Author of New JFK Book Shreds Grassy Knoll Dictabelt Theory, Rips ‘Blame Dallas First’ Crowd

People pushing JFK assassination-conspiracy theories—and those who blame Dallas’ “poisonous right-wing” atmosphere for the president’s murder—won’t find much to like in the new work of Dr. Larry J. Sabato, founder of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. Sabato’s been in town flogging his new book, The Kennedy Half Century. A new TV documentary based on the book will be shown at the Angelika tonight.

During a talk at Old Parkland the other morning, Sabato said the book includes conclusive new evidence debunking the 1979 conclusion of the House Select Committee on Assassinations about the existence of a grassy-knoll shooter. The committee’s key piece of evidence—a Dallas police Dictabelt recording that supposedly preserved the sound of a fourth gunshot—was not even recorded at Dealey Plaza, but two miles away near the Trade Mart, Sabato discovered. Nor was there any gunfire on the tape. As a result, he said, the committee was “completely wrong.”

The author was similarly blunt about those who insist that Dallas’ 1960s political atmosphere somehow led to Kennedy’s murder. “It’s way past time to stop” blaming the city, Sabato said. “This could have happened anywhere. Was there a group of people who strongly opposed President Kennedy here? Yes. There was everywhere.” While some anti-Kennedy demonstrations probably went too far, he added, “it’s called the First Amendment.”


  • Dubious Brother

    It is curious that the press that ripped anti-communist Republican Senator McCarthy then blamed the assassination of an anti-communist President by an avowed communist on the “vast right wing conspiracy” Republicans. It has continued for 50 years.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think the First Amendment covers the right-wing protestor who hit UN ambassador Adlai Stevenson with her placard the month before JFK came here — part of an angry mob that surged around him when he left Memorial Auditorium after a speech. Which is why Stevenson told Kennedy aides about his fears for Kennedy’s safety in Dallas.

    Which brings up an interesting counter to Sabato’s argument: If there were anti-Kennedy haters ‘everywhere,’ why did many people fear for Kennedy’s safety specifically in Dallas? Remember, this was BEFORE the assassination, before the whole ‘City of Hate’ label got attached to the city. Kennedy himself reportedly said when coming here they were entering ‘crazy country.’

    Yep, Oswald wasn’t a conservative by any stretch of the imagination. Which is one reason he surprised everyone. No one was expecting violence from THAT corner.

  • Gerry Segal

    John . F. Kennedy’s assassination happened 50 years ago and a majority of Americans do not believe The Warren Commission Report. After 50 years of denials, free the files.

    “Sunny Day in Dallas” – Gerry Segal

  • Bill Marvel

    I’ve wondered for years — does anyone know the name of the woman who swatted Stevenson with the sign?

  • Bill Marvel

    When we heard in Denver that Kennedy had been murdered we all sagely nodded our heads and said, “Dallas — of course.”

    The truth is, there was ample hatred to go around on all sides. The lesson, which we appear to have forgotten once again, is that hatred comes not from the left or the right, but from extreme political partisanship.

  • Dubious Brother

    Cora Lacy Frederickson denied hitting him intentionally and said the sign she was holding was pushed by someone behind her. The video seems to back her story and she was not arrested.

  • Mr. Bill

    Actually, the facts are quite different…Both photo, video , and witness evidence prove she was not pushed from behind and that the assault was intentional. Check your facts!

  • squid68

    Now all Mr. Sabato has to do is produce peer reviewed scientific evidence that supports his and his experts’ contention about the dictabelt recording. Don Thomas accounted for any number of discrepancies in a peer reviewed study that confirmed his analysis and the science employed to reach it. Sabato has to prove Thomas’ research wrong, and that means accounting for the claimed failure of his peer reviewed research.

  • squid68

    This is just another hack job that tries to pass for something serious. Sabato is not a serious researcher on this case anymore than Vince Bugliosi was.