Friday, 10 March 2023 05:29

Mark Shaw's Fighting for Justice

Written by

Mark Shaw has released yet another “book” purportedly on the JFK assassination and cover-up, making it his fourth in the last seven years on the subject. James DiEugenio elucidates how Shaw makes factual errors, trusts unreliable sources and documents, recycles previously known information and sloughs off the newly declassified documents in his latest “book”.

Mark Shaw has (ostensibly) written six books about the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Four of those have been published in the last seven years. Which means his current output is one book on an average of less than two years. This reviewer has written, or co-written, four books on the case in thirty years. If Shaw wrote books based on the newly declassified documents that have been dripping out due to the strictures of the 1992 JFK Records Collection Act, then fine. But as we shall see, such is not the case.

When I reviewed Shaw’s Denial of Justice, I noted that for all that was new in that book, Shaw could have simply written a long blog post on his website. (Click here for that review) To expand his parameters what Shaw has done is added another subject—which was hinted at in that book. So instead of Dorothy Kilgallen and John Kennedy, Shaw opened up a new area of inspection in his next book, Collateral Damage. That new area was Marilyn Monroe. As Don McGovern showed in his two part review, Shaw’s writing was remarkably unconvincing about the late film star. (Click here for that review) As Don demonstrated at length, not only did Shaw reveal a lack of analytical insight, he could not even interpret photographs accurately. His excuse for glomming on to Monroe was that she was allegedly a close friend of Kilgallen. As McGovern explained, among many others Shaw made, that statement was inaccurate.

In his new book, inaptly named Fighting for Justice, Shaw now says he has gotten literally hundreds of letters asking if there was any connection between the deaths of JFK, Kilgallen and Monroe. (Shaw, p. 149) Which is an odd statement. For example, this reviewer has been researching the JFK case full time for the last three decades. I never got one such question, let alone a letter, asking me about that topic. I have attended literally dozens of conferences, and I never heard anyone from the audience ask anything like that. I have been a semi-regular on Len Osanic’s Black Op Radio program for over ten years, and have fielded hundreds of questions from the audience—but never that one. As we shall see—and as McGovern hinted—there appears to be another reason for Shaw’s insistence on now including the Monroe case in his writing.

Some people like to hear themselves talk. Shaw apparently likes to type. But typing is not writing. About the first fifty pages of this book have little or nothing to do with the alleged subject matter. It is purely autobiographical. So if you want to hear about why Mark Shaw moved from Indiana to Colorado to California, this is your book. Since I was not interested, to me this was just filler.  

The last part of the book, Chapters 20 and 21—where Shaw excerpts a long phone call between President Johnson and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover—could have been cut at least in half. And that is not all that should have been cut. For Shaw repeats much of his prior biographical work on Dorothy Kilgallen. He also recycles his half-baked—if that—ideas on the JFK assassination. For instance, he praises the HSCA for examining every nuance of the Kennedy and Oswald killings. (p. 65) Many would disagree. He then writes that there were three shots fired, with the second and third bullets hitting Kennedy. (p. 66) Yet everyone knows the HSCA concluded there were four shots, based upon the acoustics evidence. He now repeats an allegation he made in Denial of Justice that the HSCA report said the Kennedys went after organized crime because mobsters impinged on the success of their father’s bootlegging.(p. 66) I read the HSCA volumes on organized crime, Books 5 and 9, and found no such thing. Let me quote myself:

If one goes through those volumes, especially volumes 5 and 9, where this Mafia angle is explored, the reader will find no mention of Joe Kennedy’s alleged bootlegging. But in book five, it is noted that, by 1963, the Mafia was falling apart due to Bobby Kennedy’s unrelenting pressure tactics. (HSCA, Vol. 5, p. 455) And make no mistake, the House Select Committee pulled out all the stops in investigating this Mob-did-it angle. They used all kinds of official records, not just in Washington, but also from various local police departments. Again, did no one do any editing of this book?

So Shaw wanted to write another book. And apparently it did not matter how he filled in the pages. So how does he do it? He prints and then replies to questions and comments from people who read his books, or watched his online presentations. And from what I could discern, the quality of the comments did not matter. There is a letter from a man whose father knew Joe Cody, a former police officer in Dallas. It turns out that Cody bought Jack Ruby the revolver he used to kill Oswald. After relating this information, Shaw pats himself on the back for uncovering “an historical piece of evidence”. (p. 125)

It would have been natural of Shaw to have clicked his search bar. If so he would have found out that this “historical’ piece of evidence has been around since at least 2008. Since it was described in two obituaries for Cody, one in the Dallas Morning News of July 7th and one at the TV site for KTBS on July 3rd.

I don’t even want to talk about another one which features Carlos Marcello, Mac Wallace, and Jack Ruby in the same restaurant in Dallas in the summer of 1963. It then gets better. A show girl with Marcello calls Shaw’s witness later in 1977. She says she has a picture of the real JFK assassin emerging from a sewer. Uh, OK. (pp. 119-20).

But it’s not just stuff like this that Shaw uses to fill in pages of what is supposed to be a book. He now goes back to older books and describes them. One of them is from 1973 and is called The Kennedy Neurosis by Nancy Clinch. If a negative book on the Kennedys gets blasted by The New York Times well, that is notable. (See review by Robert Claiborne of 2/25/73) The book is what Clinch called psychohistory. As Claiborne wrote, this is tough to do even when one has the credentials to do so. Clinch majored in Political Science and did studies of housing in South Korea while in Army intelligence. She tried to explain the Bay of Pigs fiasco by saying it was due to “psychic dynamics” and “unconscious motivations” were “a typically American overconfidence and a typically American indifference toward the responses of the enemy.”

Claiborne properly labels this as nonsense. But we know what happened with the Bay of Pigs today. It had nothing to do with a “Kennedy neurosis”. It had everything to do with the president being deliberately lied to by the CIA, namely Director Allen Dulles and Director of Plans Dick Bissell. (Destiny Betrayed, second edition, by James DiEugenio, pp. 34-56)

But strangely, this is something that is almost off limits to Shaw. You will see very little, if anything, about Kennedy’s disputes with the Pentagon or the CIA in any of his books. Even though this particular deception by the CIA caused Kennedy to fire Dulles, Bissell and Charles Cabell, the Deputy Director. I would personally think that would be more important than an ancient story about Joe Cody. Especially when its combined with the fact that the CIA also betrayed Kennedy by assassinating Patrice Lumumba, and backing an overthrow of Charles DeGaulle in 1961. (See David Talbot, The Devil’s Chessboard, pp. 382-89; pp 412-24) This all gets the back of Shaw’s hand, rendered unimportant. Even though when Dulles was appointed to the Warren Commission, at their first executive session meeting, he passed out a book saying that all American presidential assassinations were the work of one man. (David Lifton, Document Addendum to the Warren Report, pp. 89-90)

What is important to Shaw? Not the new documents. He sloughs those off in a couple of pages. And when I say slough, I mean it. He finds credible a CIA document saying that Sam Giancana was still running the Chicago outfit in December of 1977. Uh Mark, Giancana was killed in 1975. That is almost as bad as him buying into a CIA document from 1998 negating any connection of Oswald to the Agency’s “Office of Operations.” (pp. 106-07) Apparently Shaw is ignorant of what Malcolm Blount did with the papers of the HSCA’s Betsy Wolf. And how her work resulted in CIA officer Pete Bagley declaring that Oswald was a witting false defector in 1959. (Click here, and see John Newman’s speaking of Bagley in Oliver Stone’s JFK : Destiny Betrayed)

As the reader can see, Shaw is not an astute or prolific researcher on the newly declassified documents. So what does he build his book around? Two things. First, what he broadcasts as an utterly momentous, earthquake type of discovery. It is this: he thinks that Warren Commissioner John Sherman Cooper gave Dorothy Kilgallen the Commission’s Ruby testimony in advance, which she printed in her newspaper. Shaw spends about a dozen pages on this toward the end. He has no direct source, its an inference and a circumstantial case through a man named Morris Wolff. He then uses this as some kind of springboard that Cooper did not buy the Warren Commission from the start.

Mark we kind of knew that. And the work has been done through more than one person on Cooper’s cohort Senator Richard Russell. Russell, Cooper and Hale Boggs made up the southern wing of the Commission, as opposed to the Wall St./Washington troika of Dulles, Jerry Ford and John McCloy. I wrote about this at length many years ago. (DiEugenio, The JFK Assassination: The Evidence Today, pp. 315-320). This is why there was no stenographer at the last meeting of the Commission to record the southern wing’s dissent. And why Cooper said in a British documentary, way back in 1978, that he did not buy the Single Bullet Theory. Cooper as dissenter is not hot news. And I am still trying to figure out what the impact was of printing Ruby’s testimony early? As I am still trying to figure out how Kilgallen cracked the case if no one knows what she had in her files?

Let us go to the other key point that Shaw insists on writing about. His new point of interest, which is really quite old: the alleged cover-up around the death of Marilyn Monroe. As Don McGovern showed in his review of Collateral Damage, Shaw went as far as misinterpreting photos implicating Bobby Kennedy in the death of Monroe. McGovern and Donna Morel pretty much wrecked Shaw’s new witness on the Monroe case: actor Gianni Russo. Russo had a hard time getting his age straight as to when he began his alleged relationship with Monroe—at first it was when he was about 12. This did not seem to bother Shaw. And neither did the problem of where Russo said Marilyn was living in 1959, Russo said it was the Waldorf Astoria. It was not.

To put it mildly, Russo presented some problems for Collateral Damage. So now Shaw brings in writers like Sy Hersh and Frank Capell. But he does not give the reader the proper information about these two men. Hersh fell for a fraudulent legal document that was supposed to be signed by Marilyn and the Kennedys. More than one person said the signatures attached to the document were questionable. Hersh went forward with it anyway until it was shown that zip codes did not exist when the document was executed. (Click here)

Frank Capell was brought up on charges, along with two other men, in a conspiracy to commit libel against Republican Senator Thomas Kuchel. Prior to that, Capell had been arrested twice for accepting bribes as a government employee. (Click here) I don’t recall Shaw writing about any of these compromising incidents in relation to Capell or Hersh. I find it hard to comprehend he would not know of them.

But alas, Shaw uses the testimony of LAPD officer Jack Clemmons to say there was no drinking glass in Monroe’s room the night she overdosed. (Shaw, p. 156) As McGovern has proven there was such a glass in her room. (Click here for proof)

Clemmons was an accomplice in the libel conspiracy charges that Capell was charged with and had to settle. As part of the settlement, Clemmons left the force. Again, this seems to me to be important information and Shaw should have revealed it before committing the factual error with the glass.

But that is not all. Shaw continues to use a CIA memorandum allegedly signed off on by James Angleton concerning Marilyn, JFK and UFO’s. Many years ago, John Newman, a former intelligence officer, showed how that memo had to be a fake. (The Assassinations, edited by James DiEugenio and Lisa Pease, pp. 360-61). In his devastating critique of Collateral Damage, McGovern brought in another source, Nick Redfern, who also shows the document to be a forgery. So why is Shaw still using it? Or Russo for that matter?

Another problem: Shaw says that years after Monroe’s death, when her dwelling was purchased by actress Veronica Hamel, it was discovered that the FBI had installed a listening system in the roof of the home. ( Shaw, p. 171) Don McGovern told me that Monroe’s home had no attic, so was the wiring in the walls? How could Marilyn have not known about it then? (Email of 2/24/23) I got in contact with Gary Vitacco Robles, one of the most credible biographers of Monroe. He informed me that in the third volume of his book Icon, which is coming out soon, he will show that this really was a rewiring of the home, due to the fact that the phone wires were antiquated. After all the house was built in the twenties. (Email communication with Gary, 2/24/23)

I am not going into the scenario that Shaw puts together as to how Robert Kennedy was actually in Los Angeles the day Marilyn passed on. He was not, and this is provable. (Susan Bernard, Marilyn: Intimate Exposures, pp. 186-87) Neither will I critique his scenario about a rectal enema theory, which McGovern showed was simply not plausible. Or the accompanying “spillage” that Eunice Murray was busy machine washing when the police arrived. As McGovern showed, there was no washer/dryer in the home; Monroe sent everything out to be dry cleaned and pressed. (McGovern, Murder Orthodoxies, p. 550) When an author continually makes these kinds of factual errors, and then trusts unreliable sources and documents—I won’t even talk about the book by June DiMaggio that Shaw uses—one begins to wonder about what his true agenda is. Its pretty clear that Shaw has gone around the bend on the MM imbroglio. He has joined the ranks of Milo Speriglio, Robert Slatzer, and Jeanne Carmen.

And for him to say that somehow Monroe would not have taken her life or not have died from an accidental overdose, this is more Slatzer-like fruitiness. (Shaw, pp. 280-83) As every serious biographer of Monroe has admitted, she tried to take her life at least four prior times. (McGovern, pp. 8-9) She was, plain and simple, a barbiturate abuser. In the less than 2 months before she died, she had gone through about 790 pills. (McGovern, p. 533) Including, among others, Seconal, Tuinal and Nembutal. Tuinal is not available in the USA today; and Nembutal is used for euthanasia by veterinarians. She had a blank check at Schwab’s so to speak. Monroe had been married and divorced three times before she was 35. She had been through three psychoanalysts in about five years. To put it mildly, she did not have an idyllic childhood: she never met her half-sister until she was 18, she likely never met her father, her mother was institutionalized. And she did not like Hollywood. Which is one reason she and her third husband, Arthur Miller, moved to the east coast. I fail to see how any of the above was due to Robert Kennedy.

What one feels at the end of this book is not Shaw fighting for justice. If so, why did he leave out the above in lieu of a likely forged UFO document, Clemmons and Gianni Russo? An informed reader is disturbed at the almost boundless and unwarranted vitriol aimed at John and Robert Kennedy. Who cannot reply. But Shaw’s publisher at Post Hill, Anthony Ziccardi, was part of Newsmax Media. So Shaw has now found a home for his venom, and his all too frequent—and quite dubious—books.


Mark Shaw’s latest is such a hapless effort that it made me go back and look at his career from the beginning. As we all know he has taken on the cause of Dorothy Kilgallen with all the fervor of a jihadic warrior. Exalting her to a degree so extreme that, at times, he seems just silly.

But what is odd about all this sound and fury is this: Mark Shaw did nothing of the kind in his first two books, which, in their latest editions, amount to about 700 pages. In his first book, a biography of Melvin Belli, he hardly mentions her. (see page 148) What makes that unusual is that there, since Belli was his defense counsel, Shaw writes five chapters about the trial of Jack Ruby. Kilgallen attended that trial and met with Ruby twice privately. Yet Shaw could only muster 49 words on his (later) Joan of Arc journalist.

In his next book on the case, there was a slight uptick. He devotes a bit more than two pages to Kilgallen—all of it from Lee Israel’s biography.

This begs the question: What happened in Shaw’s writing career that made him, literally, alter course? The best and most logical answer I can come up with is this: the reprint of Sara Jordan’s long article on Kilgallen’s death in Midwest Today. That fine piece originally ran in 2007. But it was reprinted with a much more graphic, illustrative format in 2015 for the anniversary of Kilgallen’s death. (Click here for that essay) Jordan was assisted by investigator Kathryn Fauble in that version. By the end of the next year, Shaw began his four book series on the reporter. And in that first effort, The Reporter Who Knew Too Much, he gave Jordan and Fauble credit. As time has gone on, he does that less and less.

With all this in mind, an incident of Shaw’s self-righteousness about Kilgallen stands out even more. Before his book came out, he appeared at a JFK Lancer Conference which I attended. I recall him saying how he thought Kilgallen had been ignored by the critics and he took a personal blast at Jim Douglass for not writing about her in his book. With what we know today, we could ask Mark: if not for Jordan and Fauble, would you have written books on Kilgallen? Your first two volumes do not indicate that.

The problem with that subject though is this: Once you get outside the parameters of Kilgallen’s mysterious death, there just is not very much there. Shaw likes to say that when she went to New Orleans it was to investigate Carlos Marcello. This is just guesswork on his part. At the trial of Jack Ruby, Kilgallen wanted to know why there was so little being presented on Oswald. She complained about that in one of her columns. Since Oswald lived in New Orleans that summer of 1963, she could just have easily have been inquiring about what he was doing there.

Realizing that he was at a cul de sac with Kilgallen, Shaw decided to add Marilyn Monroe to his mix. His excuse, that they were friends, has been undermined by Don McGovern and biographer Gary VItacco Robles. As McGovern noted at length, there are so many holes in Shaw’s work on Monroe that you could drive several 16 wheeled semis though it. (Click here) As I pointed out in my article on Sy Hersh, the whole Giancana election rigging scenario from Double Cross—which Shaw relies on-- is so faulty that no one could keep their story straight about it. Plus it does not hold up by its own numbers.(Click here) If you add in what McGovern noted what was wrong about Monroe in that book—the Mob never owned her contract—Double Cross has been reduced to a novel.

Between his reliance on that fairy tale book, his running out of gas on Kilgallen, and his appalling work on Monroe, what does Mark Shaw have to offer to the critical community? How can he say he is fighting for justice? That Coast to Coast maintains him as their semi regular guest on the JFK case is inexplicable. I, for one, think their 3 million listener audience deserves better. A lot better.

Last modified on Thursday, 23 March 2023 15:43
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.