Friday, 13 March 2020 01:08

Gerald "Jerry" Policoff (Feb. 27, 1947—March 7, 2020)

Steve Jones remembers Jerry Policoff as being passionate in pursuit of the truth of the assassination of President Kennedy, as well as trying to make the United States a more just and equitable nation for all. He will be deeply missed.

Longtime assassination researcher Gerald “Jerry” Policoff died in an automobile accident in Lancaster, Pa. on Saturday March 7. Jerry first became involved in the research community as a 19-year-old in 1966, when he was inspired to seek the truth after reading Mark Lane’s seminal work Rush To Judgement. The next year, he decided to buy the 26 volumes of the Warren Commission. His mother could not understand his growing obsession. When he tried to explain to her that illegitimate forces had taken power in a clandestine way, she did not understand what he meant. Then one day after he came home from one of his college classes, he noticed that she was putting away Josiah Thompson’s book Six Seconds in Dallas. She turned and said to him, “You’re right. And I don’t ever want to talk about it again.” Which, of course, explains the problem critics have with this case.

Jerry made his living in broadcast advertising for more than 40 years, while pursuing his research and writing about the JFK assassination. His main area of interest was on the mainstream media’s inadequate and dishonest coverage of the assassination. The night Robert Groden and Dick Gregory showed the Zapruder film live on ABC TV, on Geraldo Rivera’s program Good Night America, Policoff was in the wings since he was a friend of Groden’s. Even though Rivera went to the mat with ABC in order to show it, Jerry often said that up until the moment it was screened, he, Groden, and Gregory all thought that management was going to call off the show. Thank God they did not.

In 1975, shortly after that monumental event on Rivera’s show, Jerry was the first person to expose Life magazine’s changing the order of printed frames, and printed captions, in its October 2, 1964 issue, in order to conform to the Warren Report’s conclusions of only shots from the rear. Jerry’s subsequent article on this deception “The Media and the Murder of John Kennedy” appeared in the August 8, 1975 issue of New Times and was included in the anthology The Assassinations: Dallas and Beyond. One of his most famous and distinguished essays was called “How All The News About Political Assassinations Has Not Been Fit to Print In The New York Times”. That was published in the October, 1972 issue of The Realist. Another of his most accomplished and popular stories was “JFK: How The Media Assassinated The Real Story,” in the March 11, 1992 Village Voice, which also appeared as a chapter in JFK: The Book Of The Film. In that pungent article, Policoff became the first journalist to reveal the fact that CBS had used Warren Commissioner John McCloy as a consultant on their 1967 four-part series defending the Warren Commission. They did so without informing the audience of this fact. This had been done through the use of his daughter Ellen McCloy, who was the administrative assistant to Richard Salant, president of CBS News.

Roger Feinman, a friend of Policoff’s, was a former CBS employee who pilfered the McCloy/Salant documents out of CBS. Roger had written several letters to CBS’ Standards and Practices division, complaining of the lapses in journalistic ethics CBS was taking to endorse the Warren Commission. In the seventies, after he was terminated, he tried to get Salant and John McCloy to admit to this illicit relationship. They both denied it, as did the CBS four-part series producer Les Midgley. But when Policoff confronted them with the actual memos—with their names on them—both Ellen McCloy and Salant were finally forced to admit what they had done.

Although most people will remember Jerry as being the first to systematically focus on just how bad the media was in the JFK case, he had a good all-around background on the Kennedy assassination. This is why he was hired by editor Robert Sam Anson at New Times to cover the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA). His contemporary reporting on that body was almost unrivaled in the field. Policoff knew how to cultivate sources who were unhappy with what the HSCA was becoming. They, therefore, confided in him, since they knew he would keep their identities secret.

While covering the HSCA for New Times, Jerry broke the story that acoustics analysis proved that at least one shot was fired from the grassy knoll area to the right front of Kennedy and not from the Texas School Depository. As the HSCA was getting started, he appeared on the Feb. 24, 1977 episode of the PBS McNeil/Lehrer News Report to draw attention to the media’s “unwarranted deference to the official findings” on the JFK murder. He was one of very few assassination researchers afforded such opportunity by the mainstream media.

In more recent years, Jerry served as the Executive Director of the Assassination Archives and Research Center( AARC) and, along with Jim Lesar, organized the 2014 Bethesda, Maryland conference entitled “The 50th Anniversary of the Warren Report”. He was instrumental in bringing 90-year-old Antonio Veciana to the conference to say publicly for the first time that the man he knew as Maurice Bishop, was indeed CIA officer David Atlee Phillips. Another famous guest he secured was Wesley Buell Frazier, who worked with Lee Oswald at the Texas School Book Depository.

Jerry was an original board member of both the Coalition on Political Assassinations (COPA) and the Citizens Against Political Assassinations (CAPA). In 2013, through the group JFK Lancer, he was a recipient of the Mary Ferrell Pioneer Award, in appreciation of a lifetime searching for the truth in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Last year, Jerry became a Senior Editor at OpEd News, contributing articles and being the official screener of any submissions on the JFK, RFK, or MLK assassinations.

After Jerry retired to Lancaster, Pa. in 2004, he became very active in progressive politics. In 2005, he formed “Progressives For Pennsylvania” which, for several years met bi-weekly at his apartment. As a fierce advocate for single-payer healthcare, in 2007 he became a Board Member and Chair of Research for “Healthcare For All PA.” He was driving to speak on Bernie Sanders’ Medicare For All proposal at the annual Keystone Progress conference in Philadelphia, when was killed.

In 2010, he ran as the Democratic candidate for the 41st District of the PA. State House of Representatives. Despite unapologetically campaigning for single-payer healthcare, he still won 42% of the vote, which still stands as a record for any Democratic candidate in a very conservative district.

Jerry Policoff will be remembered as being passionate in pursuit of the truth of the assassination of President Kennedy, as well as trying to make the United States a more just and equitable nation for all. He will be deeply missed.


Articles by Jerry Policoff published by Kennedys And King:

JFK: How the Media Assassinated the Real Story

Specter's Switch: an update

For more remembrances of Jerry Policoff from Steve Jones, Gary Schoener, Lisa Pease, and Dawn Meredith, listen to the BlackOp Radio installment below:

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