Sunday, August 07, 2005

Peter Jennings and American Broadcasting

I feel sorry for the children of Peter Jennings today, and his wife (wives) who loved him. I have nothing but sympathy for them and their loss.

As to the country's loss, my own feelings are mixed. Peter Jennings had great style, solid contacts, and he was very serious about his profession. He wrote his own stories - he was not, as they are called in Europe, a "newsreader."

But for all the stories he reported well, there is one which he reported absolutely horribly. He produced one of the worst specials ever on the JFK assassination on the 40th anniversary of that tragic event. He used Gerald Posner, whose book is, according to respected historian David Wrone, one of the most "irresponsible" (I would have called it "dishonest") books on the case. The special also featured a computer "re-enactment" (read: fictional display) of how the shots went down. Funny how CBS and others have tried to line up the shots in such as a way as to make the ridiculous "magic bullet" scenario work. There were seven wounds from three bullets, one of which, at least, entered Kennedy from the front. But the government in general and Arlen Specter in particular told us that one bullet made all the wounds in Kennedy and Governor Connally, despite the bullet having to bob and weave and turn in mid-air to make that scenario true. Enter computers. With computers, you can just move the bodies around, line up the Texas School Book Depository any way you want, and claim victory. But how someone as intelligent as Peter Jennings fell for that is utterly beyond me.

If I could have asked him one question before he died, I would have asked, why did you do that? No honest, intelligent person who reviews the case can conclude anything BUT conspiracy. Look into it for yourself - and I mean look at some of the actual witness statements, not filtered through some author's book. Just look at the actual data and you will have no choice but to agree because it's that obvious.

When I first started looking into this, I was shocked at how simple and unencumbered the evidence of conspiracy was. I mean, even a kid in high school could have figured out that a lone nut could not have done this. Witnesses heard shots on the grassy knoll. People ran in the direction of the knoll because they felt the assassin there, escaping into the trainyard. Several witnesses and a few papers reported six to eight shots, but only three bullets were allowed because a home movie, more commonly known as the "Zapruder film" after its maker, Abraham Zapruder, set the time for the kill shots in too small a window to allow for six shots. Six shots means multiple shooters, which means conspiracy. So that evidence was ignored, ridiculed, and buried. But it was public, and the "conspiracy theorists" dug it up and put it on display. In my book, truthtellers are the true patriots. The country is not served when reporters cover for the government.

I think that above all, Peter Jennings considered himself a patriot. I think it's possible, and perhaps even likely that he believed Oswald acted alone because to believe anything else would have forced him to question not only his country, but his entire career as a journalist. I mean, if he admitted to himself that he had missed the truth about one of the most important events of the twentieth century, what would that have made him? A hack repeating the lies of the government like most of the other journalists of his time, rather than a star reporter. But the truth is the truth, and I cannot color it because a good man died. I believe he was a good man. But he was utterly, irrefutably wrong on that case, and it will forever mar his record.


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