NYT: History Channel Documentary Implicating LBJ in JFK's Death Was "Harebrained"Roundup: Talking About History
Editorial in the NYT (Feb. 13, 2004):
The History Channel, an entertainment outlet with a serious name to live up to, has finally agreed to reconsider its"documentary" charging that Lyndon Johnson conspired to have President John Kennedy assassinated. It's about time.
The channel initially promoted the show and its ludicrous accusation by darkly announcing that"the roots of the crime lie buried deep in the heart of Texas and revolve around" President Johnson. The show featured the freewheeling imaginings of Barr McClellan, a retired Texas lawyer whose book demonizing Johnson is rooted in supposed confidences from sources who are now conveniently dead. The book is rich in patently unhistorical touches, insisting that Johnson was at a shadowy meeting on the eve of the assassination with Richard Nixon, J. Edgar Hoover and two Texas oilmen. This is the stuff not of history, but of the Texas conspiratorial satires of the late Richard Condon.
A demand to set the record straight was understandably pressed by the late president's outraged relatives and colleagues. This issue is about fairness and common sense, not the freedom to broadcast. After the initial controversy, the channel admitted it had failed to"make it apparent that the material presented in this program is a theory." The program was one of several taking up unproven but titillating conspiracy speculations, from the Mafia to Cuba; the channel insisted that some deserved"public debate" and that there had never been"one clear-cut finding." This stance seems to equate any and all bits of what-if fantasizing with the Warren Commission's lengthy inquiry and firm conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald was the murderer.
After public pressure, the channel is now pursuing an independent review by three respected historians. The History Channel's reputation, as much as Johnson's, is in urgent need of this corrective. The program has already generated a flood of truly misinformed complaints and accusations for the Johnson presidential library. In clinging to his harebrained narrative, Mr. McClellan admits that he dabbled in"faction": fictional projections. That's the last thing the History Channel needs to stand for.
comments powered by Disqus
- Rubio Surges Into Second In New Hampshire
- Branstad Says Cruz Ran ‘Unethical’ Campaign
- Christie Highlights Santorum’s Endorsement of Rubio
- Portman Comes Out Against Trade Deal
- Megyn Kelly Gets a Book Deal
- A Big List of the Bad Things Clinton Has Done
- An Unambiguous Sign Sanders Won Last Night’s Debate
- Still Friends at the End
- Quote of the Day
- Trump Still Leads as Clinton Slips
- Clinton Can’t Shake Image as Wall Street’s Friend
- Maddow Doesn’t See Sanders Winning
- Why Does the Media Still Shield Chelsea Clinton?
- Bush Jokes His Mother May Have Abused Him
- Rubio Closes the Gap in New Hampshire
- Humans Hard-Wired to Teach, Anthropologist Says
- Parents outraged after students shown ‘white guilt’ cartoon for Black History Month
- Maryland is once again considering retiring its state song
- One of the last remaining Nazis goes on trial in Germany
- Historian at the center of Sanders-Clinton debate
- James Loewen Says Additional Baltimore Confederate Statues Should be Removed
- NYT History Book Reviews: Who Got Noticed this Week?
- A historian’s advice to students thinking of getting a PhD in a tough economic climate
- German historian Heinz Richter cleared of charges