I just finished watching an interesting documentary film entitled The Searchers by Randolph Benson, who teaches at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. The film focuses on private researchers during the aftermath of the JFK assassination who have questioned and investigated the official narrative put out by the Warren Commission and the Washington, D.C., establishment.
According to an interview of Benson, his work “has appeared on the Bravo Network and Canal Plus-France, and his film Man and Dog received several awards, including a Gold Medal from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Student Academy Awards.” According to its home page, The Searchers is the 2017 Winner of the Orson Wells Award at the Tiburon International Film Festival, a 2017 Official Selection by the International Freethought Film Festival, and a 2017 Official Selection of the Let’s All Be Free Film Festival.
Early JFK researchers featured in the film include Mark Lane, John Judge, Cyril Wecht, Robert Groden, Josiah Thompson, Jim DiEugenio, Jim Marrs, Gary Aguilar, Rex Bradford, Penn Jones, Vincent Salandria, Debra Conway, Harold Weisberg, Mary Farrell, Lisa Peace, Walt Brown, Mae Brussell, Ray Marcus, Shirley Martin, Lisa Pease, and John Kelin, most, if not all, of whom would be recognized by people who have delved into the JFK assassination.
There were two things that struck me about the film.
One, how the researchers are ordinary, regular, down-to-earth people who came to the realization that there was something fundamentally wrong with the official narrative in the JFK assassination and who decided to devote much of their lives to seeking the truth about the assassination.
Two, how reporters and commentators within the mainstream media overwhelming did the opposite, automatically deferring to the official account and steadfastly declining to pursue any investigation to determine whether the official account was truthful.
Much of the film focuses on this unusual dichotomy. After all, ordinarily you would think that it would be enterprising reporters who would be investigating a story that is riddled with contradictions, anomalies, inconsistences, secrecy, mysteries, and lies by federal and state officials and that everyone else would be content to read the results of their investigations.
In the JFK assassination, it was (and is) the exact opposite. The mainstream media rolled over, and a group of self-selected individuals has done the investigating and ferreting out of the truth.
Of course the obvious question arises, one that the film does not answer or try to answer: Why? Why did the reporters and the mainstream media simply roll over and accept the official story from the very start? Why didn’t they consider the possibility that they were being lied to? Why didn’t they even consider the possibility that the accused assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, was telling the truth when he denied having committed the crime and, going a critical step further, alleged that he was being framed for the crime? Why did they leave it to ordinary citizens to uncover the vast amount of circumstantial evidence, most of which U.S. officials kept secret, that has ultimately pointed in the direction of a U.S. national-security regime-change operation conducted against Kennedy? Why weren’t they even a bit suspicious about how the entire investigation into what was purportedly a lone-nut assassination was shrouded in national-security secrecy for decades? Why didn’t they at least wonder whether all that secrecy was designed to cover up evidence of a crime?
For example, consider the sworn testimony of Saundra K. Spencer, a Navy petty officer who was in charge of the White House Laboratory at the Naval Photographic Center in Washington, D.C. She worked closely with the president, including on highly classified matters. It would be virtually impossible to find a more competent and credible witness than Saundra Spencer.
On the weekend of the assassination, Spencer was asked to develop, on a top-secret basis, autopsy photographs of President Kennedy. Thirty years later, she was called to testify before the Assassination Records Review Board, the commission that was established to enforce the JFK Records Act, which mandated that the CIA, Pentagon, FBI, Secret Service, and other federal agencies reveal the JFK records that they kept shrouded in secrecy after the assassination.
The ARRB showed Spencer the official autopsy pictures of JFK. Now released from her secrecy oath, she testified directly and unequivocally, telling the ARRB that the autopsy photographs in the official record were not the ones she developed on a top-secret basis on the weekend of the assassination. The autopsy photographs she developed, she said, showed a big exit-sized wound in the back of Kennedy’s head, which would imply that the headshot that killed the president had come from the front. The photographs in the official records depict the back of JFK’s head to be fully intact.
The fact that Spencer’s sworn testimony matched the statements of the treating physicians and nurses at Parkland Hospital in Dallas was even more striking. Like Spencer, they have long maintained that the president had a big exit-sized wound in the lower back of his head. Equally striking was that fact that two FBI agents, James Sibert and Francis O’Neill, said the same thing.
Wouldn’t you think that all this would attract the attention of at least one inquisitive reporter in the entire United States? As far as I know, not one single reporter ever contacted Spencer in an attempt to get to the bottom of this. After all, the implication is clear: If the accounts given by Spencer, the Dallas treating physicians and nurses, and the two FBI agents was accurate, that could only mean that the autopsy photographs in the official record are fraudulent. Why wouldn’t a reporter be interested in determining the truth?
The way I figure it, there are four possible reasons for the extreme deference to authority that mainstream reporters have shown in the Kennedy assassination:
1. Fear of retaliation.
In his latest biographical volume on Lyndon Johnson, Robert Caro revealed that LBJ was able to shut down independent investigations into allegations of official corruption by LBJ that were being conducted by reporters for two separate newspapers in Texas.
Immediately after the assassination, Johnson telephoned principals in each newspaper and bluntly told them that he wanted them to shut down the reporters’ investigations into his alleged misconduct. Against one principal, Johnson threatened an IRS audit. The other principal was involved in a merger whose approval was pending before U.S. officials. Johnson bluntly told the man that if he didn’t shut down the investigation, he couldn’t guarantee that his application would be approved.
Both investigations were promptly shut down. The principals to whom Johnson spoke chose the path of expediency over the pursuit of truth. Even though the evidence overwhelmingly established Johnson’ guilt of official corruption and the virtual certainty that he would have been convicted and removed from office, nothing ever came of it, given the overwhelming power of the president to muzzle the press with implicit or explicit threats to inflict harm on them.
I believe that’s what happened early on in the Kennedy assassination and continues to go on today. The people who own the newspapers and who run the editorial and op-ed pages know full well how important the official narrative is to the CIA and the rest of the national-security establishment. They also know what could happen to them if the full weight of federal power were to come crashing down on them. IRS audits. Regulatory violations. Forfeiture of licenses. Criminal prosecutions.
Everyone in the media knows what they did to New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison for publicly alleging that the JFK assassination was a U.S. national-security regime-change operation. They went after him with a vengeance, even to the point of initiating a fraudulent criminal prosecution against him. (He was acquitted.)
Or consider what federal officials did to former QWEST CEO Joseph Nacchio. All he did was say no when national-security state officials approached him after the 9/11 attacks and asked him to sell out his customers in an illegal operation. Just for saying no, they went after Nacchio on an insider trading violation and succeeded in sending him to jail for a few years. How could any media figure not realize the import of what they did to Nacchio and why?
What newspaper owner or editor wants to go through those types of experience for investigating the Kennedy assassination, no matter how devoted he might be to the pursuit of truth and the principles of the First Amendment? It’s just not worth it to them.
2. Job security.
Reporters and political commentators who work for mainstream newspapers are naturally and inevitably going to defer to wishes of their bosses and owners. Word can spread very quickly through a news organization: Do not pursue the Kennedy assassination. If any reporter or commentator violates that edict or any other edict of importance to his superiors, his days with that paper are numbered. It’s the owners of the newspaper who ultimately form the overall philosophy of the paper. Those reporters and commentator who are on a different page are usually not going to last there.
3. Indoctrination, conformity, and deference to authority.
Like most Americans, many reporters and commentators are victims of the U.S. educational system, which, like government schools in other countries, is oriented toward political indoctrination. Ever since the assassination, government-approved schoolteachers have ingrained the official narrative into the minds of children — that Kennedy was shot by a lone-nut, former Marine communist, one who had no motive to kill President Kennedy, especially since Kennedy had announced an end to the Cold War and a wish to establish peaceful and friendly relations with the communist world. At best, the only “critical” thinking that students might be encouraged to engage in is: Did Oswald act alone or in a conspiracy? The possibility that Oswald was entirely innocent and the victim of a good frame-up by an entity that specialized in assassination and cover-up is never entertained, notwithstanding the fundamental principle of the presumption of innocence that is a bedrock principle in American criminal jurisprudence.
4. CIA assets.
It would not be unreasonable to assume that some reporters, commentators, and even newspaper owners are paid or unpaid assets of the CIA. Before anyone cries, “Conspiracy theory, Jacob!” let’s not forget Operation Mockingbird, the top-secret operation of the CIA that converted many journalists in the mainstream press into assets of the CIA. When Operation Mockingbird came to light, no CIA official was ever prosecuted or punished. Why should anyone reasonably conclude that the CIA would have terminated the program when it would have been more logical to continue and strengthen it, perhaps by recruiting journalistic assets right out of college to better assure their loyalty and secrecy, as compared to purchasing already existing journalists as assets?
Whatever the reason for the passivity of the mainstream press in the JFK assassination, one thing is for sure, as the documentary The Searchers points out: It has been ordinary American citizens, who, in their relentless search for truth, who have uncovered the vast amount of circumstantial evidence pointing toward the culpability of the national-security establishment in the assassination of John F. Kennedy, while the mainstream press has been left behind, loyally deferring to authority and choosing not to question or investigate any aspect of the official narrative.
Reprinted with permission from The Future of Freedom Foundation.