Wednesday, 24 February 2021 18:00

James Moore, JFK, and QAnon

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James Moore picks up where Steven Gillon left off and Jim DiEugenio puts him through the same treatment, decimating the false equivalence of QAnon conspiracy fantasies and JFK historical research. Jim makes the case that QAnon is at best a myth and at worst a hoax, while throughout the JFK case one can find definite evidentiary conclusions.

James Moore is the chief business commentator and a regular columnist for the British online newspaper The Independent. The day before Valentine’s Day, Moore penned an article called “JFK’s assassination greased the wheels for QAnon and Covid-Deniers.” This was the sub-title to this column:

The same type of thinking fuels the Kennedy conspiracy theories and the venomous fiction concocted by extreme right-wingers, that we see today. It needs to be laid to rest.

You have to wonder, did Moore crib his column from the piece that Steven Gillon wrote for the Washington Post? Gillon’s was published on the 57th anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination and made much the same false equivalency argument that Moore does here. (Click here for my discussion of this)

Gillon was wrong on every point he made in his faux comparison. QAnon is not something that say, Mark Lane, would have gone within a mile of if he were alive. To compare the arguments in the two cases is simply bizarre. The initial critics of the Commission, like Mark Lane and Harold Weisberg, showed that, although the MSM accepted the Warren Commission’s work, they should not have. Because contrary to what reporters like Tom Pettit of NBC and Walter Cronkite of CBS trumpeted, the Commission had not proven its case that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman who killed President Kennedy. Yet, on the evening of the issuance of the Warren Report, both CBS and NBC, with those two reporters, stated to an unsuspecting public that the Commission had done just that.

So here is the question I would like to post to both Gillon and Moore: How did those two men read 888 pages of the Warren Report—which was not subject indexed—and put together a broadcast show in less than 24 hours? The answer is they could not have. These two programs were in production well before the report was even issued. Therefore, what the rational reader can conclude is that both CBS and NBC were leaked the Commission’s findings well in advance of publication. And they made some kind of implicit or explicit agreement not to challenge those findings in return for the information. In fact, at the end of the CBS program, Cronkite made the stunning statement that it would be hard to imagine that a more thorough inquiry could have been done.

In fact, it was even worse than that. For we later learned from film director Emile de Antonio and journalist Florence Graves that CBS instructed their on-camera witnesses to parrot the Commission’s conclusions. (Florence Graves, Washington Journalism Review, Sept/Oct, 1978) Documentary director de Antonio saw the outtakes from the 1964 CBS program. When a witness was asked where the shots in Dealey Plaza came from, and they replied with “the knoll area”, they were asked the question again. Only the take where the witness finally said, “the Texas School Book Depository” was shown to the public. De Antonio later told Graves, “The interviewer was more like a prosecuting attorney leading a witness to support the state’s case.” Graves found out that the CBS production was actually months in the making. (Click here for details)

I would like to ask Mr. Moore: Is this your idea of journalism? Would you go along with such an illicit and unethical scheme to endorse an official story for the British government? Would you instruct a witness to change his story on camera? Would you produce a program endorsing a report months before that report was even published? Because that is what happened with the Warren Report.

Recall, this was in the early period of the controversy. People like Weisberg were writing that the Commission had not proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt. It was way before the declassifications of the Assassinations Record Review Board (ARRB). What those declassifications revealed, and what authors like Gerald McKnight proved in Breach of Trust, was that there was no case against Oswald at all. The FBI, Secret Service, and CIA fed the Commission an incomplete and faulty record. The Commission accepted and published it. With the new information available after 1998, critics like McKnight, and several others, could finally prove the fraud in the Commission’s performance—to a legal standard.

Such is not the case with QAnon. That movement has little or nothing to do with investigatory data or a court room legal standard. QAnon was begun by an anonymous poster at the 4chan website in late 2017. That website was often characterized as being extremist and racist. Who the man who started it really was, we do not know. He claimed to be a high ranking military officer. This person announced that Hillary Clinton was going to be arrested. It was part of a scenario that depicted a grand battle going on: good vs evil. President Trump and his Pentagon advisors were working to take down a global alliance of Satan worshiping pedophiles. That alliance included politicians, Hollywood celebrities, and figures in the media.

According to QAnon, the battle will end with two great apocalyptic events. The first is The Storm, which will result in mass arrests of thousands of people; it will be a day of reckoning. The second event is the Great Awakening, the day everyone will realize that QAnon was correct. This will be the opening of a new utopian era. (Click here for details)

Many commentators believe that the birth of QAnon was preceded and perhaps derived from the whole Pizzagate imbroglio. That resulted in an attack on Comet Ping Pong Pizza in Washington DC by a man named Edgar Maddison Welch. This occurred in December of 2016. Welch had a rifle, a handgun, and a shotgun. That fruity incident was based on similar themes: namely that the Clinton campaign was running a child molestation ring right out of the basement of the pizza shop, which had no basement. Promoters of this bizarre scenario were Donald Trump backers like Alex Jones, Michael Flynn, and his son Michael Jr. The motivation probably being that it went after Hillary Clinton. Mr. Welch actually thought she was murdering children. (See Huffpost, story by Hayley Miller, 12/16/2016; Esquire 7/24/20, article by Michael Sebastian and Gabrielle Bruney)

There is no cognitive/intellectual relationship between what people like Mark Lane, Gerald McKnight, or Harold Weisberg did and Mr. Welch’s beliefs or what the backers of Pizzagate or QAnon do. The latter are mythological concepts. The former are based upon data and evidence. JFK writers can today demonstrate that the Commission was wrong on many key points. What can QAnon show? Another pizza shop with a child porn ring in the basement?

As I pointed out with Gillon’s rubbish, in its historical origins, again there is no relationship between QAnon/Pizzagate and critics of the Commission. The followers of the former stem from over a decade prior to Mark Lane’s Rush to Judgement. The QAnon troop are mostly successors to the anti-government, pro-gun, rightwing militia corps. It was these groups that helped create the John Birch Society and helped found its sister association, the Minutemen. From the election of Ronald Reagan, the GOP has drifted more and more to the right, especially during the Bill Clinton presidency. At that time, party leaders like Rush Limbaugh advocated for every conspiracy theory out there about the Clintons: Whitewater, Vince Foster, the Rose Law Firm. None of which two Republican special prosecutors could convict him over. I might also add that Limbaugh, in February of 2020, dismissed CV-19 as being as innocuous as the common cold. (Rolling Stone, 2/17/2021, article by Bob Moser) This intellectually unmoored, anything-goes attitude eventually allowed QAnon to spread into the modern elected GOP (e.g. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert). In my view, it was this anti-intellectual, ahistorical, politically packed attitude that led to the Insurrection of January 6, over another Limbaugh/Trump myth: a stolen election. As a consequence, eight people died—five were killed, three took their own lives. No such pattern exists for the critics of the Warren Commission, because the critical community is not fundamentally political and not based on a spurious, ethereal, ideological belief system.

This leads us to the key sentence in Moore’s screed. He writes that “The Kennedy conspiracy has become a respectable conspiracy theory. Almost.” The idea that Kennedy’s murder was caused by a conspiracy is today not a theory. It is a forensic fact. And because of the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB), we can show that in a number of ways with the so-called “hard evidence” (i.e. the ballistics and the autopsy). We can also demonstrate that previous inquiries were simply wrong in these aspects. And show why they are wrong.

Moore scores Oliver Stone’s 1991 film JFK on this point. He does so using a sleight of hand trick. He says that JFK posited a combination of nine different organizations that wanted Kennedy killed. He actually includes groups that, after about six viewings of the film, I still don’t see (e.g. pro-Castro Cubans, the Russians, Hoover’s FBI, and the Mafia). What the film really says is that a combination of the Power Elite and the military schemed to kill Kennedy over his policies in Vietnam and Cuba. Most of the other groups are mentioned in passing, or posited as a part of the cover up.

But Moore’s kind of trickery obscures the point of the film. The film was trying to show that, almost three decades later, we did not really know who killed Kennedy. As everyone recalls, except perhaps Moore, the end title card to the film said one reason for this was because the files of the HSCA were still classified over a decade after they closed shop. Why? This is a question that Moore does not want to deal with. Neither does he want to deal with what those files revealed once they were declassified. If he did, the problems with his lousy column would be exposed.

Moore writes something just as bad just a couple of sentences later. He actually states that there is really not much reason for questioning the JFK case. Why? Because the doubts are only “backed by little more than the feeling that one man simply couldn’t have, on his own, changed history as Oswald did.”

In other words, those 2 million pages of ARRB declassified documents, their inquiry into the medical evidence, the work of scientists and physicians like Dave Mantik, Cyril Wecht, Randy Robertson, Mike Chesser, and Gary Aguilar, all of this new writing, evidence, and analysis amounts to a feeling?

Moore then doubles down. He now says that with all the declassifications, plus the studies by ballistics experts and physicists, all of these have concluded that the fatal bullet came from Oswald, which exposes him as a charlatan. Does Moore not know that Vincent Guinn’s Neutron Activation Analysis—the test that the HSCA relied upon to seal its case against Oswald—has now been exposed as “junk science”? (Journal of Forensic Sciences, July 2006, pp. 717–28) How about ballistics? Gary Aguilar, Tink Thompson, and John Hunt have shown that the Magic Bullet, CE 399—the Commission’s keystone of their case against Oswald—has no chain of custody to it. Thus, it would blow up in a prosecutor’s face at trial. (The Assassinations, edited by James DiEugenio and Lisa Pease, pp.282–84; and click here) This lack of knowledge further exposes Moore as indulging in ignorant quackery.

Yet, near the end of Moore’s Comedy of Errors, he again says that both the JFK case and QAnon lead people down the same rabbit hole. Not so. With QAnon, there is no end to the rabbit hole; since it is at best a myth, at worst a hoax. In the JFK case, by following the best that has been written of late, one can find some definite evidentiary conclusions. Moore is either unaware of them or does not want to mention them, since it would blow up his column.

The column ends the only way it could. Moore endorses Gerald Posner’s “exhaustively researched” book Case Closed. Well, if one wants to read what was essentially a rerun of the Warren Report, fine. But the remarkable thing about that book is that it was written before the creation of the Review Board. So how could it be “exhaustively researched”? The major part of Posner’s footnotes relied on the volumes of the Warren Commission. Meaning it could have been written in 1965 or ’66. Posner endorsed the Single Bullet Fantasy, which we know today did not happen. (Click here for details) We also know that there is a problem with the interviews Posner did. Some of the people who he says he interviewed do not recall talking to him. (Probe Magazine Vol. 5 No. 5, p. 14)

Further, in the original edition of Case Closed, Posner wrote that there was no credible evidence that Oswald knew David Ferrie, a major character in the film JFK. (See p. 148) In fact, Ferrie had told the FBI he did not recall Oswald. (Commission Document 75, p. 286) Within weeks of the publication of that book, PBS Frontline produced a photo of the two men standing together at a Civil Air Patrol barbecue. In the declassified files of the HSCA, there was further evidence via affidavits of CAP members who recalled the rightwing, CIA associated Ferrie with the alleged communist Oswald at meetings. (Op. CIt. Probe Magazine, pp. 15–16)

To top it off, we now know through at last three sources that, within days of the assassination, Ferrie was visiting and calling people to recover evidence that linked him to Oswald. (Ibid, p. 17) This included both his library card and the above-mentioned picture. In other words, far from not knowing Oswald, Ferrie was involved in the act of obstruction of justice in order not to incriminate himself in perjury. This is a rabbit hole?

So much for Mr. Posner. And also Mr. Moore.

Last modified on Thursday, 25 February 2021 06:27
James DiEugenio

One of the most respected researchers and writers on the political assassinations of the 1960s, Jim DiEugenio is the author of two books, Destiny Betrayed (1992/2012) and The JFK Assassination: The Evidence Today (2018), co-author of The Assassinations, and co-edited Probe Magazine (1993-2000).   See "About Us" for a fuller bio.

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