THE SPIN NEVER ENDS
Well, it looks like the usual suspects are at it again, making yet another effort under the guise of “educational programming” to convince the American public that there was no conspiracy in the assassination of our 35th president, John F. Kennedy.
Tonight PBS will air a new documentary film, “Oswald’s Ghost.” It’s produced by Robert Stone, not Oliver Stone – an important distinction — indeed, the two filmmakers’ approaches to this subject are worlds apart.
Expect it to be another narrative of Lee Oswald as a troubled loner who somehow miraculously managed to take down the President of the United States at high noon on a busy downtown Dallas street, all by himself. This version of events is likely to appeal to those who prefer the accidental view of history, or who find the very notion of a domestic conspiracy just far too disturbing to even contemplate.
Expect to see more attacks on JFK assassination researchers who have taken the conspiratorial view of history, the late Jim Garrison and of course, Oliver Stone. Expect to see Arlen Specter once again wheezing through his explanation of why that one bullet was so magical. Even Norman Mailer chimes in with a few final words on Oswald.
Oswald’s ghost cannot speak to clarify the record or defend himself. If he could, I somehow get the feeling he would not give this documentary a resounding endorsement.
We present below a preview from (who else?) The Dallas Morning News, where one can always expect to find fair and balanced coverage of anything JFK-related. (cough)
Why one deadly day in Dallas continues to fascinate us
12:00 AM CST on Monday, January 14, 2008
How long does it take to exorcise a ghost? This is no garden-variety specter, mind you. It ripped a hole in the center of the country’s universe some 44 years back, then left vexing questions in its wake. It has haunted us ever since.
It pays another visit tonight at 9, summoned by documentary maker Robert Stone. Mr. Stone’s Oswald’s Ghost kicks off the new season of American Experience then hits DVD shelves Tuesday. The film had its regional premiere in November at the Texas Theatre in Oak Cliff, where one Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested Nov. 22, 1963.
Ruby moves in for the kill. Dallas Police Headquarters, Nov. 24, 1963
“METICULOUS AND RESPONSIBLE” – So Sayeth the Morning News
Oswald’s Ghost is a meticulous and responsible dissection of the Kennedy assassination, but it’s also much more. Using archival footage (much of it never before seen) and interviews with the likes of Dan Rather, former Dallas Morning News reporter Hugh Aynesworth and the late Norman Mailer, Ghost examines the unfulfilled need for closure born of an improbable and life-shattering Dallas day. It’s not just a film about conspiracy theories, but an examination of that within us that needs to keep the theories alive.
The driving question, as stated early on by presidential historian Robert Dallek, is this: “How could someone as inconsequential as Lee Harvey Oswald kill someone as consequential as John F. Kennedy?” Doesn’t there have to be a bigger, shadowy answer? Multiple gunmen? Anti-communist conspirators? Foreign governments seeking payback for previous CIA plots? Such explanations help make sense of a senseless act. And human beings have never been particularly comfortable with that which doesn’t make sense.
So Mr. Stone takes us through various conspiracy theories, engaging some, dismissing others. Jim Garrison, the former New Orleans district attorney played by Kevin Costner in the controversial JFK, goes in for a thorough and convincing drubbing, with some suggesting that he forever set back the efforts of more reasonable theorists. We see a young Philadelphia lawyer and Warren Commission junior counsel named Arlen Specter explain the “magic bullet” theory,” and we’re confronted with the unsettling but undeniable notion that the late ’60s zeitgeist, soaked in distrust and the blood of two Kennedys and a King, made conspiracy seem like the only logical explanation.
Mr. Stone achieves something greater than nuts and bolts here. He explores the qualities that make us want to fathom the unfathomable. “The real shock was philosophical,” explains Mailer, “as if God had renounced his sanction from America.” It’s a shock from which we haven’t really recovered, though Mr. Stone renders our attempts with quietly poetic flourishes. At one point he shows the covers of various conspiracy books slowly spiraling into the abyss of a black screen, a bottomless pit of irresolvable frustration and grief.
Some of the images are as familiar as your morning commute. You’ve seen the mobs of tourists that flock to Dealey Plaza during all seasons. They stand and get their pictures taken with loved ones. They look for the spot where it happened. It’s a fairly ghoulish enterprise when you think about it, but the place has some kind of magnetic pull. They all crowd around as if they’re looking for something. But what do they expect to find?
And are they all that different from the rest of us?
EDITOR’S NOTE: Here is one document PBS will not show you tonight — one which specifically states that Oswald in fact worked for the CIA, under cover of ONI. He was also an FBI informant, information J. Edgar Hoover was not ignorant of. Facts are stubborn, if not inconvenient, things.
>* Assassination researchers have yet to reach consensus on the authenticity of this document. If it is genuine, however, it only serves to confirm the long-suspected — that Lee Harvey Oswald had been a government agent for at least six years, working for a variety of intelligence agencies. If the document is a fake, you’d have to call its creator a genius.