Wednesday, 27 September 2023 17:36

Mark Shaw Insults Allen, Texas: Part 1

Written by

Jim DiEugenio describes the problems with Mark Shaw's address at the Allen LIbrary in Texas. Shaw is a lawyer, his speech was about as unlawyerly as one can get in a murder case.

In 2021, author Mark Shaw visited the library at Allen, Texas. Allen is a town of about 100,000 located 20 miles north of the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. This was an opportunity to publicize his book Collateral Damage. Some might say: but that was two years ago. Which is true. But for whatever reason, this talk has garnered millions of views on YouTube. Marilyn Monroe authority Don McGovern went ahead and transcribed it. It might be hard to believe, but in some ways this speech is even worse than the book.

It is very important—actually it is integral—to understand that Shaw is a lawyer. And, as he has described in his prior books, he was a criminal defense attorney. In other words, Shaw is familiar with the rules of evidence and testimony in court. He therefore has to understand the concept of raising objections to such and how a judge can then rule on whether that evidence and testimony can be admitted to a jury. In fact, very often there are pre-trial evidentiary hearings so a judge can rule on these matters.

What is shocking about Shaw’s presentation is this: there is barely anything in it that would not be challenged in court. And, as we shall see, most of those objections would likely be sustained. It’s quite a spectacle to see an attorney somehow forget the strictures he was taught in law school in order to present a case so diaphanous that it would likely never get out of the starter’s gate. This at a time when most of the JFK critical community is doing the contrary. That is, trying to present a case that would meet standards of proof.

Mark Shaw is one of the very few in the critical field that still holds that somehow it was the Mafia that killed President Kennedy. What is so bizarre about this—actually it is almost shocking—is that he does not even seem aware of how the new evidence vitiates that conclusion. For instance, the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB,) declassified many documents from the House Select Committee on Assassinations. The pertinent HSCA records were from November, 1978 interviews with the family of Dutz Murrett, Oswald’s uncle in New Orleans. These showed that, contrary to what the likes of author John Davis had stated, Mr. Murrett was not working for Carlos Marcello in 1963. (Michael Benson, Who’s Who in the JFK Assassination, p. 305) He had resigned his bookmaking position at least two years earlier. This poked a serious lacunae into that theory—one that tangentially connected Oswald to the Mafia Don in New Orleans.

Further, the famous Ed Becker anecdote about Marcello, which so many have used—including Shaw in this speech—has now also come into dispute. According to Becker, Marcello allegedly stated that soon “the stone” would be removed from his shoe. This meant Attorney General Bobby Kennedy. But he was going to do it by disposing of President Kennedy. (Benson, p. 34) Len Osanic of Black Op Radio has made contact with a witness who renders that whole conversation questionable. There is now a book in preparation on the subject. Yet, as author Michael Benson notes, the HSCA used both of these aspects to bolster their Mob oriented case. As explicated by the late Carol Oglesby in the Afterword to Jim Garrison’s On the Trail of the Assassins, that case was never very strong to begin with. It has now been severely weakened.

Mark Shaw’s third overall rail of Mafia involvement on the JFK case was that Joe Kennedy had double crossed his backers in Chicago about how he could get RFK to go easy on the Outfit. In return for that, the 1960 mob—controlled wards in Chicago would throw their support to JFK. This point was also rendered moot when it was broken down by statistician John Binder. Binder did a complete study of the voting ratios in those wards. It was not what it should have been if the basis of the book Double Cross was true. Binder’s work pretty much blows up this old wives tale. (Click here)

Since the Mob did not go along with Kennedy’s alleged wishes, this would indicate he did not have much pull in Chicago. Which indicates that the myth of Joe Kennedy the bootlegger was just that. A myth that emerged, not when Joe was under six federal investigations for positions in government; but arose after, when the underworld, and Jack Kennedy’s enemies—like Richard Nixon—wanted to spread rumors, thereby tarring JFK’s presidential nomination, and later, his reputation. This is the sensible and evidence backed thesis that author Dan Okrent came to in his fine volume on the subject of Prohibition, Last Call (p. 369)

But in his 2022 book Fighting for Justice—a misnomer if there ever was one—Shaw stated that the Joe Kennedy bootleg charges were all over the HSCA volumes on organized crime (Shaw, p. 66). I read the HSCA volumes on crime, which were in Books 5 and 9. Shaw was passing gas; it’s not there. It is hard to imagine he did not even look at the volumes in advance. If he did, he would have found out that, contrary to any deal, the Kennedys’ strong pressure was collapsing the Mafia. (Vol. 5, p 455)

In the talk under discussion, Shaw also brings in the 1960 West Virginia primary as another example of the Mob influencing an election at Joe Kennedy’s request. This one was promoted not just by that fatuous book Double Cross, but also by the late Judith Exner, a woman who told so many tall tales she could not keep them straight. (Michael O’Brien, Washington Monthly, December, 1999). As Dan Fleming wrote in his book on that primary, no subsequent study—by the FBI, by the state Attorney General, by Senator Barry Goldwater—ever produced any evidence that there was skullduggery that influenced that election outcome. (Fleming, Kennedy vs Humphrey, West Virginia 1960, pp. 107-12)

One might point to another aspect of Shaw’s reliance on rather disreputable sources like Double Cross and Frank Ragano’s book Mob Lawyer. In the former book, the authors stated that the Outfit owned the contract of Marilyn Monroe. Since Monroe is a late arriving subject of Shaw’s one would think he would be aware that this is utterly false. And it would therefore touch on the credibility of his source. Either that or it indicates the fact that he has done very little work on Monroe. For as has been shown in the book Murder Orthodoxies, the two men who had control of Monroe’s early career were producer Joe Schenck and Hollywood agent Johnny Hyde. The Chicago Outfit influence on Monroe was simply more malarkey from a book that was full of it. (McGovern, pp. 394-427)

What is one to think of a lawyer/author who uses these kinds of sources? And still insists on using them long after they have been discredited.

In this speech Shaw states that he first discovered the subject of Dorothy Kilgallen while he was writing his book about attorney Melvin Belli. Which is kind of odd. Why? Because that book was published back in 2007. Which is ten years before he published his first book on Kilgallen. But further, in Shaw’s first two books dealing with the JFK case there is next to nothing about the reporter, a bit over two pages. His excuse for bringing in Marilyn Monroe is that he somehow discovered that Kilgallen was friends with Monroe. As Monroe biographer Gary Vitacco Robles has noted, there is no such evidence this was the case.

In addition to these questionable origins, in Shaw’s speech there is his tendency to aggrandize himself. Early on he calls himself a historian. It’s pretty clear from his book that he has no such credentials in that field. And if there is a worse historian of the Kennedy years, I would like to know who it is. One thing a good historian does is sift through how reliable his sources are. As we have seen, Mark Shaw did not do that. Not even close.

Right before this there is another instance of self-praise. Shaw says the relevance of Collateral Damage is that it shows that nobody asked questions at the time of these murders. To use just one example: Mark Lane was asking questions about the JFK case within hours of the president’s death. (Mark Lane, Plausible Denial, p. 14) When Jack Ruby shot Oswald, those questions exploded into a tidal wave. Because many assumed that the reason someone would shoot the defendant in public was to silence him. This caused Lane to assemble his legal brief for Oswald, which contained plenty of questions amid its ten thousand words. (Lane, pp. 18-19). The edition of The National Guardian where it first appeared sold 100,000 copies. (Author’s interview with Lane, November of 2013). As per Monroe, the first questions were asked very soon after her death also. By, for instance, the photography/reporter team—Bill Woodfield and Joe Hyams—that took the last nude photos of her, and this is in the Fred Guilles biography of Monroe. As per Kilgallen, at her funeral, her mother accused her husband Dick Kollmar of killing her. Experts inside the medical examiner’s office, like Charles Umbarger and John Broich also suspected foul play. Lee Israel, who wrote a biography of Kilgallen, was also onto this trail. All of these sources are in Sara Jordan’s fine online article “Who Killed Dorothy Kilgallen” at Midwest Today. And when one reads that article, the introduction states that this is how Shaw actually began his book.

Shaw is an inveterate self—aggrandizer. For instance he likes to say, as he does here, that his work is not speculative. That it is based on solid sources like documents. How is the book Double Cross a document? It was not published until three decades after President Kennedy’s murder. As lawyer Shaw has to know, it is hearsay at best. And it is compromised by the fact that the authors clearly wrote it to take advantage of a timely commercial event: the unprecedented controversy over Oliver Stone’s JFK. As I have shown, factually, every major tenet in the book is dubious.

But it’s even worse than that. Because, concerning the subject of that book, namely Chicago Don Sam Giancana, there are much more factually based sources. One would be FBI agent William Roemer and his book Man Against the Mob. In that book, Roemer describes the almost total surveillance that Bobby Kennedy and the FBI had on Giancana. As he was a major part of it. Roemer listened to all the surveillance tapes they had on Giancana. There was never any mention of any attempt on JFK or RFK. And after the fact, there was no such indication either. (Roemer, p. 188). In court, that would make Shaw’s case pretty vulnerable.

But again, it’s really worse than that. Because there are now three different versions of the Giancana mythology. There is the version in the novel Double Cross. There is a newer version by another Giancana relative named Pepe as revealed by producer Ron Celozzi in the documentary film Momo: The Sam Giancana Story. The assassination teams differ significantly in the two works. But there is a third version, one which Celozzi is preparing for a projected upcoming feature film on the subject. Again, the hit team is now different than Celozzi’s earlier version. (Click here for the transformations)

Again, can one imagine presenting all these alterations in court? Showing first how Double Cross is a fraud to begin with. Then following that up with the revisions to the original story? Then finalizing it all with Roemer? Shaw’s case would be decimated. So much for the “historian” not relying on speculation.

This is the problem when an author depends on a source about which there is no adduced record. Since for all of Shaw’s boasting about his zealotry for Kilgallen, with Kilgallen as your pillar what do you have?. As Shaw has admitted in his works, no one knows what was in Kilgallen’s JFK file. It was allegedly lost after her death. Shaw assumes that since Kilgallen went to New Orleans before her death, that somehow she was on to Carlos Marcello. How does he know this? Again, there is no evidence for it. It is his opinion based on speculation. And this ignores the fact that Oswald was in New Orleans in the summer of 1963, and this might be the reason she went there—to check out what he was doing. In this speech Shaw even says that since Kilgallen had a book coming out based on some of the homicide cases she had investigated, that this is why Marcello had her killed! As a lawyer, how could Shaw back this up?

Go to Part 2

Last modified on Wednesday, 27 September 2023 18:10
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.

Find Us On ...


Please publish modules in offcanvas position.