Who Killed the JFK Assassination Researchers?
Fractured, impotent, and waving a white flag
I first started down these rabbit holes by delving into the JFK assassination as a teenager. I was seven when he was killed, but even then I recognized Oswald hadn’t done it, as soon as Jack Ruby shot him in front of over seventy police officers. Apparently, all the adults in power at the time disagreed with me. The rest is history.
Well, actually the rest is hidden history, the kind I specialize in. Once I read my first few critical books on the subject, I was hooked. It was like falling in love with someone special. I couldn’t let go then, and I can’t let go now. The lure of the minutiae, the Kennedy fandom, the yearning for more innocent times- that was all a part of it. But mostly I wanted the truth to be told. I wanted Lee Harvey Oswald’s name cleared, and I wanted our journalists and politicians to admit there was a gigantic conspiracy.
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I volunteered for Mark Lane’s Citizens Committee of Inquiry, and became co-president of my local chapter. I was eighteen, and that’s the only time I’ve ever been president of anything. Lane was my hero, and I was deeply influenced by his civil libertarianism. Meeting him was one of the highlights of my life. After the disappointment of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, I was disillusioned, but remained transfixed by the subject. I read all the books that came out. I was a faithful subscriber to Penn Jones’ monthly newsletter The Continuing Inquiry. In fact, my very first published work appeared there, on the front page of the January 22, 1983 issue.
The last time I went to a movie theater in the evening, it was to see Oliver Stone’s JFK in 1991. I was very impressed with it, and would later teach a course on the film for my county’s adult education program. The creation of the Assassination Records and Review Board, in the wake of Stone’s wildly popular movie, interested me, but it was the birth of the internet, and the slew of JFK assassination research forums, that really caught my attention.
I spent a lot of time, circa 1998-1999, on Rich Dellarosa’s JFK forum, which I still feel was the best one we’ve ever had. Names I’d read and admired, like Jack White and Gary Mack, posted there regularly. I began to develop something of a “name” in the community. Later I would interact quite a bit with the likes of David Lifton, James Fetzer, and Josiah Thompson. I began to realize that difficult personalities and huge egos are drawn to this subject, and dominate the research community.
Too many knowledgeable researchers, like the aforementioned Jack White, Bernice Moore and Doug Weldon, have passed away in recent years. They should be remembered for their important contributions. Many of them never published a book, or even an article, but people like me respected them enormously and relied on them for research. The older critics, like Mark Lane, Harold Weisberg, and Vince Salandria, left us as well. They left a leadership void, which no one has really filled.
Considering how well known I became in the research community, when Hidden History was published in November, 2014, I naturally assumed that it would provide a perfect reading demographic. However, the community shocked me by virtually ignoring the book, even as it sold out the first two editions, and did far better than I ever had a right to expect. A few of the JFK-oriented shows had me on as a guest, but I think they all subsequently “cancelled” me over Trump and/or COVID.
Jim Marrs read an early manuscript of the book I sent to him, and loved it. I know he’d have talked a lot about it if he’d lived. Jim DiEugenio reviewed it on Amazon, but basically gave it some left-handed praise, and rated it four, not five stars. Vince Palamara gave it a glowing review, but then Vince gives pretty much everything a glowing review. Doug Caddy was very supportive, and wrote a blurb. Roger Stone loved it so much that Skyhorse asked him to write the Foreword to the paperback edition. Rob Dew was so impressed he interviewed me about it on Infowars Nightly News. I made my first appearance on Coast to Coast to discuss it.
Len Osanic had me on Black Op Radio, and raved about the book. Cynthia McKinney and Cindy Sheehan liked it enough to write blurbs. And Hidden History just kept selling. However, the JFK research community continued to act as if the book didn’t exist. A highlight of my book was an investigation into the death of JFK, Jr., and I produced some groundbreaking evidence that he’d been assassinated, just like his father and uncle. Even when discussions about JFK Jr’s death would come up on forums, the posters would refer to internet articles from 1999, or maybe John Hankey’s film. But never, ever, would they mention my work on the subject.
Until Chuck Ochelli arranged for a Zoom presentation with him for one of the JFK conferences a few years ago (I can’t remember when, and there is literally nothing about it anywhere on the search engines), I had never been asked to speak at one of these yearly gatherings. I wanted to go to Dallas at least once, but to be honest I was a bit fearful that I might have to physically fight someone there if I did. Some of these people have a hatred for me that is frightening. One from the U.K. actually threatened me some years ago. So I’m just not sure it would be worth it.
So why all the hostility from what should be my most supportive community? Well, it isn’t just me. These people don’t support each other at all. Lots of jealousy and envy, I suppose. Vince Palamara’s work is still largely unappreciated. Joseph McBride, whose Hollywood career with Orson Welles and others ought to make him a face of the community, is also often overlooked by these self-deluded “researchers.” And my good friend John Barbour should be the dean of the community. And yet, he is at least as scorned as I am. His remarkable film The American Media and the 2nd Assassination of President John F. Kennedy should be shown at all the conferences. It never has been.
Phil Nelson is one of the more agreeable personalities in the research community, and has written a couple of important books about LBJ’s connection to the assassination. He doesn’t get much respect from researchers who’ve never written anything other than forum posts. Roger Stone used to be active at the conferences, but his association with Trump made him persona non grata to the research community. Part of my problem is his name on the cover of my top selling book. I have encountered people who have not only Trump Derangement, but Roger Stone Derangement Syndrome.
The Spartacus Education Forum, out of London, is probably the largest JFK assassination platform on the internet now. I was a moderator there for years, and may still be for all I know. My fellow moderators, none of whom have ever published anything to my knowledge, would simply ignore my input and do whatever they wanted. It has become a sad place. Lone nutters are posting regularly there, and the forum, like the “research” community as a whole, is utterly dominated by what I call “neocons,” or those who have a neo-belief in conspiracy, but expend all their time and efforts on debunking the best evidence for conspiracy.
There are still some people doing good work. Gary Shaw is alive and well, and I’m proud to call him a friend. His awesome 1976 book Cover-Up is perhaps the most underrated work on the JFK assassination. I contacted him frequently while researching Hidden History 3, and he is always cordial and helpful. His personality is the antithesis of the toxic personas that just naturally seem to gravitate to the subject. My friend Bob Wilson is vey knowledgeable and has great contacts with interesting witnesses. He is, of course, one of the “Threesearchers” who have helped me so much, along with Chris Graves and Peter Secosh. Joan Mellen wrote an important book about Jim Garrison, and has been a guest on my show a few times.
Steve Cameron has been very supportive, and has single-handedly restored Dallas Deputy Roger Craig’s good name, working with his son Roger Craig, Jr. John Kelin wrote a good book on the early researchers, and wisely chooses to stay out of the fray. The same goes for William Davy. William Law has become a friend and his essential work on the medical evidence gets very little attention. Buell Wesley Frazier, who drove Oswald to work on the day of the assassination, gave me one of my best interviews, and is one of the nicest people you will ever find.
Mark Oakes is someone I always try to credit. His work on discovering the Patsy Paschall film, and crucial witness interviews have gone largely overlooked. I’ve attempted to contact him repeatedly to have him on my show, but he never responds. No one seems to know what happened to him. I hope he’s still with us. Meanwhile, the community lavishes nonstop praise on JFK and the Unspeakable, which is a fine book but not quite worthy of such slavish recognition, at the expense of others just as or more worthy. And they still drool over David Talbot, whose works are better than other mainstream journalists, but hardly groundbreaking. Talbot, like Jim DiEugenio and countless others, “cancelled” me on social media over Trump and/or COVID.
I was often ridiculed on the forums for my insistence on civility and “Kumbaya” efforts to bring people together. I was called “Miss Manners” and worse. Most of the hatred that is still directed at me stems from my efforts, in my role as moderator, to take childish and profane posters to task. They’ve never forgiven me for that, and that’s largely why they ignore my published work. I wrote what I thought was a pretty unifying statement in 2013, and started a thread on the Education Forum, asking if people could agree to it. Here is that very telling thread: Can We Agree on a Consensus Statement Regarding Conspiracy?
If any of you get bored with reading the years of archived articles at my blog here: Keeping it Unreal, where you can also find bonus chapters from Hidden History and Survival of the Richest, you can search the archives at the Education Forum and find some of my many posts there: The Education Forum. The bottom line is that I can’t promote anything there, and it’s really the only viable JFK forum left. Considering I can’t really promote anything now on Facebook, either, since I am shadow banned, that makes it imperative that I promote things here, or on my “I Protest” weekly show on Rokfin.com: America Unplugged
Dealing with the JFK assassination research community opened my eyes, and prepared me for the contentious nature of the conspiracy community at large. The alt media, if you will. I’ve only communicated with a handful of the 9/11 Truther community, but if anything they are perhaps more argumentative and divisive than the JFK researchers. Good citizen journalists that I respect, and who I interviewed before, no longer answer my emails. Some of them interviewed me. I don’t know why. It’s not just the JFK case that attracts these kinds of people. Any conspiracy-related subject does. I’ve met some who would fit the slanderous “wacko” stereotype promulgated by the state run media.
I have started doing Twitter Spaces a few times every week. It’s been a lot of fun, and at least so far, Twitter actually isn’t interfering. So this part of Twitter, at least, offers a true free speech platform. If you don’t follow me on Twitter, please do so at https://twitter.com/DonJeffries. I’m always looking at ways to reach out, not just to get more readers and viewers, but to let “awake” people know they’re not alone. We have to support those in the alt media who are trying to fight the tyranny and corruption.
But to get back to the JFK assassination researchers, perusing the recent threads on the Education Forum tells you all you need to know about the state of “research” regarding the case. Most of them seem to actually respect Gerald Posner, who not only betrayed Harold Weisberg’s trust when he let him sift through his voluminous files, but wrote the establishment acclaimed Warren Report rewrite Case Closed. To cite just one of Posner’s literary crimes, he cited interviews with witnesses who publicly said he never interviewed them. That alone should discredit him forever.
The “neocons” have taken over the community. So now, “researchers” believe there were no mysterious witness deaths. There was no hole in the limousine’s windshield. It was definitely Billy Lovelady standing in the doorway of the Texas Schoolbook Depository Building. The officers who signed sworn affidavits that the weapon found on the sixth floor was a Mauser, and not a Carcano, were just honestly mistaken. There weren’t a multitude of Oswald lookalikes attempting to incriminate him in the period immediately prior to the assassination. I got into an argument with Josiah Thompson online, over his insistence that the Umbrella Man was just an innocent spectator. These are just some examples.
We are losing the public relations battle on this issue. The info war, if you will. As Vince Palamara pointed out recently on the Education Forum, public opinion polls doubting the official fairy tale peaked in the 1980s and 1990s. They used to be up in the 80+ percent range. Now, barely a majority of Americans believe there was a conspiracy. Decades of nonstop propaganda. Mindless “education” in schools. It’s all had the desired effect. The history books say Oswald acted alone. And those of us who actually know the evidence continue to argue in circles.
We are only a year away from the sixtieth anniversary of the JFK assassination. And we’re no closer to getting the court historians and talking heads to acknowledge the truth about the greatest crime of the twentieth century. We waste time on infighting, while the establishment is in lockstep on the issue. They all insist Oswald did it. End of story. They don’t engage in infighting. Every politician who supposedly knew there was a conspiracy, from Walter Mondale, to Ronald Reagan, to Al Gore, to John Kerry, held their tongues in public. They never made any speeches about it.
A strong argument can be made that, on November 22, 1963, America was at its peak. Economically, culturally, aesthetically; America 1.0 in all its glory. Since that day, it’s been a steady plunge downhill in all respects. And the primary reason is that the crime was so bold and in-your-face, and the effect was amplified by having the alleged assassin shot on live television. As Fidel Castro is supposed to have said, “That doesn’t happen in even your worst American television shows.”
Just this one Deep State crime alone led to so many others. The escalation into the disastrous Vietnam debacle, when JFK had just started the withdrawal process. The emboldening of the CIA, which JFK was on the verge of abolishing. Was JFK really going to reign in the Federal Reserve? I don’t know. He was engaged in an angry debate behind the scenes with David Ben-Gurion over Israel developing nuclear weapons. He offended many powerful forces. There was the very real loss of American innocence. No longer would Americans trust the authorities and their institutions in the same way. Most citizens knew they were being lied to, but even then there were no voices in the media or Congress to validate their concerns.
In my large Catholic family, I don’t think a single relative bought the official story. Certainly my always outspoken father didn’t. He, like most of the others, pointed the finger at LBJ. They all hated LBJ. As a child, Johnson’s awkward and crude manner seemed in stark contrast to JFK’s Hollywood-like charm. It seemed as if something really good had been supplanted by something really bad. And as a child, I absorbed all these doubts, and the nonstop television coverage. It made a tremendous impact.
As I’ve pointed out many times, if JFK hadn’t been assassinated, RFK never would have been. Probably not Martin Luther King, either. Mary Jo Kopechne would probably be alive. Teddy wasn’t in the car at Chappaquiddick, which represented his political assassination, in terms of his presidential hopes. And JFK, Jr. would still be alive and well, if only he’d not been so vocal about the conspiracy to kill his father to his friends and family. You can read more details about all this in Hidden History.
The JFK assassination remains my wheelhouse issue. It’s the one I know best, the one I’ve studied the most extensively. Imagine how it feels to watch some professor on CSPAN tell a group of impressionable college students that the Warren Commission was right. To know he’s absolutely wrong about everything, but not to have his platform. There is no Don Jeffries or anyone else there to counter him, to expose his mind-boggling ignorance to those students, and the viewers at home. The medium is the message, as Marshall McLuhan said. One of my sisters was convinced by the 2003 ABC disinformation special hosted by Peter Jennings that Oswald actually did it. All those years of hearing me rant about it in detail were to no avail.
Gary Oldman, who did such a great job portraying Lee Harvey Oswald in Oliver Stone’s JFK, eventually came back to the lone nut position. Maybe Peter Jennings convinced him, too. The “research” community is full of these lone nutter converts. I used to confront them online, and ask them to cite the evidence that persuaded them they’d been wrong to believe there was a conspiracy. None of them ever provided any evidence. In the same vein, Abby Martin once led a 9/11 Truth Chapter, but once she made a name for herself in the press, she stated she no longer believes that it was “an inside job.” Once one has seen the evidence in either the JFK assassination, or 9/11, one cannot possibly unsee it. You can’t return to a state of ignorance.
I cannot ever turn my back on this issue. The JFK assassination, happening as it did when I was seven years old, was a seminal event in my young childhood. It helped to shape my radical beliefs. They could offer me a million dollar book advance to say Oswald did it. Or millions to host a show where I made it clear that the Warren Report got it right. I would never sell out like that. As Jim Garrison said, I don’t want to be calm about the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Something essential to the American spirit died that day in Dallas.
CORRECTION: My good friend S.T. Patrick has pointed out some errors in this article. First, Spartacus International may no longer be associated with the London Education Forum. Also, apparently John Barbour has shown his film at at least three JFK assassination conferences. In my view, he’s still underappreciated and should logically be front and center at all the conferences.
"I Protest" by Donald Jeffries is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.