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“Oops I Shot the President” and Other JFK Conspiracies

November is conspiracy month, at least on cable TV, and this November there is a richer crop than ever since this is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy in Dallas Texas, at Dealey Plaza.

Piers Morgan has already blown CNN’s Kennedy wad by having Oliver Stone as a guest, but expect more from the cable and networks–both pro-conspiracy and pro-lone-nut–later in the month. Cable channel Reelz has taken over from The History Channel and Discovery as the super-conspiracy channel, running a series of documentaries starting out with JFK: The Smoking Gun, which is running through the next two weeks. JFK:TSG‘s theory bolsters the Warren Commission by saying Oswald acted alone to purposefully kill Kennedy, but adds that the shot that shattered the president’s skull was from a different gun using a hollow point fragmentation bullet. Only, that shot wasn’t on purpose.

According to this theory floated by Australian detective Australian detective Colin McLaren—based on the 1992 book Mortal Error: The Shot That Killed JFK by Bonar Menninger, itself in turn based on research by ballistics expert Howard Donohue—a Secret Service agent accidentally discharged his rifle when the car he was riding in lurched forward after Oswald fired the infamous “magic bullet.” Donohue’s forensics on the magic bullet, which went through Kennedy’s neck and struck Texas governor John Connally, are compelling.

But the hapless Secret Service agent theory raises more questions than McLaren answers: Why was a new hire from the motor pool put on such important detail? Why was he the only Secret Service agent who didn’t go out carousing the night of November 21? Where are the eyewitness accounts from the grassy knoll recounting seeing men (“the three tramps”) with guns? George Hickey, Secret Service agent named in Mortal Error, sued the book’s publisher St. Martin’s over the publication of the hardcover book; that suit was dismissed because he had waited too long to file; he sued again when the paperback came out and settled with the publisher for an undisclosed sum.

Another “I shot Kennedy” documentary is available on DVD. In I Shot JFK: The Shocking Truth convicted felon James E Files, speaking from prison, admits he pulled the trigger from the grassy knoll, and that organized crime figures Sam Giancana, Johnny Roselli and Chuckie Nicoletti were behind the hit. I Shot JFK: The Shocking Truth is one of trilogy of Shocking Truth docs from producer Wim Dankbaar that includes Confessions from the Grassy Knoll: The Shocking Truth and Spooks, Hoods and JFK: The Shocking Truth.

But wait there’s more: Some nutters claim John Connally shot JFK by turning around and using his left hand, which sort of overlooks the fact that Connally was wounded in the back, ribs, right wrist and thigh by the magic bullet.  And oh boy, get ready for the “the Mossad agent in the limo’s trunk” and “the chauffeur did it while driving” theories which are mind boggling in their implausibility.

There are plenty of conspiracy theories floating around about the assassination of President Kennedy, and some are just as plausible as the Warren Commission’s report of a crazed gunman acting alone. We’ll be exploring  these theories on November 25, when  television pioneer John Barbour, who interviewed New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison about the Kennedy assassination, will be my guest on’s Movie Night with special co-host JP Sottile.

In the meantime check out Barbour’s Garrison tapes, and this multi-part documentary, The Men Who Killed Kennedy. And if you have enough tin foil, poke around in the fringes–a simple search on YouTube gives hours of “whoa whut?” The conspiracies get so huge and weird they act as cover-ups for the truth–whatever that may be.

Screengrab from YouTube

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Lisa Derrick

Lisa Derrick

Los Angeles native, attended UC Berkeley and Loyola Marymount University before punk rock and logophilia overtook her life. Worked as nightclub columnist, pop culture journalist and was a Hollywood housewife before writing for and editing Sacred History Magazine. Then she discovered the thrill of politics. She also appears frequently on the Dave Fanning Show, one of Ireland's most popular radio broadcasts.