Assassinations Newsletter

Issue #1 "Case Closed or Posner Exposed?"



by David Starks

Editor's Note: This article appears in the current issue of Deep Politics Quarterly. Subsciptions to this excellent journal on the assassination of JFK can be ordered by sending $26.00 [European orders add $8.00 ($14.00 for 1st class)] to:
Walt Brown
JFK Deep Politics Quarterly
PO Box 174
Hillsdale, NJ 07642

In late 1993, just before the 30th anniversary of the John F. Kennedy assassination, Gerald Posner began promoting his new book about the JFK murder, Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK. Posner boldly announced that the case was solved. Oswald did it after all! He blasted "conspiracy theorists" and began a media promotional blitz for his new, improved variety of the lone assassin theory. Radio stations, tv networks, news magazines and newspapers virtually uniformly sang the praise of this "wall street" attorney who had all the answers.

The mainstream media embraced the new spokesman for the anti-conspiracy viewpoint. After all, they had, for the most part, backed and even promoted the lone assassin theory all along (despite a public opinion 80-90% favoring conspiracy). Gerald Posner, state-of- the-art anti-critic, the new champion of all those who advocate a lonely, nutty, ultra- leftist, violent, guilty Oswald, rides to the rescue on his mega-media white horse.

Did Gerald Posner change public opinion? No. His neatly-packaged lone nut road show had little effect but to show that there still is a passionate "other side" who not only very strongly insist on Oswald alone being the guilty party, but also that these conspiracy theorists are just kooky crackpots who should get a life. Well, despite the fact that there are some pretty crazy conspiracy ideas around, Gerald Posner's flavor of the single assassin approach has been shown, by careful scrutiny, to be just as unlikely as some of the least likely theories.

Since 1993, Posner went on to write two more politically controversial works, and is used frequently as a talking head on television shows relating to various topics. In 1996, Posner was in the thick of the Presidential elections with a scathing book about candidate Ross Perot. I actually managed to catch up with Posner as he was promoting his Perot book (at the 1996 Reform Party Convention). I managed to video tape a brief interview. I asked him about Perot and also talked about the JFK controversy. Time was short, and there were lots of big-media people there, so he said he'd get together and do a longer interview sometime in the near future. Despite many conversations on the phone, where I was always polite and respectful, Gerald never managed to find the time for the interview.

In 1998, the Poz was there again, ready for the 30th anniversary of the MLK assassination with a book that presents James Earl Ray as the sole shooter, and sets out to debunk all but one of the possible conspiratorial scenarios. The theory, advanced by the House Select Committee on Assassinations in the late seventies, has Ray as a right-wing racist bounty hunter, who goes after a big-money murder-contract payout (with maybe a little bit of help from his brothers).

At the time Posner's Killing The Dream came out, the MLK assassination was a very current, and very hot controversy. James Earl Ray was still alive at that time and there were some very interesting legal proceedings under way relating to testing the alleged sniper rifle. There was a real possibility of a trial for James Earl Ray, involving a surprisingly perceptive and open-minded judge by the name of Joe Brown. But, perhaps not surprisingly, local anti-conspiratorial politics prevailed and Judge Brown was removed from the case. Ray, soon after this, died, ending any chance of a trial.

So, what is next for Gerald Posner? The RFK murder might seem to be a likely natural progression, you might think. But, no, Dan Moldea beat him to it and has already "Posnerized" that assassination. Posner says his next project will be a book about Motown records, of all things. I guess you can't blame him for wanting to back out of the fire for a while. Gerald Posner's most passionate critics have even accused him of being a "propaganda asset" or an intelligence agency tool for deliberate disinformation. Whether he is a deliberate fraud or not, his JFK book has been shredded by critics who point out a seemingly endless number of problems with Posner's use of evidence.

I have taken upon myself to assemble a large collection of somewhat obscure articles relating to Gerald Posner on my Web site, The Assassination Web (along with a few original pieces that can be found nowhere else). For those of you who have access to the internet, the address of the particular issue of the free Electronic Assassination Newsletter (EAN) that deals with Case Closed is: http://home.cynet.net/jfk/issue1.htm The site also offers assassination video tapes and a bookstore with titles on assassinations, 60s politics and cold war espionage.

Even though Posner has become the talking head it seems the "other side" most wants to trot out for media appearances, he recently claimed to no longer have interest in the topic and to have "moved on." Not too long after that, there he was, back again, in American Heritage magazine, blasting away at those kooky JFK conspiracy theorists. I guess he couldn't resist taking another shot. After all, he has taken some real heat for his lone nut theory. Art and Margaret Snyder authored an article, which among other things, engages in a debunking of Posnerian logic and methodology, published in the recent spring, 1999 issue (Vol. 6, # 4) of Sceptic magazine. I'd say that is an important step forward towards exposing Posner's "journalistic integrity" in the mainstream media. For balance, Skeptic also included an opposing view, in the form of an article authored by Nick Gerlich, who preaches the anti-conspiracy bible according to Posner. I found it to be unconvincing in comparison to the Snyder piece.

If you really think about it, Posner is really only the messenger here, one of a procession of messengers that we've been spoon-fed by the media and by government over the years since 1963. The important thing, the "message," is this ridiculous lone assassin theory, a theory which deserves to be put out to pasture once and for all. When the public officials, the news media and the intelligence agencies all finally come over to join the majority and come to grips with the reality of conspiratorial possibilities in this case, the country would go a long way towards restoring faith in its political system among its own populace.

Posner will soon be replaced by another golden boy, the next angel sent down from heaven to blast away at these looney conspiracy kooks. Vincent Bugliosi, (who successfully won a conviction against Oswald in a TV mock trial vs. Gerry Spence), will be ready very soon with a book or even a series of books on the JFK assassination. In an interview in Playboy, Bugliosi even distanced himself from Posner by criticizing his methods. Vincent Bugliosi: the new, shiny, state-of-the-art lone assassin mythology "messenger." Then, of course, critical scrutiny will focus again on the latest, greatest advocate of the "official" solution . I have a feeling that, no matter how cleverly Mr. Bugliosi packages and sugar coats the next generation of lone assassin theory, it won't change many minds. The "other side" is just letting us know that it's still there.

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