Blame the Anchor

The JFK conspiracy.

It’s been 50 years since President John F. Kennedy—if it really was him—was assassinated in Dallas’ Dealey Plaza. Was it the Central Intelligence Agency with a shadowy conspiracy? Was it the Mafia with professional hit men? Or was it Occam with a razor?

Thousands of books have been written about the events of November 22, 1963. According to author and former prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi, 42 groups, 82 assassins, and 214 people have been implicated over the years—everybody but the Dallas Chamber of Commerce.

Suspects include baseball legend Joe DiMaggio. He used to be married to Marilyn Monroe, the theory goes, and he was jealous. Occam’s Razor—the principle that the simplest theory is most likely to be true—cuts no ice with the JFK conspiracy crowd.

I’ve got a theory too, and I’ll put it up against anybody’s. In order to unlock a conspiracy you have ask: Who benefited from the crime? Based on that investigative approach I declare that the murder of JFK was arranged by one man: Walter Cronkite. The CBS newsman became a legend that day. Plenty of motive.

My proof? Lee Harvey Oswald couldn’t possibly have fired three shots so quickly and with such accuracy. Therefore it must have been Cronkite—there’s no other alternative. Except maybe DiMaggio, but that’s nuts.

A recent Facebook discussion I saw followed a similar logical path. Oswald, one poster said, couldn’t have killed JFK because the ex-Marine didn’t hold the designation of “sharpshooter.” (He was a “marksman”—a lower designation.) The poster’s alternate theory? Snipers. Invisible snipers, apparently.

Call it JFK Syndrome—a double standard that pops up in many spheres of life. Subject the established facts to excruciatingly detailed scrutiny—a level of scrutiny that is never applied to the speculation offered up as an alternative.

The modern conspiracy era dates not from the assassination itself but from the release of the Warren Commission Report in September 1964. The report gave people a target, something to pick apart.

Variations of JFK Syndrome pop up in politics and even family life. Conjecture is easy and fun. Facts are dry and depressing. Candidates who gain office find that an established record of governance is easier to attack than campaign promises. Custodial parents discover that it’s easier to be popular when you don’t have to do the daily parenting. The spouse can never be as exciting as the hypothetical lover.  Possibilities are infinite, while reality is singular.

I’m hoping my Cronkite Theory will get me a book deal. But between us, I’d say JFK was killed by Occam, with a razor. Don’t tell my publisher.



Post Date:

November 22, 2013