How the NYT Dissembles Re: Political Assassinations In The U.S.

   Although this article by Jerry Policoff is almost 20 years old, its
   meticulous research, analysis, and documentation--of the underhanded yet
   pervasive way in which the number 1 newspaper of record for the United 
   States has consistently practiced deceptive reporting regarding the 3 
   most critical political assassinations of the 1960s--recommends it highly
   to readers nearly two decades after its original publication.  

        The political assassinations of the '60s seem to have given rise
     to a most peculiar policy at "The New York Times,"  a policy that
     maintains that the "official" line is the *only* line.  In the
     process the "Times" has subjected its readers to distortion,
     misrepresentation, and outright deception. . . .
        Only "The New York Times" can answer why they have for nine years
     maintained a consistent policy of literary assassination of
     literature and deliberate management of news suggesting that three
     of the greatest crimes of the 20th century may, despite "official"
     findings to the contrary, be yet unsolved.
        But the unassailable fact is that in the process they have acted
     as little less than an unofficial propaganda arm of the Government
     which has maintained so staunchly--and in the face of all evidence
     to the contrary, great and trivial--that assassinations in the
     United States are inevitably the work of lone demented madmen.
        Justice Hugo Black in his concurring opinion in the Supreme Court
     decision favoring "The New York Times" in the case of the Pentagon
     Papers said, "Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively
     expose deception in government.  And paramount among the
     responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of
     the Government from deceiving the people. . . ."
        Far from preventing deception in the case of political
     assassinations, the "Times" has practiced it, and in the process
     defrauded its readers and violated every ethic of professional and
     objective journalism.

  The following appeared in the October 1972 (# 94) issue of "The Realist:"

     How All the News About Political Assassinations in the United States
             Has Not Been Fit to Print in "The New York Times"

                             by Jerry Policoff

        Since the publication of the Pentagon Papers, "The New York
     Times," America's most prestigious newspaper, has been the recipient
     of what may be an unparalleled stream of tributes and awards for its
     dedication to the principles of a free press and the people's right
     to know.
        Unfortunately the Pentagon Papers represent something of a
     departure--if that is, in fact, what they are--for the paper whose
     image of its role was described by Gay Talese in his critically
     acclaimed biography of the "Times," "The Kingdom and the Power," as
     the "responsible spokesman for the system."[1]  For the "Times"
     often places secondary importance upon its responsibility to inform
     the public when that responsibility conflicts with its own concept
     of that ominous and all-encompassing enigma known as "the national
        The example of the Bay of Pigs is well known.  The "Times" had
     deduced by evaluating various *published* accounts that a United
     States trained and financed group of Cuban exiles was about to
     invade Cuba.  The story was to be a major exclusive featured on the
     front page.  Instead the management of the "Times" decided to play
     down the story and strip it of its revelations.  It appeared inside
     the paper under the deliberately misleading subhead, "Quick Action
     Opposed."[2]  Thus a major diplomatic and strategic blunder which
     might otherwise have been averted was not.
        In 1966 when Dean Rusk protested to the "Times" that an impending
     news series on the CIA was not in the national interest, the "Times"
     responded by sending the completed series to John McCone, former
     head of the CIA, for editing.  Turner Catledge, then Managing
     Editor, wrote a placating memo to his concerned boss, Arthur Ochs
     Sulzberger, the Publisher of the "Times."  "I don't know of any
     other series in my time," wrote Catledge, "which has been prepared
     with greater care and with such remarkable attention to the views of
     the agency involved as this one."[3]
        There is little wonder that Talese described the relationship
     between the highest levels of the U.S. Government and "The New York
     Times" as "a hard alliance" which, in any large showdown, "would
     undoubtedly close ranks and stand together."[4]
        The 1960s represented a dark decade for many millions of
     Americans who saw their hopes and aspirations for the future dashed
     amid the blaze of guns that struck down President John F. Kennedy,
     the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Senator Robert F. Kennedy.
     In all three cases the official verdict was swift:  lone assassin;
     no conspiracy.  In all three cases serious doubts remain--doubts
     that have encountered little more than official silence and denial.
        The political assassinations of the '60s seem to have given rise
     to a most peculiar policy at "The New York Times,"  a policy that
     maintains that the "official" line is the *only* line.  In the
     process the "Times" has subjected its readers to distortion,
     misrepresentation, and outright deception.
        Harrison E. Salisbury, Assistant Managing Editor of the "Times,"
     described the "Times" performance in the wake of the President's
     assassination thusly:  "The `Times' by principle and by habit
     considers itself a `newspaper of record' [which] consciously seeks
     to present all of the facts required by a public spirited citizen to
     formulate an intelligent opinion.  Clearly the shooting of the
     President would require an extraordinary record--detailed, accurate,
     clear, complete.
        "Thus the initial responsibility of the `Times' is to provide an
     intimate, detailed, accurate chronology of events. . . .  The `Times'
     record must be the one that will enable the reader to pick his way,
     fairly well, through fact, fiction, and rumor."[5]
        Salisbury's prose made good reading, but it hardly describes the
     true nature of the "Times" coverage, epitomized by the definitive
     headline of November 25, 1963, "President's Assassin Shot to Death
     in Jail Corridor by a Dallas Citizen."[6]  Thus the "Times" required
     no Warren Commission to tell it what it had already assumed three
     days after the President's assassination:  that Lee Harvey Oswald,
     the official suspect, was the assassin.
        Nor were Jack Ruby's motives any mystery to the "Times" as was
     demonstrated the same day by the headline, "Kennedy Admirer Fired
     One Bullet."[7]  Other stories, e.g. "Doctors Question Oswald's
     Sanity," and "Lone Assassin the Rule in U.S.:  Plotting More
     Prevalent Abroad,"[8] tended to reinforce the erratic nature of the
     "assassin" and the notion that conspiracies are foreign to the
     American political scene.
        Once the Warren Commission was formed the "Times" acted as little
     less than a press agent for it.  On March 30, 1964--a mere twelve
     days after the Warren Commission had begun its field investigation
     in Dallas--the "Times" carried an AP story reporting that the
     Commission had "found no evidence that the crime was anything but
     the irrational act of an individual, according to knowledgeable
        On June 1, the "Times" ran a Page One exclusive, "Panel to Reject
     Theories of Plot in Kennedy's Death," which amounted to an extensive
     preview of the Warren Report nearly four months prior to its
     official release.
        When the Warren Commission's report was issued on September 27,
     1964 its most vocal advocate was "The New York Times."  The lead
     story said that "the commission analysed every issue in exhaustive,
     almost archeological detail."[11]  A "Times" editorial said that
     "the facts--exhaustively gathered, independently checked and
     cogently set forth--destroy the basis for conspiracy theories that
     have grown weedlike in this country and abroad."[12]
        Arthur Krock called the report a "definitive history of the
     tragedy,"[13] and C.L. Sulzberger expressed relief at the report's
     conclusions.  "It was essential in these restless days," wrote
     Sulzberger, "to remove unfounded suspicions that could excite latent
     jingo spirit.  And it was necessary to reassure our allies that ours
     is a stable reliable democracy."[14]
        Such unequivocal praise of the Warren Report was nothing less
     than irresponsible journalism.  There had been barely enough time
     for a thorough reading of the report, and the testimony and exhibits
     upon which it supposedly was based were not yet available.  Without
     the latter no objective appraisal of the report was possible.
        The "Times" also made quite a financial proposition out of the
     Warren Report.  The entire report was printed as a supplement to the
     September 28 edition.  In addition the "Times" collaborated with the
     Book of the Month Club on a hard-bound edition and with Bantam Books
     on a soft-bound edition of the report (with a laudatory introduction
     by Harrison Salisbury in the latter).
        By the end of the first week Bantam had printed 1,100,000
     copies.[15]  Ironically the "Times" would later imply that the
     critics of the report were guilty of exploitation because of the
     "minor, if lucrative industry" that arose from their challenges to
     the official version of the assassination.[16]
        Nor was the "Times" less effusive when the 26-volumes of exhibits
     and testimony were released on November 24.  The "Times" instant
     analysis of the more than 10 million words contained in the volumes
     brought the premature observation that their publication by the
     Warren Commission "brings to a close its inquiry, at once monumental
     and meticulous."[17]
        Within a month, again in collaboration with Bantam, the "Times"
     published "The Witnesses," consisting of "highlights" of the
     hearings before the Warren Commission, prepared by "a group of
     editors and reporters of `The New York Times.'"
        "The Witnesses" included the affidavit of Arnold Rowland stating
     that he had observed a man with a rifle on the 6th floor of the
     Texas School Book Depository before the assassination, but not his
     testimony in which he stated that he had actually seen two men, and
     that the FBI had told him to "forget it," and in which he stated his
     opinion that the source of the shots had been the railroad yards in
     *front* of the President.
        Omitted from the testimony of amateur photographer Abraham
     Zapruder was his statement that his immediate reaction was that the
     shots had come from behind him (in *front* of the President).
        Similar statements relating an immediate impression that the
     shots had come from the front were deleted from the excerpted
     testimony of David F. Powers, a special assistant to the President,
     and Secret Service Agent Forest V. Sorrels, as it appeared in "The
        Deleted from the testimony of Secret Service Agents William
     Greer, Clinton Hill, and Roy Kellerman was the description each gave
     of a bullet wound in the President's back below the shoulder (the
     "official" autopsy report placed it about six inches higher in the
     neck).  Also omitted from Agent Hill's excerpted testimony was his
     statement that he was not certain that all of the shots had come
     from the rear, and that they did not all sound alike.
        Autopsy surgeon Commander James J. Humes' excerpted testimony in
     "The Witnesses" omitted his statement that he had destroyed the
     first draft of the autopsy, as well as his verbal gymnastics in
     reconciling the location of the bullet holes six inches below the
     collar in the President's shirt and jacket with the officially
     designated location of the wound in the neck.
        Both Humes and Colonel Pierre Finck, a second autopsy surgeon,
     were skeptical that the nearly pristine bullet found on a stretcher
     in Parkland Hospital could have hit both Kennedy and Governor
     Connally (the Warren Commission ultimately concluded that this was
     indeed the case), but these exchanges also were omitted from "The
     Witnesses," as was the portion of the testimony of Nelson Delgado, a
     friend of Oswald's from his Marine Corps days, in which he referred
     to Oswald's extremely poor marksmanship.
        Testimony left out of "The Witnesses" altogether included
     numerous witnesses who reported at least some shots fired from the
     front, including Jean Hill who reported seeing a man fleeing from
     the area of the "grassy knoll" after the shooting.  Also left out
     was the testimony of Wilma Tice and reporter Seth Kantor who
     reported seeing (the latter conversing with) Jack Ruby at Parkland
     Hospital, as well as many others who gave relevant but inconvenient
     testimony before the Warren Commission.
        In short, "The Witnesses" was a careful selection of only that
     testimony which tended to support the official findings contained in
     the Warren Report.  It was a patently biased and dishonest work,
     shamelessly slanted toward the lone-assassin hypothesis, and
     capitalizing on the legendary objectivity of "The New York Times."
        In Europe where the press had been less eager to embrace the
     official findings of the Warren Commission, the assassination
     rapidly became a controversy.  "Who Killed Kennedy," a critical book
     by American expatriate Thomas Buchanan was already a best-seller by
     the end of 1964.
        In Britain, Bertrand Russell organized a "Who Killed Kennedy
     Committee" composed of some of the most influential members of the
     British intellectual community.
        In December 1964, Hugh Trevor-Roper, well-known British historian
     and Regius Professor of Modern History at Oxford University, writing
     in "The Sunday Times" of London, accused the Warren Commission of
     setting up a smokescreen of irrelevant material while failing to ask
     elementary and essential questions.
        In the United States, too, the report slowly emerged as a major
     issue--spurred first by a number of critical articles and later by a
     series of major books.
        George and Patricia Nash documented Commission negligence in the
     October 1964 "New Leader" by locating without difficulty three
     witnesses to the slaying of Patrolman Tippit who had not been called
     by the Warren Commission, but whose accounts differed radically from
     the Commission's.
        The January and March 1965 issues of "Liberation" magazine
     carried articles highly critical of the "Warren Report" by
     Philadelphia attorney Vincent Salandria.  An article in the January
     1965 "American Bar Association Journal" by Alfredda Scobey, a lawyer
     and former Warren Commission staff member, acknowledged that much of
     the evidence against Oswald was circumstantial and strongly implied
     that Oswald's conviction would have been less than guaranteed had he
     gone to trial.
        In February, 1966 the 18th annual meeting of the American Academy
     of Forensic Sciences held a symposium which scored the Commission
     for its failure to hear enough expert testimony, and for failing to
     examine the photos and X-rays taken of the President's body during
     the autopsy.

        On May 29, 1966 the "Warren Report" became a national issue
     overnight when "The Washington Post" ran an 8-column banner headline
     on Page One, "An Inquest:  Skeptical Postscript to Warren Group's
     Report on Assassination," dealing with Harold Weisberg's "Whitewash"
     and Edward J. Epstein's "Inquest."  The article covered a sizeable
     portion of page 1 and nearly all of page 3, and concluded that the
     two books raised "grave doubts about the Commission's work."
        Epstein had obtained interviews from several members of the
     Warren Commission and its staff and was given access to a number of
     internal Commission memoranda (the book began as an intended Masters
     thesis).  Concentrating on the internal workings of the Commission,
     Epstein argued that bureaucratic pressures from within and time
     pressures imposed from without had severely handicapped the
     Commission with the result that the investigation was superficial
     rather than exhaustive.
        He cited the discrepancies pertaining to the location of the
     President's back wound, noting that the holes in the President's
     shirt and jacket, the report on the autopsy filed by FBI agents
     Siebert and O'Neill, and the testimony of three Secret Service
     agents all placed the location in the back below the shoulder while
     the official autopsy report located the wound significantly higher
     at the base of the neck.  The higher location was essential to the
     Warren Commission's theory that the wound in the President's throat
     was one of exit for a bullet that had traversed his neck from the
        Epstein contended that the Warren Commission was more interested
     in dispelling rumors than in exposing facts and that it preferred
     not to consider the possibility that there had been a second
     assassin.  He implied the belief that the Warren Commission had
     deliberately altered the autopsy report, adding that if this were
     the case the "Warren Report" would have to be viewed as an
     expression of "political truth."[18]
        Weisberg approached the issue on a much broader level by
     carefully dissecting the mass of evidence purported by the Warren
     Commission to prove that Oswald was the lone assassin.  In addition
     to the back wound discrepancy, Weisberg went into such matters as
     Oswald's marksmanship;  the lack of tangible evidence linking Oswald
     with the shooting or the 6th floor window with the actual source of
     the shots;  the shooting of officer Tippit, etc.  Weisberg strongly
     implied that more than one gunman had been involved and that it was
     by no means certain that Oswald had been one of them.

        The major issues that arose out of these books and books that
     followed included:

       * "The Single-Bullet Theory:"  The Commission's re-enactment 
	    of the assassination and observation of the film of 
	    the assassination taken by Zapruder revealed that from 
	    the time when Kennedy would first have been visible to 
	    a man perched in the 6th floor window until the time
            Governor Connally was shot, Oswald's gun was capable of
            firing only one round.  The Commission concluded that a
            virtually pristine bullet found on a stretcher at
            Parkland Hospital had passed through the President's
            neck, hit Connally in the back shattering a rib, 
	    emerged from his chest, traversed his wrist, lodged in 
	    his thigh, and then fell out onto the stretcher.

            The Commission theorized that Connally had experienced a
            delayed reaction to his wounds, explaining why the
            Zapruder film appeared to show him unhit until a point
            significantly after the President definitely had been.
            Critics argued that it was extremely unlikely that one
            bullet could have accounted for seven wounds, shattering
            bone along the way, and still emerge undeformed.  They
            also argued that a bullet striking bone, as was the case
            with Connally, results in an immediate reaction in
            compliance with the physical law of transfer of momentum,
            and that the later reaction by Connally, therefore,
            indicated that he had been hit by a second bullet.

       * "The Grassy Knoll:"  Law-enforcement officers and bystanders 
	    immediately converged on this area after the
	    assassination as the apparent source of the shots.  It
            was located to the right front of the President.

       * "The Head Snap:"  The Zapruder film revealed that upon impact 
	    of the final and fatal bullet the President's head was 
	    thrust violently to the left and to the rear--a reaction 
	    that seemed consistent with a shot fired from the grassy 

       * "The Throat Wound:"  The wound in the President's throat was 
	    originally diagnosed as an entrance wound by the doctors 
	    who treated him at Parkland Hospital.  The Commission's 
	    contention that it was an exit wound was challenged by 
	    most of the critics.

        The Warren Report was soon under attack from all sides.  In July
     1966 Richard Goodwin, a former advisor and close associate of
     President Kennedy, reviewed "Inquest" for "Book Week."  He called
     the book "impressive" and called for the convening of a panel to
     evaluate the findings of the Warren Commission and determine if a
     completely new investigation was warranted.[19]  He later added that
     there were other associates of the late President "who feel as I
        In September 1966 a Harris Poll found that 54% of the American
     public doubted that the Warren Commission had told the full
     story.[21]  The same month Mark Lane's "Rush to Judgment" made the
     Best Seller List of "The New York Times" (by November 1966 it was
     the Number One Best Seller, a position it maintained for several
        The "Times" of London called for a new investigation toward the
     end of September 1966, a call that was echoed in "The London
     Observer" by Lord Devlin, one of England's most respected legal
        On September 28, 1966 Manhattan Congressman Theodore Kupferman
     asked Congress to conduct its own investigation into the adequacy of
     the "Warren Report."
        Writing in the October 1966 "Commentary" Alexander Bickel,
     Chancellor Kent of Yale University, called for a new investigation
     observing that "the findings of the Warren Commission, and the
     fatuous praise with which all of the voices of the great majority
     greeted them two years ago, were in some measure a matter of wish
        The November 25, 1966 cover of "Life" magazine featured a frame
     from the Zapruder film with the bold caption:  "Did Oswald Act
     Alone?  A Matter of Reasonable Doubt."  "Life" questioned the
     validity of the single-bullet theory and concluded that "a new
     investigative body should be set up, perhaps at the initiative of
        The January 14, 1967 "Saturday Evening Post" also carried a cover
     story challenging the Warren Report, and it also ran an editorial
     calling for a new inquiry.
        Others who publicly expressed doubts about the conclusions of the
     Warren Commission included Senators Russell Long, Eugene McCarthy,
     Strom Thurmond, William Fulbright, and Thomas Dodd;  Congressmen
     Ogden Reid, John W. Wydler, and William F. Ryan;  Arthur Schlesinger
     Jr., William Buckley, Norman Mailer, Murray Kempton, Max Lerner,
     Pete Hammill, Walter Lippman, Dwight MacDonald, Richard H. Rovere,
     Cardinal Cushing and many others.
        The reaction of "The New York Times" was less than enthusiastic.
     Following the May 29, 1966 "Washington Post" headline, a "Times"
     reporter was assigned to do a story on the emerging controversy.
     His story appeared on June 5--not on page 1, but on page 42.  The
     author of the piece wrote one of the critics:  "With space
     limitations and national desk instructions, I am sorry that
     everything but the single-bullet hypothesis got forced out of the

        "Whitewash" and "Inquest" were reviewed in the July 3 "New York
     Times Book Review" by the "Times"' Supreme Court correspondent, Fred
     Graham.  The "Times" apparently saw no conflict in assigning Graham
     to review two books severely critical, implicitly if not explicitly,
     of the then Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.  The review was
     largely a defense of the methods utilized by the Warren Commission
     under the direction of "the nation's most distinguished jurist."
        Graham called Weisberg a "painstaking investigator," but added
     that he "questions so many points made by the report that the effect
     is blunted--it is difficult to believe that any institution could be
     as inept, careless, wrong, or venal as he implies.  Rather, the
     reader is impressed with the elusiveness of truth. . . ."
        Graham called "Inquest" superficial, and he criticized Epstein's
     use of the words "political truth," claiming that Epstein was
     actually charging deliberate fraud.  Graham admitted that the
     single-bullet theory was "porous," but he maintained that no other
     explanation made sense because if another assassin had fired from
     the Book Depository it would have been unlikely that he and his
     rifle could disappear without a trace.
        Graham avoided alternatives that did make sense, e.g., that an
     assassin or assassins had fired from the grassy knoll.  He concluded
     that "a major scholarly study is not feasible now because the
     crucial papers in the archives . . . have not yet been de-
        On the one hand he was ignoring the fact that the "Times" had
     lauded the Warren Report before any evidence was available, and on
     the other hand he was passing judgment in advance on any subsequent
     critical works, a fact that should have disqualified him as a
     reviewer of future books on the subject.
        On August 28, 1966 Mark Lane's "Rush to Judgment" and Leo
     Sauvage's "The Oswald Affair" were reviewed in "The New York Times
     Book Review" by Fred Graham.  His review gave the false impression
     that both books relied mainly on eyewitness testimony rather than
     more tangible hard evidence.  "Eyewitness testimony," noted Graham,
     "is far less reliable than it seems to be."
        He made the incredible observation that the main source of the
     Warren Commission's dilemma lay in the fact that it had to issue a
     report.  The broad proof against Oswald and the lack of evidence
     pointing to any other possible assassin, according to Graham, gave
     the Commission no choice "but to smooth over the inconsistencies to
     the extent possible and brand Oswald the lone assassin."
        Graham concluded with the unsubstantiable claim that Oswald would
     easily have been convicted of murder by any jury faced with the
     material before the Warren Commission and in these books.
        As the controversy grew the "Times" greeted the issue with a most
     astonishing article in the September 11, 1966 "New York Times
     Magazine," entitled "No Conspiracy, But--Two Assassins, Perhaps?" by
     Henry Fairlie, an English political commentator.  Fairlie
     acknowledged that it was hard to dispute the contention that the
     Warren Commission "did a hurried and slovenly job," and he conceded
     that there might well have been more than one assassin;  "available
     evidence seems to me confusing."
        But he contended that even if this supposition were made, "it
     still does not justify making the long leap to a conspiracy theory,"
     because even if two or more people were involved, he argued, "it is
     possible to regard such people as fanatics or nuts and nothing
     more."  Of course, if there were two or more people involved it was,
     *by definition*, a conspiracy.
        The article concluded that it was not the proper time for a new
     investigation, for "to set up another independent body with no
     promise that it would succeed, would be to agitate public doubt
     without being certain that it could in the end, settle it.  Popular
     fear and hysteria are dangerous weirds to excite . . ."
        Thus it would appear that to Henry Fairlie and "The New York
     Times" it was more important to support the official findings of the
     Warren Commission--even though questionable--than to look further
     into the President's assassination and risk adding to the already
     existing doubt and scepticism about those findings, warranted or

                          The Times Investigation

        Toward the end of 1966 a degree of dissatisfaction with the
     conclusions of the Warren Commission began to manifest itself at the
        Tom Wicker wrote in his column that a number of impressive books
     had opened to question the Warren Commission's "procedures, its
     objectivity and its members diligence.  The damaging fear has been
     planted, here as well as abroad, that the commission--even if
     subconsciously--was more concerned to quiet public fears of
     conspiracy and treachery than it was to establish the unvarnished
     truth, and thus made the facts fit a convenient thesis."  Wicker
     endorsed the call for a Congressional review that had been made by
     Congressman Kupferman.[23]
        Harrison Salisbury radically revised his early praise of the
     Report--*not* in the "Times" but in the November 1966 issue of "The
     Progressive," a magazine of limited circulation.  While reiterating
     his belief that Oswald acted alone, Salisbury wrote that his reading
     of "Inquest" and "Rush to Judgment," both of which he called
     "serious, thoughtful examinations," had convinced him that questions
     of major importance remained unanswered.
        Like Wicker, he endorsed the Kupferman resolution, adding the
     principal areas of doubt.  The nation no longer lives in the trauma
     which persisted for months after the President's death.  The Warren
     Commission had good reason to concern itself for the national
     interest, to worry about national morale, to take upon itself the
     task of damping down rumors.  But today and tomorrow the sole
     criteria of an inquiry should be the truth--every element of it that
     can be obtained--and a frank facing of unresolved and unresolvable
        On November 16, 1966, on the other hand, Clifton Daniel, then
     Managing Editor, in addressing a public symposium on "The Role of
     the Mass Media in Achieving and Preserving a Free Society," defended
     the "Warren Report" and accused its critics of "dragging red
     herrings all over the place."[24]
        Under this setting the "Times" quietly undertook, in early
     November 1966, a new investigation of the assassination under the
     direction of Harrison Salisbury.  "We will go over all the areas of
     doubt."  Salisbury told "Newsweek," "and hope to eliminate
        On November 25, with the unpublicized investigation already
     underway, the "Times" ran a carefully worded editorial, "Unanswered
     Questions," which maintained that there were enough solid doubts of
     thoughtful citizens to require official answers.  "Further dignified
     silence, or merely more denials by the commission or its staff, are
     no longer enough."
        About a month into the investigation Salisbury received
     permission from the government of North Vietnam to visit Hanoi, and
     he quickly departed for Paris to complete final preparations for the
     trip.  Shortly after his departure the "Times" investigation was
        Reporter Peter Kihss, a member of the team, wrote Ms. Sylvia
     Meagher on January 7, 1967, "Regrettably the project has broken off
     without any windup story, at least until Harrison Salisbury, who was
     in charge, gets back from North Vietnam."
        Another member of the team, Gene Roberts--then Atlanta bureau
     chief and at the time I spoke with him National Editor of the
     "Times" (he recently left to become Executive Editor of "The
     Philadelphia Enquirer")--told me that "There was no real connection
     between Salisbury going to Hanoi and the decision not to publish, or
     to disband the inquiry.  It just kind of happened that way.
     Presumably if he had been here he might have knocked it off even
     sooner or he might have continued it a week or two.  I just don't
        Roberts told me that the team was unable to find evidence
     supporting the contentions of the critics.  "We found no evidence
     that the Warren Report was wrong," he said, "which is not to say
     that the Warren Report was right.  We are not in the business of
     printing opinion, and that is why nothing was printed in the
        If Salisbury's words to "Newsweek" are to be taken literally the
     purpose of the investigation to begin with was to shore up the
     findings of the Warren Commission.  There can be little doubt that
     if the investigation had strongly reaffirmed those findings it would
     have been boldly splashed across the front page.  Yet there now seem
     to be several versions as to just what that investigation found.
        George Palmer, Assistant to the Managing Editor, wrote one
     questioner that nothing had been printed about the investigation
     "for the simple reason that there were no findings,"[28] but he
     wrote me that "the discontinuance of our inquiries meant that they
     had substantially reaffirmed the findings of the Warren
        Palmer also wrote me that the determination to discontinue the
     investigation was made upon the *return* of Harrison Salisbury from
     Hanoi.  Walter Sullivan, "Times" Science Editor, writing on behalf
     of Salisbury, wrote Washington attorney Bernard Fensterwald,
     Chairman of the Committee to Investigate Assassinations, "It is true
     that an intensive investigation of the J.F. Kennedy assassination
     was carried out by the "Times" staff under Mr. Salisbury's
     supervision.  It was set aside when he suddenly received permission
     to visit Hanoi.  At this stage, Mr. Salisbury tells me, it had
     become obvious that the President was killed by a single demented
     man and that no conspiracy was involved.  The investigation has
     therefore not been pursued further.[30]
        Following the "Times" at best inconclusive investigation its
     advocacy of the official line became at least as rigid as it had
     ever been.  An anonymous review of "The Truth About the
     Assassination" by Charles Roberts, "Newsweek"'s White House
     correspondent, said:
        "Publish 10,400,000 words of research and what do you get?  In
     the case of the Warren Commission and the book business, you get a
     fabulously successful spin-off called the assassination industry,
     whose products would never stand the scrutiny of Consumers Union.
     Consumers buy it as they buy most trash:  the packaging promises
     satisfaction but the innards are mostly distortions, unsupported
     theories and gaping omissions" that are "neatly debunked by Charles
     Roberts. . . .
        "By selecting the incredible and the contradictory, scavengers
     like Mark Lane sowed confusion.  By writing an honest guide for the
     perplexed, Roberts performs a public service."[31]
        In fact, Roberts' book was extremely superficial, its text
     consuming a mere 118 pages.  It glossed over the crucial evidence,
     substituting personal invective against the critics for answers to
     their criticisms.
        In late 1967 the publication of "Six Seconds In Dallas" by
     Professor Josiah Thomson and "Accessories After The Fact" by Sylvia
     Meagher further fanned the flames of the Warren controversy.  Ms.
     Meagher had previously distinguished herself by putting together a
     subject index to the 26-volumes--a service the Warren Commission had
     neglected to provide.
        "Six Seconds In Dallas" was previewed by "The Saturday Evening
     Post," which featured the book's jacket on its December 2, 1967
     cover along with the headline "Major New Study Shows Three Assassins
     Killed Kennedy."  An editorial in that issue stated that it had now
     been "demonstrated fairly conclusively that the Warren Commission
     was wrong."
        Thompson's book contained a comprehensive study of the Zapruder
     film, graphs of the reaction of Connally, tables summarizing the
     impressions of eyewitnesses, interviews with crucial witnesses,
     mathematical calculations of the acceleration of the President's
     head in relation to the movement of the car, etc.  The book was
     profusely illustrated with photographs, drawings and charts.
        "Accessories After the Fact" was an exhaustive analysis of the 26
     volumes and related material from the National Archives not
     contained in the volumes.  "Playboy" called it "the best of the new
     crop of books--and the most chilling in its implications."
        "Playboy" called the most unsettling aspect of both books "the
     failure of the Warren Commission to investigate, evaluate--or even
     acknowledge--the huge body of evidence in its possession indicating
     the possible presence of more than one gunman . . .
        "These new books lend weight to widening appeals by Congressmen
     and the press for an independent new investigation . . ."[32]
        Congressman Theodore Kupferman said, "On the subject of the
     Warren Report, Sylvia Meagher could replace a computer," calling her
     book "overwhelming."[33]
        Congressman William F. Ryan said, "Sylvia Meagher raises a number
     of disturbing questions."  He added that it pointed out the need for
     a Congressional review of the findings of the Warren
        Both books were reviewed in "The New York Times Book Review" on
     February 28, 1968--by Fred Graham, of course.  Graham found it
     astonishing that there was such a degree of disbelief "in a document
     that has the endorsement of some of the highest officials in the
     Government."  He contended that inconsistencies notwithstanding,
     "None of the critics have been able to suggest any other explanation
     that fits the known facts better than the Warren Commission's."
        Graham found Ms. Meagher's book "a bore," and he found that
     Thompson's scientific approach ignored "the larger logic of the
     Warren Report.  Although it has seemed that the flow of anti-`Warren
     Report' books would never end," he continued, "these two may
     represent a sweet climax."

                         The New Orleans Aftermath

        "The New York Times" followed the March 1, 1969 acquittal of Clay
     L. Shaw (charged by New Orleans D.A. Jim Garrison with conspiring to
     assassinate the late President) with a renewed offensive against
     previous criticism of the "Warren Report."  An editorial on March 2
     referred to Garrison's "obsessional conviction about the fraudulent
     character of the Warren Commission" as a "fantasy."
        The "News of the Week in Review" that day carried a piece by
     Sidney Zion, "Garrison Flops on the Conspiracy Theory," which
     maintained, in essence, that Garrison had "restored the credibility
     of the Warren Report."  The "Times" ignored the fact that the jury
     had been charged solely with the duty of determining the guilt or
     innocence of Mr. Shaw, not with determining the validity of the
     Warren Report.
        On April 20, 1969 "The New York Times Magazine" carried an
     article, "The Final Chapter in the Assassination Controversy?" by
     Edward J. Epstein, onetime critic of the Warren Report.
        Epstein's article was a bitter attack upon the critics which
     impugned their motives and integrity, and implied that much of their
     criticism was politically motivated.  He suggested that many of the
     critics were "demonologists" with "books as well as conspiracy
     theories to advertise," doubtless excluding his own "Inquest" from
     this category.  He conspicuously neglected to mention that only
     "Inquest" had accused the Commission of seeking "political truth."
        Epstein was less critical of Professor Thompson and Ms. Meagher,
     both of whom had disassociated themselves from Garrison and his
     investigations, but he maintained that their books contained only
     two substantial arguments which, if true, would preclude Oswald as
     the lone assassin--the improbability of the single-bullet theory and
     the backward acceleration of the President's head.
        To dispose of the first point Epstein relied upon a CBS inquiry
     which had theorized that 3 jiggles in the Zapruder film represented
     the photographer's reaction to the sound of shots, and therefore
     themselves coincided with the points at which the shots were fired.
        CBS had thereby hypothesized that the first shot had been fired
     at an earlier point than the Warren Commission had believed likely-
     -at a point when the President would have been visible from the 6th
     floor window for about 1/10th of a second through a break in the
     foliage of a large oak tree which otherwise obstructed the view
     until a later point.
        However, CBS had failed to mention that jiggles appeared at
     several other points in the film, and that there were five jiggles,
     not three, in the frame sequence in question.  "Life" magazine,
     which owns the original Zapruder film, rejected the "jiggle theory"
     in November 1966, attributing all but the most violent one that
     coincided with the head shot to imperfections in the camera
        The CBS analysis was a skillful deception which has been
     thoroughly discredited, including by Professor Thompson in his book
     (see "Six Seconds In Dallas," Appendix F--a critique of the CBS
     documentary, "The Warren Report").  Epstein maintained that the
     CBS analysis persuasively argued that the President and Governor
     Connally could have been hit by separate bullets by a single
     assassin, and that the single-bullet theory had therefore been
     rendered "irrelevant."
        What is more significant than the questionable nature of the
     CBS analysis is the fact that Epstein misrepresented the
     conclusions, for CBS did not theorize an earlier hit, but an
     earlier miss.  CBS recognized that an earlier hit meant a steeper
     trajectory, precluding the throat wound being one of exit, and again
     implying a fraudulent autopsy report.
        CBS reluctantly endorsed the single-bullet theory as "essential" 
     to the lone-assassin findings of the Warren Commission.[36]  
     Epstein, too, recognized this when he wrote in "Inquest":  "Either 
     both men were hit by the same bullet, or there were two 
     assassins."[37]  His misrepresentation of the CBS study alleviated 
     him of the problem of credibly defending the single-bullet theory-
     -an undertaking he obviously did not relish.
        Epstein dismissed the head movement by citing a report released
     by the Justice Department in January 1969 in which a panel of
     forensic pathologists who had studied the sequestered autopsy photos
     and X-rays had concluded that they supported the Warren Report.  But
     even superficial study of the Panel Report (its popular name)
     revealed glaring differences between it and the original autopsy
        Thus again Epstein relied upon a study which raised more
     questions than it answered in an effort to explain away
     irreconcilable deficiencies in the "Warren Report."  In this way he
     was able to conclude that he knew of no substantial evidence "that
     indicated there was more than one rifleman firing."
        Ms. Meagher and Professor Thompson sent the "Times" letters of
     almost identical length, both challenging the veracity of the CBS
     study and the Panel Report.  But Ms. Meagher's letter also included
     quotes from a letter Epstein had written her more than a year
     earlier:  "I am shocked that 5 not 3 frames were blurred.  If this
     is so, CBS was egregiously dishonest and the tests are
     meaningless."  And, "By a common sense standard, which you point out
     the `Warren Report' uses, I think your book shows it extremely
     unlikely, even inconceivable, that a single assassin was
        The "Times" thanked Ms. Meagher for her letter, adding that "We
     are planning to run a letter along very similar lines from Josiah
     Thompson and I am sure that you will understand that space
     limitations will prevent us from using both."
        Ms. Meagher wrote again asking that the "Times" reconsider and
     print at least the paragraph which revealed that Epstein knew in
     advance that the CBS claims were specious, and that his private
     admissions in writing were the exact opposite of his representations
     in the "Times."
        "One understands the `Times' unwillingness to acknowledge to its
     readers that it has given Epstein a platform from which to
     disseminate not mere error, but deliberate falsehood," wrote Ms.
     Meagher.  "However I would like to request you to reconsider your
     decision . . . in the interests of fair play and of undoing a
     disservice to your readers that was surely unintended."
        She received no reply, and her letter was not published.
        Harold Weisberg wrote the "Times" asking that certain statements
     which he felt were libelous be corrected, and asking that he be
     permitted to write an article rebutting Epstein.  The "Times"
     replied denying libel and maintaining that the article itself was
     sound.  "If however you want to write us a short letter of not more
     than 250 or 300 words challenging Epstein's interpretation of the
     assassination," the "Times" added, "we'd be glad to consider it for
     publication.  But I'd like to caution you to avoid difficult, arcane
     details that would simply baffle our readers."
        Readers of "The New York Times" . . . baffled?

                            A Heritage of Stone

        On December 1, 1970 the daily book columns of the "Times" carried
     a dual review of two books on the Jim Garrison affair.  The first,
     "American Grotesque," by James Kirkwood, was critical of Garrison
     and the methods he utilized in prosecuting Clay Shaw.  The second,
     "A Heritage of Stone," was Jim Garrison's own account of the Kennedy
        The review by "Times" staff reviewer John Leonard, was entitled
     "Who Killed John F. Kennedy?"  The portion dealing with "A Heritage
     of Stone" follows:

           Which brings us to Jim Garrison's "A Heritage of Stone."
        The District Attorney of Orleans Parish argues that
        Kennedy's assassination can only he explained by a "model"
        that pins the murder on the Central Intelligence Agency.
        The CIA could have engineered Dallas in behalf of the
        military-intelligence-industrial complex that feared the
        President's disposition toward a detente with the Russians.
        Mr. Garrison nowhere in his book mentions Clay Shaw, or the
        botch his office made of Shaw's prosecution;  he is,
        however, heavy on all the other characters who have become
        familiar to us, via late-night talk shows on television.
        And he insists that the Warren Commission, the executive
        branch of the government, some members of the Dallas Police
        Department, the pathologists at Bethesda who performed the
        second Kennedy autopsy and many, many others must have
        known they were lying to the American public.

                            Mysteries Persist

           Frankly, I prefer to believe that the Warren Commission
        did a poor job, rather than a dishonest one.  I like to
        think that Mr. Garrison invents monsters to explain
        incompetence.  But until somebody explains why two
        autopsies came to two different conclusions about the
        President's wounds, why the limousine was washed out and
        rebuilt without investigation, why certain witnesses near
        the "grassy knoll" were never asked to testify before the
        Commission, why we were all so eager to buy Oswald's
        brilliant marksmanship in split seconds, why no one
        inquired into Jack Ruby's relations with a staggering
        variety of strange people, why a "loner" like Oswald always
        had friends and could always get a passport--who can blame
        the Garrison guerrillas for fantasizing?
           Something stinks about this whole affair.  "A Heritage
        of Stone" rehashes the smelliness:  the recipe is as
        unappetizing as our doubts about the official version of
        what happened.  (Would then-Attorney General Robert F.
        Kennedy have endured his brother's murder in silence?  Was
        John Kennedy quite so liberated from cold war cliches as
        Mr. Garrison maintains?)  But the stench is there, and
        clings to each of us.  Why were Kennedy's neck organs not
        examined at Bethesda for evidence of a frontal shot?  Why
        was his body whisked away to Washington before the legally
        required Texas inquest?  Why?

        This review was certainly not an unfair one, and it raised some
     rather searching questions--questions one rarely saw asked in the
     "Times."  But this review appeared only in the early edition.
     Before the second edition could reach the stands it underwent a
     strange metamorphosis.  The title was changed from "Who Killed John
     F. Kennedy?" to "The Shaw-Garrison Affair," and the review now read
     as follows:

           Which brings us to Jim Garrison's "A Heritage of Stone."
        The District Attorney of Orleans Parish argues that
        Kennedy's assassination can only he explained by a "model"
        that pins the murder on the Central Intelligence Agency.
        The CIA could have engineered Dallas in behalf of the
        military-intelligence-industrial complex that feared the
        President's disposition toward a detente with the Russians.
        Mr. Garrison nowhere in his book mentions Clay Shaw, or the
        botch his office made of Shaw's prosecution;  he is,
        however, heavy on all the other characters who have become
        familiar to us via late-night talk shows on television.
        And he insists that the Warren Commission, the executive
        branch of the government, some members of the Dallas Police
        Department, the pathologists at Bethesda who performed the
        second Kennedy autopsy and many, many others must have
        known they were lying to the American public.
           Frankly, I prefer to believe that the Warren Commission
        did a poor job, rather than a dishonest one.  I like to
        think that Mr. Garrison invents monsters to explain

        Thus the paragraph heading "Mysteries Persist" had mysteriously
     vanished, and the last 30 lines of the review had been whisked
     away--into some subterranean "Times" "memory hole," no doubt.  The
     meaning of the review was completely altered, and the questions
     which the "Times" apparently feels are unaskable remained unasked.
        A letter to the "Times" inquiring as to the reason for alteration
     of the original review brought a response from George Palmer,
     Assistant to the Managing Editor:  "Deleting that material . . .
     involved routine editing in line with a long-standing policy of our
     paper.  Our book reviewers are granted full freedom to write
     whatever they wish about the books and authors they are dealing
     with, but we do not permit personalized editorials in the book
        This was a form letter which the "Times" sent out, with minor
     variations, to those who questioned the two reviews.  The recipient
     of one such letter observed that the line "Frankly I *prefer* to
     believe* that the Warren Commission did a poor job rather than a
     dishonest one," was clearly editorial in nature--surely much more so
     than the material that was deleted.  To this Palmer replied:  "I
     don't believe these comments represented the type of excessive
     editorializing our editors had in mind when they made the
        The "Times" seems to have clarified just what it considers
     "excessive editorializing" when on September 29, 1971 Christopher
     Lehmann-Haupt, in reviewing "The Magician," by Sol Stein, described
     the protagonist as "a random case;  he is one of those `types,' like
     Lee Harvey Oswald and James Earl Ray, who are born to lead, but
     lacking the equipment to do so, must assassinate the true leaders."
     The "Times" saw nothing "excessive" or "editorial" in this review,
     and it appeared in the second edition exactly as it had appeared in
     the first.
        Interestingly enough, then Managing Editor, Turner Catledge,
     pledged after the death of Oswald that future articles and headlines
     would refer to Oswald as the *alleged* assassin.  The American
     system of justice carrying with it the presumption of innocence
     until guilt is proven in a court of law.  Catledge's pledge has been
     consistently and systematically disregarded ever since.[41]

                           The Eighth Anniversary

        One of the important witnesses for the Warren Commission was
     Charles Givens, a porter employed at the Book Depository.  In a
     deposition taken by Commission lawyer David W. Belin, Givens
     testified that he had left the 6th floor (where he worked) at about
     11:30 a.m. on the morning of the assassination, but that he had
     forgotten his cigarettes, and when he returned to retrieve them at
     about noon he encountered Oswald lurking near the Southeast corner
     window--the alleged sniper's nest.
        Writing in the August 13, 1971 "Texas Observer," Sylvia Meagher
     cast great doubt upon the veracity of Givens and the methods of the
     Warren Commission.  Her article, "The Curious Testimony of Mr.
     Givens," revealed that material from the National Archives relating
     to Givens gave an entirely different account .
        On the day of the assassination Givens told authorities that he
     had last seen Oswald at 11:50 a.m. reading a newspaper on the
     *first* floor of the Depository.  Neither then nor in two subsequent
     affidavits sworn to prior to his Warren Commission testimony did he
     ever mention having returned to the 6th floor.
        However, an FBI agent's report noted a statement by Lt. Jack
     Revill of the Dallas Police that Givens had previously had
     difficulty with the Dallas Police and probably "would change his
     testimony for money."  Moreover, David Belin, the lawyer who took
     Givens testimony, was aware of Givens' earlier statements, for he
     had noted them in a memo six weeks *before* Givens testified.  In
     that same memo he noted that three other Depository employees, like
     Givens, had also reported seeing Oswald on the first floor.
        David Belin's reply in the same issue of "The Texas Observer"
     decried the "assassination sensationalists," assured the reader that
     he was an honorable man, and insisted that the Warren Commission had
     done a thorough and competent job.  "The Texas Observer," commenting
     on the exchange, called Belin's answer "the slick irrelevant reply
     of a lawyer who doesn't have much of a defense to present."
        Ms. Meagher sent copies of her article, Belin's reply and the
     accompanying editorial to several people at the "Times" including
     Harrison Salisbury, whose responsibilities include editing the Op-Ed
     page.  Salisbury's position seemed ambiguous, for since his article
     in "The Progressive" in 1966 he had again implied acceptance of the
     official version of the assassination in his introduction to the
     "Times/Bantam" edition of the "Report of the National Commission on
     the Causes and Prevention of Violence."
        His position would not be ambiguous for long.  On November 22,
     1971--the 8th anniversary of the President's death--a headline "The
     Warren Report Was Right" appeared emblazoned across the top of the
     Op-Ed page.  The article decried the "assassination sensationalists"
     and its author was none other than David W. Belin.
        Ms. Meagher sent a second copy of the "Observer" material to
     Salisbury, and it was returned with a polite form letter thanking
     her for her manuscript which the "Times" regretted it could not use.
     She replied that the form letter did not surprise her, but that she
     had not sent a manuscript, but rather documented material which
     demonstrated irrefutably deliberate misrepresentation of evidence by
     the Warren Commission, and which "clearly implicated David W. Belin
     in serious impropriety and misfeasance."
        She noted that "You have not questioned, much less challenged,
     the documentary evidence I made available to you twice in two
     months.  Instead you provided a forum for Belin to influence your
     readers, without even cautioning them that serious charges had been
     published elsewhere on his conduct as an assistant counsel for the
     Warren Commission."
        Ms. Meagher concluded that the "Times" 1964 praise of the Warren
     Report "may have been merely gullible or unprofessional," but that
     in 1971 it was simply "propaganda on behalf of a discredited
     Government paper," wrapped in sanctimony and pretending "to seek
     truth or justice."
        Salisbury's reply read in full:  "Do forgive the form card which
     went back to you.  That was a product of our bureaucracy, I'm
     afraid.  I hadn't seen your letter, alas, having been out of the
     office for a few days."

                       The Kennedy Photos and X-Rays

        The photos and X-rays taken of the President's body during the
     autopsy represent possibly the most crucial evidence of the
     assassination.  They could settle whether the President was hit in
     the neck or in the back, and they could resolve considerable doubt
     as to the direction from which the various bullets were fired.
        Nevertheless, they were allegedly never viewed by the Warren
     Commission.  In late 1966 they were deposited in the National
     Archives under the proviso that only Government agencies would be
     permitted to view them for five years at which time "recognized
     experts in the field of pathology or related areas of science and
     technology" might be permitted to view them.
        Toward the end of 1968 D.A. Garrison of New Orleans took legal
     steps to secure release of the material.  In an effort to block
     access, the Justice Department released a report by a panel of
     forensic pathologists who had examined the photos and X-rays a year
     earlier and had reported that they confirmed the medical findings
     that all the shots came from the rear.
        The Panel Report was covered for the "Times" by Fred Graham.  His
     uncritical story was carried on page 1 and consumed eight additional
     columns on page 17.[42]  But far from resolving the controversy the
     Panel Report only raised new questions, for even perfunctory study
     of it revealed radical differences between it and the original
     autopsy report and the Warren Commission testimony of the autopsy
     surgeons, not the least of which was the fact that the fatal head
     wound had mysteriously moved by approximately 4 inches.
        Some of the discrepancies were brought to Graham's attention by
     Sylvia Meagher.  He replied:  "Thank you for your thoughtful and
     informative letter about the Kennedy X-rays and photographs.  I wish
     I had known this at the time, but perhaps it is not too late to
     backtrack a bit and see if anyone can come up with explanations. . . 
      .  I'll see what can be turned up, and if anything can, I trust 
     you'll be reading about it."[43]
        There was no follow-up story.  The following month Dr. Cyril H.
     Wecht, an eminently qualified forensic pathologist, testified in the
     District of Columbia Court of General Sessions about the
     inconsistencies between the Panel Report and the autopsy report.
     Judge Charles Halleck was sufficiently impressed with Dr. Wecht's
     testimony to rule against the Justice Department, ordering that
     Wecht be permitted to examine the autopsy material as the basis for
     his testimony on the medical findings.
        (The ruling was later rendered moot when the Justice Department
     announced it would appeal.  This would have resulted in an
     indefinite delay beyond the conclusion of the Shaw trial, and
     Garrison withdrew his suit.)
        The "Times" coverage of this event consisted of a 4-paragraph UPI
     dispatch which omitted any mention of Dr. Wecht's testimony
     regarding the Panel Report.  The UPI story was buried on page
     13.[44]  Five days later Fred Graham reported on the Justice
     Department's announcement that it would appeal Judge Halleck's order
     that the photos and X-rays be produced at the Shaw trial, but the
     story contained no reference to Dr. Wecht or his testimony.[45]
        When the first person "not under Government auspices" was
     permitted to see the photos and X-rays this year the *exclusive* was
     obtained by Fred Graham of "The New York Times."
        On January 9, 1972 the "Times" announced on page 1 that Dr. John
     K. Lattimer, Chairman of the Department of Urology at Columbia
     University's College of Physicians and Surgeons, had viewed the
     photos and X-rays and found that they "eliminate any doubt
     completely" about the validity of the Warren Commission's conclusion
     that Oswald fired all the shots.
        Dr. Lattimer disagreed with the Commission only insofar as he
     said that the neck wound was actually *higher* than the Commission
     had reported.  He maintained that therefore the throat wound could
     not possibly be one of entrance because the front wound was so far
     below the back one that "if anyone were to have shot him from the
     front, they would have to be squatting on the floor in front of
        Graham's article noted that "some skeptics" regarded Lattimer as
     "an apologist for the `Warren Report,'" but he did not elaborate.
     In fact Dr. Lattimer had earned the title over a period of several
     years by publishing a number of sycophantic articles in defense of
     the "Warren Report."  In the March 13, 1970 issue of "Medical World
     News," for example, he wrote:
        "Oswald showed what the educated, modern-day, traitorous
     guerrilla can do among his own people--working with religious-type
     conviction, willing to lay down his own life, but proposing to kill
     as many anti-communists as possible.  Oswald was devious, skilled at
     his business, and amazingly cool."
        More important than Dr. Lattimer's background, however, is the
     fact that a number of interesting questions were raised both by his
     selection as the person who would finally be permitted to study the
     autopsy material, and by the rather curious nature of his
        How, for example. did a urologist with virtually no knowledge of
     forensic pathology[46] (the branch of forensic medicine specializing
     in the determination of the cause and manner of death in cases where
     it is sudden, suspicious, unexpected, unexplained, traumatic,
     medically undetected or violent) qualify as an "expert in the field
     of pathology or related areas of science and technology" to view the
     autopsy photos and X-rays?
        Why was a urologist chosen when three doctors with experience in
     forensic pathology, including Dr. Wecht, had also applied?  Dr.
     Wecht is Chief Medical Examiner of Pittsburgh, Research Professor of
     Law and Director of the Institute of Forensic Sciences at Duquesne
     University School of Law, past-President of the American College of
     Legal Medicine, and past-President of the American Academy of
     Forensic Sciences.
        By coincidence. of the four applicants, only the urologist, Dr.
     Lattimer, had spoken or written of the "Warren Report" in an
     uncritical fashion.  How could he contend unequivocally that the
     photos and X-rays "eliminate any doubt completely" that *Oswald* had
     fired all the shots--something they are incapable of proving to
     anyone not endowed with telepathic powers?
        Moreover, if a shot from the front would have had to come from
     the floor of the President's car as Dr. Lattimer suggests, a shot
     from the rear following the same trajectory in reverse would have
     ended up *in* the floor.
        How could such a bullet following this new steeper trajectory
     have altered its course to strike Governor Connally below the right
     armpit and exit below his right nipple as the Warren Commission
     contends it did?
        Even more curious is the fact that despite the inconsistencies of
     the Panel Report, it did *not* cite a higher location for the "neck"
        Thus the Panel Report, the autopsy report, and Dr. Lattimer all
     offered *different* descriptions of the President's wounds.
        None of these questions were raised by Fred Graham.  He did add
     that Burke Marshall, the Kennedy family representative charged with
     deciding which "recognized experts" will be admitted, was also
     considering the requests of Dr. Cyril H. Wecht and Dr. John Nichols,
     "pathologists who have written critically of the Warren Commission
     report," and Dr. E. Forrest Chapman.
        "Mr. Marshall said that in granting or denying permission, he
     would not consider whether applicants were supporters or critics of
     the `Warren Report,' but only if they had a serious historical
     purpose in seeing the material."
        In 1964 Burke Marshall, then head of the Civil Rights Section of
     the Justice Department, showed a keen interest in investigating how
     Malcolm X was financing his international travels aimed at bringing
     the American racial question before the United Nations--an area
     which would hardly seem to be of concern to the Civil Rights
        It was reliably reported to me that the Lattimer story caused
     serious repercussions at the "Times" as a result of a torrent of
     outraged letters from forensic experts and scholars astounded that
     Dr. Lattimer had assumed the role of expert in a highly specialized
     field in which he had no competence, and that the "Times" had lent
     him credibility with its uncritical reporting.
        Possibly as a result of these letters or possibly because he was
     becoming somewhat skeptical himself, Fred Graham telephoned Dr.
     Wecht in May 1972 to inquire as to the status of his application.
        Dr. Wecht told Graham that Marshall had totally ignored repeated
     letters and telegrams seeking either an approval or rejection of his
     application.  According to Dr. Wecht, Fred Graham made at least two
     calls to Burke Marshall after his initial conversation with Wecht,
     and Graham applied at least some degree of pressure upon Marshall to
     act upon Wecht's application.
        Whether or not the spectre of an article in "The New York Times"
     asking why the autopsy material continued to be inaccessible helped
     to influence his decision is impossible to say, but in mid-June,
     Burke Marshall approved Dr. Wecht's application.
        Dr. Wecht spent two days at the National Archives on August 23
     and 24, making a detailed study of the photographs, X-rays, and
     related physical evidence.  Because of the positive role Graham had
     played, Wecht offered him an exclusive interview.
        Wecht limited his discussion of his observations pending closer
     study and consultation and issuance of a detailed report.  He did
     discuss a "little flap" of loose scalp which "might have been an
     entrance or exit wound," but which had never been mentioned before
     either by Dr. Lattimer or in the autopsy report or in the Panel
        He also disclosed that photographs of the top of the removed
     brain "disclose a sizeable foreign object that could have been a
     flattened bullet fragment or a brain tumor."  This object was
     reported by the Panel, but was not mentioned in the autopsy report
     or by Dr. Lattimer.
        Wecht also reported that he had requested permission to examine
     the preserved brain of the President (essential to any thorough
     examination, and specifically necessary if the flattened object in
     the brain was to be identified), as well as microscopic slides of
     tissue removed from the President's wounds (these can identify
     whether a wound is one of entrance or exit), but that these items,
     which have never been studied, were denied him.
        Wecht told Graham that he intended to write to Mr. Marshall
     asking him to lay all the questions to rest by allowing him to again
     inspect the materials "plus the brain and microscopic slides of the
     wounds, with a team of experts, including a radiologist, a
     neurosurgeon, a firearms expert, a criminalist and an examiner of
     questioned documents."
        Graham also interviewed Marshall who denied knowledge of the
     brain or other objects not in the archives.  He said that "They have
     no bearing on who killed the President."  He deplored Dr. Wecht's
     "chasing after parts of the President's body because he hasn't found
     any evidence that anything else was wrong."  He termed the probing
     "offensive," and said "It is a terrible thing to do to that family."
        Graham's story ran in the "Sunday New York Times" on August 27 on
     page 1.  While the article betrayed a degree of slanting (e.g.,
     "While [Dr. Wecht] was here last week, he was provided
     transportation by the Committee to Investigate Assassinations, a
     Washington-based organization that includes District Attorney Jim
     Garrison of New Orleans"), Graham nevertheless gave a very factual
     recounting of his interview with Dr. Wecht.
        Graham also did considerable background research and conducted a
     number of secondary interviews in an effort to trace the history of
     the missing brain.  What will transpire when Dr. Wecht issues his
     technical report detailing his findings, and whether Fred Graham
     follows up on Dr. Wecht's request of Marshall that a second panel
     including Dr. Wecht and other experts be allowed to now conduct a
     thorough examination of *all* the material remains to be seen.
        Marshall has so far ignored the request.

                        The Times and the King Case

        On March 10. 1969 the official curtain closed on the
     assassination of Martin Luther King.  James Earl Ray pleaded guilty
     to a technical plea of murder "as explained to you by your lawyers,"
     and was sentenced to 99 years in prison (Ray has always maintained
     that he killed no one).  Thus the State of Tennessee, by an
     arrangement that had the advance blessings of the Federal
     Government, dispensed with the formality of a trial for the accused
     assassin of Dr. King.
        The next day a scathing editorial in the "Times" entitled
     "Tongue-Tied Justice," denounced the proceedings, calling "the
     aborted trial of James Earl Ray" a "mockery of justice" and "a
     shocking breach of faith with the American people."  The "Times"
     demanded to know, "Was there a conspiracy to kill Dr. King and who
     was in it?"  They demanded the convening of formal legal
     proceedings, by the Federal Government if not the State.
        But, for all its editorial eloquence the "Times" record on the
     King case once the "official" verdict was in would be no better than
     it had been in the John F. Kennedy case (prior to the Ray trial the
     "Times" reporting, particularly that of Martin Waldron, was
     excellent).  Ray's efforts to obtain a new trial and his contention
     that he had been pressured into his plea were, and continue to be,
     almost completely blacked-out by the "Times."
        March 1971 brought a challenge to the "official" contention that
     Ray had killed Dr. King and that there had been no conspiracy.  The
     challenge was a new book by Harold Weisberg, "Frame-Up:  The Martin
     Luther King/James Earl Ray Case."
        "Frame-Up" was the culmination of more than two years of
     investigation, legal action, and research.  Much of his evidence
     Weisberg obtained when he successfully sued the Justice Department
     for access to the suppressed James Earl Ray extradition file.  The
     suit resulted in a rare Summary Judgment against the Justice
     Department (not news fit to print to the "Times"), and the release
     of official documents which were exculpatory of Ray.
        Thus Weisberg revealed that ballistics tests which failed to link
     Ray's rifle with the crime were misrepresented by the prosecution in
     the formal narration, implying the opposite by substituting the word
     "consistent," a meaningless word in ballistics terminology.
        The alleged shot from the bathroom window would have required a
     contortionist, and tangible evidence suggested that the shot had
     come from elsewhere.  Numerous contradictions and conflict impeached
     the testimony of the only alleged witness placing Ray at the scene.
        Ray left no prints in the bathroom, or in another room where he
     was alleged to have rearranged furniture, or in the car, he
     allegedly drove 400 miles after the slaying, or on parts of the
     rifle he would have had to handle in order to fire it.
        Persuasive evidence suggested that a bundle conveniently left
     behind in a doorway near the rooming house and which contained the
     alleged assassination rifle and several of Ray's personal effects,
     had actually been planted on the scene by someone other than Ray.
     Much more in "Frame-Up" pointed toward a conspiracy in which Ray had
     served the role of "patsy."
        The "Times" found no news fit to print in "Frame- Up," though
     even Fred Graham had called Weisberg a "painstaking investigator,"
     and "Times" reporter Peter Kihss had written lengthy and favorable
     articles about two of his previous books.[48]
        "Frame-Up" was enthusiastically received at first.  "Publishers'
     Weekly" said:  "This review can barely suggest the detailed number
     of Weisberg's charges, speculations, freshly documented evidence and
     revelations about the King murder.  In two areas he is pure TNT:
     his attack on Ray's lawyer, Percy Foreman . . . and his sensational
     head-on assault on J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI and the government
     itself for what he claims was the suppressing of official evidence
     indicating Ray was not alone in the King assassination. . . .
     Weisberg has brought forth a blistering book."[49]
        "Saturday Review" said:  "Evidence that Ray fired the fatal shot.
     There is none. . . .  The reek of conspiracy is on everything.
     Weisberg is an indefatigable researcher . . . he has pursued the
     facts. . . .  And they are facts that lay claim to the conscience of
        "The Chicago Sun Times" said:  "Weisberg has dug up much
     material, some of it properly designated as suppressed, that must
     give any reasonable and unprejudiced person pause."[51]
        The "Times" of London in a news story on "Frame-Up" called
     Weisberg "one of that small but impassioned group of authorities on
     recent American political assassinations . . . "Frame-Up" is a
     detailed analysis of the entire process of Mr. Ray's arrest and
     trial. . . .  There is remarkably little evidence to connect Ray
     with the shot that killed Dr. King."[52]
        "Frame-Up" was reviewed in "The New York Times Book Review" on
     May 2, 1971 by John Kaplan.  The review began:  "The silly season
     apparently is over so far as the critics of the Warren Commission
     are concerned. . . .  Now Harold Weisberg . . . hopes to repeat the
     triumph of his Whitewash series with "Frame-Up. . . .  Mr.
     Weisberg's theory is that James Earl Ray was merely a decoy, part of
     a conspiracy, apparently . . . his evidence is exiguous at best."
        The review continued:  "Mr. Weisberg's grasp of law is, to say
     the least, somewhat shaky (he is described elsewhere as a chicken
     farmer). . . .  Whether or not Ray fired the fatal bullet or merely
     acted as a decoy does not influence the propriety of his guilty
     plea.  In either case, he would be a murderer. . . .  A review such
     as this in which nothing favorable is said obviously prompts
     questions as to why one might wish to read or, for that matter, to
     devote newspaper review space to the book. . . .  Finally, one might
     ask if "Frame-Up" tells us anything significant about the Martin
     Luther King assassination.  Regrettably, the answer is no. . . ."
        Kaplan's review was nothing short of a personal attack upon
     Harold Weisberg which totally ignored the contents of "Frame-Up,"
     and falsely implied that "newspaper stories" were the basis of his
     "exiguous" evidence.
        An article on the front page of "The Wall Street Journal," "How
     Book Reviews Make or Break Books--or Have No Impact," described "The
     New York Times Book Review" as "generally considered the most
     prestigious and influential review medium."[53]  It described how a
     particularly poor review there can discourage further reviews and
     cut off bookstore orders.  "Frame-Up" received no further reviews,
     and for all practical purposes the book was soon dead.
        The "Times" capsule biography of the reviewer said that "John
     Kaplan teaches at Stanford Law School and is author of "Marijuana:
     The New Prohibition."  It was inadequate, to say the least.
        From 1957 to 1961 Kaplan served the Justice Department (against
     which Weisberg obtained the Summary Judgment not mentioned in the
     "Times" review), first as a lawyer with the Criminal Division, then
     as a special prosecutor in Chicago, and finally as an Assistant U.S.
     Attorney in San Francisco.
        He wrote an article, "The Assassins," which appeared in the
     Spring 1967 "American Scholar."  The assassins John Kaplan was
     talking about were the critics of the "Warren Report" whom he
     characterized as "revisionists," "perverse," and "silly."  He was
     also critical of "Life"'s call for a new investigation and the
     "Times" call for answers to unanswered questions.  These, according
     to Kaplan, "contributed relatively little in the way of
        In its original form "The Assassins" was considered so libelous
     by the legal counsel of "The American Scholar" that the latter
     refused to publish it until Kaplan reluctantly agreed to revise
     it.[55]  Kaplan's most recent venture, published the same week as
     his review of "Frame-Up," was an article written for the U.S.
     Information Agency (the *official* propaganda arm of the Government)
     entitled "The Case of Angela Davis:  The Processes of American
        John Leonard, now editor of "The New York Times Book Review,"
     told me that he had been totally unaware of Kaplan's background.  He
     had received a letter from Mr. Weisberg, and its contents distressed
     him.  Leonard told me that "another editor" had assigned the book,
     but he implied that the matter would be rectified on the letters
     page.[57]  It was John Leonard, then a daily reviewer, whose review
     of "A Heritage of Stone" had been edited because it was "excessively
        Weisberg's letter received no reply, nor did a subsequent one
     addressed directly to Leonard seeking some acknowledgment to the
     first, "if only to record that you did not consciously assign this
     review to a man so saddled with irreconcilable conflicts."
        On May 29 the "Times Book Review" published but one letter
     dealing with the Kaplan review--that a strongly worded denial of a
     footnote unrelated to the Ray case in which Weisberg said, in the
     context of discussing press coverage, that in 1966 the book reviewer
     of the "Washington Post" had been ordered not to review "Whitewash"
     after he read it and decided on a favorable review.  Kaplan chose to
     quote it out of context as an example of how, in Kaplan's words,
     Weisberg thought he was being picked on.
        Geoffrey Wolff, who had been Book Review Editor of the
     "Washington Post" in 1966, vociferously denied the footnote in a
     letter which the "Times," in total disregard of publishing ethics,
     chose to publish without sending Weisberg a copy so that he could
     respond.  Weisberg was not permitted to quote his dated
     contemporaneous notes of his meetings with Wolff and a letter he had
     written Wolff in August 1966, and readers of the "Times" were given
     only Wolff's version of what had occurred, leaving them with the
     impression that there was only one version.
        Thus the "Times" assigned a biased reviewer who was permitted to
     misrepresent "Frame-Up"'s contents and to quote a tangential
     footnote completely out of context as an exercise in personal
     invective against Weisberg.  This was followed by the publication of
     only one letter which compounded the defamation of the Kaplan
        This train of events suggests that the "Times" never intended
     anything less than to kill "Frame-Up" and discredit Weisberg.
        Following the appearance of Wolff's letter, John Leonard told me
     that it had been published at that time because it had been set in
     type while others had not been, but that a "full page round-up" of
     letters dealing with the Kaplan review would be published "in about
     three weeks."[58]
        Weisberg's letter responding to the published Wolff letter
     received no reply from the "Times" and was never published.  The
     full page round-up never appeared.  Instead on August 29, 17 weeks
     after the Kaplan review and 12 weeks after the publication of the
     Wolff letter--after "Frame-Up" was already dead--Weisberg's original
     letter (which Leonard told me he had just received when I spoke to
     him on May 5) was published in the "Times Book Review" along with a
     self-serving reply by Kaplan, who was permitted the traditional
     right of reply that the "Times" had previously denied Weisberg.
        Weisberg wrote John Leonard:  "I think you owe me . . . more than
     this too late, too little, too dishonest feebleness. . . .  You have
     my work, which stands, as it must, alone.  You have my detailed and
     lengthy letters, which remain undenied by anyone, unanswered by you.
     You have enough to show that the "Times" and John Leonard will at
     least make an effort to be decent and honorable.  Will you?"
        For the first time Weisberg received a reply. Leonard's response
     read in full:  "Apparently everyone in the country is without honor
     except you.  I don't think we have anything useful to say to one

                         The Times and the RFK Case

        If many were unsatisfied with the "official" facts about the
     assassination of President Kennedy and Dr. King, there seemed little
     reason to doubt that Senator Robert F. Kennedy had fallen victim to
     the deranged act of a single sick individual--until the publication
     of Robert Blair Kaiser's "R.F.K. Must Die!"
        Kaiser is an established and respected reporter and a former
     correspondent for "Time" magazine.  His previous reporting had won
     him a Pulitzer Prize nomination and an Overseas Press Club Award for
     the best magazine reporting in foreign affairs.
        He signed on with the Sirhan defense team as an investigator.  In
     the course of his studies and investigations he became the chief
     repository of knowledge in the case and the bridge between the
     defense attorneys and the psychiatrists probing the motivations of
     Sirhan Sirhan.  Kaiser was to spend close to 200 hours with Sirhan,
     and that exposure together with his researches were to convince him
     that there had been a conspiracy.
        Kaiser was unimpressed with the investigations turned in by the
     Los Angeles Police Department and the FBI  He felt that they were
     predisposed to the conclusion that no conspiracy existed, and they
     were consequently unwilling to pursue leads in that direction.
        Thus when the "girl in the polka-dot dress" seen with Sirhan just
     before the assassination was not turned up, the authorities
     concluded that she did not exist despite overwhelming evidence to
     the contrary.  Nor was a zealous effort made to locate or thoroughly
     investigate certain acquaintances of Sirhan who could not be
     regarded as above suspicion.
        Kaiser became perplexed by Sirhan's notebooks in which he had
     often repeatedly written his name, and in which several pages bore
     the similarly repeated inscription "RFK must die," always
     accompanied by the phrase "Please pay to the order of Sirhan."
        Sirhan had no recollection of these writings, nor did he recall
     firing at Senator Kennedy.
        On the night of the assassination Sirhan had behaved oddly.  He
     was observed staring fixedly at a teletype machine two hours before
     the assassination, and he did not respond when addressed by the
     teletype operator.  Several bystanders could not loosen the vice-
     like grip or sway the seemingly frozen arm of Sirhan when he began
     firing.  After the shooting it was reported that his eyes were
     dilated, and he was described as extremely detached during the all-
     night police interrogation.  In the morning he was found shivering
     in his cell.
        Dr. Bernard L. Diamond. the chief psychiatrist for the defense,
     decided upon the use of hypnosis on Sirhan.  His subject proved so
     susceptible that Diamond concluded that Sirhan had likely been
     frequently hypnotized before.  Under hypnosis Sirhan proved adept at
     the same type of automatic writing that appeared in his notebooks.
        Given a pen and paper he filled an entire page with his name,
     continuing to write even at the end of the page.  Instructed to
     write about Robert Kennedy he wrote "RFK must die" repeatedly until
     told to stop.  Under hypnosis Sirhan recalled his previous notebook
     entries which had been made in a trance-like state induced by
     mirrors in his bedroom.
        The hallways of the Ambassador Hotel were also lined with
     mirrors.  Dr. Diamond programmed Sirhan to climb the bars of his
     cell like a monkey, but to retain no memory of the instructions.
     Upon awakening Sirhan climbed the bars of his cell "for exercise."
     Hypnosis produced an interesting side-effect on Sirhan.  Upon
     emerging from a hypnotic state he would suffer chills--just as he
     had the morning after the assassination.
        Dr. Diamond became convinced that Sirhan had acted in a
     dissociated state, unconscious of his actions, the night he
     allegedly killed Senator Kennedy.  He concluded that Sirhan had
     programmed himself like a robot.  Kaiser reached a slightly
     different conclusion.  If Sirhan had programmed himself, he
     reasoned, why did he retain no recollection of the programming or
     the shooting.  Furthermore, when asked under hypnosis if others had
     been involved, Sirhan would go into a deeper trance in which he
     could not reply or he would block--hesitating for a long period
     before giving a negative reply.
        Kaiser's research turned up several case-histories in which a
     suggestible individual had actually been programmed by a skilled
     hypnotist to perform illegal acts with no recollection of either the
     deed or the programming, including a relatively recent case in
     Europe in which a man convicted of murder was later acquitted when a
     suspicious psychiatrist succeeded in deprogramming him with the
     result that the programmer was convicted in his stead.  Kaiser felt
     that Sirhan, too, had been programmed and his memory blocked by some
     kind of blocking mechanism.
        "R.F.K Must Die!", which was also not "news fit to print" was
     reviewed in "The New York Times Book Review" on November 15, 1970 by
     Dr. Thomas S. Szasz.  Kaiser was described as a "conscientious and
     competent reporter," but the review totally ignored the contents of
     the book, the reviewer preferring to expound upon his own philosophy
     that it is "absurd" to judge Sirhan's act in any context other than
     the fact that he had committed the act, because in courtroom
     psychiatry "facts are constructed to fit theories."
        Dr. Szasz also expounded upon his faith in capital punishment as
     a deterrent to crime and upon several other irrelevancies.  Only one
     sentence of the review addressed Kaiser's premise:  "And Kaiser
     uncritically accepts Diamond's theory of the assassination `that
     Sirhan had--by his automatic writing--programmed himself exactly
     like a computer is programmed by its magnetic tape . . . for the
     coming assassination.'"
        Dr. Szasz completely misrepresented the thesis of the book he was
     reviewing, for Kaiser explicitly disagreed with Dr. Diamond.  Dr.
     Szasz' review gave no hint that Kaiser had postulated a conspiracy.
     Robert Kaiser wrote me:  "My narrative of the facts, most of which
     have been hidden from the public, cried out for a reopening of the
     case by the authorities.  That was news and Dr. Szasz ignored
        Assigning Dr. Thomas Szasz to review "R.F.K. Must Die!" was like
     assigning Martha Mitchell to review Senator Fulbright's "The
     Arrogance of Power."  Kaiser's book was largely a psychiatric study
     of Sirhan and a narrative of the psychiatric nature of the defense
     strategy (Sirhan had definite paranoid-schizophrenic tendencies).
        Dr. Szasz is generally regarded as the most controversial figure
     in the psychiatric profession, for he contends that mental illness
     is a myth, and he is irrevocably opposed to the use of psychiatry in
     the courtroom.  His views are so controversial that "The New York
     Times Magazine" devoted an entire article to them.[61]  Dr. Szasz'
     philosophy regarding courtroom psychiatry and mental illness
     precluded in advance an objective review.
        The relationship existing between Dr. Szasz and Dr. Diamond (who
     Kaiser describes as "the only hero in my book"[62]), moreover,
     should have further disqualified Dr. Szasz, for their views
     diametrically oppose one another, and the two men have faced each
     other in public debate.
        Dr. Diamond is a leading expert on and advocate of the legal
     concept known as "diminished capacity," a psychiatric defense.  In
     the October 1964 "California Law Review" Dr. Diamond reviewed one of
     Dr. Szasz' books.  A quote of the opening lines of that review
     illustrates sufficiently well the enmity existing between the two:
        "`Law, Liberty and Psychiatry' is an irresponsible,
     reprehensible, and dangerous book.  It is irresponsible and
     reprehensible because the author must surely know better.  It is a
     dangerous book because its author is clever, brilliant and
     articulate--the book reads well and could be most convincing to the
     intelligent, but uncritical reader."
        Kaiser cogently summed up the Szasz review:  "An honest review of
     my book, pro or con, one that would have dealt with the facts I
     revealed and the issues I raised, could have been a valuable service
     to the large reading public that depends on the "Times Book Review."
     From a purely personal viewpoint, it made the difference for me;
     instead of being a bestseller, my book was only a modest success--
     not because the reviewer made a successful attack on my thesis, but
     because he simply ignored it."[63]
        One of the confusing facts in the Robert Kennedy case is that the
     fatal bullet entered behind the left ear and was fired from only
     about an inch away, a fact that was attested to by the massive
     powder burns the weapon produced around the wound.  Sirhan was
     several feet in front of Senator Kennedy.  It was generally assumed
     that Kennedy had fallen in Sirhan's direction, receiving the wound
     as he fell, but events of the past summer have challenged this
        On May 28, 1971 Los Angeles attorney Barbara Warner Blehr
     challenged the qualifications of DeWayne Wolfer, acting head of the
     LAPD Crime Lab, in an effort to block his permanent appointment.
     Her challenge included declarations by three ballistics experts
     alleging that Wolfer had violated the four precepts of firearms
     identification when he testified at Sirhan's trial that Sirhan's gun
     and no other was involved in the shooting of Kennedy and two other
     persons on the scene.
        Ms. Blehr charged that Wolfer's testimony established that three
     bullets introduced in evidence were fired *not* from Sirhan's gun
     but from a second similar gun which, through evidence in the case 
     on June 6, 1968 "was reportedly destroyed by the LAPD . . . in July,
     1968."  She charged that a second person with a gun similar to
     Sirhan's had also fired shots at Senator Kennedy.
        Ms. Blehr's charges resulted in the convening of a grand jury
     which ultimately found that serious questions concerning the
     integrity of exhibits in the Sirhan case were raised as a result of
     handling of the evidence by unauthorized persons while in the
     custody of the Los Angeles County Clerk's office.  District Attorney
     Busch claimed that the confusion was the result of a clerical error
     made in labeling an envelope containing three bullets test-fired
     from Sirhan's gun by Wolfer.  He claimed that Ms. Blehr's charges
     also contained serious errors, but he did not specify them.
        Meanwhile there still seems to be a strong question as to whether
     the ballistics markings on all of the bullets match up.  Retired
     criminologist William Harper viewed two of the bullets, one taken
     from a second victim and the other removed from Kennedy's neck.  He
     stated that he could find "no individual characteristics in common
     between these two bullets."
        "The Los Angeles Times" has given each of these developments
     large play, and a summary article on August 8, 1971 by "L.A. Times"
     staff writer Dave Smith ran on page 1 and continued onto pages 8, 9
     and 10, taking up approximately 125 column inches.  By the same
     token these developments have been almost totally blacked-out by
     "The New York Times."  Then National Editor, Gene Roberts, told me
     that he could not explain why these developments had received so
     little coverage, claiming ignorance of them--a situation for which
     he acknowledged there was little excuse.  He suggested that I
     contact Wallace Turner, a reporter with the Los Angeles bureau whom
     Roberts said was familiar with the Robert Kennedy case.[64]
        I wrote instead to the L.A. bureau chief, Steven V. Roberts,
     suggesting that a policy decision was responsible for the blackout.
     He replied that "the questions were of the most tentative and flimsy
     character" which "just did not merit doing a full-scale
     investigation."  Roberts wrote that he had told New York (meaning
     the National desk) "to use whatever they wanted that was run by the
     wire services, but that I was not going to do anything myself. . .
        I wrote again asking why these events were not news simply
     because the "Times" had not investigated them, and also asking why
     the L.A. Bureau had reported on Sirhan's efforts to block
     publication of "R.F.K. Must Die!", but saw nothing newsworthy in
     the book or its revelations when it was published.  He replied:  "As
     I told you the first time, we have to set priorities here.  We can
     report only a small percentage of the many stories that come our way
     every day.  I have decided that the controversy over the Sirhan
     bullets is not substantial enough to warrant my time, when there are
     so many other things to worry about.  I appreciate your concern, but
     I think that's about all I have to say on the matter."[66]
        One must wonder, should the controversy over the Sirhan bullets
     prove substantial after all, how the "Times" will explain to its
     readers that other priorities demanded that previous developments
     were not "news fit to print."

        Only "The New York Times" can answer why they have for nine years
     maintained a consistent policy of literary assassination of
     literature and deliberate management of news suggesting that three
     of the greatest crimes of the 20th century may, despite "official"
     findings to the contrary, be yet unsolved.
        But the unassailable fact is that in the process they have acted
     as little less than an unofficial propaganda arm of the Government
     which has maintained so staunchly--and in the face of all evidence
     to the contrary, great and trivial--that assassinations in the
     United States are inevitably the work of lone demented madmen.
        Justice Hugo Black in his concurring opinion in the Supreme Court
     decision favoring "The New York Times" in the case of the Pentagon
     Papers said, "Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively
     expose deception in government.  And paramount among the
     responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of
     the Government from deceiving the people. . . ."
        Far from preventing deception in the case of political
     assassinations, the "Times" has practiced it, and in the process
     defrauded its readers and violated every ethic of professional and
     objective journalism.
        The greatest tragedy is that the "Times" indeed is America's
     newspaper of record.  As was demonstrated with the Pentagon Papers
     it wields the power to command international headlines.  Along with
     "The Washington Post" it is read daily by statesmen and bureaucrats
     in the nation's capitol.  It appears in every foreign capitol and in
     11,464 cities around the world.[67]
        Yet it seems all too evident that the "news fit to print" is
     often little more than propaganda reflecting the biases and
     preconceptions of the Publisher and editors of "The New York Times."

  1. Gay Talese, "The Kingdom and The Power," Bantam Books, NY, 1970, p.547

  2. "New York Times," April 7, 1961, p.2

  3. Turner Catledge, "My Life and the Times," Harper & Row, NY, 1971, p.288

  4. Talese, op. cit.,  p.148

  5. "The Kennedy Assassination and the American Public--Social
     Communication In Crisis," edited by Bradley S. Greenberg & Edwin B.
     Parker, Stanford University Press, Stanford, Cal., pp.37-45

  6. "New York Times," November 25, 1963, p.1

  7. "New York Times," November 25, 1963, p.10

  8. "New York Times," November 26, 1963, p.15;  November 25, 1963, p.9

  9. Edward J. Epstein, "Inquest," Bantam Books, NY, 1966, p.19

 10. "New York Times," March 30, 1964, p.26

 11. "New York Times," September 28, 1964, p.1

 12. "New York Times," September 28, 1964, p.28

 13. "New York Times," September 29, 1964, p.42

 14. "New York Times," September 28, 1964, p.28

 15. "New York Times," October 18, 1964, VII:8

 16. "New York Times," January 10, 1969, Ed. "UFO's And All That"

 17. "New York Times," November 25, 1964, p.36

 18. Epstein, op. cit., p.50

 19. "Book Week," July 24, 1966, p.1

 20. "New York Times," July 24, 1966, p.25

 21. "New York Post," March 6, 1967, p.4

 22. Letter from Peter Kihss to Harold Weisberg--dated June 7, 1966

 23. "New York Times," September 25, 1966, IV:10

 24. "New York Times," November 17, 1966, p.46

 25. "Newsweek," December 12, 1966, p.20

 26. Telephone interview with Gene Roberts--October 18, 1971

 27. Telephone interview with Gene Roberts--September 29, 1971

 28. Letter from George Palmer to Mr. Richard Levine--dated March 8, 1971

 29. Letter from George Palmer to the author--dated August 26, 1971

 30. Letter from Walter Sullivan to Bernard Fensterwald, Jr.--dated March
     19, 1970

 31. "New York Times," May 21, 1967, VII:48

 32. "Playboy," February, 1968, pp.16-18

 33. Sylvia Meagher, "Accessories After The Fact," Bobbs-Merrill, NY,
     1967, back jacket

 34. Ibid

 35. Josiah Thompson, "Six Seconds In Dallas," Bernard Geiss Ass., NY,
     1967, p.293

 36. "C.B.S. News Inquiry--The Warren Report," June 25-28, 1967, part II,
     p.15 of transcript.

 37. Epstein, op. cit., p.40

 38. The two reviews were first discovered by the Washington based
     Committee to Investigate Assassinations which published them in its

 39. Letter from George Palmer to the author--dated June 22, 1971

 40. Letter from George Palmer to Mr. Howard Roffman, Phil., PA, July 22,

 41. "New York Times," November 27, 1963, p.36

 42. "New York Times," January 17, 1969, p.1

 43. Letter from Fred Graham to Sylvia Meagher--dated January 26, 1969

 44. "New York Times," February 13, 1969, p.13

 45. "New York Times," February 18, 1969, p.29

 46. Interview of Dr. Lattimer by Long John Nebel--WNBC radio, Jan. 19, 1972

 47. "The Realist," February 1967, "The Murder of Malcolm X," by Eric
     Norden, p. 18

 48. "New York Times," December 8, 1966, p.40;  July 9, 1967, p.51

 49. "Publishers' Weekly," February 1, 1971

 50. "Saturday Review," April 10, 1971

 51. "Chicago Sun Times," April 4, 1971

 52. "Times" of London, June 5, 1971, p.4

 53. "The Wall Street Journal," June 9, 1971, p.1

 54. "American Scholar," Spring 1967, p.302

 55. Telephone conversation with Mary Moore Maloney, Man. Ed. of "The
     American Scholar"--August 18, 1971

 56. USIA Byliner--L-5/71 -F- 111 May, 71 IPS/PO/OISETH--May 5&6, 1971

 57. Telephone conversation with John Leonard--May 5, 1971

 58. Telephone conversation with John Leonard--June 1, 1971

 59. Letter from John Leonard to Harold Weisberg--dated Sept. 9, 1971

 60. Letter from Robert Kaiser to the author--dated August 9, 1971

 61. "New York Times Magazine," October 3, 1971, "Normality Is A Square
     Circle or a Four Sided Triangle," by Maggie Scarf

 62. Letter from Robert Kaiser, op. cit.

 63. Ibid

 64. Telephone interview with Gene Roberts--Sept. 29, 1971

 65. Letter From Steven V. Roberts to the author--dated Dec. 29, 1971

 66. Letters from Steven V. Roberts to the author--dated Jan. 21, 1972

 67. Talese, op. cit., p.89

                                             daveus rattus   

                                   yer friendly neighborhood ratman


   ko.yan.nis.qatsi (from the Hopi Language)  n.  1. crazy life.  2. life
       in turmoil.  3. life out of balance.  4. life disintegrating.  
         5. a state of life that calls for another way of living.