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The Source: The Assassination of a President


50 years ago John F. Kennedy died in Dallas.  On this episode of The Source we take a look at his death, the city it occurred in, the mystery surrounding it, and the conspiracies that have cropped up as a result.

In the first segment:

Conspiracy, conjecture, speculation, and a distressing lack of transparency made up the events surrounding the assassination of our 35th President.  The Warren Report, the findings of those events were intended to illuminate the public on what happened, but ironically became the breeding ground for conspiracy theorists because of what it lacked.  In his new book, "A Cruel and Shocking Act," Philip Shenon, 20 year veteran of the New York Times, details the Warren Commission's failings and the reasons behind them. 

In the second segment:



We talk about why the phrase conspiracy theory has too much baggage to be useful.  Saul Elbein joins us to talk about his cover story for the Texas Observer, and why the public hostility towards conspiracy doesn't further democracy.

In the third segment:


Steven L. Davis takes us back to Dallas 1963 in his book of the same name.  In it, he and co-author, Bill Minutaglio, detail the far right-wing fervor that turned the oil town into a city on the bring, seething with hatred. A place that the authors argue was a much larger actor in the death of Kennedy than it has been given credit for. From a General whose indoctrination of his troops with John Birch Society rhetoric is noted, to a police chief who once chased civil rights icon, Thurgood Marshall around with a gun and was quoted as saying "Hi, You Black Son of a Bitch...I've Got You Now!" Dallas' battles with integration and its fear of communism turned it into a toxic place.

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Paul Flahive can be reached at Paul@tpr.org and on Twitter at @paulflahive