Skip to main content

tv   After Words  CSPAN  December 1, 2013 11:00am-12:01pm EST

11:00 am
take out your rosaries and let's pray for the president. .. a friend of mine was plenty of his locker for the weekend because the next week was thanksgiving. the odd thing is -- a guess you'd have to be in catholic school at the time to understand remember saying to my friend, he is the only catholic ever elected president and did not live to finish up this term. that is the way we looked at it.
11:01 am
i was seven when kennedy ran for president. was so excited. it was the eight sacrament to be for john f. kennedy. at passed out literature in my neighborhood about it. i remember a woman slamming the door and saying, i don't support papist to be added not know what that was. it was a big deal to us. there was a lot of anti-catholic prejudice. >> i was seven at the time, but i have a very vivid memory of our principal walking into our second grade class from at band nine school in silver crews, new york. only two things i remember after that was when i got home, standing on the coffee table and my father holding me while i was crying and the drums. and then on sunday, on the tv and watching live oslo being shot by ruby. what got you interested in politics? >> guest: honestly, john f. kennedy did. that is one reason why i did the book. i have always had it in the back of my mind.
11:02 am
i wanted to write about this once the had the time and resources to do it. we tried, we are doing a big project on kennedy. the book is a five-year project. that is why it 600 pages. if you give an academic another year he will add another hundred pages, but we are doing a massive, online course that is free to anyone who wants to sign up through the platform. we are doing a special how mobile application that is going to have all of the new information in data that we have compiled about the assassination and that is going to be -- >> host: of course, just the assassination of the entire life? >> guest: the entire presidency, assassination, and in the legacy through nine presidents is will we try to do, trace john f. kennedy through his nine successors. legacy is a kind of life after death. >> host: short. how long have you been teaching? >> guest: as a teacher since
11:03 am
1978. i also went there as an undergraduate. i used to have lunch with thomas jefferson. that is what my students think. >> host: who is -- outside the presence company, who is your favorite historian? >> guest: there are so many of them. a terrific job. it is fact based. you know, i don't think in the end people who write books that are of little too misty eyed, i don't think they are contributing to what people really need to know about historical figures. >> host: he got it right down the middle. he was not too far. i think the gutted. >> guest: exactly. i agree. >> host: what makes a good historian? >> guest: i am actually a political historian. i am in politics and this is a
11:04 am
political bloc. whether you're doing political history, regular history, political science, you have to be able to detach yourself to a certain degree. politics, your own personal feelings. everyone has opinions. we are all watching -- will come with batteries and opinions attached, but there are a dime a dozen. everybody has got one on anything. think it is important to the fact based. very important to uncover new facts that have been ignored or obscure in the past. that is what we tried to do in the kennedy half century. >> host: what did you write this book? >> guest: coming up on the 50th anniversary of the assassination. given the age of my generation and older generations, it is not going to be too long before there aren't many people around who remember personally the kennedy administration while the administration was ongoing. this is a great opportunity to
11:05 am
clear away some of the myths that we have seen develop around the john f. kennedy, his assassination, and what followed you went through what i enjoyed about the book. one of the things, as he sifted through so many of the different theories, examined them without prejudice or bias and then your conclusions or other credible or not. that is what i like about the board. what did you discover in writing the kennedy half century that has not been known in the last 50 years since the warren commission or since the house investigation? >> guest: we discovered a number of things. on his presidency people misremember kennedy in no way that they confuse him with bobby and his later years and, of course, ted kennedy, the liberal line of the senate. jack kennedy was by far the most conservative of brothers, and
11:06 am
his administration was fairly conservative. that is the presidency part. on the assassination part we wanted to make a contribution. you wanted to be based on the scientific method. again, not only does everyone have an opinion, in this field everyone has a theory. there are a million theories about kennedy's assassination. there are surprisingly few hard facts. you have read a theory, read someone's opinion about the kennedy assassination, is there enough proof and evidence so that it would hold up and no court of law? in the answer in the vast majority of cases is no. >> host: that is interesting when you say hold up in a court of law. never designed to go to trial, jim morrison publicity stunt. >> guest: right. >> host: so historians have to deal with other ways to enforce at least intellectual law, no one will be tried or convicted.
11:07 am
but do you think -- de historians have an obligation to police history? >> guest: to a certain degree. of course, you police bad history with a history. in the end i think the marketplace response to fact based analyses, and people recognize prejudice or lack of bias. if you compare the two. so that is important. you have to leave it to the marketplace. with our first amendment i think everyone is entitled to say what they want, certainly about the murder of a president. what we try to do is focus on a key piece of evidence. of course, first. the house investigation started. it first started being proposed and 75, have organized in 76, reported 79.
11:08 am
the reason this happened, the warren commission, even by that time, had become enormously unpopular for good reason. it was a political commission. it had a political timetable. president johnson wanted it out of the way before the key parts of the general election of 64. johnson and j. edgar hoover, the fbi director and others had already decided within 24 hours of the assassination that all was the lone gunman for various reasons, domestic and international, that is what they wanted the war a commission to find. the warren commission simply did not go down all the trails while they were hot. that is, i think among the greatest weakness. they did not know there were also being lied to. it is clear that the cia did not tell them the truth about its falling off all the more about the assassination plots against castro. the fbi and cia never told the commission about their arrangements with the mafia.
11:09 am
there were so many things that they did not know. there rushed to a conclusion. what shocked me was 50 years after the war in commission i could go to dallas, which i did, and interviewed people who were right in dealey plaza who had strong opinions to solve things who were never ever interviewed by the warren commission. >> host: how can that happen? >> guest: the commission was rushed and already knew what its conclusion was going to be. they simply disallowed information that contradicted. and i found pieces that don't fit. as i say to my not particularly conspiracy oriented, but i felt it my obligation to point out to people the pieces that don't fit into the one commission report. i give you a good example. when president kennedy was shot at 12:30 p.m. dallas time never 22nd 1963, within one minute
11:10 am
several dallas police officers ran up the grassy knoll. many people were pointing to it as the source of at least some of the gunfire. the first officer up there, a fellow named joe marshall smith with his gun drawn because he expected to find an armed gunman. instead, he encountered a man who was asked to he was an presented sigrid service credentials. smith was familiar with the secret service credentials. there were often in dallas for one reason and the other. two other officers reported essentially the same thing. there was apparently more than one with secret service credentials upon a group -- grassy knoll. just one problem, the secret service and the warren commission and everyone else who has looked at it has identified the location of every single secret service officer at that time. no one was in dealey plaza. all of the secret service officers are taught to go with their protectees. they went to parkland hospital with the president and vice president, soon to be president
11:11 am
johnson. you were these people? no one can identify. i don't have an answer, but i have explained it in the book, stuck to the facts. people can make up their own mind. that is the warren commission. >> host: even if it was explained, would it change anything at all or would it still just be that oswald acted alone? >> guest: that is a great question. if people had -- let's suppose there were people pretending to be secret service officers. why were they in dealey plaza? why were they at the top of a grassy knoll? this would add some evidence, some hard evidence to the belief that, perhaps, other people were not involved, perhaps there was a second shooter by the defense. i am convinced that if there was the second shooter behind the picket fence he either did not fire or missed entirely because the bullet trajectories clearly go to the window on the sixth floor where someone fired, and i
11:12 am
believe the overwhelming amount of evidence suggests it was lee harvey oswald. >> host: his fingerprints were on -- >> guest: there were on lots of things. he clearly thought that rifle, mail order rifle. think about this. the president of the united states was killed with a $19 rifle. >> host: i did a little research. actually it was considered to be a fairly good rifle. it was not the conspiracy theorists have tried to suggest that it was just, you know, a very bad rifle, but it actually is considered to be above-average as far as -- >> guest: the scope was off. that is often what people question whether he had done it, but if he had practiced with the gun he could have made that calculation in his head. >> host: possible it was not that of kilter after the shooting. >> guest: it's possible. this possible that it was. when people visit dealey plaza, ninth person to go to the sixth floor museum.
11:13 am
they have done a wonderful job in trying to preserve what happened that day. dallas almost tried to tear down that schoolbook repository. the people have done a wonderful job. but when you go there the first thing everyone says is, my god, it's such a small, compact scene. this enormous event that changed american happened there. and people expected to be kind of like times square. no, it's a tiny little area. you know, i would have a hard time, you know, hitting a water bucket 20 feet away. i think almost anybody under certain conditions existing on november 22nd might have been able to hit that car. it was moving at about 11 miles-per-hour. i mean, this was not all that difficult to shot. also, all was a better shot than he is given credit for. he was not a great marksman, but he also was not bad either.
11:14 am
you have to take all of that into account. again, i have to be very critical of the warren commission. i outlined about 30 ways that they failed in the kennedy -- "the kennedy half-century". it is embarrassing. what really is the most irritating, craig, the american public would have waited in the amount of time for a good investigation, what has been any amount of money for the warren commission to do its job. if it had done the job thoroughly and well in 1963-64, we would not have had 50 years of pure cynicism, much of it generated by the results of the kennedy assassination. >> host: the next question, 50 years of cynicism in doubt and a lot of things, undermined confidence, the u.s. government. a lot of it goes to the warren commission. there was a belief in the government's ability to do things, government defeated the empire of japan, nazi germany.
11:15 am
government was putting man into space. and government generally did not solve the great depression but at least it gave people hope. there was good evidence from the time, 17807 up until 1963, the government generally worked to the benefit of the american people. this was the first time it really didn't. so the question is that if you could go back to dealey plaza and you could be there a half hour ahead of time, at 12 man palestine, november 22nd 1963, and you had a 35 mm camera and you could position yourself any place to come up with a photographic evidence to prove a conspiracy or that there was not a conspiracy, where would you put yourself and why? >> guest: great question. of course, would have loved to have been there, not that you could change history, but just to see what happened. i think, first of all, i would
11:16 am
have positioned myself right across from oswald's when no. he was visible for some time before he moved back into position. i would have wanted to have clearly identified that it was oswald in the sixth floor window at the end of the building. but i would have had plenty of time then to go to the grassy knoll area behind the picket fence or even in the rail yard to see whether anyone was shooting from there. i am convinced -- >> host: the plaza area because the grassy knoll, as i recall, texas live oak trees there. there was a fence there. if you are in that clear area, the plaza area across the road, where you have a clear sight of vision of where the batman all whenever they call the other shoe might have been? >> guest: yes, you would have been able certainly, had you been focusing on that. the reason no one got a good look at someone who was there,
11:17 am
if someone was there was because naturally all eyes were focused on the president and first lady in a limousine. it was impossible for people to see directly. there were not looking directly. it was not a shooter on the overpass. it was not the shooter from the dallas, texas building. so many theories. also from the sewer of. >> host: secret service agent. >> guest: death theories about the secret service shooting kennedy are absurd. there are as of serve as george h. w. bush was outside the school book depository. there are actually websites devoted to that or pages on website. ridiculous. >> host: why do all these -- we did not have -- there was a conspiracy to decapitate the lincoln government, no doubt about it. and there were all quickly apprehended and tried and convicted. it was sloppy, but justice was generally served. with car field and mckinley, loan, not assassins, but
11:18 am
conspiracy, the country moved on . why have so many conspiracy theories flourished? it can be just the one report. is it something deeper about the moral and balance of the ultimate winner, war hero, rich, handsome, young, devonshire president being killed by this low loser? more on balance then people can deal with. >> guest: that may be part of it. i think there are many reasons. you mentioned lincoln. don't forget harry truman. that was a conspiracy, the porter rican nationalists tried to kill him at the blair house. we have had conspiracies. i guess you could say part of it is a good thing. americans don't accept the official word without questioning. that is in our nature. it is in our history. it is in the first amendment. but the other part of this is simply again, the warren commission did a poor job and did not answer lot of questions.
11:19 am
second, there was this imbalance between the most powerful person in the world at the peak of his power, probably at the peak of america's power being eliminated by a loner. i don't think he was a night. he was actually very bright, but he was a loner and clearly disturbed in various ways. he had had a very unusual life. the imbalance is just enormous, and you have to imagine that life makes sense to live it. and can live makes sense when this powerful 35th president of the united states can be eliminated by someone like lee harvey oswald with may be a lucky shot. so i think all those are reasons why. and then various things have emerged. we were being lied to about what the cia was doing, what the fbi was doing, what the government was doing, with the kennedy administration was doing. lyndon johnson himself commented
11:20 am
publicly about after his white house years that president kennedy in the kennedy administration were running a murder incorporated in the caribbean with castro and other leaders around the world. >> host: vietnam. >> guest: right. >> host: why was kennedy in texas in november of 1963? >> guest: it is very clear, no question about it. he was trying to help the text democratic party reunite. there had been a terrible split between liberals and conservatives best represented on the liberal side by senator ralph yarborough. on the conservative side by governor john connally. lyndon johnson was kind of in the middle. he was trying to put the party back together. >> host: connelly was his close friend. >> guest: secretary of the navy and a john kennedy, but essentially kennedy, kennedy's presidency is only really understood well in the electoral context that you would understand well and i understand
11:21 am
well. kennedy had been elected by a smidgen. some say he was not elected at all. 119,000 votes on the official record. texas, tiny, tiny number of votes. you know, a few tens of thousands in the large texas electorate. look, kennedy during his full term worried about that reelection. it did not matter that things were good. he remembered how close it had been. he needed taxes. that is why he was there. >> host: i want to go back to because i did not give enough time to talk about your discovery of the broad recording. i want to get back to that. the entire basis, as i recall, the house investigation that concluded in 1979 was the fact that there was a microphone that was stuck open of a dallas police officer recording the events there and that this recording was saved but lost to history for a time, and they
11:22 am
claimed that it was four shots. because of the time that of all fired it was impossible in that age a half seconds was it? >> guest: around a second. >> host: impossible for four shots to be fired, therefore the conclusion was there was a second shooter. as i recall, the house investigation said that there was a probable conspiracy. >> guest: that's right. >> host: what have you discovered to refute that? >> guest: yes. essentially we have blown the committee report apart, blown their conclusion apart, and i will explain why. remember why that committee was formed. it was because three-quarters of the american public did not believe the warren commission. by the way, the commission we pulled for this book shows records of the american public today does not believe the warren commission. nothing is changed. essentially congressman were getting complaints from their constituents demanding after the revelations that came with watergate, with the frank church committee about the cia what
11:23 am
really happened in dallas. we don't believe the warren commission. the house of representatives want a select committee. house special committee on assassinations. they're work from 76 until 79 on this subject and others. they looked into other assassinations as well, and with the king. in the case of john kennedy, they had been preparing to endorse the basic conclusions of the warren commission after having interviewed people the warren commission did not get to him after having investigated trails the warren commission did not go down. then toward the very end they heard about this. it is a recording that was done by police headquarters, the head of this past -- dispatch office who is still living, and very interesting guy named jim bowles who was the sheriff for many years deserves a lot of credit for helping to preserve. these started at about 945 in
11:24 am
the morning before air force one landed. they stopped, at least the ones we have, after about 340 once air force one, air force to, and the press plane have left love field at the end of that terrible they. well, there are a whole bunch of them, and we have managed to get all of them out of the national archives. we have subjected them through a wonderful firm, some of the best sound analysts in the world. they do a lot of work for the pentagon and others. we subjected them to add tasks that have never been done before we have been able to extract more information from them, more lines of dialogue. in fact, we get a transcript of 30,000 words of that date and have enhanced the sound quality, all of which we're going to release on an ad, a summary that is in the book. now, let's get to the key one. a key one was recording at police headquarters at 1230 on
11:25 am
november 22nd. the committee head some sound analysts at the time using accepted methods for 1979, not to criticize them. they came back and said, we find for impulses in that 1230 times on of gunfire, four impulses that are clearly, they said, to a 95 percent probability, gunfire. well, four gunshots, as you set correctly, means a conspiracy because wycherley everyone -- nobody can fire. exactly. it is not possible. oslo can only squeeze off three shots. the fourth gunshot means that there is a conspiracy and they did other tests in dealey plaza, you know, shooting in the sand bags and determined that the noise most likely was from the grassy knoll picket fence area. it all seemed to fit together.
11:26 am
the national academy of sciences did a study on it and said, there are flaws year. why are these impulses any different than once we find over here. but dna as could not prove anything and said, this just needs more research. we questioned it but don't know the results. there was another quest to custody in 2002 that reinforced the house select committee on assassinations conclusion and increase the probability to 96%. that is where we took it. in that think once people read will we have in the kennedy half century, once they viewed the entire report by our team which we will put on our website, the kennedy half century and in this mobile app, everyone will see the truth. and here it is, there is no gun fire and all. it turns out that those four impulses are no different than a dozen other impulses at virtually the same time. what were they? they're work, we think, the rattling of the microphone on the motorcycle.
11:27 am
and where was the policeman on the motorcycle? the select committee said that policeman was a guy named h. p. mclean, and he was right there just a few yards relative ample of yards behind the presidential limousine, right there. the gunfire was loud in dealey plaza, so it could be recorded. he always denied that he had a stuck microphone. the police dispatcher always denied it was h. p. mclean. there were absolutely right. we have identified the policeman. his name is willie price. he is deceased now, but we have traced his movements, traced the fact that he believes he had stuck microphone, and he had done a substitute motorcycle that day that had problems. and he was at the trademark. two and a half miles. it was where president kennedy was going to deliver the luncheon address. tragically it was an address that was never delivered.
11:28 am
sitting at the trademark right on the recording. you can hear suddenly this sounds of sirens. clearly great commotion as something roars by at high speed we check their records. gimbals has them in dallas. there were no other siren activated vehicles operating in dallas at that time. they had to report into the police department. that was the presidential limousine and the accompanying police cars filling and 80 miles-per-hour to try and get president kennedy saved at parkland hospital. there was that, right there at the trademark. you can't record conchos two and a half miles away on all little receiver that is the same as a telephone receiver. that is how weak it is. there are no gunshots. it is not the rosetta stone that it is so often claim that it was. it will not provide the answers to the assassination.
11:29 am
what it does provide, it is a black box for the crash that occurred on november 22nd. it is living history. you can go through the day and here airforce one landing. there aired the first couple. it crowds are crushing. we have to move them back here. something has happened in the motorcade. get the sheriff and the deputies in to the rail yard. the president is going to parkland hospital. our officer willie price rises, looks in a limousine and says of the mike, the president got his head blown off. and that is where we first realize or the police first realize that it was over. then the police chief tells the officer when asked, no, i don't believe the president is going to be coming for that address. this goes all the way through to the -- tell airforce one laughed. covers the return of the president's body. it is a black box for this
11:30 am
horrible day in history. so they are actually very useful even though they don't solve the assassination. >> host: obviously president kennedy had gone through other murder case after he was elected in various cities. was there anything distinct and different about this motorcade? as you talk about it was not bulletproof. may have deflected the bullet. we will never know. the methodology was that it was bulletproof but it was not. it was just to shield the weather and rain was the secret service contingent less this day? was the route more questionable than, say, if he had gone to atlanta are cleveland or other places? de -- was anything out of the ordinary this day in terms of the behavior of the police or the secret service or anybody who was involved in motorcade
11:31 am
preparations and execution than other places? >> guest: that is a critical question. the answer is, no. that is just the problem. back in those days the thin blue line protecting the president was much thinner than anyone recognized. the guess how many secret service agents were with president kennedy in that motorcade passing 200,000 on screen people with hundreds of open windows in buildings right above kennedy where anyone could have taken a shot at him. how many secret service agents, 12. twelve. >> twenty-eight agents to travel. some were at the trademark, somewhere back at the field office in dallas. but you're talking about 12. and i made a controversial logging in the book. we back it up with a special family created using all the
11:32 am
videotape and film of kennedy during his white house years. when people see the film that will be on our website, there will be shocked. it is so on like today. this president in particular loved to plunge into crowds. the crowds were unscreened and would frequently in development. anyone could have gotten in there. he was nearly assassinated in december 1960 as president-elect down in palm beach. he had major pause that were broken up that we know about during his presidency in chicago and miami right before dallas. there were others that we don't know all the details about. and my team found two in chicago right before the election where men with guns to were following kennedy and trying to get closer to him, a tackle by the police and arrested. people have forgotten all this. but kennedy loved to mix with the crowd. even worse than that, they are not worse. he was doing what he felt the president should do, but from a
11:33 am
security standpoint it was a disaster waiting to happen. we have film of president kennedy abroad as well as at home for miles at a time standing in the limousine and even easier target than he was in dallas on november 22nd. my conclusion, he was probably due for his back. it was a miracle he had made it to november 22nd. my conclusion is, given what was going to happen in the 60's of the social turmoil, the fact that the kennedys have always attracted an unusually large number of waiters, it would have been an even larger miracle had he been found. >> guest: i think it was inevitable that he was going to be -- at least an attempt was going to be made directly if not a successful assassination. and we learn from it obviously, but we did not wide enough, did we? to close calls with gerald ford, as you have written in your rate
11:34 am
in books where you were about the campaign's. he was nearly killed in 1981. numerous assassination spreads. >> host: how we compare? how does that compare to other republics? we have more than most republics, at least to the extent we know. a lot of this was never revealed. >> guest: i think you have to look at the close call. just in the 50 years prior to kennedy you had teddy roosevelt shot as he was running for the second term. in an instant almost everyone has forgotten that herbert hoover came near to death as president-elect traveling in south america, revolutionary group tried to blow up this train. franklin roosevelt as president-elect within inches.
11:35 am
he was saved by inches. harry truman, as i mentioned. so you have for presidents just prior to kennedy, yet if you were asked the secret service on november 201st 1963, they would have said, we have a perfect record, which they did. they started guarding presidents after mckinley was assassinated. on air force one right after the assassination, a secret service agent who had been guarding kennedy was pounding on the wall inside the plane saying, we have never lost a president before. how could this happen. we never lost a president before. it was really the belief that it could not happen that encourage it to happen. >> host: have you ever taken a crystal ball prognostication and applied it to the 1960 campaign and forecast what the outcome would have been? >> guest: we actually cover the campaign at great length because i do.
11:36 am
>> host: the question in illinois, upstate and downstate with the republicans because there were questions of behavior by the republicans. mayor daley in chicago. in texas and other places, but would you have forecasted kennedy as a winner? >> guest: if you look at the regular factors of the election, he should have won by a larger margin because of the economic factors more than anything else it was catholicism. that was an election about religion. all those issues they discussed at almost nothing to do with the results. 80 percent of catholics voted for kennedy, 69 percent of protestants voted for nixon. you ask for factors in the have to tell you something, the more i look at this the more i think you know, sean trendy from real clear politics is most recently making the argument that some others and that kennedy actually lost the popular vote. forget about voter fraud.
11:37 am
the powers that be in 1960 did kennedy a great favor. they added in the alabama democratic electorate votes for the electors to kennedy with kennedy's name not even on the ballot. that is how much opposition there was. if you subtract those boats kennedy lost the popular vote to nixon. if nixon had done one thing, forget about the debates. you could argue that either way. the first one helped kennedy. the effective born off by the time of the election. a critical mistake that nixon made was in not getting eisenhower out on the campaign trail. why did that happen? because eisenhower unbeknownst to president eisenhower had made a call to vice president nixon in the summer saying, you know all the problems that i guess had. please do not put him to the task. he cannot stand of the strenuous
11:38 am
activity. president nixon was doing her bidding. president eisenhower himself was heard that he was not asked. he wondered why i am not being asked. >> host: never discussed it. >> guest: he did not know what his wife had done. at least the best evidence that we had. eisenhower went out on the campaign trail that last weaker so with nixon. sure enough. eisenhower imagine if he had been campaigning for two weeks. at the nixon would have won the 60 election. >> host: if kennedy had lost 1961 what he had done? i don't like the what ifs. jeff greenfield. exactly. it would be fun to do it and to think about it. >> host: would he have lost? >> guest: he would have been
11:39 am
in until 64. my guess is he would have run for reelection. maybe you would have tried again at the end of next as a years. wouldn't it have been interesting if positions had been reversed. i don't want to propose that nixon would have been assassinated, but lee harvey oswald once told his wife that he was going to assassinate vice president nixon on a trip to dallas. isn't that interesting? so you wonder, you wonder. and when nixon was told about kennedy's murder he was really shaken up. all of his key aides said that he was -- maybe it was going through his mind. my god, that could have been me. got a few votes here and there. so for all that was not political. it was not political. >> host: the same way with hinckley. hinckley had stalked carter. he was just -- >> guest: but there was a political dimension to of all
11:40 am
that hinckley totally lacked because of what had only -- always been looking for something, looking for something that is what got into the soviet union and then to so many of these groups that he was in wants to get back to the united states which is a story in and of itself. was he really pro castro or was he really working with the fbi and new orleans with the anti-castro mr. bannister working for the fbi. >> host: didn't he also associate with anti-communist russian. >> guest: he did, the kind of adopted the house walls because they spoke russian. so it did a lot. very complicated. a lot of rudeness that went on and have very short time. >> host: great weirdness which gives fuel to the conspiracy fire, and you can understand why, ask a lot of legitimate questions. >> host: the warren commission , lots of doubts, lots
11:41 am
of doubts about how the evidence was handled on november 22nd. a lot of doubts about many more doubts, as you have now proven, about the house investigation. but what is your conclusion? take us through that day in what lee harvey oswald is thinking of doing and did he act alone? and was there really a magic bullet? >> guest: i don't exclude the possibility that someone incur installed or that there even was someone on the grassy knoll because the secret service credential story bothers me a great deal and some other things bother me. i outline a number of them in the book. so i am not going to say, as others have done, case closed. i think it takes too much hubris to do that, at least for me. the. >> host: and a book about there. i read the book, as you did. was he saying case closed for a political motivation or case
11:42 am
closed at oslo acted alone. >> guest: that oswald acted alone. i don't see how anyone, another one, very impressive but, very impressive man. but they don't fully address these pieces that don't fit. i just have a more questioning mind about some of these things. if you force me to enter one camp or another i would go with the oswald acted alone, but i am not confident about it. i am confident about is that the warren commission that a terrible job and the house select committee on assassinations to the terrible job. we had to boss investigations, and it's 50 years on. there's only one prediction we can make. one hundred years from now, our children, grandchildren, students, their children, there are going to be watching documentary's about conspiracy theories involving the consent -- kennedy assassination.
11:43 am
keep secret or redacted is 1,001 her the 71 remaining documents. i want to see what's in there. let's see the full story. trust another reason i don't believe in case closed. you have to see all the evidence before you can reach a final conclusion. i'm -- >> host: i presume there are autopsy photos, this is like that. you have an idea of what is in there or is it all sealed or archivists allowed to talk in there? >> guest: they are not. of course they don't know what is in all of those documents. let me give credit.
11:44 am
>> host: saves with magnetic locks. >> guest: one wonders whether all the documents were turned over. this is a result of the records that the president george h. w. bush signed on october 261992 right before the 1992 elections. there was a direct result of oliver stone's movie jfk. i wanted to give credit to a journalist, jeff morley, who operates an excellent website, jfk fact. he has focused on cia documents. he came up with one that was really interesting. just one month ahead of the assassination. the cia reacting to oslo's visit to mexico city says that oswald is maturing. he is maturing. well, he matured right into a presidential assassin. and he had practiced trying to assassinate general edwin walker in april of 1963, if only the
11:45 am
police forces and the fbi at the time and spend more resources to try to trace that assassination attempt. walker was not killed, only slightly injured with a bullet that was fired through his house to read it almost certainly was oswald. oswald told his wife what he had done in great detail. >> host: in 1963 have bay was the secret service in terms of personnel? >> guest: oh, it was tiny. >> host: by comparison to today. how many did they have under investigation? or surveillance. >> guest: you know, gregg, and "the kennedy half-century" people will be amazed to learn that the only people in the files of the secret service were people who wrote and threatened the president directly. as any policeman or investigator will tell you, the people who write you don't need to worry about. the people who don't write that you need to worry about. so, -- >> host: did oswald ever read
11:46 am
threatening letters? >> guest: never. it did not have a single questionable individual on file in dallas. dallas was a hotbed of anti kennedy sentiment. and there have been incidents involving admiral stevenson. well, dallas and particular. you had the incident with adlai stevenson a couple of months before where he was spat upon and insulted. lyndon johnson and lady bird had been attacked their right before the election of 1960, and the local newspapers were strongly, virulently anti kennedy. publisher. i came across a wonderful tour guide in dallas. a lot of the behind the scenes places. the former first lady of dallas was very helpful in doing this. it took me all the hidden places that people normally don't see including house walls jail cell, the jail now closed.
11:47 am
at the end of the day, he has done this for years. related to the de lys, kind of obsessed with it. said, you have focused on this for years and years. what do you really think? he says, you know, i know everything that there is to know about november 22nd 1963 except for what really happened. that was one of those moments when my eyes opened. the one interesting. really have a few minutes left. some more what ifs, but i will start first with what is the 50-year legacy of jfk. he was assassinated and a serious circumstances why was there something more to his presidency than that? >> guest: the part of the book that i am proudest of is the last third. we traced john f. kennedy legacy, his life after death through all nine of his
11:48 am
successors. we spent more time on that than anything, including the assassination. and we have asked this question for each successor, how did this president use john f. kennedy to accomplish his own agenda. every single one of the president has used kennedy in one way or another as you know better than i do because of your books on reagan. the best use of them other than lbj who succeeded in kennedy was by ronald reagan who cited kennedy's so often you would have thought he was his running mate. >> host: not only that, during the 80's campaign, the campaign ran commercials that featured president kennedy extolling the need to cut taxes to get the country moving again. those were made into commercials by the reagan campaign. >> guest: which was very smart. and once again he used all of kennedy's words about why the across-the-board tax cut that kennedy got, almost adopted
11:49 am
right before it was scheduled to be voted on. all kennedy's words are used explaining why there was economic productivity in an across-the-board tax cut. in the anti-communist rhetoric. you go back to kennedy's inaugural address another speeches that he gave. reagan was criticized for using the term evil empire. that was nothing compared to what kennedy said. >> host: kennedy was once called an enlightened cold warrior. do you agree with that? >> guest: i do. i do also believe that in his last year because of the frightening prospect of nuclear war that he had nearly experienced in the cuban missile crisis, that he was looking for ways to make common cause with the soviets and with premier khrushchev. he was reaching out. we got the nuclear test ban treaty. that was the accomplishment that he was proudest of for his administration. there were other things that he was planning on doing. i think he was moving away from
11:50 am
some of that rhetoric at the time of his death. of course, some conspiracy theorists say that is exactly why he was killed. the general defense industry. it is a great theory. i am waiting to see the facts. i want to take them into a courtroom and have them hold up under cross-examination. i have yet to see them. >> host: that begs the question, is he, like other democrats, haunted by the who lost china argument? >> guest: yes. >> host: his presidency, who lost to dallas. and so he being an anti-communist and a cold warrior, him being a strong, national defense, he ran on the missile gap in 1960. there was no missile gap. eisenhower was not very happy. committed the first ground troops in southeast asia. you know, the what ifs, kennedy would not have gone into vietnam in the way that lbj did and the nixon did, although nixon, you
11:51 am
know, mr. forces, but kennedy, what you know about him as an anti-communist and not one to lose, would he have also gone and jumped into southeast asia with both feet? >> guest: i examine that question at length because i have great interest in it. here is my conclusion. kennedy deserves part of the blame for vietnam. you cannot exonerate him. put a lot of advisers and some troops in there. exactly. he started the trend, but here is why i believe he never would have done what johnson did. johnson put 535,000 troops in vietnam. first of all, if there is one word that describes president kennedy in office it is cautious second, you always look to a politician's base. you know this well. what was kennedy space,
11:52 am
intellectuals, universities, colleges. the very first. strong opposition to dramatically increase. very skeptical in 5960. aren't they? he said he was not comfortable with the liberals and the democratic party. but they adopted him once he was in office. he had a really established that link with them in office. lyndon johnson by contrast was anti intellectual. he liked the fact that many of these kennedy intellectuals opposed his vietnam policies. of course, his grandiose views of the presidency let in to try to win this war that was unwinnable, and he wanted to do it in a big way. john f. kennedy had agreed to a few little pilot programs on the war on poverty that day after the assassination lyndon johnson hears about what can he had done
11:53 am
and countermands it and says, that is my kind of program. i want it big. i wanted national. go full tilt. that is the difference between lyndon johnson and john f. kennedy. no, i don't believe that he would have done what johnson did in vietnam, though he would have continued some level of involvement. i don't believe for a minute he was going to withdraw troops after his election. >> host: you are saying he still would have pursued anti-communist policies but would have done it differently. >> guest: differently, to a lesser extent using the caution he had gained through the bay of pigs disaster and the triumph in the cuban missile crisis. he learned the hard way on the job. he was an internationally minded person which is the contrast with johnson. johnston was a domestic politician. kennedy had always been because of his family, in britain in world war ii, more internationally focused. i think he understood the world better. >> host: one or two, because
11:54 am
of his military background, undoubtedly military heroism in world war ii, greater respect for the joint chiefs then maybe lbj did because johnson was trying to direct the war, picking bombing targets and things like that. it was mcarthur who beg to johnson in 1964 to get involved in a land war in southeast asia. johnson did not listen to him. i was wondering if kennedy would have listened to macarthur, great respect for douglas macarthur. >> guest: i went to his funeral in norfolk, virginia. i remember it. bobby kennedy showed up in the spring of 64 he died. i saw bobby on the main street in norfolk, virginia. of course the macarthur memorial is right there. i know we're running out of time. i just wanted to mention the fact we have a chapter on each of kennedy's nine successors. we have new information and new nuggets that people have never come across.
11:55 am
president carter, for example, got a long interview. i have been able to identify where the feud between jimmy carter and ted kennedy began. it was actually in the campaign of 76. so there is lot in there, and i am proudest of that section on legacy because we took the largest study ever done on former presidents and focused it on john f. kennedy. i hired peter hart and jeff karen, a terrific job. over 2,000 adult american said we could do a lot of analysis and a subcategory, plus six focus groups, richmond virginia, chicago, los angeles, and we found that a john f. kennedy with that short presidency is the most admired, like, respected, and popular president of the modern era. now, a historian who studies the actual record would say, come on. not that much could have been accomplished in 1,038 days, but
11:56 am
will was interesting to me, that is the judgment of the american people. we title that chapter the people's president. so i think readers will be interested to see how kennedy is viewed and why in the assassination which is a big piece of it, but so is kennedy's public image. the rhetoric which is still staring, the self-deprecating humor. the glamorous nature. still get goose bumps. i have the record album of the 61 inaugural address. i can recited verbatim. when i listen to it, put it on a couple of times a year. i still think. you have mentioned the nine presidents following. some came across a phrase once. another historian said that reagan was the first president not to be haunted by the ghost of john kennedy. do you agree with that? >> guest: yes. reagan knew himself. you know this somewhat better than i do.
11:57 am
he had assented to himself, and he was not in the democratic party. he did not have to pretend to be the next jfk. each new democratic president had to pretend to be the next jfk. running for office and in serving in office. so i think there was a great difference there. as you know well, reagan was so shrewd about his cultivation of the entire kennedy family. they probably spent more time in his oval office than they had been anyone else's sense the kennedy assassination. >> presented the congressional gold medal posthumously to of robert kennedy. carter himself had just refused to present. that was to die was told the entire kennedy family. >> guest: that was the rumor. with the exception of jackie onassis who voted for john
11:58 am
anderson. >> host: up, did she? >> guest: president carter actually told me a story about his speech at the john f. kennedy assassination. jackie kennedy was very cold to have. that was when he first realized that he did not just have a problem with ted kennedy. yet a problem with the entire kennedy problem and there were a big client. >> host: what should readers come away from your book with and what is the legacy? >> guest: essentially i think it is important to realize that a tragedy like the assassination has created more out of the presidency of john f. kennedy then we read in the historical record. that is the power of people in democracy that is one of the altman legacies of his short time in the white house.
11:59 am
>> that was book tv signature program in which authors of the latest nonfiction books are interviewed by journalists, public policy makers, legislators, and others familiar with their material. airing every weekend on book tv at 10:00 p.m. on saturday, 12 and 9:00 p.m. on sunday, and 12:00 a.m. on monday. you can also watch online. go to a and click on after words in the book tv series and topics list on the upper right side of the page. >> the next three hours is your chance to talk with author and scholar christina hoff sommers, the feminism critic and former philosophy professor who will talk about ethics and everyday life, the current state of feminism and policies that, she says, armed gunmen. the residence dollar is the author or co-author of four nonfiction books including who stole feminism, one nation under
12:00 pm
therapy, and her 2013 release the revised edition of the war against boys. >> host: how do you define feminism? >> guest: in the best sense feminism is a philosophy that says that men and women are equal before long, deserve the same rights, the same liberties, the equal dignity, and basically a philosophy of basic fairness. >> host: in your book, who stole feminism how women have betrayed women, you talk about the new feminism. what is the new feminism? >> guest: yes, well, the new feminism emerged especially in the 80's and 90's and is a rather hard-line version. i became a feminist in the 70's. i did not appreciate male chauvinism and


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on