On December 15, the night that the Biden administration released some of the remaining JFK files while withholding others with another half-assed excuse, Tucker Carlson, the most-watched cable news television host, delivered a monologue about the JFK assassination. It garnered a great deal of attention.
Although I don’t watch Carlson’s television show, I received messages from many friends and colleagues, people I highly respect, about his monologue’s great significance, so I watched that episode. And then I watched it many more times.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., a man whom I hold in the highest esteem, tweeted that it was “the most courageous newscast in 60 years. The CIA’s murder of my uncle was a successful coup d’état from which our democracy has never recovered.”
While I completely agree with his second sentence, I was underwhelmed by Carlson’s words, to put it mildly. I thought it was clearly “a limited hangout,” as described by the former CIA agent Victor Marchetti:
Spy jargon for a favorite and frequently used gimmick of the clandestine professionals. When their veil of secrecy is shredded and they can no longer rely on a phony cover story to misinform the public, they resort to admitting, sometimes even volunteering, some of the truth while still managing to withhold the key and damaging facts in the case. The public, however, is usually so intrigued by the new information that it never thinks to pursue the matter further.
Or listens carefully.
Carlson surely said some things that were true, and, as my friends and many others have insisted, he was the first mainstream corporate journalist to say that “the CIA was involved in the assassination of the president.”
But “involved” is a word worthy of a lawyer, a public relations expert, or the CIA itself because it can mean something significant or nothing. Or a little of both. It is a weasel word.
And the source for Carlson’s claim was an anonymous source, someone who he said “had access” to the JFK files that were never released. We know, of course, that when The New York Times and its ilk cite “anonymous sources,” claiming that they have told them this or that, this raises eyebrows. Or should. Anyone who closely follows that paper’s claims knows that it is a CIA conduit, but now, those who know this are embracing Tucker Carlson as if he were the prophet of truth, as if a Rupert Murdock-owned Fox TV host who is paid many millions of dollars, has become the Julian Assange of corporate journalism.
In a 2010 radio interview, Mr. Carlson said, “ I am 100 % his bitch. Whatever Mr. Murdoch says, I do.”
The obvious question is: Why would Fox News allow Carlson to say now what many hear as shocking news about the JFK assassination?
So let me run down exactly what Carlson did say.
For five minutes of the 7:28 minute monologue, he said things that are obviously true: that Jack Ruby killed Oswald and that the claim that both acted alone is weird and beyond any odds; that the Warren Commission was shoddy; that the CIA weaponized the term “conspiracy theory” in 1967 according to Lance De Haven-Smith’s book Conspiracy Theory in America; that the CIA’s brainwashing specialist psychiatrist Louis Jolyon West visited Jack Ruby in jail and declared him insane, contrary to all other assessments of Ruby’s mental state; and that the 1976 House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) concluded that there was probably a conspiracy in the president’s assassination.
All of this is true but not news to those knowledgeable about the assassination. Nevertheless, it was perhaps news to Carlson’s audience and therefore good to hear on a corporate news site.
But then, the next few minutes – the key part of his report, the part that drew all the attention – got tricky.
Carlson said that just that day – December 15, 2022 – when all the JFK documents were due to be released but many were withheld, “we spoke to someone who had access to these still hidden CIA documents.” Who would have such access, and how, is left unaddressed, but it is implied that it is a CIA source, but maybe not. It is strange to say the least.
Carlson then said he asked this person, “Did the CIA have a hand in the murder of John F. Kennedy?” And the answer was “I believe they were involved.” Carlson goes on to say, “And the answer we received was unequivocal. Yes, the CIA was involved in the assassination of the president.”
Note the words “hand,” “believe,” “involved,” and then “unequivocal.”
“Hand” can mean many things and is very vague. For example, in front of his wife, a man tells his friend, “I had a hand in preparing Christmas dinner.” To which his wife, laughing, replies, “Yes, he did, he put the napkins on the table.”
To “believe” something is very different from knowing it, as Dr. Martin Schotz, one of the most perceptive JFK assassination researchers, has written in his book, History Will Not Absolve Us: Orwellian Control, Public Denial, and the Murder of President Kennedy
On Belief Versus Knowledge
It is so important to understand that one of the primary means of immobilizing the American people politically today is to hold them in a state of confusion in which anything can be believed but nothing can be known, nothing of significance that is.
And the American people are more than willing to be held in this state because to know the truth — as opposed to only believe the truth — is to face an awful terror and to be no longer able to evade responsibility. It is precisely in moving from belief to knowledge that the citizen moves from irresponsibility to responsibility, from helplessness and hopelessness to action, with the ultimate aim of being empowered and confident in one’s rational powers.
“Involved,” like the word “hand,” can mean many things; it is vague, slippery, not definitive, and is used by tabloid gossip columnists to suggest scandals that may or not be true.
“Unequivocal” does not accurately describe the source’s statement, which was: “I believe.” That is, unless you take someone’s belief as evidence of the truth, or you wish to make it sound so.
Note that nowhere in Carlson’s report does he or his alleged source say clearly and definitively that the CIA/National Security State murdered President Kennedy, for which there has long been overwhelming evidence. Such beating-around-the-bush is quite common and tantalizes the audience to think the next explosive revelation will be dispositive. Yet no release of documents is needed to confirm that the CIA killed Kennedy, as if the national security state would allow itself to be pinned for the murder.
Waiting for the documents is like waiting for Godot; and to promote some hidden smoking gun, some great revelation is to engage in a pseudo-debate without end. It is to do the killers’ bidding for them. And it is quite common. There are many well-known “dissident” writers who continue to claim that there is not enough evidence to conclude that the CIA/national security state killed the president. And this is so for those who question the official story. Furthermore, there are many more pundits who maintain that Oswald did the deed alone, as the Warren Report concluded and the mainstream corporate media trumpet. This group is led by Noam Chomsky, whose acolytes bow to their master’s ignorant conclusions.
Maybe we’ll know the truth in 2063.
While it is true that some people change dramatically, Tucker Carlson, the Fox Television celebrity, would be a very unlikely candidate. He defended Eliot Abrams and praised Oliver North; supported the Contras against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua; went to Nicaragua to support those Contras; smeared the great journalist Gary Webb while defending the CIA; supported the U.S. invasion of Iraq; and much more. Alan MacLeod chronicled all this in February of this year for those who have known nothing of Carlson’s past, including his father’s work as a U.S. intelligence operative as director of the U.S. Information Agency (USIA), the body that oversees government-funded media, including Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio and TV Martí and Voice of America – all U.S. propaganda outlets.
Now we are being asked to accept that Carlson is out to show how the CIA is “involved” in the murder of JFK. Why would so many fall for such rhetoric?
No doubt any crumb of national news coverage about the CIA and the assassination by a major corporate player elicits an enthusiastic response from those who have tried for many years to tell the truth about JFK’s murder. One’s first response is excitement. But such reactions need to tempered by sober analyses of exactly what has been said, which is what I am doing here. I, too, wish it were a breakthrough but think it is more of the same. Much ado about nothing. A way to continue to foster uncertainty, not knowledge, about the crime….