With a new book, Twenty-Six Seconds: A Personal History of the Zapruder Film, author Alexandra Zapruder offers her unique perspective to discuss issues surrounding and contained within the brief filmstrip which is the best visual record of the John Kennedy assassination. As the granddaughter of Abraham Zapruder, the man responsible for the film, the author can balance historic and technical details with a personal family story. Her status also allows for privileged access to archives and persons associated with the film, and reveals some new – albeit not earth-shattering – information. However, the book is imbued with a certain partisanship, not limited to family interests, which dulls the author’s critical thinking in some key areas. The shortcomings will seem acute to those in the critical research community, less so to those who come to the book as the personal memoir of unassuming folks who become accidentally fused with an historic event.
A self-described “conventional thinker”, Zapruder is comfortable and reasonably adept dealing with conventional narrative themes in her extraordinary tale – public and personal tragedy combine; family legacy and memory; legal and ethical questions encountered and choices made – but her annoyance with the spoiler element in this story is perceptible each time she types “conspiracy theorist”, which she does a lot.1 Current respectable mainstream opinion, it appears, continues to resist the critical literature developed since the JFK Records Act. Such denial was exemplified by Joyce Carol Oates in a review of Twenty-Six Seconds at the Washington Post, in which she categorized criticism of the Warren Commission as a “farce” which undermined “trust in the U.S. government and in authority in general that continues to this day.”2
The Zapruder Film and LIFE Magazine
Print rights for the film were purchased for LIFE Magazine by the Time Inc. media conglomerate Saturday morning November 23, less than twenty-four hours after the event. Rights for the film as a motion sequence were purchased the following day, although these latter rights would never be utilized. In total, LIFE paid $150,000 for the film. The author is somewhat defensive about this transaction, although it could be reasonably contended that after the authorities decided not to seize the film, Abraham Zapruder was simply a good businessman who negotiated a price the interested party was willing to pay. He also expressed to his family a sensitivity over the graphic presentation and felt that LIFE could be trusted to restrain any urge to exploit the images.
|Zapruder appeared on WFAA-TV |
a few hours after the shooting
In the LIFE archives, the author would years later find evidence of internal debates over how to handle the more graphic frames. Leading up to the special JFK memorial issue of LIFE, published two weeks after his death, art director Bernard Quint cautioned that “momentary opportunism displayed in the use of these details in colour will be to our everlasting discredit”, and promised to publicly resign if they were printed. Zapruder recites LIFE’s own understanding of this memorial issue: a responsible public service, sold at lower cover cost, with any profit donated to the Kennedy Library. Previously, Abe Zapruder had donated a portion of his proceeds to the family of slain police officer J.D. Tippitt. Many sides to these complexities find reflection, as author Zapruder has skills in retelling personal experiences and thought processes, and in clear description of various facets of controversies with the film. Just not all the facets.
LIFE’s JFK Memorial issue, and also the December 6 regular edition, featured a one-page article attributed to associate editor Paul Mandel titled “End To Nagging Rumors: The Six Critical Seconds”. Acknowledging there were growing rumors and doubts pertaining to the official explanation of the assassination as the work of a single lone-nut shooter, the article purported to “answer some of the hard questions” and reassure the American people that Oswald was the guilty man based on the available evidence, including the Zapruder film. Briefly discussing Mandel’s article, author Zapruder concedes that “some of his facts are mistaken” but leaves it at that without further clarifying that one of these mistaken facts is directly related to a gross misreading of the film.
|Abraham Zapruder can be seen filming |
in this frame from the Nix film
One of the featured “nagging rumors” concerned how the President could have a wound of entry in his throat, as reported to the public by Dallas Parkland Hospital doctors, when the alleged shooter was positioned directly behind during the shooting sequence. Mandel, referencing his employer’s exclusive possession, writes: “the 8mm film shows the President turning his body far around to the right as he waves to someone in the crowd. His throat is exposed – towards the sniper’s nest – just before he clutches it.” In fact, at no time during the entire filmed sequence was Kennedy ever facing back towards the alleged sniper’s nest. So how could Mandel have been so wrong? He possibly had not seen the film himself and repeated a description from another source, or there had been a conscious editorial decision to assist the government in shutting down rumors which challenged the lone-nut verdict regardless of the veracity of the published information.3 The full measure of this incident – a wholly incorrect description of what is seen in the film used to help deflect concerned inquiry as to what may have happened to JFK (and American democracy) – does not support confidence in LIFE’s responsible handling of the Zapruder film.
What could explain this? Shortly after news of the assassination broke, LIFE’s Los Angeles bureau chief Richard Stolley was assigned to Dallas where, shortly after establishing a base of operations, he received word that the assassination had been captured on 8mm film. Stolley’s persistence enabled access to Abe Zapruder that evening, and by Saturday morning a contract had been signed for the print rights to images from the film. This contract specifically excluded rights to the film as a motion sequence, although a one-week window was stipulated before Zapruder could shop those rights to others. The following day, word came from corporate headquarters, specifically from LIFE publisher C.D. Jackson, to proceed in purchasing these motion rights, which was done for an additional $100,000. That huge sum, doubling the print rights, was paid for rights not apparently as useful to Time-Life, which specialized in print-based media. In fact, Time-Life never exploited the film as a motion sequence during the whole time the film was in its possession. Nevertheless, as an internal LIFE memo cited by Zapruder states: “C.D. Jackson bought the copyright to Zapruder's film to keep it from being shown in motion.” 4
|C. D. Jackson|
In 1977, Rolling Stone published a landmark story by renowned journalist Carl Bernstein titled “The CIA and the Media.” Using information uncovered by the Church Committee and interviews with CIA officials, Bernstein revealed to the general public a longstanding and friendly relationship whereby journalists and management from America’s established mainstream media secretly “carried out assignments for the Central Intelligence Agency.” Time Inc., parent company of LIFE, was named, along with CBS and the New York Times, as the “most valuable” organizations to the CIA. Henry Luce, the founder of Time and LIFE, was a longtime close friend to CIA Director Allen Dulles. Bernstein adds: “For many years, Luce's personal emissary to the CIA was C.D. Jackson, a Time Inc., vice‐president who was publisher of Life magazine from 1960 until his death in 1964. While a Time executive, Jackson coauthored a CIA‐sponsored study recommending the reorganization of the American intelligence services in the early 1950s.”5
A Princeton graduate, C.D. Jackson began working for Time Magazine in 1931, he would soon be described as founder Henry Luce’s right hand man. In 1940 Jackson organized an “anti- isolationist propaganda group” called the Council For Democracy, funded by Luce and designed to counter America First movements and promote intervention in Europe; the members included Allen Dulles, Joseph Alsop, and Dean Acheson.6 Jackson served in the OSS in 1943 with Frank Wisner, later organizer of the CIA’s Operation Mockingbird.7 In 1944, Jackson was appointed Deputy Chief of the Psychological Warfare Division at Allied Supreme Headquarters. After the war he became Manager-Director at Time-Life International, while a long association with the CIA began in 1948. Jackson served the executive branch during the Eisenhower administration, advising on psychological warfare tactics. Peter Dale Scott noted that Jackson guided LIFE’s involvement in other aspects of the Kennedy assassination: “In an arrangement covered up by Warren Commission testimony, Jackson and Life arranged, at the urging of Dulles, to have Marina’s story ghost-written for Life by Isaac Don Levine, a veteran CIA publicist.”8 Author Zapruder does not bring up Jackson’s fascinating background, and claims he was motivated to purchase the motion rights after he “was personally upset by the film” and felt “the public should not see the images” because of their graphic content.9
LIFE Magazine would also publish an Oswald backyard photo on its cover in February 1964, after an unauthorized leak from a contact within the Dallas Police Department, exposing millions at supermarkets and newsstands to a rather prejudicial image. This was accompanied by a long biographical article, which portrayed alleged assassin Oswald as a sociopathic loser, the position later adopted by the Warren Commission. In concert with the release of the Warren Report, LIFE’s October 2, 1964 issue featured Zapruder frames on its cover and an approving review of the Report, including an article penned by Warren Commission member Gerald Ford. Author Zapruder refers to the issue as an “examination” of the Warren Report, although the Report itself had not yet been released as the issue went to the printers.10 The issue in fact went to the printers several times, as captions below reproduced Zapruder frames were revised. In retrospect, LIFE’s coverage of the assassination, in the year immediately following, featured dodgy reporting and an eagerness to support the emerging official story, an eagerness which went beyond that of a supposedly objective “trusted” news source.
By 1966, the critics – who had actually read the Warren Report – earned a great deal of public attention publicizing many serious flaws in the assembled evidence. LIFE, as with other mainstream outlets such as CBS, decided to keep pace with public opinion and called editorially for a re-examination of the evidence. They then assembled a team to do just that for LIFE itself.11 An assistant philosophy professor named Josiah Thompson, who had developed a serious interest in the assassination, was hired as a consultant. Thompson, who had seen a second generation copy of the Zapruder film at the National Archives, now had access to the original film (“… the colors were there, the clarity was there. It was really something, really, really something”). Author Zapruder does a good job describing how competing interests suddenly came to coalesce around the film: Warren Commission critic Thompson and CBS News, which wished to broadcast the film as part of a news special, advocated public release – while LIFE’s editors resisted, insisting that their ownership of the film rights gave them the final word.
Thompson surreptitiously made his own copy of the film from LIFE’s own frame-by-frame transparencies. In 1967 he published Six Seconds In Dallas, a powerful critique of the Warren Commission’s methodologies. When LIFE refused to allow him to use frame reproductions from the Zapruder film for the book, Thompson had drawings made depicting selected frames and published those.12 LIFE sued over breach of copyright. In discussing this, author Zapruder sides with LIFE, describing Thompson’s unauthorized use of the film images as copyright infringement. Working from internal documentation, and accepting at face value the good faith of the LIFE management as they wrestled with what to do, she lays out the legal and moral supporting arguments for LIFE’s position, and asks: “so what made this circumstance different?”13
As Thompson’s case headed to court, Walter Cronkite at CBS publicly scolded LIFE for holding the film back from the public.14 Thompson and his publisher would eventually beat back the LIFE lawsuit when the judge ruled that their presentation of portions of the film fit the doctrine of “fair use”. That the Zapruder film was important and salient to the controversies surrounding the assassination was now understood by growing numbers of an increasingly skeptical public (or “small army of committed conspiracy theorists” as author Zapruder puts it). It was also becoming understood that the film contained “confusing visual information” (also Zapruder’s term) as the President is hit by the fatal shot.
Garrison Subpoenas the Zapruder Film for the Shaw Trial
The “confusing visual information” led to New Orleans prosecutor Jim Garrison’s subpoena of the film, so it could be screened as part of the trial of Clay Shaw. As later described in the movie JFK, the “back and to the left” movement of the President’s body immediately after receiving a shot at Zapruder frame 312, was thought by Garrison to be compelling proof of a conspiracy. Author Zapruder is skeptical. She offers a then contemporary analysis by physicist Luis Alvarez, known as the “jet effect”, as an “an important example of how scientific analysis, and not political bluster, could be applied to the question" of the assassination.
Discussing the Clay Shaw trial, Zapruder does her readers a great disservice by relying heavily on an obviously biased and subjective source, namely the 1970 book American Grotesque by James Kirkwood.15 Certainly, a fair-minded author would have noted the overt one-sided character of the book and at least seek out a second source for balance. Zapruder apparently did not. In fact, she allows Kirkwood’s at times harsh and demeaning descriptions to color her discussion of this event. Therefore, using Kirkwood’s take of the courtroom during the screening of the Zapruder film – "the anxious, ill-tempered and, if not bloodthirsty, most definitely morbid craning mob of voyeurs who were glued to the screen” – serves to deflect attention from the actual effect of the screening itself, and the centrality of the film to the prosecution’s analysis of the Dealey Plaza event. If unable to fit Shaw into the plot, the jurors were, in fact, convinced by the presentation that there was indeed some form of conspiracy involved in Dallas. The acknowledgment of this is muted, because the focus is instead drawn to Kirkwood’s descriptions of the courtroom viewing as representing a bloodthirsty mob: “a hungry look of salivating eagerness seemed to draw their faces to a point…”16
The genie, however, was out of the bottle, as the Zapruder film became bootlegged from a variety of sources, and public screenings were arranged at college campuses and other venues.
The Zapruder Film Goes Public
|1975 – Robert Groden & Dick Gregory screen |
a bootlegged copy of the Zapruder film
on national television
Author Zapruder dismisses “the familiar tropes of conspiracy arguments that came from viewing the film”, without really addressing such tropes. Instead, she laments the trampling of LIFE’s property rights and engages in metaphysical reflection on possible neurological deficiencies to explain the “conspiracists.” In fact, the effect of the film on audiences in the 1970s can be seen for oneself. For the public reaction to the first televised showing is readily available in a clip from the 1975 ABC program Good Night America. On that March 6th program, Geraldo Rivera hosted Robert Groden and Dick Gregory. They then presented the film to a studio and national television audience. The gasp of the audience as the President is hit in the head is audible, a response partly to the gruesome imagery, but also to the unmistakable impression the man had been shot from the front, even as established wisdom placed the assassin directly behind. Warren Commission staff lawyer David Belin conceded during the Rockefeller Commission – one of several official inquiries of the era into the assassinations of the 1960s and the activity of intelligence agencies – that “a major portion of the public controversy concerns the Zapruder film.”17 Author Zapruder complains that the bootleg screenings in the 1970s lacked a presence "to offer a dissenting interpretation of what the film showed.” She again refers to Alvarez and his “jet effect” theory as a plausible and scientific interpretation. She is apparently unaware that Alvarez’ methods (always controversial) explaining and reproducing this effect have recently come under a rather damaging analysis.18
Much of the remainder of Twenty-Six Seconds follows the relinquishing of the original Zapruder film from Time Inc. back to the Zapruder family, its storage at the National Archives, and the legal wrangling over the film in the 1990s leading to a large payment to the family. Author Zapruder handles this aspect of the story solidly, again moving fluidly from the documentary record to personal experience as her father assumes responsibility for the family’s interests (Abraham Zapruder passed away in 1970). If not for the historic controversy which is embedded directly within the frames of this film, Alexandra Zapruder would be responsible for a decent non-fiction account of ordinary people accidentally conjoined with sudden historic events, which is certainly the story she wants to tell here. So what seems to have happened here is understandable, as the controversy is complex and multi-faceted but the author has presumably neither the time or patience to delve deeply into it, and her conventional thinking has her leery of those she identifies as “conspiracists.” The author acknowledges that she received guidance in the issues of controversy from certain advisors.
A key advisor on the subject of the assassination controversies for this book appears to be author Max Holland, a longtime reliable defender of the Warren Commission, who has been writing on the topic for major newspapers and publications such as The Nation since the 1990s, as well as appearing in mainstream cable documentaries. Holland has written five books on national security topics and has been awarded numerous Fellowships, including a Studies In Intelligence Award from the CIA in 2001.19 Holland is best known recently for his fairly well publicized contention that the first shot in the JFK assassination sequence occurred much sooner than previously believed, and at a time not captured in the Zapruder film (author Zapruder finds this theory “compelling” and backed by “extensive additional evidence.”) Zapruder says the two met in 2015, late in the writing process for Twenty-Six Seconds, and in the book’s acknowledgements Holland is praised as “one of the most thorough, careful, and thoughtful thinkers I’ve ever met … He clarified my thinking on many important issues, gently challenging me on my assumptions ...” (For a differing view of Holland, see "The Lost Bullet: Max Holland Gets Lost In Space".)
In December 2016, Zapruder provided an opinion piece to the New York Times titled “There Are No Child Sex Slaves At My Local Pizza Parlor”, which dissected a brief hysteria surrounding an armed man who thought to disrupt a purported kiddie ring fronted by a Washington D.C. area pizzeria. Although her points are well-taken as far as they go with the immediate story, she claims additional authority to speak of the phenomenon from encounters with “conspiracy theorists” who directed certain speculations at her grandfather.20 Fair enough, but Zapruder then analyzes: “If one outcome of Kennedy’s assassination was a loss of trust in government and the news media, we have now entered an era in which such suspicions have mushroomed into something far more dangerous — a rupture in the very idea of shared truth.” Which sounds alarming, and is alarming in the sense that a shared consensus reality is vital to bind our material lives within a peaceful society, but do the actions of one confused young man really portend the fracturing of reality?21 What is she talking about? In part she is talking about the Kennedy assassination and its aftermath, but in doing so Zapruder is unable to acknowledge that the loss of trust accorded the government and news media has been well earned. And that the mainstream “shared truth” of the Kennedy assassination is factually incorrect, despite what her advisors may have told her.
It may well be that the ultimate readership for Twenty-Six Seconds has little interest in formulating an opinion on the JFK assassination controversy, and would have a mild curiosity at best regarding the state of the case. Still, since the book’s accumulation of questionable activity falls heavily on the side of the “conspiracy theorists”, while investigating authorities and representatives of the mainstream media are frequently portrayed as responsible and even-handed, a rather misleading notion is presented of what the Kennedy assassination has revealed about the “trusted” stewards of the nation. It also trips up an author’s attempts at finding a poetic, or metaphoric, truth in her grandfather’s film. Utilizing Holland’s 2014 Newsweek article “The Truth Behind JFK’s Assassination”, Zapruder repeats his contention that the “film displaced Oswald’s view from the sixth-floor window”, that its necessarily partial visual record now “had to stand in for seeing the assassination through Oswald’s eyes and hearing it described in his words.” Though one might be tempted to reach for a cappuccino and ponder varieties of historical irony, what is being advanced is a purely sophist construction, as the overwhelming weight of the evidence shows that Oswald was not on the sixth floor of the TSBD at the time of the shooting and did not fire a rifle that day.22 That the author does not seem to know this will harm the book’s reputation in the future, although its more valid, and better presented, insights will likely retain some interest.
1 Critics of the official Warren Commission findings are, as a rule in this volume, referred to as “conspiracy theorists”. Late in the proceedings, reference is briefly made to “assassination researchers”.
2 Joyce Carol Oates, “Twenty-Six Seconds of the Kennedy Assassination – and a Lifetime of Family Anguish.” Washington Post, November 17, 2016.
3 Other information in the article, such as determining the film ran at 18fps or determining frame counts between presumed shots, likely was not generated by LIFE and came to it from government sources, as discussed in Part Two of this review. Although author Zapruder is fuzzy about it, the official FBI findings were still a week away from publication as the memorial issue and Dec 6 edition were put to press, suggesting an official source contributed to handling the “nagging rumors”, as an official source assisted LIFE’s later Warren Report coverage.
4 The memo is quoted on page 194 of Twenty-Six Seconds.
5 Carl Bernstein, “The CIA and the Media.” Rolling Stone Magazine, October 20, 1977. The article is also available on Bernstein’s website. Bernstein writes: “the Agency has cut back sharply on the use of reporters since 1973 primarily as a result of pressure from the media.” As the main source of information for the article was interviews with unnamed CIA officials, the cooperation may have served as a limited hang-out after Bernstein had uncovered the story from Church Committee sources. Certainly these CIA officials go out of their way at times to identify media outlets and journalists as CIA friendly despite firm denials from the outed parties. However, the historic information – including Luce and C.D. Jackson – has never been refuted, and since publication largely confirmed through document releases.
6 In other words, Jackson was involved within an internationalist (“globalist”) Eastern Establishment milieu which lobbied for US participation in a European war, and then helped staff the OSS, create the CIA and construct the foundations of the Cold War National Security State. In the Eisenhower years, this milieu developed a foreign policy which relied on covert manipulation and regime change around the globe. John Kennedy’s nascent challenge to this world view has been focus of much recent scholarship. C.D. Jackson died in 1964.
7 Operation Mockingbird was the CIA’s program to influence the American media, and was disclosed in the 1977 Bernstein article.
8 The Marina Oswald story was not ultimately published, but she was well-paid for the rights. Peter Dale Scott, Deep Politics, p 53. See also Warren Hinckle and William Turner, Deadly Secrets: The CIA-Mafia War Against Castro and the Assassination of JFK (1981).
9 Twenty-Six Seconds, p. 97.
10 LIFE joined the New York Times and CBS News in providing instantaneous reviews, or “examinations”, of the Warren Report, all three trusted news sources referring to it appreciatively as a thorough and complete explanation of the President’s assassination, even though there had not yet been the opportunity to actually read it.
11 Both LIFE and CBS soon afterwards abandoned critical inquiry and dissolved their investigating teams. CBS would continue to create television documentaries supporting the Warren Commission, such as the 1967 multi-episode CBS News Inquiry: The Warren Report. (For an analysis of the genesis of the 1967 special, see now James DiEugenio, "Why CBS Covered Up the JFK Assassination".)
12 Due care was taken to ensure the accuracy of the drawings, unlike certain exhibits created for the Warren Commission.
13 What made it different is the overwhelming sense that justice had not been served in the aftermath of the assassination, that it was still an open case, and that an apparent establishment cover-up of the true reasons for Kennedy’s death presented serious challenges to the American democratic system and the understanding of contemporary events. However, if one believes, as author Zapruder appears to, that the Warren Commission essentially got it right and “conspiracy theorists” have been not just historically wrong but prone to psychological malady which influences their fuzzy thinking, then accepting LIFE’s decision to effectively sequester the film becomes a lot simpler.
14 “LIFE’s decision means you cannot see the Zapruder film in its proper form, as motion picture film. We believe that the Zapruder film is an invaluable asset, not of Time Inc., but of the people of the United States.” CBS News Inquiry: The Warren Report, 1967. The program supported the basic conclusions of the Warren Commission. It is possible that CBS sought to acquire the film so that it could be “explained” to the public in a manner favorable to the official conclusions, while maintaining a plausible facade of the fearless Fourth Estate.
15 American Grotesque is notable as the source for the oft-repeated claim that Garrison’s primary motivation for prosecuting Clay Shaw was rampant homophobia.The premise for the book had been first suggested by defendant Shaw himself ahead of the trial, pitching the concept to others before Kirkwood agreed to take it on. Kirkwood and Shaw had been friends for two years ahead of this. During the trial Kirkwood was close to the extremely compromised reporters James Phelan and Hugh Aynesworth, both engaged in sabotaging the trial to the extent possible.
16 Zapruder lists the Kirkwood book, courtroom transcripts, and contemporaneous newspaper accounts as her source material for the Shaw trial, her discussion of which concludes: “The Garrison trial went down in history as a gross abuse of power … Garrison’s actions deeply discredited the conspiracy movement and drove it back underground for many years.” This opinion, not gleaned from the transcripts or newspaper accounts or Kirkwood’s book, and obviously not Zapruder’s own, is likely that of an advisor discussed below, and is challenged by more recent work from Joan Mellen and Jim DiEugenio.
18 Alvarez claimed, in the American Journal of Physics, September 1976, that his shooting mock-up in 1969 “showed retrograde recoil in the first test ... If we had used the ’Edison Test,’ and shot at a large collection of objects, and finally found one which gave retrograde recoil, then our firing experiments could reasonably be criticized.” But Josiah Thompson, who is also a figure in Zapruder’s book, gained access to Alvarez’ experimental resources and discovered that, contrary to Alvarez’ statement, a large collection of objects were fired upon until one was found which gave retrograde recoil. Thompson’s access to the materials was provided by Paul Hoch, who is listed as an advisor for this book specifically on the jet effect. Thompson presented this new information on Alvarez and his jet effect experiments at the Passing The Torch Conference in Pittsburgh, October 2013.
19 Holland reviewed Peter Dale Scott’s Deep Politics in 1994, writing of the controversy: “The field already brims with books that conjure up fantastic conspiracies through innuendo, presumption, and pseudo-scholarship while ignoring provable but inconvenient facts ...Yet there remains something truly remarkable and disturbing about Deep Politics, and it’s not that a tenured English professor wrote its opaque prose. Rather it’s that Deep Politics is a University of California Press book … this means an editorial committee consisting of 20 UC professors, including four senior historians, approved Deep Politics for publication. This peer approval by a major university press illustrates the boundless and utter disbelief in the Warren Report ... and it also reveals the gross inattention given to the subject by serious historians.” One man’s “serious historian” is of course another’s “pseudo-scholar”, and Holland demonstrates through this review/article that there are few elements of the official story to which he does not subscribe, despite the obvious challenges to credulity the Warren Report invokes. Lamenting a lack of “serious historians” on this subject while casually accepting that Oswald attempted to assassinate General Walker or that Oswald’s FPCC activity in New Orleans should be taken at face value, necessarily leads to a position which praises generally poor books by Patricia Lambert or Jean Davison or Gerald Posner while positioning Scott as suffering from a “fevered imagination.” That is, Marina Oswald’s wild and ever-changing stories from 1964 regarding her husband’s alleged stalking of Walker, which is just about the only evidence that such a thing ever happened, is legitimate fact, while Scott’s carefully annotated scholarship is not. Apparently, developing pseudo-psychoanalytic theories regarding Oswald’s state of mind is a hallmark of “serious history”, while recognizing the official record can’t even place Oswald in the so-called sniper’s nest is the domain of fantasizing conspiracists.
20 Abraham Zapruder’s name has, over the years, suffered speculation of sinister relationships or agency in the assassination. As well, the Zapruder film has suffered numerous incorrect interpretations, often from viewing poor multi-generational copies. The most well-known incorrect assumption is that Secret Service driver Greer turned and shot JFK with a pistol. The fallacy of this interpretation should not disguise that Greer slowed the limousine to a crawl and turned twice to view the chaos in the seats behind him, including a direct view of the fatal shot before turning back and accelerating.
21 After all, it wasn’t so long ago a cudgel of fake facts, many promoted by the New York Times, was used to bludgeon the body politic into supporting a US Air Force-led “shock and awe” campaign in Iraq, followed by an invasion and brutally careless occupation, ending or ruining the lives of several million people, and destabilizing an entire region. For that matter, even a cursory reading of Establishment reporting on the Kennedy assassination reveals an array of poor and misleading information. Or, consider C.D. Jackson’s work in psychological warfare during the Eisenhower administration, which would include portraying a vicious right wing coup against Guatemala’s democratic government as a populist uprising.
22 We know this because at the exact time Oswald was said to have dashed down the Texas School Book Depository’s rear wooden staircase moments after the shooting, two witnesses were descending the same staircase and they saw and heard nothing at all. The bad faith by which the Warren Commission discredited the witnesses and created a wholly different timeline has been described by author Barry Ernest in his book The Girl On The Stairs. While researching this topic, Ernest discovered a Commission memo from June 1964 which confirmed the timing as stated by the witnesses, and which was subsequently buried as the Warren Commission proceeded to publish their false account. Not a single piece of hard evidence places Oswald on the sixth floor with a gun in his hand, as Dallas Police Chief Curry conceded in his own book written in 1969. Paraffin tests of Oswald’s cheek conducted by the Dallas Police on the night of the assassination did not show traces of nitrate as should be expected, and therefore show with a high degree of certainty that he did not fire a rifle.