Tucker Carlson, the Liberal Media, and JFK
A sea change in how the media talks about Kennedy's assassination.
The coverage of the U.S. government’s latest JFK document dump on December 15 marked a sea change in how American mass media talks about Kennedy's assassination.
“I turned on “Morning Joe” and I thought I was at a conference in Dallas,” one researcher told me. Jim DiEugenio, producer of Oliver Stone’s JFK documentary, laughed out loud when I asked him about Tucker Carlson’s scorching JFK segment on Fox, which JFK’s nephew, Robert Kennedy Jr., called, in a now-deleted tweet, “the most courageous broadcast in 60 years.”
Katy Tur at MSNBC expressed hope for full JFK disclosure soon. So did Jim Acosta at CNN. NBC’s Chuck Todd was even tougher, reporting “The law demands full JFK record release, but ‘clearly the CIA doesn’t care about those consequences.”’
When I got together with two experienced national security reporters, Mike Isikoff of Yahoo News, and Phil Shenon, former New York Times reporter, we had a serious discussion about details at the heart of the enduring controversy about the causes of Kennedy’s murder. They made a cogent case for their views. I did the same for mine. We didn’t bicker about conspiracy theories. We talked about the facts.
The coverage on the Smithsonion magazine web site was respectful. The New York Post published a fine feature on Mary Ferrell, a Dallas legal secretary whose JFK research became the basis for the web site of the Mary Ferrell Foundation, the internet’s largest collection of searchable, authenticated JFK documents. (Full disclosure: the author is the vice president of the foundation.)
The traditional mode of mainstream JFK journalism—airy (or vitriolic) dismissal of anyone with doubts about the official story—was replaced by common sense skepticism about the CIA’s penchant for assassination secrecy, a willingness to hear alternative views, and in Carlson’s case, a full-throated prime time TV attack on the government’s credibility.
Nothing like this has happened in decades. The landscape of the JFK assassination story has shifted beneath our feet.
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