People Magazine has its value. Where else would I find just the blurb I was looking for that informed me that Bill O’Reilly’s book about the assassination of JFK would have been a waste of time reading. According to the magazine O’Reilly could find no hard data of conspiracy. Now the phrase “hard data” can have a range of meanings. I have no idea what precisely he is trying to convey, but it is difficult to get around the essential notion that he is happy to be a “comfort to the family”, as he put it, by giving the impression that Lee Harvey Oswald, the official story’s “lone nut”, is all that the country needed to be concerned with.
And that is garbage of the most malignant form that comports with all I have ever heard or been given reason to believe about Mr. O’Reilly. So let me acknowledge my bias, that I believe him to be a most noxious commodity, who finds his deserved position in the world only when the likes of Jon Stewart are around to provide the proper context. I will let others spend their precious hours with his book, but while at it, certain things should be kept in mind.
There are literally hundreds of books that detail all of the reasons why Lee Harvey Oswald should not be viewed as a lone assassin. There are serious questions about his complicity at any level, and about whether he fired a shot at all, but that there was a conspiracy, a part of which he may or may not have been, has not been a serious subject of contention except in places like the New York Times, which embarrassingly continues to try to prop up the illusion first announced by no lesser than Anthony Lewis a day or so after the 26 volumes of the Warren Commission Report were made public. Valiant and mendacious further efforts by Gerald Posner and Robert Caro must be satisfying some yearning within the people’s ranks, but the weight of authority at this point is overwhelmingly in the other direction.
My favorite has become LBJ, the Mastermind of the Assassination of JFK, by Philip Nelson mentioned in the review of Caro’s new book elsewhere on this website. To make it easy I will repeat here what I said there referring to some of the hard, by many definitions, data that Mr. O’Reilly must have missed, if we are to credit him with any particle of honor, which he makes it very hard to do.
In Philip Nelson’s book we learn, most significantly, that in 1998 Malcolm Wallace’s fingerprint was matched to a latent fingerprint lifted from Box A that was part of the sniper’s nest on the 6th floor of the Texas School Book Depository. That is important to an understanding of LBJ’s role in the death of JFK because Malcolm Wallace was, according to Billie Sol Estes and a whole lot of other evidence, the man who did LBJ’s dirty work, a man who was convicted of first degree murder in Texas in 1947 but was given probation. Estes was part of the conversation between Wallace and Johnson which led to the death of Agricultural Inspector Henry Marshall by five gunshots and a beating to the head, creatively termed “suicide” by the Johnson-friendly Justice of the Peace, without an autopsy.
Nelson also shows us another piece of evidence directly relating to LBJ, JFK, and Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963. James Altgens was a photographer who happens to have snapped the picture that froze the moment of the beginning of the assassination of the president. He stood on the overpass of the Stemmons Freeway and shot back up into Dealey Plaza and captured, not just JFK as he reacts to being hit with a bullet in the back while every other person, to a man or woman in the motorcade, sits unaware, expressionless, smiling, or waving to the crowd, but obviously clueless as to what has just at that instant taken place…except one.
Three cars back, in the vice presidential limousine, close inspection reveals the driver of the car behind the wheel, Secret Service Agent Youngblood in the front passenger seat, Senator Ralph Yarborough, very much against his will but at the insistence of a not-to-be-denied President Kennedy, as admirably recounted by Caro, in the left back seat, Lady Bird Johnson in the middle of the back seat, and….nothing. Which is to say, there is no one visible in the right back seat where LBJ unquestionably was. Which is to say that LBJ was ducking down out of harm’s way, or tying his shoe, or scratching his ankle, or any of the innumerable other possible explanations that he or his defenders might want to suggest, were it ever to become an issue, which is absolutely not going to happen as long as Robert Caro gets to do his work in support of the New York Times sadly-unraveled offering of American history, with all of the substructure of media obeisance that that implies..