betrayed a lack of insight into what made the Douglass book exceptional. Jim Douglass’ book deals more with John F. Kennedy than it does with his assassination. The distinction of that book is that it shows how Kennedy’s assassination was a result of the policies he had instituted as president—especially, but not only, those dealing with Vietnam and Cuba. Douglass attempts to explain 11/22/63 as a reaction to a man who had decided to try and halt the Cold War, if not completely, at least to make a start. And it uses his June 10, 1963 American University speech as a touchstone throughout. To my knowledge, it was the first book of that kind ever published.

How could one possibly do a book like that about Lyndon Johnson? It would not seem to me to be possible. What Nelson actually did was to write a book in which he collected all of the data he could on what a dishonorable man Johnson was. This in itself is not at all uncommon. It began back in 1964 by rightwing extremist J. Evetts Haley. Haley was an instructor at the University of Texas who was dismissed because of his attacks on Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal as being socialist. When running for governor of Texas in 1956, Haley promised to use the Texas Rangers to block school integration. This was two years after the Supreme Court’s Brown vs. Board decision, which decreed integration must be achieved with due haste. In 1964, Haley published his book A Texan Looks at Lyndon. This was a clear attempt to attack Johnson from the right and soften him up for Barry Goldwater—who Haley endorsed for president. Because the John Birch Society also backed Goldwater, they helped make the book a runaway best seller. When the 1964 presidential election heated up, the book was selling tens of thousands of copies per day. It eventually sold into the millions. In my experience, it was the first book to insinuate that LBJ was involved in several murders, including that of his sister Josefa, and to implicate Mac Wallace as his probable hit man.

In the JFK field, the book became the paradigm for writers like Nelson, Barr McClellan (Blood, Money and Power), Glen Sample and Mark Collom (The Men on the Sixth Floor), and Craig Zirbel (The Texas Connection). To be fair, Nelson also stated that he was influenced by Noel Twyman’s book, Bloody Treason. Which is odd, because whatever one thinks of Twyman’s book, it certainly did not leave a very lasting impression on the research community. Except for Nelson. But what Nelson borrowed from Twyman was probably the weirdest part of his book. Twyman first recited all of the literature about JFK’s extra-marital affairs, e.g., Marilyn Monroe, Mary Meyer, Judith Exner. He then swallowed them in their most extreme forms, not questioning anything about their previous presentations. He theorized that the Washington power structure felt that if they plotted to murder JFK they could use his extra-marital affairs as leverage against the Kennedy family’s attempt to expose the conspiracy, or to recruit those whose cooperation they sought by invoking Kennedy's putative behavior as a threat to national security. Unfortunately for Twyman and Nelson—fortunately for the rest of us—this author exposed much of this as flatulence in his long essay, “The Posthumous Assassination of John F. Kennedy”. That piece  was originally published in Probe Magazine and then excerpted in The Assassinations. Nelson, and Fetzer after him, ignored that important work, for it punched myriad holes in Twyman’s utterly fantastic daydreams, which, in his mystifying credulity, Nelson accepted in full, even going beyond Twyman in some ways.  Surprisingly, more like unbelievably, Fetzer found little or no fault in any of this. What is further ironic in Twyman’s wholesale acceptance of the above, is that Johnson, whom he sees, along with Hoover, as being brought into the plot, was the man who once said he bedded more women by accident than Kennedy did by design. Johnson also said that the worst invention for women’s fashion was pantyhose. Johnson's womanizing, or even Allen Dulles' for that matter, certainly makes any claim about playing upon the moral indignation or fear of security breaches among the Washington élite seem rather preposterous. What serious historian could take such an argument in earnest? Well, a pseudo-historian like Nelson could.

CTKA had author, journalist, and private investigator Joseph E. Green review Nelson’s book. As the reader can see by reading that review, we were at odds, again, with Professor Fetzer. To put it plainly, we found his unqualified endorsement of Nelson’s book as “a masterpiece” rather dubious. Since Green’s review was published, two new discoveries have been made which weaken Nelson’s thesis even more.

Nelson stated with certainty that Johnson had ducked down in his trailing car as President Kennedy and Governor John Connally were being hit by shots during the assassination. (Nelson, pp. 471-78) He wrote that the Altgens photo proved this, since Johnson is not visible in the picture. Nelson then concluded that this showed that Johnson knew what was coming. To say that Nelson plays this up to large effect does not do his hyperbolic treatment justice. Pulling out all the stops, he pretentiously labels this section of his book “The Hidden Key to Unraveling the Crime of the Century”. That’s not even enough. He then writes that it is “prima facie proof of Lyndon Johnson’s foreknowledge of the assassination.” (ibid, p. 476)

In 2013, two years after the release of Nelson’s book, Robert Groden published Absolute Proof. He reduced Nelson’s metaphysical certitude to rubble. On page 272 he makes a powerful case through photo analysis—which he knows something about— that 1) You can see Johnson’s head in the photo, and therefore, 2) what Nelson said so certainly occurred did not happen. In other words, Joe Green’s criticism was correct. Johnson did not duck down in the car at all. Moreover, as Groden wrote, he “was probably as unaware as his wife Lady Bird that the shooting was even taking place.” Which, of course, is the opposite of Nelson’s presentation. So much for Fetzer’s “masterpiece”.

The other cinching point that Nelson abided by in his book was the Malcolm Wallace fingerprint. This was the belated discovery by the late researcher Jay Harrison that Wallace’s fingerprint was one of the unidentified prints found on the sixth floor. Nelson put this piece of information in his book. He then criticized others for not accepting it. (See pp. 589-90) It turns out that he should have double-checked it first himself. Joan Mellen did do that. Her computer analysis has shown that it is not Wallace’s fingerprint. Her book on this subject—and the whole Mac Wallace episode— will be released this fall.

The question in regard to our titular subject is this: How could anyone call this book a masterpiece? By doing so, Fetzer was placing his own credibility on the block with the book. As the reader can see, Fetzer’s unqualified and irresponsible use of that term in relation to this bloated mediocrity says more about him than it does Nelson. I am sure Nelson was appreciative of the accolade. But what does Fetzer’s lack of circumspection and gravitas do for the rest of the interested public? As in the cases of Gregory Douglas, Ralph Cinque, Judyth Baker and Peter Janney, it shows just how Fetzer is so eager to accept—and how blindly he does accept—practically anything that comes down the pike in the JFK field, almost as if the wilder and more unfounded it is, the better. Which is nearly the precise opposite of what the function of criticism is.

VIII

This brings us to Fetzer and his pal John Hankey. It doesn’t need to be said—it almost follows from the above record—that Fetzer endorses Hankey’s work. Seamus Coogan has written several fine articles for this web site, e.g., on the Majestic Papers, and on Alex Jones. But the first article which brought Seamus to the attention of the JFK critical community was his long and detailed critique of John Hankey’s documentary, first titled JFK 2. (It was then retitled Dark Legacy.) Hankey’s film tried to make the case for the involvement of former President George H. W. Bush in the murder of President Kennedy. As Seamus revealed, it was not successful. (Click here)

Seamus’ review created a mini-uproar in the critical community—and a few other places. Why? Because it was the first extended critical analysis of Hankey’s film. And Seamus was a well-informed and well-read reviewer. Up until his review, some people had been accepting of the film.

I should explain. Because of the decline of belief in the MSM, many alternative forms of press and radio outlets have developed. They are, much of the time, short of guests to interview. Since they do not have a budget to hire screeners or analysts, people like Hankey fill the vacuum. Seamus broke open that phenomenon as far as Hankey was concerned. In fact, his review created a kickback effect. Hankey and his meager following were angry because Seamus had exposed the myriad faults in his film in such intricate fashion. CTKA got e-mails from radio hosts who had guested Hankey and also writers like Michael Green who had accepted his work.

Seamus’ review created such a brouhaha that Hankey was actually forced to acknowledge the criticism. But he then tried to beat it back by attacking Seamus for having an agenda. I decided to join in the fray and defend Seamus’ fine work. (See here)

My point was that Hankey’s excuses for making literally dozens of serious errors in his film simply did not fly. And he could have easily corrected them if he really wanted to. Later, Hankey attempted another defense: he tried to say that his errors were all minor. As the reader can see by clicking the link above to the discussion at ”JFK Murder Solved”, this is simply not the case. Making up fanciful dialogue and putting it in the mouth of former DCI Bill Colby is not a minor error. Neither is manufacturing a scene with George H. W. Bush walking into FBI Director Hoover’s office with a couple of Cubans and a revolver to threaten him. (Hankey eventually cut this scene out. He never thanked Seamus for pointing out its inherent absurdity.)

But Hankey and Fetzer then went further. If one can believe it, Hankey tried to put together a conspiracy theory as to why CTKA published Seamus’ essay. In this fantastic and bizarre Cecil B. DeMille extravaganza, Hankey actually tried to drag in Lisa Pease, who had absolutely nothing to do with Seamus’ essay. The truth is much plainer and simpler. Seamus was watching Hankey’s documentary online one evening. He e-mailed me some questions about it. I finally asked him why he was asking me such stupid questions. He said because this information was in Hankey’s film. From there he began work on a critique of the film. I edited it, as I do all essays at CTKA. The major part of my editing consisted of cutting it down in length. If I recall correctly, Seamus’ essay was originally something like 55 pages long. I thought this was overkill, and further, that few people would stick around that long. So I cut out about 20 pages, not an easy task, since it was all pretty good. In other words, my major effort on the piece actually aided Hankey. But this was a Seamus Coogan work all the way. And he went on to better things later. Off a later piece he did for us, Seamus actually got a paying job as a writer. We are always willing to give young and new authors an opportunity, even though this might eventually hurt us, since these people may not write for us as often anymore.

But the point is, Hankey was stung. He had actually been selling some products off the notoriety he garnered from his documentary. But Seamus’ harpooning of his film became one of the most popular articles at CTKA. Probably the most frequently viewed essay since this author’s review of JFK and the Unspeakable. For that reason, Hankey could not leave it alone. He now began to extend his truly nutty conspiracy theory about it. On the James Corbett show, the Corbett Report, Hankey dropped one last element of his crazy schematic: Jim DiEugenio was a CIA operative.

This was absolutely bonkers of course. So when two listeners who were loyal CTKA writers and readers heard it, they contacted Corbett and asked for equal time to reply, which Mr. Corbett allowed me to do. But now Fetzer joined in on this, in two ways. On his program, he actually insinuated I was part of the CIA’s Operation Mockingbird program. Mockingbird is the Agency’s longtime project to control the media from the top down. That is, by controlling certain owners and editors, e.g., William Paley of CBS, David Sarnoff of NBC, Phil Graham of the Washington Post. It extended down to reporters like Jeremiah O’Leary of the Washington Times and Hal Hendrix of the Scripps-Howard News Service.

Now, perhaps no one in the critical community has written as many articles on the Agency’s involvement in the Kennedy assassination, or the cover up, as often as this writer has. But further, I have also written and talked about CIA involvement in both the RFK case and the MLK case. In fact, the book The Assassinations, co-edited by Lisa Pease and myself, holds that as its overall theme. I have been physically threatened by a former CIA operative to cease writing. A man close to the Agency, and then living in Canada has told us, that the CIA closely monitored Probe Magazine. And I don’t blame them for that. So, to cover their own failings, Hankey and Fetzer libeled me. And to a lesser extent Lisa and Seamus.

IX

The Fetzer/Hankey sideshow reached its apogee when the fine film Kill the Messenger came out in October of 2014. I am fortunate enough to be able to write film reviews for Robert Parry at Consortium News. I am proud of that association since I think Parry and his online publication is one of the very best alternative media sources there is. Among other stories, Parry broke the whole CIA/drug running angle for the Associated Press. This was back in 1985 when he and his partner, Brian Barger, stumbled across it while covering Ronald Reagan’s CIA war against the Sandinista government of Nicaragua. Bob was one of Gary’s biggest supporters when he first published his three part series back in 1996 for the San Jose Mercury News. And for many years after Gary’s death in 2004, Bob marked his demise with an anniversary story in his online magazine. (Click here for an example)

Since I reviewed movies for Bob, I quite naturally asked to review the Jeremy Renner production of Nick Schou’s book of the same title. I was familiar with the story since I had read the book and met Webb before. But I did some additional research for the article. My review was published on 10/16/14. I am quite content with the review, and other luminaries were also duly impressed. For example, David Talbot posted it to his Facebook page. Radio broadcasters got in contact with me to go on the air. (Click here for the review)

But Fetzer and Hankey looked at my review not as a reason to celebrate a good movie. Nor did they see it as a cause to celebrate the memory of a fine reporter; or as an opportunity to condemn the CIA for what they had done to Gary and his story. (Click here for the proof) In fact, they really did not have very much to say about Renner’s fine film or Gary Webb. Fetzer and Hankey, still stung from Seamus’ article, decided to make me the target of the film’s release. At Fetzer’s new outlet Veterans Today, he allowed Hankey to call me “an op” over my review. Why? After all, I did praise the film, and Webb’s work. It was because I wrote that Webb had taken his own life.

Which happens to be true. How do I know this? Because Lisa Pease and the late journalist Michael Ruppert attended the funeral. They both had misgivings about the cause of death. Once they talked to the surviving family members, those reservations were silenced. Hankey and Fetzer based their smear of me, and their conspiracy theory about Webb’s death, on the fact that Gary had died of two self-inflicted gunshot wounds to the head. It did not matter that Ruppert had been a Los Angeles policeman and said that he had been called to homes where such things had happened. It did not matter that Gary’s son Eric still had the weapon. And Eric had done a pre-release interview published in LA Weekly where he had addressed this question.

That interview with Eric was published in the September 29, 2014 issue. It was part of a long story by Sacramento reporter Melinda Walsh. It was available online. I read it before I wrote my review. Since Fetzer and Hankey published after me, they had access to the story also. Eric told Walsh that he still had the weapon. It was a .38 Special that Gary got from his father. This particular edition of the weapon does not require the shooter to re-cock in order to take a second shot. As Eric further explained, “I’ve got that gun so I know. Once you cock the trigger, it goes “bang” real easily … You could just keep on squeezing and it would keep on shooting.” These are the kinds of researchers that Fetzer and Hankey are. In their incontinent desire to go after CTKA and myself, they would overlook the man who is probably the best witness to this issue, one who still had the weapon at his home.

With their main point neutered, let us look at the evidence, which, in their campaign, Fetzer and Hankey either ignored or discounted. As biographer Nick Schou explains in the first chapter of Kill the Messenger, Webb had serious financial problems in the last year of his life. Gary had been drummed out of journalism due to the campaign against his “Dark Alliance” series about the Contras running drugs, and the CIA either aiding it or ignoring it. He was helped out by getting a job through local Democrats in the California legislature. But when there was a power shift in Sacramento, Gary was cast adrift. He tried to get a job in daily journalism. He sent out about fifty resumes. He could not even get an interview. So he was forced to work at a weekly, which did not pay him anywhere near what he had been making previously. As a result, he could not afford the mortgage on his house. He had to put it up for sale.

In addition to that, he had tried to move in with his ex-wife Sue, who had garnished his wages for back child support. She turned him down. So did his ex-girlfriend. Gary was on anti-depressants, which were not working very well.

As Schou notes in the last chapter of his book, several days before his death Webb had called an old friend, Annie Nocenti, who was working at a suicide hotline out of town. He sounded depressed, and so she asked if he wanted to see her so she could cheer him up. Gary replied, “You’d stay for a week, we’d have fun, and then I’d put you on a plane and kill myself.” She did not take this seriously. But when she called back, Gary said he had made the decision to take his own life. He had already paid for the cremation. He made it clear that this matter was between her and him and no one else.

As Schou relates early in his book, there were no signs of forced entry to the death scene. In fact, Gary left a note on the door instructing the first responders not to come in. They should call for an ambulance first. He left identification on the nightstand. In the trash can was a poster from his first job with the Kentucky Post. It was a motto from his editor Vance Trimble, saying that they would never pull a controversial story under pressure. Gary had left his bank account in his wife’s name. And he had mailed letters to his brother Kurt in San Jose—which included his last will and testament—and also to his wife and children. He told his son Eric not to be dissuaded from pursuing a career in journalism because of what had happened to him. He wanted his ashes spread out over the Pacific Ocean so he could body surf forever. I ask the reader: In God’s name, what else more does a rational person need to know?

I did not want to deal with these matters in my review. Just as the film did not. Probe Magazine had covered Gary’s epochal and bold three part series which had literally taken the country by storm. I wanted to concentrate on the good things Gary had achieved and the finer aspects of a film that literally everyone should see. It depresses and frustrates me that I have to dredge up these painful aspects in order to correct the libelous smears rendered in the pages of Veterans Today. Libel motivated by the animus of Fetzer and Hankey toward an article I did not even write. In order to fulfill that animus they walked over the dead body of a fine journalist whose work they could never touch.

What happened to Gary Webb was not a wacky Alex Jones/ Fetzer/Hankey conspiracy theory. It was part of a national tragedy that deprived Webb of the only career he ever desired. That is, to be a reporter for a major newspaper. As Schou wrote in his book, quoting Parry: “What happened to Gary is an American tragedy, but one that still hasn’t been addressed.” Or as writer Marc Cooper said, “What I can say is that the media killed his career. That’s obvious and it’s really a nauseating and very discouraging story. Because as a journalist, the only thing you have is your credibility. When that is shredded, there’s no way to rebuild it.”

This is the truth about what happened to Gary Webb. It’s a much larger and deeper story than the likes of Hankey and Fetzer could ever address. They don’t have the talent or the insight. And, as shown above, they have very little credibility.

X

It was not enough for Fetzer to muck up the JFK case. In addition to sponsoring Hankey on Gary Webb, he then spread out to other areas: like the RFK case, and 9-11. In all these instances, Fetzer chose the same trail as he had before—the most extreme, sensational one.

In the 9-11 field, in 2005 Fetzer teamed up with former Brigham Young professor Steven Jones to form something called Scholars for 9/11 Truth. Jones is actually a scientist. He has a Ph. D. in physics from Vanderbilt. Jones did post-doctoral work at Cornell and has worked at two linear accelerators, one at Stanford and one at Los Alamos. He also worked at a research lab from 1979-85, and the Department of Energy for several years into the nineties. He is an acknowledged expert on fusion. In 2005, Jones presented a paper on his BYU sponsored web site attempting to explain the collapse of the Twin Towers by way of thermite explosives.

Yet just one year after Jones and Fetzer teamed up, they got a divorce. Why would Fetzer want to split from such a reputable scientist? He and Jones split over something that is literally hard to describe. I actually still do not understand it. In its own way, it is as far out as the Fetzer/Cinque “Altgens altered photo to disguise Oswald” nonsense. I first heard about it through Joseph Green, the CTKA correspondent who reviewed Philip Nelson’s book for this web site. Meeting with Lisa Pease and myself on a weekend he spent in LA several years ago, he told us, “Did you hear about what the 9-11 people are now proposing?” Since I did not follow that field I said no, I didn’t. Joe replied, “They are now saying that the towers were leveled by space beams, no plane hit them, and what people saw was a giant hologram.” I said: You can’t be serious? Joe replied, “Yes I am. And Fetzer is part of it.”

Unfortunately, Joe was correct. This was indeed what Fetzer and Jones split apart over. And in 2006, about 80% of Scholars for 9/11 Truth broke away from Fetzer. Led by Jones, they formed a new research group called Scholars for 9/11 Truth and Justice. (For those interested in how the actual divorce proceeded, click here)

In sum, Jones could not abide by the directed energy beams, no planes ideas of Judy Wood and Morgan Reynolds. As we have seen, Fetzer always had a penchant for the Sensational Solution, no matter how far out it was, no matter whom it came from. Reynolds had actually worked as an economist in the George W. Bush administration during his first term. For good reason. He was anti-labor-union and wanted to do away with the minimum wage. David Shayler was another of these wild, far out 9-11 visionaries. Shayler stated that the Trade Center jetliner crashes were faked using “missiles wrapped in holograms” and that: “there is little evidence to show that jets went into the buildings. Watch the footage frame by frame and you will see a cigar-shaped missile hitting the World Trade Center.” (The Liverpool Echo, 1/22/07) As Victoria Ashley wrote, “Jim Fetzer is the primary force behind publicity and press releases for the claims of Judy Wood and Morgan Reynolds, advocating endless investigation into every possible scenario imaginable.” As Ashley and others properly noted, this all “displays a classic example of discrediting by association...” (Click here for Ashley’s essay)

In 2007, Fetzer and his new partner Kevin Barrett announced that they now went even beyond the wildness stated above. They now stated that they supported the idea of TV fakery. In other words, the videos of the 9-11 event were faked.

As some have observed, Shayler used to work for British intelligence, MI-5. (See the book, Spies, Lies and Whistleblowers by Annie Machon) The man who is usually credited with beginning the hologram malarkey is former pilot John Lear. Lear was very good friends with the late CIA agent Gordon Novel. As this author revealed in the second edition of Destiny Betrayed, Novel was hired by Allen Dulles to infiltrate Jim Garrison’s investigation in 1967. (pp. 232-33) The same source that revealed this to me also noted Novel’s long and friendly relationship with Lear. (ibid, p. 429, note 53) It is incredible that Fetzer did not see these clear connections, or the parallel to the JFK case. He just blundered into them. In spite of the fact that, upon entering the 9-11 field, he proclaimed to all who would listen: “When I came into this 9-11 thing, see … The others don’t know diddly shit about disinformation. “ (City Pages, 6/28/06, by Mike Mosedale)

From the above sorry performance, neither did Fetzer.

XI

Fetzer’s colossal ambition also made him enter the Robert Kennedy assassination field. Again, this was a bit odd, because Fetzer showed no credentials on being an authority in this area. The RFK community is much more narrowly populated than the JFK case. So it is quite hard not to bump into someone who has been tilling that same field. I had been involved in RFK studies for a period of about three years at the turn of the millennium. It is a very interesting area of endeavor, the main reasons being that 1) that case is even more clearly a conspiracy than the JFK case, and 2) the subject of post-hypnotic suggestion is an utterly fascinating study. It’s so fascinating, in fact, that one can get sidetracked by it and have a hard time making a U-turn out.

Fetzer entered this field in a roundabout way. To my knowledge, he had never done any notable or original work on RFK. But in November of 2006, author and documentary film-maker Shane O’Sullivan went on the BBC network. O’Sullivan had been at work researching the RFK case for a possible screenplay. This eventually turned into both a book (Who Killed Bobby?) and a documentary. But back in 2006 on the BBC he was an interview guest. In his research he said he had discovered that there were three CIA officers at the Ambassador Hotel the night Bobby Kennedy was murdered. He had attained photos of these men and enough witnesses had identified them that he was now going public with their identities. He said they were George Joannides, David Morales and Gordon Campbell.

Recall, this was in 2006, and I saw a clip of the appearance. I immediately had some reservations. For starters, Joannides and Campbell were mostly office manager types. So the idea that the CIA would place them directly in the field to conduct dirty work seemed far-fetched. But also, through the years, I had come to have my doubts about photo identification as a reliable method to solve a crime. There had simply been too many of these that turned out to be wrong—e.g., the infamous three tramps in Dealey Plaza. And they left the critical community with egg on its face. I had been involved with one of these in my first published book, the hardcover edition of Destiny Betrayed. So thereafter I had become very cautious about these forms of detection.

After the BBC broadcast, David Talbot and Jefferson Morley got funding from a major magazine to pursue this investigation further. It turned out that O’Sullivan was wrong. (see this essay) The photo of Morales was the murkiest one in quality. Morley and Talbot found better photos and showed them to a few family members. They all said it was not he. The two reporters also found out that Joannides was stationed in Greece at the time of the RFK murder. In fact, two of the three alleged CIA officers had been identified back in 1968 by the authorities. Campbell was actually Michael Roman. Roman was at the Ambassador with his brother Charles. They both worked for Bulova Watch Company. There was a regional sales meeting at the hotel that week. (O’Sullivan, p. 470) The FBI interviewed Roman a few months after the assassination and he described his reaction to Kennedy’s death for them. The alleged Joannides figure was actually a man named Frank Owens. He also worked for Bulova. He worked under Roman as a regional sales manager. The FBI had also interviewed him in October of 1968. (ibid, p. 473)

In his book O’Sullivan included a photograph of Owens with Roman. A few pages later, he reveals a 1973 photo of Joannides taken in Vietnam. I defy any rational person to look at those two photos and even think they are the same man. (The two shots of Joannides include a close-up.) This comparison actually convinced a reluctant O’Sullivan that he was wrong. (O’Sullivan, p. 474)

But not Fetzer. (see here) In his belated response, Fetzer goes into full denial mode. And he singles out Lisa Pease and myself as succumbing to the faulty work of others. He even goes as far as to insinuate that the families of Owens and Roman were actually faked by the CIA! (Did they also fake Roman’s brother Charles?) He concludes—apparently with a straight face—that both Lisa and myself needed to track the evidence where it leads. And he then says Shane finally changed his mind since he was overwhelmed by the assaults on him. No one can read the two chapters that Shane wrote on this topic in his book and come to that conclusion. Shane resisted the new evidence step by step. But he finally decided that he had been wrong by the sheer amount of data which contravened his original tenet. To his credit, he did not retreat into “fake families”.

XII

“I’ve put them in their place so many times. I haven’t seen where they’ve laid a glove on me.”

–Fetzer to journalist Mike Mosedale in 2006

The above quote shows an almost astonishing lack of perspective and self-reflection. As we have seen in this relatively concise review of his public career, Jim Fetzer has had more gloves laid on him than a wealthy woman at a Gucci store in Beverly Hills. From endorsing the likes of John Hankey and Philip Nelson, to failing to reveal the full story about the death of Gary Webb; to advocating the wildly fantastic tales of Judy Wood, Morgan Reynolds, and John Lear about 9-11; to failing to see that the CIA would not need to “fake a family” in the RFK case since the photos are not of CIA officers at the Ambassador—the reader can see that Fetzer has apparently lost his bearings on what constitutes evidence in high profile crimes of state. To the point that one really does not know what to make of the man today. In addition to being ejected from Spartacus Educational, he was also ejected from Deep Politics Forum and let go from Veterans Today. (For the decision to ban him from DPF click here)

About the last departure, from Veterans Today, it is quite a negative achievement to be terminated by editor Gordon Duff, because he has admitted that a lot of their work at VT is made up. (Click here)

What has been Fetzer’s reaction to all of these people turning their backs on him? He has doubled down on his extremism. He now says that the “deaths” at Sandy Hook were part of a FEMA exercise. In other words, no one actually died. It was part of a plot to further gun control in America. (Click here) What about the Boston Marathon bombing? That was faked also. (Click here)

Meanwhile, in his JFK endeavors, there has been a persistent drive to somehow blame Israel. Many, many people have worked on the JFK case for decades. Not one reputable critic has ever endorsed the view that the Mossad or Israel had any kind of role in the murder of President Kennedy. The fact that say, Jack Ruby and Meyer Lansky were Jewish does not mean they did what they did for Israel. After all, Lansky was a major Mob member who, according to David Talbot’s book on Allen Dulles, was once asked by the CIA to kill Castro. Jack Ruby was a footman for the Mob in Dallas, and also was a former FBI informant who had strong ties to the Dallas Police and did gun running for the CIA. But Fetzer and a pal, Don Fox, used the fact that I—and hundreds of others in the JFK field—do not buy this cockamie idea to, again, attack me. (I cannot link to that article at VT since Duff purged much of Fetzer’s work. But here is a link to the headline)

This last indicates a disturbing trend, and perhaps a reason for Fetzer’s increasing isolation. Fetzer seems to have been a victim of his own penchant for the extreme, the sensational, the over-the-top idea. He consequently has now tumbled into the place where that all ends up. He seems to have enlisted in the ranks of the Holocaust Denial movement. For instance, he wrote the foreword for Nicolas Kollerstrom’s Breaking the Spell: The Holocaust, Myth and Reality. This book states that only a million Jews died in the Nazi death camps and Zyklon B gas was used as a disinfectant. (Click here for a sample of this work)

Need more? The last anthology Fetzer edited is called, And I Suppose we didn’t go to the Moon either? His co-editor was someone named Mike Palacek. The book centers of three topics: 1) The USA never went to the moon; 2) Beatle Paul McCartney died decades ago, and was substituted; 3) The Holocaust was a myth. If you can believe it—and you sure as heck can by now—in the section of the book on the last topic, Fetzer allows infamous Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson to contribute an essay. Who’s next Jim? How about David Irving? Faurisson actually wrote an essay saying that The Diary of Anne Frank was a forgery. In fact, an article Fetzer wrote about the Sandy Hook tragedy was entitled “Did Mossad death squads slaughter American children at Sandy Hook?” So, in this piece, written relatively soon after the tragedy, Fetzer seemed to think people actually perished. But not for long.

Later, he switched horses and now said no one died there and it was all a FEMA exercise. He seems to have based this on a dubious document saying that a FEMA exercise would be conducted at the elementary school in December of 2012. Unfortunately—as with Gregory Douglas—this document has been shown to be almost certainly a hoax. And, as with Gregory Douglas, it was apparently manufactured by people who have a history of doing this kind of thing. That would be bad enough. But it’s not the whole story. When essayist Keith Johnson—who has specialized in studying Sandy Hook—alerted Fetzer that he was associating himself with manufactured evidence, Fetzer refused to change his position.

But actually, it’s even worse than that. In short films that have been prepared by C. W. Wade and others, it has been indicated that Fetzer likely used the same technique he and Cinque used for their Oswald-in-the-doorway imbroglio. That is, they used poor quality film to cloud important evidentiary issues. I cannot do better than to refer you to this article as an exposé of Fetzer’s book Nobody Died at Sandy Hook. There were so many complaints about this book that Amazon.com eventually pulled it from circulation. For a thorough debunking of Fetzer’s efforts on this issue, I refer the reader to Johnson’s essay and advise you to click through to his links and watch the videos at the end. After the reader digests all of this he will see that, as of today, there is little difference between Jim Fetzer and the people who tried to pass off the moon landings as a Stanley-Kubrick-produced hoax, one which the film director purportedly confessed to before he died.

Jim Fetzer began his post-academic career on the JFK case, on which he once produced some passable work. But there may be a hint as to why he ended up in a toxic pond. In an interview he did in 2006 with journalist Mike Mosedale, in referring to his three JFK edited anthologies, Fetzer said the following: “These books I have published are the most important in establishing the objective and scientific evidence of the existence of conspiracy and cover up in the assassination of JFK. Bar none. No other books come close. Remotely. None. They’re in a category by themselves.” (italics added)

What to make of such a man? Does he really believe that the likes of Sylvia Meagher, John Newman, and Gaeton Fonzi should not even breathe the same air he does? Let me say this in their defense: Sylvia Meagher would not even enter the same building with the likes of John Hankey and Philip Nelson. And she would consider Fetzer’s associations with them enough to consider him persona non grata. So in addition to his lax critical standards, and his taste for the sensational, Fetzer appears also to be afflicted with a streak of megalomania about his own position in the JFK field.

Today, far from being a Fonzi, or Meagher, it is more appropriate to look upon Fetzer as a Jeff Rense or Tom Flocco. That is, a repository for junk science and half-baked conspiracy fantasies (I can’t even call them theories. Is he aware of how many times NASA actually went to the moon?)

But he still travels on, shilling for his own omnipotence in the field. In 2013, at the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s murder, he sponsored a conference in Santa Barbara. In an interview with the (unsuspecting) local alternative media, he stated that there were anywhere from 8-10 shots fired at JFK. He then named six different locations from which they were fired. He then topped that. He now reeled off six different assassins—and which shots they were responsible for! (Santa Barbara Independent 11/20/13) Needless to say, Hankey and Nelson were part of this conference. Thankfully, the reporter did not ask Fetzer about the moon landings.

On his radio program today, Fetzer will often be heard musing as to why some authors and researchers do not want to be guests on his show. But, he says, they will go on Seamus Coogan’s show. (Except that Seamus does not have a show.) Another musing is that he blames the Zionist cabal for obstructing his path into more popular media markets. A third thing he can’t figure out is why he is not invited to the more accepted JFK conferences. That is, those sponsored by people like Cyril Wecht and Debra Conway.

The last is not hard to figure at all. Back in 1998, at a JFK Lancer Conference in Dallas, Fetzer got so vociferous in his attack on Josiah Thompson that Debra Conway decided to spare the audience from more of his rant. She walked over to the wall and disconnected the microphone.

After what we know today about Jim Fetzer, we should all follow her example.

Last modified on Saturday, 29 October 2016 16:48
James DiEugenio

One of the most respected researchers and writers on the political assassinations of the 1960s, Jim DiEugenio is the author of two books, Destiny Betrayed (1992/2012) and The JFK Assassination: The Evidence Today (2018), co-author of The Assassinations, and co-edited Probe Magazine (1993-2000).   See "About Us" for a fuller bio.

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