This was the most thorough discussion I have seen or read regarding the Kennedy assassination. You did a good job presenting both anti-conspiracy and pro-conspiracy sides to Kennedyís assassination.
One thing not explained in your presentation however, is the violent backward thrusting of Kennedyís head from a shot fired from behind. If he were shot from the rear would his head and body not continue to be thrown further forward as they were from the first bulletís impact? The most inexplicable fact about this assassination is that Kennedy leaned forward from Oswaldís first shot and was then thrown violently backward from the next shot fired from the exact same assassinís nest.
Also, Oswald could easily have traveled by foot to the location by foot where he shot officer J.D. Tippett. He needed no car ride. The distance is only a matter of five blocks. I have traveled that many blocks in under fifteen minutes myself numerous times.
FRONTLINE's editors respond:
The Conspiracy section of this web site covers the question regarding the backward thrusting of the president's head.
I think the human mind doesn't want to accept a simple answer for the assasination of a larger-than-life figure. The popular media thrives on this human inclination. PBS and Frontline take the discussions to deeper, intellectual and simpler levels. And you provide the answers without enforce.
As much as this tragedy pained me, the consipiracy or other random theories bored me. An unbalanced, violent, directionless person, ostracized by almost every institution he contacted, armed with a gun, found a powerful nation's leader passing by in close proximity. And he acted, as always, sans any respect for the human life.
Frontline is a big or almost only part of my TV life. I am grateful to you for closing the questions and exposing the answers intelligently.
So time and new technology have not only corroborated the Warren Report, but William Manchester's research as well. His detailed account as written in "Death of a President" is the true story.
How curious that given the various facts and or fallacies of LHO,the Warren Comission would either deliberately or mistakenly
omit what is known or theorized with regards to David F, Guy B.
How curious that the Dallas police dept. would allow known associates of a major crime boss to interview or meet with Jack Ruby privately. Your documentary was both riveting and informative, but alas, even with computer technology, we will never know the whole story.
Thank you for an excellent program. I agree with your conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, based on reading about the case for the last 40 years. As your program clearly demonstrates, even Oswald's brother believes he committed the crime. The film 'JFK' from producer Oliver Stone was a complete travesty.
One important fact could have been included to make the case more persuasive. An analysis of the Zapruder film has shown that the shock wave from the rifle shots caused Mr. Zapruder to momentarily lose focus on the Kennedy motorcade. How many times did this happen, and thus how many rifle shots? Three.
Also, in the vehicle directly behind President Kennedy was his White House Chief of Staff, I believe his name was Dave Powers. And Mr. Powers recorded all the events in Dealey Plaza on his home movie camera. According to his obituary published in the Washington Post, that film has never been made public due to family request and is now stored in a temperature-controlled vault at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland. Releasing this film to dispell the conspiracy theories cannot happen soon enough, in my opinion.
The immediate impact of the assasination was that we lost a President, which was horrible in itself. The long-term impact was that Oswald, a loser in everything he tried in life, succeeded in sowing distrust by a majority of Americans in their government. We let Lee Harvey Oswald win.
Montgomery Village, Maryland
I enjoyed your presentation on Oswald. I can only assume that the many people who are unable to accept Oswald as the lone shooter are still unaware of all of the hard evidence pointing to him.
The undisputable chain of events of how he came to find himself employed at the book depository that day involved so many average citizens that it could never be planned. I suspect he could hardly believe, any more than the rest of the world, the opportunity fate had provided him which would allow him to realize his fantasy of self-importance. The mountain of undisputable evidence indicating Oswald was the lone gunman cannot be denied. A very informative and well organized website with many links addressing the main issues can be found at "http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/home.htm". Thanks for the great program.
After watching a considerable amount of the History Channel's Kennedy Asassination programs I was amazed that their version was so different from what I had heard before. After seeing your program I know now that the History Channel's version was fiction.
Their one hour program about Oswald's supposed mistress
was so outrageous that I feel sorry for the deluded Judyth Baker. I am looking forward to your 50th Kennedy Asassination Program.
Excellent show. I was completely convinced before viewing that the Warren commission report was flawed and full of ommisions and distortions that lead me to believe there was a cover-up. Now, I'm not so sure.
That being said, I still feel the "final shot" has yet to be explained satisfactorily. Clearly it "seems" to come from the front. The "jetting effect" theory sure shounds plausible but should be put to the test and demonstrated for ALL to see on a device that fits the properties of a human, from the same angle, distance, etc.
The Discovery channel has already tried doing exactly that, to some degree. They hired a marksman, gave him the same cheap italian rifle, ammunition, and used a watermelon as a subsitute for a human head. The results did not show anything like the assasination footage, instead, the watermelon simply blew up and disintegrated on impact. If the watermelon is the same consistency as a human head, then one could conclude that the damage to the watermelon is not consistent with the damage done to John Kennedy's head as shown in the assasination footage. The impact force of the fatal shot, as grisly as it was, shows LESS impact force than what was demonstrated in the Discovery Channel experiment.
Given the actual title of the program, Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald, I think it was excellent. Certainly a fascinating story, told in an eerie and captivating way. Obviously one can't tell the story of his life without going into conspiracy theories, but that is a much larger issue than could be handled in this one program. On this I thought the show did a good job distinguishing between opinion, testimony, and fact.
I have read the comments disparaging the PBS piece on Lee Harvery Oswald. I believe PBS has presented the antithesis to the conspiracy theories that the common American citizen believes ever since the Oliver Stone JFK movie. To totally discount the arguments made in both the PBS and ABC programs is as unjust as totally disregarding the conspiracy theories.
I am still unsure if Oswald acted alone or with others but there are compelling arguments on both sides. Suspicion, innuendo and the Kennedy lore have made people entirely too emotional.
I am intrigued with the idea of how the adolescent Oswald watched for hours the TV show about Howard Philbrick, who lead 3 lives; as an ordinary person, as a master Communist, and as an FBI agent. The implication is that Oswald's years as a leftist were all a pose, that the real person was a rightist, or even beyond politics!
If this seems like a stretch, consider his year at the CIA base in Japan, where he might have been given a postgrad course in being a double agent, perhaps by a rogue agent. After all, he did later volunteer for the KGB, and the KGB vetted him throughly, thought it over for three days and then rejected him, to send him off to his factory job in Minsk. That sounds like a pretty professional opinion that his offer to be an agent was too good to be true. After all, real double agents have to convince even their closest colleages that that they are sincere idealists, when in fact their goal is really sabatage. It might be that Oswald lost track of his tutor and ended up lost in the bizarre never never land of double agents, acting alone.
Truth be told we will never know the truth. Anyone who might have been able to say something is dead or not under the spot light. And as the old saying goes. Dead men dont talk. Thanks for the great program as it rekindled my passion for conspiracy theories. Thanks agian.
I believe that the conspriacy theory justifies our need to believe that a great man like President Kennedy could not be killed by as pathetic a human being as Oswald.
I have watched each new program over the years hoping there was new information which would finally expose the truth of what really happened in Dallas. I will continue to watch and I hope the truth will eventually come out.
I was riveted by your show. I was bowled over by the depth of the research and the interviews with so many of the players involved. I felt that the show was typically Frontline and unbiased as is posible. But, as ususal I am left with more questions than answers.
The CIA answers were clearly fabrications. If they are still lying 40 years later what do they really have to hide? Are we to believe that they had no photos of Oswald in Mexico City? They never interviewed him after spending time in Minsk? They know nothing about a known subsive and socialist activist? Hardly.
They should be compelled to reveal the truth. Too bad so much time has passed.
Once again you have excelled in journalism. Don't drop this issue until all the stones are turned.
FRONTLINE's editors respond:
In the "Conspiracy" section of this web site there is a report on the CIA's cover up of what happened in Mexico City when Oswald went there seeking travel visas to Cuba and Russia.
Thank you for an excellent program.
During the program I remembered a comment one of my teachers made during my rotation through Psychiatry as a Medical Student.
"The mentally ill are disturbing to many people precisely because their actions appear utterly illogical and unpredictable".
I wonder how much this has clouded our collective ability to make sense of all that happened to Oswald during his life and thereby led the investigation into the assassination into so may numerous divergent directions.