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JC Louis

-- It is Nov. 20. CSPAN is running a JFK
assassination show.

It is a book tribute -- When the News Went Live -- Dallas 1963."
Dan Rather is hosting a series of 4 authors. They are toasting the transformation -- the christening of the age of live television news -- ushered in by the JFK assassination. Here is a toast of Tinsel Town -- TV came of age in the JFK event. Concensus credibility. The old hands of Dallas news are -- KLID. Four reporters -- a CBS affiliate at the time -- so we have Rather and former KLID reports who are avowed believers in the lone assassin. They are trashing Oliver Stone. They are saying that we are fair, balanced, truthful. AfterRather's mistaken analysis of George Bush's career the flap that capped his career, they are toasting the purity and truthfulness of televisions news forty years ago. Indeed, it is fair to say there are two dots in Dan Rather's career, the connection of which would form bookends to a distinguished run. His career was capped by a an egregious mistake in news judgment. Such an incident starting his career would form a highly bookends.

These newsmen are the elders, the founding lenses -- they say the assassination was the ultimate dagger to the heart, the movement that the seas of history opened, and somehow, because they were there at the creation of TV news as it covered the death of the fist president born in the 20th century -- they are privileged. They are riding on the youth and forward-looking pioneering sprit of Kennedy's own life -- as JFK was young and vibrant, and new, so the news that covered his death was also somehow visionary,
. Like the weather that day that he died. Clear, blue skies that suppor like clarity of vision. and discernment. They are tearing up in their eyes even as the recount the motorcade and the First Lady and then the sirens and the Stemmons freeway sign. The clarity of the recall of the details of the scene empower them as eyewitnesses to the truth behind it.
Beneath their collective narrative is a powerful belief -- because they were eyewitnesses of this transformative event both in the history of the country and the history of the medium, -- they got it right and Oliver stone got it wrong. He was after all - not there. you were there, you are privileged. Those who were there automatically know more than those who were not. e. One of these guys said he told Jack Ruby " o on instinct: everyone I asked questions about what happened; who what where and why: do you know how was behind. After all, Oswald never did talk.

Oswald; then press room; they brought Oswald; 200
reporters; everyone asking question the same time;two minutes, Oswald was paraded in front of the press. The reporter asked, "Did you kill the President."

Everyone heard Oswald's response that he had not been charged. But the reporter who asked the question had gone unsung in history until this moment.

And this moment, he recalls, "We had an impression" -- nothing more. We were told "go interview a conservative at the triple underpass." The point of the killing, the point where there would have been a crossfire, the
grass trench. "Go interview a conservative." That was his assignment; go find a conservative down at the triple underpass, find a right winger at the triple underpass. We walked around. There was no one there. I looked up and saw a gentleman on the crest of the hill; " a man with a fedora hat, a suit umbrella; briefcase the umbrella man two days later. he walks around nd flowers are everywhere; he was reading; he is my change; he introduced myself a busy professional man; could you tell me; what are you thinking; he said: i hated John Kennedy; he was sorry and he wanted to apologize.

Now let's review this. A man walks out of the grassy knoll, a conservative, a pale rider.. and what is he carrying. The Fedora hat of Jack Ruby, the briefcase perhaps with papers and valuable inside information and alas -- I knew he would say it -- before he
said it -- an umbrella. This is the pale rider from the Zapruder film, the conservative with no face, the briefcase with no papers, the umbrella with no rain in those clear blue skies -- this is not Clint Eastward or Clint Murchison, this is squinting into the grassy trench. For in the lonely frames of the Zapruder film -- the first Rodney King tape of history -- there is the mythic, solitary, lone
figure of a man in a coat and a Fedora hat holdinga raised umbrella. that man had always been rumored to be
sending a signal to gunmen to commence. But he had always dismissed by supporters of the Warren Report as well -- just a bystander shielding himself from the bright sun, the blue skies. He was not Clint, he was just a man who did not want to squint. Yet now -- in the aftermath, this figure,this pale rider, strides
down into the grassy trench, and says to our intrepid reporter -- I hated Kennedy. But I have come back to this scene, to the flowers cast n who had walked out of the Zapruder film, into living history, the Zapruder or an uncanny take on "Field of Dreams" -- "Grassy Trench of Dreams" where a character walks out of tall corn fields to consecrate the hero with a
transcendental whisper from the American pastures of truth. This is beyond Field of Dreams. this is "Knolls of Grass and I can hear these reporters like America singing,
the same song it sings every nov. 22 . In an uncanny nod to what must be true, this reporter says he was in the wrong place at the right time;
they have told us they were there; they were witnesses and they admit; it was all impression; it was all instinct; it was all supposition; we were all in the dark. but we somehow we got the story right. and the rest -- as they
say -- is "our" history.

Bob Huffaker

JC Louis should read When the News Went Live: Dallas 1963, a carefully researched first-person account that supports the Warren Report's general conclusions while pointing out the FBI coverup and the Warren Report's weaknesses.


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AARC JFK Conference Information

  • AARC 2004 Conference DVD Set is Available
    A 13-DVD set is now available for purchase, capturing all the presentations at the AARC's 2004 Washington conference entitled "The Warren Report and its Legacy." Speakers include Dr. Cyril Wecht, Dr. Gary Aguilar, Josiah Thompson, Don Thomas, Jefferson Morley, John Newman, Gerald McKnight, David Kaiser, AARC President Jim Lesar, Rex Bradford, and many others.

    For more information, see online catalog pages on the AARC website and at History Matters.