The Men Who Killed Kennedy

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The Men Who Killed Kennedy

The Men Who Killed Kennedy is a nine-part United Kingdom ITV video documentary series by Nigel Turner about the John F. Kennedy assassination.

Broadcast history and critical response[edit source | edit]

The Men Who Killed Kennedy began with two 50-minute segments originally aired on 25 October 1988 in the United Kingdom, entitled simply Part One and Part Two. The programmes were produced by Central Television for the ITV network and were immediately followed by a studio discussion on the issues titled The Story Continues, chaired by broadcaster Peter Sissons. The United States corporation, Arts & Entertainment Company, purchased the rights to the original two segments. In 1989, the series was nominated for a Flaherty Documentary Award. In 1991, the series was re-edited with additional material and divided into three 50-minute programmes, which were also shown by ITV. A sixth episode appeared in 1995. The series typically aired in November every year and from time to time during the year. In November 2003, three additional segments ("The Final Chapter") were added by the History Channel, but the series is no longer aired.

The ninth documentary in the series, entitled "The Guilty Men," directly implicates former U. S. President Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) and created an outcry among Johnson's surviving associates, including Johnson's widow, Lady Bird Johnson, journalist Bill Moyers, ex-President Jimmy Carter, Jack Valenti (longtime president of the Motion Picture Association of America), and the last-living (at the time of the outcry) Warren Commission commissioner and ex-President Gerald R. Ford. These Johnson supporters lodged complaints of libel with the History Channel, and subsequently threatened legal action against Arts & Entertainment Company, owner of the History Channel.

The History Channel responded by assembling a panel of three historians, Robert Dallek, Stanley Kutler, and Thomas Sugrue. On a program aired April 7, 2004, titles "The Guilty Man: A Historical Review," the panel agreed that the documentary was not credible and should not have aired. The History Channel issued a statement saying, in part, "The History Channel recognizes that 'The Guilty Men' failed to offer viewers context and perspective, and fell short of the high standards that the network sets for itself. The History Channel apologizes to its viewers and to Mrs. Johnson and her family for airing the show." Conspiracy author Barr McClellan, interviewed in the documentary, complained that although the historians examined the evidence, they did not interview him or Turner.[1]

All three new documentaries by Turner ("The Guilty Men," "The Smoking Gun" and "The Love Affair") were then permanently withdrawn by the History Channel, though they were originally slated to be viewed at least annually on the History Channel until the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination (November, 2013).[citation needed]

In another episode that warranted discussion, French prisoner Christian David was interviewed by author Anthony Summers. In the interview, David says he was approached to become one of three French criminals hired to carry out the assassination of Kennedy, but that he refused. David claimed that deceased French mobster Lucien Sarti was one of the men who carried out the assassination.

Malcolm Liggett, a retired economics professor, sued A&E regarding the episode "The Smoking Guns," which claimed Liggett was involved in a conspiracy to kill Kennedy. Liggett and A&E reached a settlement, which required that a letter by Liggett be read on the show History Center.[2]

David Browne of Entertainment Weekly described the documentary as "well-researched, but still farfetched".[3] Addressing "The Guilty Men" episode, Dorothy Rabinowitz of The Wall Street Journal called it a "primitive piece of conspiracy-mongering" and wrote that "...the documentary's ever deepening mess of charges and motives is never less than clear about its main point -- that Lyndon Johnson personally arranged the murder not only of the president, but also seven other people, including his own sister."[4]

In a letter to the chief executives of the three parent companies of A & E Networks, — Victor F. Ganzi of the Hearst Corporation, Michael D. Eisner of Disney, and Robert C. Wright of NBC — former United States President Gerald Ford described the allegations as "the most damaging accusations ever made against a former vice president and president in American history."[5]

Episode list[edit source | edit]

  1. "The Coup D'Etat" (1988)
  2. "The Forces Of Darkness" (1988)
  3. "The Cover-Up" (1991)
  4. "The Patsy" (1991)
  5. "The Witnesses" (1991)
  6. "The Truth Shall Set You Free" (1995)
  7. "The Smoking Guns" (2003)
  8. "The Love Affair" (2003)
  9. "The Guilty Men" (2003)

Contents of the documentaries[edit source | edit]

Episode 7 - The Smoking Guns[edit source | edit]

This segment examines Secret Service security of President Kennedy's motorcade, the ordered stand-down of some Secret Service agents during the motorcade, the decision not to have police motorcycle outriders alongside the presidential limo, wounds to JFK's body, damage to the limousine, forgery of photographic evidence from JFK's autopsy, lack of proper autopsy and evidence preservation procedures, and physical alterations to JFK's corpse within 24 hours of death.

Episode 8 - The Love Affair[edit source | edit]

Judyth Vary Baker tells the details of her relationship with Lee Harvey Oswald from April to November 1963. She claims they met in New Orleans while she was working on a secret, fast-growing cancer that was intended to be used to kill Fidel Castro, that this bioweapon was tested on unwitting prisoners in Louisiana, and that it worked. Oswald tried to deliver the substance to a contact in Mexico City, who would forward it to Cuba, but the contact didn't show up. He then tried to get a visa to Cuba himself at the Soviet and Cuban Embassies, but was unsuccessful. Oswald is then assigned to a new project in Dallas. She claims Oswald told her he was involved in a conspiracy to kill President Kennedy, but that he was only pretending to support it, and he was hoping he could somehow stop it. In their last phone conversation, just before the assassination, Oswald gave her names of people who were somehow involved - two are business associates of Lyndon Johnson and one high-ranking CIA official. Oswald predicted he would probably die the next day. He told her that at the very least, there would be one less person shooting at the President.

Episode 9 - The Guilty Men[edit source | edit]

Barr McClellan, author of Blood, Money & Power: How LBJ Killed JFK, accuses LBJ of being behind the JFK assassination. Implicates others of fore-knowledge of the plot, including Texas oilmen Clint Murchison, Sr. and H.L. Hunt, and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. Mystery fingerprint found on sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository matches prints of Johnson aide taken in connection with a prior murder conviction.

References[edit source | edit]

  1. ^ Bruce Weber, "History Channel Apologizes", New York Times, April 7, 2004
  2. ^ Grace Murphy, "History Channel, Vero man reach settlement in JFK allegations", Fort Pierce Tribune, March 19, 2005
  3. ^ Browne, David (November 20, 1992). "The Men Who Killed Kennedy (1992)". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 28, 2013. 
  4. ^ Rabinowitz, Dorothy (February 19, 2004). "Character Assassination". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved February 4, 2013. 
  5. ^ Weber, Bruce (February 5, 2004). "Moyers and Others Want History Channel Inquiry Over Film That Accuses Johnson". The New York Times (New York). Retrieved March 7, 2013.