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Media Matters’ Lie of the Day: “Right-Wingers” Killed Kennedy — and They’re Back

September 19, 2009
Is this the face of a conservative?

Is this the face of a conservative?

Imagine writing hundreds of words about the death of Abraham Lincoln, without mentioning the name of his assassin.

Or writing about 9/11 but putting the word “hijackers” in scare quotes… (Oh wait: if you endorse that kind of writing, you might actually earn yourself a short lived White House czarship. So scratch that…)

Last night I stumbled upon a post at Media Matters — or, as I like to call it, the George Soros Steno Pool. Media Matters is a leftwing “media watchdog” that monitors conservative talk radio and FOX News, then refutes their daily “lies.”

So Media Matters is supposed to be all about facts and truth and “telling the whole story.” Got it.

Apparently, though, telling the whole story about, say, the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy in Dallas in 1963 means leaving out one itty bitty detail that doesn’t fit the doctrinaire Media Matters narrative: the name and political affiliation of JFK’s assassin.

In a typo-riddled post entitled “A President was killed the last time right-wing hatred ran wild like this,” Eric Boehlert bemoans the “increasingly violent rhetorical attacks on Obama,” and the “unvarnished hate and name-calling [sic] passed for health care ‘debate’ this summer.”

Boehlert writes:

The radical right, aided by a GOP Noise Machine that positively dwarfs what existed in 1963, has turned demonizing Obama–making him into a vile object of disgust–into a crusade. It’s a demented national jihad, the likes of which this country has not seen in modern times.

But I’ve been thinking about Dallas in 1963 because I’ve been recalling the history and how that city stood as an outpost for the radical right, which never tried to hide its contempt for the New England Democrat.

Now, Boehlert’s depiction of the hostile atmosphere in pre-assassination Dallas matches those of primary sources I’ve read before: there were indeed “WANTED” posters of JFK and “Impeach [Supreme Court Justice] Earl Warren” billboards around the city. Kennedy really did mutter to his wife that fateful morning, “We’re heading into nut country today…”

Depressing, sobering stuff.

More depressing, however, is what Boehlert leaves out of his post. For instance, large, friendly crowds lined the President’s motorcade route for miles, as now-familiar film footage attests. So much for the notion of an entire city gripped by palpable, murderous “right wing” rage.

So it’s no wonder Boehlert leaves out the identity of Kennedy’s assassin, too. For instead of being gunned down by a “Bircher” or a Klansman or even a garden-variety Republican, history records that President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was in fact murdered by… “a silly little communist.”

That’s how the President’s widow described Lee Harvey Oswald, the young man charged with killing Kennedy. A former Marine, Oswald had defected to the Soviet Union, married a Russian girl, then moved back to America. He took part in pro-Castro leafleting and “street agitation” (to use his words) and even described himself matter of factly as a “Marxist” on a local tv panel show.

In fact, Oswald had previously tried to murder Major General Edwin Walker, one of the most notorious of all the rabid “right wingers” Boehlert blames for stoking local anti-Kennedy feeling.

There are still those who don’t believe Oswald killed Kennedy. But Oswald’s Communist sympathies, defection to the Soviet Union and pro-Castro activism are all matters of public record.

Even if Boehlert is a conspiracy nut who thinks Oswald wasn’t the killer, even the craziest “buffs” feel obliged to mention the fellow’s name in their screeds, if only to declare his innocence. Not this Media Matters scribe.

And why should he? Last year, James Piereson penned a fine book called Camelot and the Cultural Revolution: How the Assassination of John F. Kennedy Shattered American Liberalism. His thesis: liberals were so traumatized by the idea that JFK’s assassin was a man of the left like themselves, that they literally wrote Oswald out of the story by concocting conspiracy theories surrounding the crime.

Piereson blames much of the subsequent turmoil of the 1960s on what I’ll call this “original sin” of omission, and the cognitive dissonance required to keep believing it.

As described in a profile of Piereson by Ed Driscoll:

…the actual causes of liberal disorientation regarding Kennedy’s death and the motives of his killer predate his assassination by several years. It was during the 1950s and early ’60s that that liberal elites declared America’s nascent and disparate conservative movements to be a greater threat to the nation than the Soviet Union, as illustrated by films of the day such as Dr. Strangelove and The Manchurian Candidate. And the subtext of those films was very much based upon “a vast literature that developed in the ’50s and early ’60s about the threat from the far right,” Piereson says, specifically mentioning Richard Hofstadter’s The Paranoid Style In American Politics, and Daniel Bell’s The Radical Right. (…)

[Following the assassination], a sense of collective guilt is imposed on the nation through its liberal elites and media. “And this is really the first time that you get on the liberal-left this idea that America is guilty. But this however now becomes a metaphor for the left for everything that happens moving on in the 1960s.”

Boehlert is just sticking with this narrative, decades later. So are the likes of Ed Schultz and Rachael Maddow, who’ve both mused over the airwaves that American conservatives are plotting “assassinations,” and liberal radio host Mike Malloy, who declared after the death of Edward Kennedy that the late Senator’s brothers had been “murdered by the right wing in this country.”

(Which doesn’t help explain why radical leftwing terrorist and Obama supporter Bill Ayers dedicated one of his books to RFK’s killer, Sirhan Sirhan. That must be an example of the “nuance” we right wingers are always being scolded for not appreciating….)

I go along with Boehlert in this respect: the raw truth really is hard to accept sometimes. But for me, it’s the truth about the left and what it’s become that saddens, and yes, even scares me.

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  1. swathdiver permalink
    September 19, 2009 3:50 pm

    Nice article Ms. Shaidle. Judging by his Marxist activism, couldn’t one say that Oswald was a community organizer?

  2. Swemson permalink
    September 19, 2009 5:04 pm


    Your opinion of Media Matters, and your thesis about the left is right on target, but I disagree that those who believe that Oswald wasn’t the actual killer are conspiracy nuts…

    The vast majority of conspiracy theories are just absurd.. the 911 “Truthers” being a perfect example, but not all of them are. Remember, as Henry Kissinger is alleged to have said, “Even paranoids have enemies”. As an example, there are very real questions about the Oklahoma City bombing. Timothy McVeigh looks very much like the idiot patsy that Oswald clearly was in Dallas.

    The Kennedy assassination is chock filled with contradictions that simply cannot be ignored. Oliver Stone may have gone off the deep end of late, but the conclusions in the movie JFK came from Jim Garrison, who was NOT crazy.

    The 2 most obvious problems with the sole assassin theory are the “magic bullet theory” which is easily disposed of by the laws of physics, and which I feel safe rejecting simply by recalling who authored it… (Arlen Specter).. The second is the Zapruder film which clearly shows the moment of impact of the final fatal head shot. I’ve seen what high velocity bullets do to the human head in Viet Nam back in the late 60’s, and I can tell you with 100% certainty, that the final fatal head shot didn’t come from behind Kennedy’s limo.

    All of the other details as described by Jim Garrison, may well be subject to different interpretations of the evidence, but for the most part his observations seem quite reasonable. Kennedy did piss off a lot of people when he refused air support to the folks who attacked Castro at the Bay of Pigs, and I’ve always found that quite surprising in light of his real heroism in the Pacific in WWII. He also said and did things that threatened the intelligence community, and knowing what I do about those guys, I can’t reject the possibility that they were involved with the conspiracy, but a conspiracy it was, I assure you. I’ve never believed that LBJ was behind the plot, but he was clearly a willing accomplice after the fact, as his later behavior, and previous (far left electoral) dishonesty certainly indicate.

    Kennedy has always been an enigma to me… Was he an arrogant elite liberal, or course, but none of the other liberals who have followed him (Carter, Clinton, Kerry, Gore and Obama) ever stuck their necks out to help to save another human being the way Kennedy did, and that makes him quite special in my eyes…

  3. swathdiver permalink
    September 19, 2009 7:24 pm


    Have you read Mortal Error? Only book about the Kennedy Assassination that makes sense to me. Kennedy, while a liberal was anti-communist. He was killed by a Communist who had recently travelled to Mexico City and visited the Soviet Embasssy. Only one guy in the Communist Party could order a hit on another head of state and it wasn’t Castro. In addition, the damage to Kennedy’s head was made by a bullet that I’m sure you’ve witnessed its effects first hand. There was one black rifle in Dealey Plaza on that fateful day.

    • Swemson permalink
      September 19, 2009 8:07 pm

      I remember hearing something about it, but the movement of Kennedy’s head immediately upon being hit in the head, makes it impossible for the shot to have come from anywhere other than the front right… the grassy knoll.

      I also learned how to shoot on the rifle range at Parris Island, and I don’t believe that anyone, even an expert marksman, could have made 3 (or 4) such accurate shots at that distance with that kind of rifle, specially in what had to be a very stressful set of circumstances.

      The details surrounding the autopsy are also quite suspect, and when you get right down to it, I don’t have a lot of faith in anything I read in government reports… When I graduated college, I was also certain that Eugene McCarthy was a vicious liar… We know that’s not true now as well…

      I know what I saw on that movie film, and all of the (many) theories, articles, books and commentary about it cannot change the facts of what I saw with my own eyes…

      • swathdiver permalink
        September 19, 2009 8:19 pm

        I agree with many of your conclusions. When you get a chance pick up a copy and follow the logic of a fellow armorer and ballistics expert. Comments made by LBJ afterwards strengthened my opinion that these fellows figured it out right.

      • Jonathan permalink
        September 20, 2009 3:55 am

        I respectfully disagree.

        I’ve been to the depository and sat in the window where Oswald sat. There is nothing unbelievable about Oswald making all three shots. With the direction of travel and line of sight, he could have taken five or six shots.

        My only claim to fame is a USAF expert marksmanship ribbon for the M16 and the M9. I could have made the shots. In fact, I think I could have made the kill shot in one shot, when my eyesight was perfect. Two at the most. Oswald missed the car completely on one shot. My blind grandma could do better!

        The grassy knoll shot would have been exceedingly difficult on a moving car from the side. It would have been a side shot, all the way. JFK’s head was about the size of a pea at that distance, relatively speaking. More likely, he would have hit Jackie or somebody on the other side of the street. It was pretty crowded. No sniper would have taken this shot. It would have been a dumb move that would be highly likely to create the evidence for something, other helping the scenario that a lone kook was behind it.

        Logically, if I were in charge of a conspiracy, I would say: “Let Oswald handle it alone. If he misses and gets caught, he’s a lone kook. We’ll find another time another day. There will be plenty of chances. But, I don’t think Oswald will miss. My blind grandma could make the shot.” Or I would have said, “Put Oswald on the grassy knoll to take the fall and provide cover for our best sniper in the depository to escape.”

        I have seen the JFK autopsy photo. The fatal wound could have come from any direction on that side of the car. It doesn’t rule out Oswald. It just looks ambiguous. At any rate, a grassy knoll bullet would have blown off the OTHER side of the target’s head with an exit wound. There would have been blood spatter all over the opposite side of the backseat. And, Jackie would have had spatter all over her and her clothes. But, the blood she picked up was from making contact with her husband’s wound after the fact. The blood spatter evidence in this case was really overlooked in a lot of ways. If the bullet came from Oswald behind, where would the spatter have gone? Guess where it did go?

  4. September 19, 2009 9:43 pm

    Call me a conspiracy buzzkill, but I think if the real reasons were to surface regarding the Kennedy assassination, they would be so mundane that everyone would be disappointed.

  5. pbrauer permalink
    September 19, 2009 10:56 pm

    Eric Boehlert didn’t say Lee Harvey Oswald was a right wing fanatic, clearly he was not. What he did say “A President was killed the last time right-wing hatred ran wild like this.” We are speaking of TWO separate things:. 1. A Killer and 2. Right-wing hate. Was there much hate for the president on Nov 22, 1963? I don’t know, but apparently Eric does. Prove him wrong.

  6. pbrauer permalink
    September 19, 2009 11:15 pm


  7. Jim permalink
    September 19, 2009 11:46 pm

    “A former Marine, Oswald…”

    Oswald is NOT a former Marine. He is an EX-Marine!!

    • Swemson permalink
      September 20, 2009 12:04 pm

      Oooh Rah !

  8. David Forsmark permalink
    September 19, 2009 11:54 pm

    pbrauer, you’re right, Bohler didn’t actually say it, because it is so absurd. He just implied a cause and effect, just like Nancy Pelosi’s ridiculous fake choking up the other day. Milk and Moscone (everyone forgets about him because they can’t fit him in the martyr template) weren’t killed by right wingers either. Bohler’s comment would have been just as relevant to say, back when the last president was killed, people also ate lots of carrots. It was a smear by implication, and pointing out Kennedy was killed by a LEFT winger shows the stupidity and facileness of the charge.

    • Julie Trevor permalink
      September 20, 2009 1:08 pm

      Zing, good one David F.

  9. Jonathan permalink
    September 20, 2009 4:00 am

    LBJ was a conspiracy theorist on this one. He believed Castro was behind it, until the day he died. I think LBJ is more credible on this one.

    Does anyone remember what happened in Vietnam three weeks before the JFK event? I’m not saying this was the motive – very unlikely in fact to be – but I think its an interesting consideration for a number of reasons.

    Does anyone remember who Oswald had tried to kill earlier in Dallas? Another factor not often remembered that could support either the lone kook theory or the communist conspiracy theory.

  10. September 20, 2009 5:29 am

    I’d recommend watching youtube videos of Bugliosi’s “Oswald did it” theories.

    [Now, Bugliosi also believes that Bush is a war criminal. So. As long as this doesn’t mean Manson was innocent :-)]

    I spent more time than I care to recall on this subject when I was still drinking. When I sobered up it came to me in a flash that a) Oswald did it and b) I’d wasted the last couple of years of my life.

    I don’t care to revisit it except to say:

    Conspiracy buffs are, in my opinion, suffering from a mild form of autism/Aspergers. They/we receive a strange comfort from living in a closed, Groundhog Day mental universe, running the same “tapes” in their minds again and again, the way “cutters” mutilate themselves or a nervous person picks at a scab.

    And actually there are questions about Garrison’s mental state. The film allows John Candy a throw away line about this; like much of the film, a couple of lines are considered “good enough” nods to this or that objection.

    My one regret is the “former Marine” line. I’d forgotten how sensitive Marines are to this designation and never get it quite right. So Oswald should be described with that rare designation, “ex-Marine,” is that correct? I would appreciate Marines setting me straight. Thanks.

    • Jonathan permalink
      September 20, 2009 7:11 am

      You say: “Conspiracy buffs are, in my opinion, suffering from a mild form of autism/Aspergers. They/we receive a strange comfort from living in a closed,….”

      I think this is an over-simplification. All of history is a series of conspiracies. We can’t assign it all so easily.

  11. andycanuck permalink
    September 20, 2009 6:49 am

    “It’s a demented national jihad…”
    But I thought “jihad” meant peaceful, personal inner reflection? The MSM told me so.

    And didn’t Seinfeld make a documentary on this subject?

  12. Jack Hampton permalink
    September 20, 2009 7:53 am

    First The trouble with Media Matters is the fact that they do not matter. As a long time investigator and fire arms instructor iam more than sure that Oswald was the killer and the Kennedy reaction at the impact of the bullet is exactly what would be expected. The shot was not that difficult at all. However there are people that will argue with you to this day that Booth did not kill Lincoln. I am over it and yes Garrison was a befuddled nut trying to claim some fame.

    • September 20, 2009 8:01 am

      Unfortunately Media Matters does matter. As I’ve demonstrated in many of my posts on them they are a pipeline directly to MSNBC. Olbermann’s producers regularly rip material straight from them. Their lies and smears need to be corrected and fought.

      • Julie Trevor permalink
        September 20, 2009 1:09 pm

        They also censor my comments

  13. Joe the Spook permalink
    September 20, 2009 9:21 am

    It’s frightening to see what lemmings some people are. Jim Garrison was treated as a joke in the press at the time. He put a witness on the stand knowing thet the witness took his children’s fingerprints every morning to make sure than none of them had been replaced by the CIA during the night. The defense wiped the floor with the witness during cross-examination.

    These people write off the evidence by claiming that Oswald was a patsy and was thus framed. Sombody watches a two-dimensional 8-mm grainy film and claims to know thereby where the President’s head shot came from. I have a friend, a law enforcement officer in Dallas, who periodically throws rifle brass around the grassy knoll for the tourists to find. THe situation appears to be hopeless.

    • Swemson permalink
      September 20, 2009 1:58 pm

      Joe writes:

      “Sombody watches a two-dimensional 8-mm grainy film and claims to know thereby where the President’s head shot came from.”

      Yeah Joe… it is exactly that simple.

      Could I give you an EXACT line of bearing to where the shot was fired from, from looking at the film, no.

      But I can say with 100% certainty that it didn’t come from behind the limo.

      We constantly see the far left attacking the messenger because they have no argument with which to rebut hard facts, and that’s exactly what folks like you do in this case… attack Jim Garrison. You also write:

      “Jim Garrison was treated as a joke in the press at the time.”

      Wow… you mean like the way the media treats people like Glenn Beck ?

      Giving you the benefit of the doubt, that you’re just parroting back old BS, rather than having actually looked into this at the time, I’m not surprised that you believe what you’re saying… But if you actually lived through the event, and looked at it closely, and still cannot see the many contradictions then you’re a pretty sad case.

      There’s quite a bit of evidence supporting CIA involvement in the case, and you call yourself “Joe the Spook”..

      Any connection there ?

      If you’re defending the CIA, you should know that I’m staunchly behind the CIA, and dead against this administration’s traitorous attack on that organization which does a great job, especially when you realize how they’ve been treated by the liberals in our government for the last 50 years… But I’m also a realist enough to know that the CIA has indeed done illegal things in order to support their activities. I cut them a lot of slack however, because I’m also quite certain that the things they did were necessitated by their need for funds to do their job of protecting us, when Democratic administrations failed to support them with the funding needed to get the job done..

      As far as Garrison is concerned, I heard him being interviewed on TV right after the killing, and I’ve read other interviews of him in print. There was nothing at all that indicated that he was in any way unbalanced. He connected the dots like a good detective does, and they led him to his conclusions, and I’ll admit that his conclusions may be wrong, but that final shot PROVES that Oswald wasn’t the only shooter, and there’s plenty of other evidence to support that other than the direction in which JFK’s head moved after taking the hit.

      BTW: I think it’s really cool what your friend does in Dallas with the spent shells…

  14. Anneke permalink
    September 20, 2009 10:38 am

    That the right-wing killed Kennedy is definitely a sentiment that I’m hearing more frequently from the ignoramuses in the San Francisco Bay Area. Not only are they ignorant of history, they are liberal tools. I think Nancy Pelosi was also trying to play up this association with her teary speech last week: beware those hateful, unhinged right-wingers who kill Mayors and gay City Supervisors. Only problem is, Dan White was a Democrat and not a right-wing nut. But, isn’t it soooo easy to re-write the facts after memories have faded?

    • Swemson permalink
      September 20, 2009 2:10 pm


      Good point !

      The absurdity of Madame P’s remarks becomes even more obvious, when you realize that the killing wasn’t about right vs left at all.

      The most plausible theory of all, Jim Garrison’s, postulates that the people who whacked JFK were the ones that Kennedy abandoned at the Bay of Pigs. He promised support for the invasion to oust Castro, and then chickened out when the s*#t hit the fan. A modest amount of air support could have changed history there…

      Castro would have been gone… The entire Cuban Missile Crisis would have been avoided, and we would have had a friendly ally there instead of the last 48 years worth of problems…

      Another example of liberal elite ideology proving itself unable to protect this country…

  15. September 20, 2009 12:46 pm

    If memory serves, wasn’t it a left wing fanatic that killed the Arch Duke of Austria that precipitated the 1st World war..? Wasn’t it a left wing anarchist that killed McKinley..? Can anyone name any right wing ” militia ” group that has killed anyone, blown up any buildings, or kidnapped famous or rich persons.? I can name many left wing anarchists, fanatics, revolutionaries, that have done just that…Starting with the current ELF , the weather underground, the SLA, the SDS, to the Red Brigades, the Baader-Meinhof Gang, the Shining Path, all were and are socialist, communist, or simply ” progressive ” left wing factions that have actually committed these crimes…

  16. Joe the Spook permalink
    September 20, 2009 6:55 pm


    I like you bro. You have a sense of humor and we think alike, except as to Mr. Garrison’s folly. I am friends with Wm. F. “Bill”Alexander, First Assistant DA in Dallas in November 1963, now 89, and still practicing law. Bill tried and convicted Jack Ruby and would have tried Oswald had Ruby not taken the law into his own hands. Bill has told me that there was no conspiracy. Bill was there, working with DPD Homicide Captain Will Fritz, questioning Oswald before the Miranda warnings were dictated by the Supremes in 1966. Garrison was not. Garrison received a Section 8 discharge in 1952 and was the Nifong of his day. He originally called the conspiracy a “homosexual ” conspiracy. Please note how Tommy Lee Jones portrayed Clay Shaw i n “JFK.” A homo’s homo. But I understand, since over 70 per cent of college students today think that the Vietman War was fought between North and South Korea and that Oliver Stone is a historian. As I said, hopeless.

    • Swemson permalink
      September 20, 2009 8:18 pm


      With all due respect to your pal Bill, nobody knows the details of what actually happened, but there are a few obvious signs that point towards the most likely suspects.

      Castro really burned the mafia, and they wanted to do him in big time. So did a lot of Cubans whose homeland was taken over by the Marxist dictator.

      JFK really threatened the CIA, which by definition is a covert entity with tentacles everywhere that is known to have employed some pretty sleazy contractors when needed…

      Pissed off Cubans patriots, pissed off mafiosi, and pissed off spooks working together, represent a pretty powerful bunch of folks with LOTS of assets at their disposal, and regardless of what anyone thinks, it’s just not plausible to think that a lone gunman, with a crappy weapon, could have pulled it off on his own… Theoretically possible, sure, but highly unlikely. Killing a US President surrounded by the Secret Service simply isn’t an easy thing to do.

      The evidence of gunshots coming from different directions at the crime scene are numerous. The timing of the shots makes it virtually impossible for one marksman to deliver 3 or 4 shots with an old bolt action piece without a scope like Oswald had, and as I keep repeating, a high powered rifle shot from the rear CANNOT make a human head fly violently back and to the left. I saw head shots in Nam, and it’s just not possible.

      As to your questions about Garrison… OK. Was he imbalanced… possibly, after flying almost 40 dangerous recon missions over Nazi territory and being in the first group that liberated one of the worst of the Nazi’s death camps, some form of PRSD is certainly possible, but he joined the National Guard after leaving the army, & I’m not sure that he was ever cashiered on a section 8.

      The assassination was a terribly shocking and emotional event for the country, and with JFK’s popularity it’s not surprising that everyone got involved in speculation, but the final part of the story that makes it so hard to believe the Warren Report, is the fact that any report issued by a governmental agency about an incident so charged with political repercussions is simply, by definition, hard to believe, especially when you consider how deeply dishonest and corrupt the beneficiary of the killing, LBJ actually was…

  17. Mark permalink
    October 21, 2009 1:46 pm

    So what’s your point, pal?

    • swemson permalink
      October 21, 2009 2:09 pm

      What specifically are you referring to ?

  18. October 21, 2009 7:52 pm

    It’s shocking to me that people still haven’t figured out why President Kennedy was killed.

    A Secret Service veteran explains it in very simple terms on this website:

  19. fred lapides permalink
    October 22, 2009 3:17 pm

    I see no need to get into a discussion of who, why etc on the killing of the president. Assume that in fact a crazed commie did it, and he was alone. But the post suggests that Media Matters suggests the Right Wing was responsible . No.
    Media Matters merely said, and accurately, that the right in Dallas was very anti-JFK. I seem to recall that it was so anti-JFK that the president was warned not to go there. Alas, he did.

    • swemson permalink
      October 22, 2009 6:30 pm

      All I said was that Oswald couldn’t possibly have been acting alone…

      The military industrial complex was against him…

      The intelligence community was against him…

      The Cubans in Miami were against him…

      And the mob was against him…

      Somewhere in there, in some combination of some or all of the above, the truth can be found…..


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