On Nov. 22, 1963, Americans experienced the devastating loss of President John F. Kennedy. However, the following events spiraled into a messy and confusing situation, and the eventual investigation conclusions led many to question if the government revealing all the facts. Part one of this two-part episode focuses on the context of the Kennedy assassination, and what events formed the political conspiracies we continue to hear today.
WAYNE RODRIQUEZ: Hello, and welcome to The Cover Up, a new podcast series dedicated to exploring the world’s political conspiracy theories, secrets, rumors, and more. I’m Wayne Rodriquez. Not only will we dive into the history and beliefs behind political conspiracies, we will discuss their societal impact how has shaped our culture and perceptions of authority and power. Join us and learn about what the deep state doesn’t want you to know.
WAYNE RODRIQUEZ: In this two-part episode, we will be discussing one of America’s most devastating events: the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Nearly 60 years after the assassination of the 35th President, the death remains the subject of widespread conspiracy theories, including multiple gunmen or the magic bullet theory, or even a CIA cover up. Overall, it’s one of the most infamous crimes of the 20th century. So, let’s understand the JFK assassination. Let’s talk to some experts. And let’s get an idea on how we are affected today by the death of our 35th president.
(Background of Air Force One landing): This is the first time since 1948, that a President has made an official visit to Dallas…
WAYNE RODRIQUEZ: It was Friday, November 22, 1963. At 11:39am, Air Force One touches ground at Dallas Love Field. The stairs roll out and the door opens to none other than a young and popular John F. Kennedy who was in Texas for political reasons.
LEONARD STEINHORN: It was less than a year away from the election. John Kennedy won in 1960 by a razor thin margin. If a few states went a different way, it might have been President Richard Nixon being inaugurated on January 20, 1961.
WAYNE RODRIQUEZ: This is Professor Leonard Steinhorn. He is a Professor of Communication in an affiliate professor of history at American University in Washington, DC.
LEONARD STEINHORN: John Kennedy had some issues with the South, particularly the white South because of his support for civil rights. And there were some questions as to whether he would be able to hold on to Texas, even with a Texan as his Vice President Lyndon Johnson.
WAYNE RODRIQUEZ: Joined by Jackie who was dressed in all pink, alongside Texas Governor John Connolly, the trio, alongside other important figures within the Kennedy administration, joined the presidential motorcade headed to downtown Dallas. Along the presidential route, President Kennedy received a warm welcome from many Texans. He even met with Catholic nuns and schoolchildren.
ALLAN LICHTMAN: The mood – the mood was quite ebullient, you know.
WAYNE RODRIQUEZ: Meet Allan Lichtman, a historian and also a professor at American University.
ALLAN LICHTMAN: It was it was a fairly large crowd. He was there with John Connolly of Texas, another Southern Democrat, and it looked like the whole visit was going to be a significant success.
WAYNE RODRIQUEZ: By 12:29pm, the motorcade arrived at Dealey Plaza. Lining the street were enthusiastic supporters hoping to get a glimpse of the President. The Kennedys had a lavish entrance, not to mention, of course, the aesthetic appeal of a young president rolling in a midnight blue convertible, but the symbolic nature that the Kennedys provoked – that sense of idealism and the sense of the new generation of young people leading the country. Everything was running smoothly, until the convertible made the fateful decision of passing the Texas School Book Depository.
(Background of Shots Fired)
WAYNE RODRIQUEZ: At 12:30pm, the sound of two pops cracked the air. Confusion consumed the attendees – they didn’t know what it was asking, “what was that?” and assuming that was even a car backfiring. No, it was the worst outcome possible. The President of the United States, John F. Kennedy was shot twice, once through the back and a bullet through the head. The card sped away of course. Jackie Kennedy found her husband’s blood and brain matter splattered across her pink suit. And Governor Connolly’s testimony to the Warren Commission, he is said to have been shouting, “Oh no, no, no! Oh my god! They’re going to kill us all!” It was a very frantic and chaotic scene for all that were there during that moment. And it was especially scary for those who are watching this all live on television.
LEONARD STEINHORN: I remember seeing it on live TV. You know, you thought that the wheels were coming off in our society, there’s a sense of almost palpable anxiety and fear. The President of the United States could be killed.
ALLAN LICHTMAN: You know, the assassination of John F. Kennedy is one of those things that those of us who are alive, we’re alive then we’ll never forget. I remember listening to it on radio. And our reaction was we couldn’t believe it. This has got to be some mistake. It was the same reaction I heard when I heard about Kobe Bryant Exactly. You know, so many decades later, I thought surely this – this is a mistake. This couldn’t be happening.
(Background of Walter Cronkite Report): From Dallas, Texas. The Flash apparently official, President Kennedy died at 1pm, Central Standard Time, two o’clock Eastern Standard Time, some 38 minutes ago.
WAYNE RODRIQUEZ: It was only a half an hour later, President Kennedy was pronounced dead by officials Not long after Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, alongside a bloodied and exhausted Jackie, was sworn in as president.
(Background of Walter Cronkite Report): Vice President Lyndon Johnson left the hospital in Dallas, but we do not know to where he has proceeded. Presumably, he will be taking the oath of office shortly and become the 36th President of the United States.
WAYNE RODRIQUEZ: Immediately following the assassination, law enforcement officials and eyewitnesses began searching for the assassin. It was truly remarkable how quickly everybody was able to identify the building they heard the shots from, but also learning who killed the president. In this case, former US Marine Lee Harvey Oswald. So you might be asking yourself, who was Lee Harvey Oswald?
ALLAN LICHTMAN: Ha ha! Not so easy to explain. Lee Harvey Oswald was obviously a communist, a great admirer of Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution. He was a loner. He was paranoid, but at the same time in his twisted mind, he wanted to make make his mark on history.
LEONARD STEINHORN: Then you’ve got this character, Lee Harvey Oswald himself, you know, going to Mexico having, having sort of fled to Russia; being seen handing out leaflets on the streets of I think it was New Orleans, or it may have been Dallas, that were anti-communist leaflets. There was enough evidence about Lee Harvey Oswald to raise some questions as well as to what really was going on with him and whether other people may have been involved.
WAYNE RODRIQUEZ: Nearly an hour after the blistering shots halted the nation and identifying Oswald as the assassin, officials pursued him. Oswald was apprehended at a local movie theater and provided Americans and officials some closure on who killed the president. However, this didn’t do much in the long-term because two days after his arrest, Oswald was killed on live TV as well by local nightclub owner, Jack Ruby, at the Dallas Police Department.
(Background of live footage of Oswald at Dallas Police Department): There is Lee. [GUNSHOT] He’s shot! He’s shot! Lee Harvey Oswald has been shot. There’s a man with a gun…
WAYNE RODRIQUEZ: Investigations led by the CIA and FBI and other intelligence agencies followed suit.
ALLAN LICHTMAN: The investigation was considered to be extremely sloppy. You know the autopsy was botched. Apparently, parts of the body may have been lost. The police custody of Oswald was so slipshod that Jack Ruby was able to walk up to him and shoot him.
WAYNE RODRIQUEZ: But none were as notorious as the Warren Commission.
ALLAN LICHTMAN: And the Warren Commission seemed utterly inadequate in its investigation and assessment of who was responsible for the assassination. The Warren report came out of the commission headed by Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, Earl Warren, a highly respected for a Republican. A very blue-ribbon committee. A future president was on it, Gerald Ford. One of the most influential senators Richard Russell, Representative Hale Boggs, Senator, Republican Senator John Sherman Cooper, but maybe it was a little bit too high level and maybe too much politics intruded because basically the Commission had a at its mission to ensconce the rumors, to basically say, you know, this was a deranged lone assassin. That’s it.
WAYNE RODRIQUEZ: The report prompted across the board skepticism so much so even four members who were on the commission expressed their doubts toward the results. With so many unanswered questions, Americans began to think, what was the government hiding for us? It did not take long before a swath of conspiracy theories came out. There were so much to ask about, does someone plan his death such as LBJ, Fidel Castro, the Russian KGB, maybe even a mafia. Were there two people, three shots? We don’t know. Or do we know?
Now you got an idea of the context behind the JFK assassination, particularly with Lee Harvey Oswald’s involvement, as well as the sloppiness of the investigations. In the second part of this episode, we will focus on the conspiracy theories such as the magic bullet theory, as well as the CIA cover up. Tune into next week and find out what the government doesn’t want you to know. I’m Wayne Rodriquez. Thank you for listening.
Allan Lichtman is an American historian who has taught at American University.
President Kennedy landing and heading to Dealey Plaza
Original Walter Cronkite report
Lee Harvey Oswald shot by Jack Ruby
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