In the half-century following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, an increasing majority of Americans have expressed undiluted skepticism over the Warren Commission’s insistence that the crime was the work of a lone gunman. This History Channel presentation runs an inventory of every major Kennedy assassination conspiracy theory to emerge over the past 50 years – and each theory is casually debunked with a mix of expert commentary and physical re-enactments of the crime.
Many of these theories are traced to questionable behavior from the aftermath of the assassination: the insistence on having the Kennedy autopsy performed in Washington instead of Dallas, the lack of security that enabled Jack Ruby’s murder of Lee Harvey Oswald on live television, and the supposedly unsatisfactory scope of research that went into the Warren Commission’s report.
Anyone who is evenly vaguely familiar with these theories will recognize the likely suspects: the CIA, the Secret Service, the Mafia, Cuban leader Fidel Castro, the Soviet government and the military-industrial complex. There are also questions of possible snipers poised in other buildings around Dealey Plaza and on the infamous Grassy Knoll; one theory insists that the driver of the presidential limousine shot Kennedy at point blank range while the vehicle was in motion. But with each idea that is raised, the documentary brusquely insists that either the concept of the conspiracy was silly or that no hard evidence exists to confirm the allegations.
As for the theories that demeaned Oswald’s marksmanship, a former Navy Seal is brought in to show that the allegedly crummy rifle used by Oswald was capable of firing off three shots in rapid succession, while Kennedy assassination expert Gerald Posner insists that rumors of Oswald being an inept shooter were untrue.
It is unlikely that this documentary will bring the matter to a close. If anything, it will probably pour enough fuel to keep the conspiracy fires burning for years to come.