Friday, 05 January 2024 14:10

House of Omission

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Matt Douthit examines the omissions made in the National Geographic 3-part series on the 60th anniversary of JFK’s Murder.

For every milestone anniversary of the Kennedy assassination comes a major documentary from mainstream media. In 1993 we saw the FRONTLINE special “Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald?”. In 2003 it was the ABC special “Beyond Conspiracy”. In 2013 came NOVA’s “Cold Case: JFK”. This time around it was National Geographic’s 3-part series “JFK: One Day In America”. However, unlike the ones that came before, rather than discussing actual evidence, the new kid on the block took a vastly different approach to the case—the simple art of omission.

Secret Service agent Clint Hill started the program off by saying “There are a few of us left. But very few.” This is hardly the case, as there are dozens of witnesses still alive from that day.

Right off the bat, the tone of the series was clear—they were going for emotion and tugging at heart strings, sad music and all. All throughout the series this tone was nonstop. Also right away, something felt off. This is because they colorized nearly every single black-and-white film from that day. This makes it offbeat to anyone familiar with the films. They did, however, sometimes use a variety of hardly seen films throughout.


The first witness we are introduced to is Buell Frazier, who drove Lee Harvey Oswald to work. Here come the omissions. They have Frazier tell the basic fact that Oswald carried a package into work that day—but omitted that Frazier has always insisted it was entirely too small to contain a rifle (2 H 240), and also his strong conviction that his friend didn’t kill Kennedy.

Up next are assassination eyewitnesses Bill and Gayle Newman. The program has them essentially tell their basic story—but omitted the basic fact that they’ve always said shots came from behind them up on the grassy knoll. (WC 19 H 490)

Agent Clint Hill tells his story—but they omitted him describing the massive blowout in the right rear of Kennedy’s head. (WC 2 H 141) Of course, all indicative of a shot from the front. He details this in every interview he does. Why did they omit it here?

Fellow agent Paul Landis was also interviewed—but left out was his recent revelation that he had found a bullet in the backseat of the limousine. And he too described the wound in the back of JFK’s head, and reported “that the shot came from somewhere towards the front.” (WC 18 H 759) Omitted too were these.

The famous Zapruder film is shown—but the headshot sequence is skipped over. One has to wonder: did they omit it simply because it’s graphic, or did they omit it because it shows JFK’s head going back-and-to-the-left (implying a shot from the front)? The first seems implausible, for it has been shown in dozens and dozens of mainstream documentaries for decades.

Strangely, when we get to Parkland Hospital, zero of the treating staff are interviewed for the program. Did they not interview these people because they have been insistent since day one that the President was shot from the front? They could’ve interviewed Dr. Ronald Jones, who’s still very much alive. Dr. Jones said in 1983: “If you brought him in here today, I’d still say he was shot from the front.” (Best Evidence, p. 705) They also could’ve interviewed Dr. Don Curtis, Dr. Joe Goldstrich, Dr. Philip Williams, Dr. Richard Dulany, Nurse Pat Hutton, etc.


Continuing at Parkland, we are given the impression JFK’s body was simply placed in the coffin and taken to the airport. Anyone with even a cursory knowledge about this case would know this is abominably incorrect. Completely omitted was the most basic fact that JFK’s body was illegally stolen from the coroner before an autopsy could be done. It wasn’t just stolen, there was a literal battle over the body. One of the doctors gave this shocking account: “[Agent] Kellerman took an erect stance and brought his firearm into a ready position. The other men in suits followed course…Had Dr. Rose not stepped aside, I’m sure that those thugs would have shot him.” (JFK: Conspiracy of Silence, p. 119)

We are taken back to Dealey Plaza, and Dallas police officer Rusty Robbins tells the audience “We were in the middle of the biggest manhunt the country had ever seen.” Well, I’m no professional historian, but wasn’t John Wilkes Booth the biggest manhunt ever? That lasted 12 days. This lasted just over an hour. Mentioning briefly the Tippit murder, Robbins tells us the reason Officer Tippit pulled over the man who killed him was because he “matched the description of the guy they thought killed the President.” Only the Warren Report believed this. If that were the case, Tippit would be pulling over every white guy in town that matched the very general description. The truth is, we have no idea why the man was stopped. Completely omitted from the program were any details or evidence about Tippit’s murder.

News anchor Bill Mercer tells the audience that “Oswald was unaccounted for” in a “roll call” at the Texas School Book Depository after the shooting. This is a common mainstream talking point. The truth of the matter is that 17 employees were never in the building after 12:30! (WC 22 H 632–686) There also wasn’t a roll call. (James DiEugenio, The JFK Assassination: The Evidence Today, pp. 123-24)

Ruth Paine then tells her story, which is nothing new.


What was completely skipped over and not even mentioned was the President’s autopsy! They could have interviewed James Curtis Jenkins, who assisted the pathologists that night. He was just 19 years old and it greatly affected him. You’d think the producers would’ve jumped for an interview with him. They could’ve interviewed pathologist Dr. Robert Karnei. They could have interviewed Ed Reed, who X-rayed the President’s body. What about Richard Lipsey, Nick Rudnicki, Dr. Gregory Cross? Etc. I’ve interviewed all these men. Why didn’t National Geographic?

Also conveniently omitted from the series is the clip shown in every documentary of Oswald shouting to reporters “I’m just a patsy!”

The “One Day in America” program then jumped to 2 days later on 11/24 to cover Jack Ruby’s shooting of Oswald. This is told from the perspective of reporter Peggy Simpson and not the usual Hugh Aynesworth or Bob Jackson. It was very striking though seeing the film of Oswald being shot colorized.

The program of course covered President Kennedy’s funeral. But for an attempted sentimental and human interest documentary, why on earth did they not interview any of the surviving honor guards who buried JFK? 5 of the 6 are still living! I interviewed 3 of them.

After a lot of more sad imagery and music, the series ended with the quick caption: “On 24th September 1964, the Warren Commission concluded that President Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald alone and Jack Ruby also acted alone.” And roll credits and that’s all.

All this series did was tell the basic story of what happened that day without any details whatsoever. All it told was: JFK went to Texas, was killed in Dallas, a suspect was arrested, was killed 2 days later, and JFK was buried. That’s literally it. Nothing at all about evidence, what happened, why he died, and why it matters. It makes it seem like there’s no question at all about anything. They also made it sound like these handful of witnesses are the only ones left. Nothing could be further from the truth. This series is the biggest dud I’ve seen. As one reviewer on Rotten Tomatoes rightfully said:

“It's just a painfully slow version of how the news was broadcast, nothing more. Asks zero questions about the greatest cold case of all time. Avoid if you are looking for answers.”

Another reviewer said: “Snooze fest I got 5 mins into episode 2 and turned it off.”

One has to wonder what we will see in the next ten years.

Last modified on Sunday, 07 January 2024 02:54
Matt Douthit

Matt Douthit became interested in Kennedy's assassination and history in 2008 at the age of 12. He is the author of the upcoming book "JFK: The Missing Witnesses", and runs the largest JFK assassination group on Facebook. He is an audio-visual specialist, and resides in Dallas, Texas.

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