Breaking News! How do we know what is true and accurate information in the world of on-demand media delivered to us via 24-hour cable news, Facebook, Twitter, and Tik Tok? Furthermore, can ad-sponsored media be truthful if it is critical of their largest paying clients? I'd like you to consider this last statement the next time you receive "breaking" news.
The murder of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, shocked the nation. As a result, there was a significant increase in television viewership as people across the United States and worldwide tuned in to follow the news and developments surrounding the event. The assassination had an unprecedented impact on television viewership.
The assassination and its aftermath were considered a seminal moment in the history of television news. Many viewers relied on television as their primary source of information, leading to a surge in viewership across all major networks.
The impact was so significant that some estimates suggest television viewership reached up to 93% of households in the United States. That is to say, three main television stations had the attention of 175 million people for months.
In comparison, only 115 million people watched the Superbowl this past February.
A man Among Men
So, we know that significant events will drive a large audience of viewers or consumers of content. However, is all the information delivered accurate? Today's focus is on a man who did not believe that the American public was being told the truth about the events on November 22, 1963—the day a sitting American President was murdered in front of thousands of people.
James Carothers Garrison (born November 20, 1921 – died October 21, 1992) was an American attorney and New Orleans district attorney who is best known for his investigation into the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Garrison's investigation and subsequent trial became the subject of controversy and criticism.
Garrison was born in Denison, Iowa, and served in the U.S. Army during World War II. After the war, he attended law school at Tulane University in New Orleans and became a lawyer. In 1962, he was elected as the district attorney of Orleans Parish, Louisiana.
One is the loneliest Number
Garrison gained national attention in the late 1960s when he initiated an investigation into the assassination of President Kennedy, which occurred on November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas. Garrison believed that there was a conspiracy to kill the President and that the official explanation provided by the Warren Commission was inadequate. He focused his investigation on businessman Clay Shaw, whom he accused of being involved in the conspiracy.
In 1969, Garrison charged Clay Shaw with conspiracy to assassinate President Kennedy. The trial received significant media attention but ultimately ended in Shaw's acquittal. Many critics, including journalists and researchers, were highly critical of Garrison's methods and the evidence he presented during the trial. They argued that he relied on unreliable witnesses and conspiracy theories without sufficient evidence.
Therefore, let's examine the evidence Garrison found that conflicted with the Warren Commission report.
First, Garrison questioned the ballistics and acoustics evidence presented by the Warren Commission. He argued that the number of shots fired and the trajectory of the bullets indicated the involvement of multiple gunmen. Garrison also disputed the "single-bullet theory" presented by the Warren Commission, which suggested that a single shot caused multiple wounds (see diagram below).
Single Bullet Theory from Warren Report
In other words, the official statement of the U.S. government (Warren Commission) concluded that President Kennedy was struck by two bullets fired from above and behind him. (1) According to the Commission, one bullet hit the President near the base of the back of the neck, slightly to the right of the spine, and exited from the front of the neck. The other entered the right rear of the President's head and exited from the right side of the head, causing a large wound. (2)
James showed the jury visual evidence (the Zapruder film) that made it easy to see a different story. The President's head is thrown backward as the front right side of the skull appears to explode, suggesting to critics of the Warren Commission's findings that the President was struck by a bullet that entered the front of the head. Garrison showed evidence of a gunman on a grassy knoll, a park-like area to the right, and the front of the moving limousine at the instant of the fatal shot.
Further, James requested an independent forensic scientist to examine the President's brain to see more clearly where the bullet entered. However, President Kennedy's brain disappeared from the National Archives in 1966. That is to say, three years after the President's assassination, his brain, which had been removed during the autopsy and stored in the National Archives, had gone missing. To this day, no one knows where it is.
Finally, the idea that there was a single gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald, as the killer. Garrison admits that he believes that Oswald was a CIA agent working with anti-Castro Cubans but made the patsy for Kennedy's murder. As a result, James conducted interviews with co-workers of Oswald's at the Texas School Book Depository to determine where he was during the assassination. Several vital witnesses stated they saw him in the cafeteria eating lunch at the time. Moreover, the testimony and time stamps showed Oswald would have never been able to reach the 6th floor of the Book Depository in time to commit the murder.
Overall, James Carothers Garrison's investigation into the assassination of President Kennedy remains a controversial and divisive subject. Meanwhile, many admire his efforts to uncover the truth, and others criticize his methods and conclusions.
The debate over the Kennedy assassination and the theories surrounding it continues to this day. However, as a free people, aren't we encourage to ask questions of our government? Especially when it comes to the slaying of our President.
Lee Harvey Oswald before being shot by Jack Ruby
Ask not what Your Country can do for You
James Garrison had little to gain personally by taking Clay Shaw (U.S. government) to court. I believe he wanted the truth about Kennedy's killers to come out and for the American public to know that they, too, have a voice in all matters of freedom and democracy. Sometimes it takes the past to inform the future.