A Bad Day For 'The Miami Herald'
In the foreword to the 2008 reissue of Gaeton Fonzi’s book on the Kennedy assassination, The Last Investigation, I wrote that one of the saddest elements in this very sad affair was the failure of American media in covering the crime of a century. Specifically mentioned were several newspapers, including The New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Washington Post and The Miami Herald. All of them had access to information which demanded attention, and got very little.
The Herald was on the list because so much detail surrounding the murder of a president relates to South Florida and the CIA’s involvement in anti-Castro activities. Also because, in 1980, what became Fonzi’s landmark book first appeared in the pages of Gold Coast magazine, right under the Herald's nose. Fonzi put in 14 more years investigating before his book was published.
Fonzi became a government investigator for five years precisely because he was in South Florida. Pennsylvania Sen. Richard Schweiker was convinced that the key to a conspiracy could be found here. He hired Fonzi because he remembered a 1960s article in Philadelphia Magazine, in which the writer confronted Arlen Specter, later a longtime U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, and found that the man who came up with the “magic bullet” theory could not explain it. Specter was not prepared for the detailed knowledge of President Kennedy’s wounds that Fonzi brought to the interview.
Schweiker, whose position gave him access to information few had seen, had done his own research and concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald was an intelligence operative. Fonzi’s job was to prove it, and he did. At least he came up with a credible source, a highly respected Cuban working for years for the CIA in attempts to overthrow Castro, who saw Oswald with his CIA handler in Dallas shortly before the assassination.
It was a stunning revelation, and although largely ignored by mainstream media, it was the germ of a number of subsequent investigations over 30 years which have convinced most Americans that it was a conspiracy high in the U.S. government, not a lone nut, that killed President Kennedy.
Next year is the 50th anniversary of the crime, and already books designed to capitalize on that fact are appearing. Which brings us to the Herald. Sunday it ran a long front-page article about a book soon to be published by a retired CIA analyst that claims that Fidel Castro knew in advance of plans to murder President Kennedy. The play the story got makes it appear this is sensational new information. It isn’t. Castro knew that the U.S. had tried to kill him, and sources leaking rumors that President Kennedy would be murdered have been known for years, and almost always trace to CIA figures. The obvious implication is that if he heard such reports Castro must have had something to do with it.
The author of the Herald piece, columnist Glenn Garvin, is the same fellow who some months back wondered why 70 percent of the American people still think there was a conspiracy behind JFK’s death. Well, one reason is that the House Select Committee on Assassinations, for which Gaeton Fonzi worked, came to that conclusion, although it never pinpointed the conspirators. Fonzi, whose personal experience was both in the field in South Florida and inside work in Washington, was so unhappy with the vagueness of his committee’s report that he wrote a dissenting opinion – the magazine articles which eventually became his book. He concluded that if our intelligence community did not kill Kennedy, it surely made it look that way in its obstruction of his committee’s work.
Garvin quoted various people, including some who said Castro had nothing to do with the crime, but one reference jumped out in its strangeness. He referred to Miamian Gerald Posner as “author of the enormously popular and influential Case Closed, which debunked some of the most popular assassination theories.” Posner’s book, although highly publicized at the time, was itself debunked. In spades. It was a quick, shallow and grossly distorted work. It has been widely reported that the editor who commissioned it had been married to a CIA employee, and not just any employee. She was an assistant to the notorious “spy on spies” – James Angleton, part of the CIA’s disinformation team.
It is thought Posner’s book was timed to offset the impact of Oliver Stone’s film, "JFK." It also appeared around the same time as Fonzi’s The Last Investigation. There’s more to Posner. He has since been accused of plaigarism by, among others, Miami New Times. Posner announced a lawsuit against New Times, but it was never filed. Don’t take my word for it. Check him out on the internet. This is the last person who should have been quoted in a serious piece on the assassination.
One wonders if Glenn Garvin, a veteran reporter, has read any of the stuff that makes 70 percent of Americans believe in a conspiracy. And do the editors of the Herald read? That paper’s failure to do its journalistic duty regarding the assassination is part of a national media disgrace.
Gaeton Fonzi, now living on the Space Coast, takes a day or so to catch up with the Herald. His reaction to Sunday's piece: "Outrageous."