Saturday, 01 April 2023 06:17

Arun Starkey Strikes the first Blow for the Sixtieth

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Jim DiEugenio exposes reporter Arun Starkey and the British alternative online magazine Far Out for completely avoiding the new facts in Oliver Stone's two documentaries: JFK Revisited and JFK: Destiny Betrayed. Instead, Starkey relied on, of all people, Tim Weiner, a line of argument which both Stone and Jim DiEugenio neutralized 2 years ago. Make no mistake, this is about the upcoming 60th anniversary.

As many of us noted a long time ago, the so called online revolution in journalism did not pan out the way we hoped. And we are being constantly reminded of that fact. The latest example is from an online culture ‘zine from London. Founded in 2010, Far Out is supposed to be a cultural journal: music, films and the arts. It was founded in 2010 by a then student Lee Thomas-Mason, who had been a sports reporter. Their contributing reporter, Arun Starkey, is also London based and according to his billing, he tries “to find the political angle in music or cinema whenever possible.”

It is not very difficult to find a political angle with Oliver Stone’s 2021 documentary JFK Revisited. That film is generally about three things:

  1. John F. Kennedy’s foreign policy ideas and how they differed from those who came before him.
  2. The truly atrocious performance by the Warren Commission in investigating the murky circumstances of his assassination.
  3. The disastrous results of Kennedy’s assassination in both Africa, and Indochina.

There are other areas one could note, like Kennedy’s showdowns with southern racist governors in Mississippi and Alabama. But for any objective writer looking for a “political angle” in the film, this was it. Those themes are presented with plentiful evidence both in the film and in the book accompanying the documentary, JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass. Evidently reporter Arun Starkey never bothered to read the book, which contains over 500 footnotes to the statements in the documentary.

On March 4th he penned an article that, to this writer, looks forward to the upcoming 60th anniversary of JFK’s murder. Why do I say that? Because his ostensible subject, Oliver Stone’s film JFK Revisited, was released in 2021. We are much closer to the 60th anniversary than the release date of the film. And the documentary played in England on the Sky Network.

Arun begins his piece by saying Oliver Stone has a way of dividing people due to conspiracy theories. He quite naturally mentions the 1991 film JFK, which Stone directed. Are we to really understand that Starkey does not know why JFK was divisive? It is because the entire Establishment jumped on board the Warren Report before it was even published. He then jumps to the 2021 documentary and mentions that Stone stated in that documentary that he was trying to find out what happened on November 22, 1963. What he leaves out is that the film shows how the media swallowed the Warren Report in advance.

At this point, Starkey performs a neat sleight of hand trick. One would think any fair minded reporter would now go through some of the new evidence Stone presented in the 2021 documentary. For instance, on the Kennedy autopsy, or the ballistics evidence, or Oswald’s activities in New Orleans in the summer of 1963. And how this contradicted or was ignored by the Warren Commission.

Starkey does not mention one single evidentiary point from the film. This is incredible, because that is what the film is about. It is clearly focused on the creation and the discoveries of the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB). That body worked from 1994-98 declassifying a new database of information about the circumstances of a high-level plot which took Kennedy’s life and how several foreign policy reversals followed.

Incredibly, Starkey never once mentions the ARRB: what it was, who was on it, or what it did. That is quite a negative achievement since the film features three prominent members of that body: Chairman John Tunheim, his deputy Tom Samoluk and Military Records analyst Doug Horne. Can one imagine covering a baseball game and never describing the pitching, hitting, scoring or who won the game?

Like many who wish to avoid the matter of who killed President Kennedy and why, Starkey now leaps to a conclusion. And, while leaping, he jumps into the arms of the Rolling Stone’s Tim Weiner. Weiner wrote his non-review of the documentary back in November of 2021. So again, this is old news. But Starkey wants to deflect the contents of the documentary and onto why Stone wanted to film Jim Garrison’s book On the Trail of the Assassins back in 1991. This is so off kilter that its almost ludicrous. Why? Because JFK Revisited has next to nothing to do with Jim Garrison. There might be five minutes in the film about that aspect of the Kennedy case. So what is Starkey’s end game?

He wants to play the same violin solo that Weiner did. But before he does that musical concerto, he admits that what Weiner wrote “has holes”. He has to admit that since both Oliver Stone and myself replied in no uncertain terms to Weiner’s piece of junk review. What Weiner tried to say is that somehow 1.) Oliver Stone fell for a disinformation story out of Moscow about Allen Dulles supporting an overthrow of French president Charles DeGaulle and 2.) Jim Garrison did the same in his indictment of Clay Shaw.

As Stone and myself both stated, this is double barreled malarkey. On December 2, 2021 Stone posted his reply on his Facebook page. He noted that neither the film, nor its writer, namely me, referred to any such Moscow related sources—specifically the Italian newspaper Paese Sera—for the Dulles/DeGaulle accusations. Stone then listed the sources we did use, like author David Talbot, and The London Observer and the New York Times, among others. This was a grave error for Weiner to make back then. It is even worse for Starkey today because of the publication of the book. Our sources are described in detail on pages 99-100 of the book JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass. And we also note there how Weiner fell on his face by claiming we did something that we clearly did not. If Starkey can show how any of those 5 references were Moscow oriented stories or sources, please do. If he cannot then he, like Weiner, has committed a schoolboy howler. Weiner’s article, like Starkey’s, should have been fact checked.

As Stone further replied, it’s just as ignorant to state that Jim Garrison based his case about the JFK murder on that same Italian newspaper. He based his inquiry on Oswald’s activities in New Orleans that summer, plus the people he discovered Oswald associated with. None of this key information was covered in the Warren Report. Stone’s film discusses this material through authors like John Newman and Jeff Morley. Starkey, like Weiner, does not mention these facts or those two men.

Garrison had been investigating Clay Shaw since December of 1966! (William Davy, Let Justice be Done, p. 63). And this was because of his relationships with Lee Oswald and Dave Ferrie. Shaw was indicted before any story about him in Paese Sera appeared. I will wait for Starkey to prove that Garrison had a relationship with the reporters working on that story in Italy before that time. I will have a long wait, since none existed. So the idea that Garrison fell for some Russian disinformation to indict Shaw is simply wrong. In fact, in the longest and most widely read interview the DA gave, in Playboy in October of 1967, he never even brought that subject up. (Click here for that interview) Just like he never brought it up at Shaw’s trial.

Starkey then does something utterly goofy. Relying on Weiner, he writes that Shaw was not a CIA operative. I have to wonder, did Starkey see the documentary? Or did he just blindly crib Weiner? We show the documents in the film that the ARRB declassified on Shaw. Shaw was a longstanding, well paid, contract agent, and he had a covert security clearance. Again, the accompanying book to the film goes into this at more length. But Starkey apparently thought that the referenced facts were irrelevant. (See JFK Revisited, pgs. 64-65; 197-98)

Mr. Starkey then goes even further with this baloney. Neither he nor Weiner apparently knew that the book publisher who picked up Garrison’s On the Trail of the Assassins, Sheridan Square Press, did so because the managers—Bill Schaap, and especially Ellen Ray— were longtime friends of the DA. Even on these kinds of simple matters, Starkey slips on a couple of more banana peels. There is no cover up of how Oliver Stone got hold of the book. Ellen gave it to him at a film festival in Havana. That was revealed back in 1991. And it had nothing to do with Stone being an assassination freak, because-at the time— he was not. Ellen thought that since he made some political films, one about Vietnam—Platoon—that the subject would interest him.

Starkey’s conclusion is absurd. Neither JFK nor JFK Revisited are based on Jim Garrison’s “delusions”. Stone hired a staff of researchers for the first film and they contributed new material that is not in Garrison’s book e.g. like all the Vietnam scenes. (See, 1992’s JFK: The Book of the Film.) As stated above, the 2021 film is not based at all on Garrison’s book. I should know since I wrote the script. It is based on the discoveries of the ARRB—which Starkey does not wish to discuss or even mention. If he had done so, he would not have been able to write his penultimate statement: namely that everything dealing with the JFK murder is “so oblique” and “blurred by subjective readings”.

No they are not Mr. Starkey. Which is why you did not mention things like autopsy photographer John Stringer denying he took the pictures of JFK’s brain, and the denial by FBI agent Bardwell Odum that he ever showed CE 399—the Magic Bullet,— to the two men who found it at Parkland Hospital. There is nothing oblique or subjective about those facts. What is oblique is the inability and unwillingness of an alleged alternative journal to inform the public about them. If Starkey thinks I am kidding, I will gladly debate him about those facts he chose to avoid. I predict in advance that like James Kirchick and Gerald Posner he will not accept this offer.

Last modified on Sunday, 02 April 2023 05:18
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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