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  • Writer's pictureJeff Matthews

Weekend Edition: Three Shots in Dallas

Almost nobody thinks we really know who killed JFK.

Indeed, the JFK Conspiracy debate covers everything—how many shots were fired, by whom, from what part of Dealey Plaza, with what type of gun…and that’s just the few seconds of the entire tragedy. I’m not even going near the grassy knoll or the manhole cover or anything else the Conspiracy whacks get into.

So let’s just look at the most basic issue of all: how many shots were fired? It’s a very specific question, and it should be among the least debatable, considering the number of witnesses and the brief time span of shots. The Warren Commission said three. Oliver Stone says six. Somebody’s got to be right about this.

Now, the purpose of this blog is not to debunk JFK Conspiracy Theorists. We’re trying to bring accountability and insight to Wall Street.

But it’s the weekend, and weekends mean a feature unrelated to stocks.

Steady readers will know how I feel about Conspiracy Theorists in the stock market (see “When CEOs Obsess” and “These Are The Patsies”). They’re certifiable.

And if the JFK assassination-obsessives share the shallow, paranoid thought processes that Wall Street Naked Short-Selling Conspiracy Theorists bring to the stock market—well, maybe it’s better to let them obsess about grassy knolls and manhole covers. Better than having them loose on the sidewalks of Dealey Plaza, trying to make eye-contact with tourists.

Still, I could not resist breaking the news here that the question of how many shots were fired at JFK has been answered, soundly and soberly by multiple eye- witnesses, who were riding in the cars right behind the President: there were three shots fired at JFK. And only three.

The proof is in a remarkable book nobody seems to be reading.

It’s called “President Kennedy Has Been Shot,” by a news media organization called “The Newseum.” It describes the assassination of JFK “through the eyes of more than sixty print and broadcast journalists” covering the motorcade and the other campaign events that day—in Dallas, Washington, and on Air Force One. The book combines the reporters’ and photographers’ statements with transcripts of the Dallas Police Department radio transmissions and communications between the White House and a plane carrying Cabinet officials to Japan, to create a compelling minute-by-minute account.

It is a very easy read, but packed with such detail that it is not a quick read. For purposes of this essay, I pick up where the first shots are heard by reporters riding in the Presidential motorcade.

Tom Dillard, Dallas Morning News photographer: “…when the first shot was fired, I said ‘They’ve thrown a torpedo.’ At the second shot, ‘No, it’s heavy rifle fire,’ and at the third shot I said, ‘They’ve killed him.”

Bob Jackson, another photographer riding with Dillard, had just unloaded his camera and passed the film from the first part of the ride to a reporter on the ground. “And that’s when we heard the first shot, and then two more shots closer together.” He says he looked at Dillard: “We knew it was a gunshot, no doubt about it. On the fifth floor I saw two men leaning out and looking up. And my eyes went up to the next window and I could see the rifle on the ledge and I could see it being drawn in.” Jackson had not yet reloaded his camera with film.

Merriman Smith, the legendary UPI White House correspondent, was riding in the front seat of the White House press-pool car, four cars behind the President’s limousine. Smith said: “Suddenly we heard three loud, almost painfully loud cracks. The first sounded as if it might have been a large firecracker. But the second and third blasts were unmistakable. Gunfire.”

Robert MacNeil, NBC News correspondent, recalls: “I said, ‘Was that a shot?’… Then there were two more explosions, very distinct to me.”

Bob Clark of ABC News: “When [Merriman Smith] said those were gunshots, I think we all in the car just accepted they were gunshots. They were loud and clear and more significant—for the historical record—they were equally loud and equally clear and were clearly fired from almost over our head…”


Anybody else see the pattern?

Not one person—not one—in the press covering the motorcade that day in Dealey Plaza claimed anything other than three shots. Distinct, clear, loud, and overhead. By a gun being withdrawn from the window of the Texas Book Depository.

The oddest aspect of the book, in my opinion, is that it makes no point about this fact, or any other facts debunking the Conspiracy myth. It merely continues via eyewitness snippets of the rush to Parkland Hospital, Officer Tippit’s shooting, Oswald’s arrest, LBJ’s swearing-in, flying the body to Washington, Ruby killing Oswald, and finally the funeral in Washington.

It never stops to consider the significance of the simple words of those men about what they heard and saw: one rifle, three shots, history changed.

Jeff Matthews I’m Not Making This Up

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