Logo courtesy of the JFK Assassination Collection
Ever wanted to see Gerald Posner get his ass kicked in a radio debate? Here's your chance.
Thanks to Kenn Thomas of Steamshovel Press for forwarding this.
From: Dee Braxon
March 5, 1997
Joyce Kaufman radio talk show, South Florida
ANNOUNCER: Florida's talk leader, 1400 WFTL presents... Joyce Kaufman.
JOYCE KAUFMAN (JK): Well, and a very good afternoon to you all. Now, what is the single most discussed subject in America still today?... Well, of course, it's the JFK assassination. And there seems to be always new evidence - 1991 and 1993 we had the release of all kinds of new information. And the journalists are very reluctant to take this on. We've had a lot of books written over the years, but most recently I read abook which I thought was fascinating. And of course, you tend to pick books that reinforce your own opinion, and when it comes to the JFK assassination, I have to admit that I long ago decided that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. So when Gerald Posner's new book Case Closed came out a while back, I was very happy to read the book. It reconfirmed everything I had thought [and] naturally did it in a meticulous fashion, because as a journalist he pays close attention to details. He did the one thing that I had always claimed was most important, and for me that was look at Lee Harvey Oswald carefully, study this person. If I'm going to buy the fact that he acted alone then certainly I need to know as much as possible about Lee Harvey Oswald.
Well, recently another book has been written, and it was written also by journalists, Ray and Mary La Fontaine, who released a book called Oswald Talked: The New Evidence in the JFK Assassination. I said lo and behold, maybe there's someone else who thinks it's important to examine Lee Harvey Oswald. And of course in his inimitable way my executive producer has decided that he would bring together these two journalists - in this case we'll be speaking to Mary La Fontaine and Gerald Posner - to see exactly why, looking at much of the same information, they have come to very different conclusions. So let's bring my guests on board and see who is surprised by the fact that there is someone else on the show... Gerald, are you there?
GERALD POSNER (GP): I am.
JK: Are you surprised?
GP: I'm never surprised by anything to do with a show on the Kennedy assassination.
JK: There you go, you see, a man of good heart. Mary, are you surprised?
MARY LA FONTAINE (ML): No, I'm not... and I do want to make one point, Joyce, and that is that we did look at very different evidence than Mr. Posner did in his book Case Closed released in 1993. Mr. Posner did not review the literally millions of pages, or to my knowledge, any of the new pages released under the JFK Act of 1992. We did an extensive review of these new documents. When we began this book, we frankly believed as you say you did that Oswald had acted alone in Dallas. We no longer believe that, based on previously classified government documents that are now available to us.
JK: OK, well let me ask you, Gerald, since millions of documents have been released, I am sure that you have looked at them.
GP: Indeed I have, and as a matter of fact let me tell you something, Joyce. The documents don't change one iota...
ML chuckles over.
GP: (continuing) ...as a matter of fact what I'm surprised at is that Mary would say - and this is what has been disappointing to the Oliver Stones of the world and to the conspiracy writers of the world - and Mary by the way and her husband had actually been believers in the conspiracy before those documents were out -
ML: That is incorrect, Mr. Posner. Your chief research assistant on Case Closed is a rather obsessive man who has made a campaign of claiming that - and it's unfortunate you used him as your research assistant, because I think your book suffers from that.
GP: I interviewed hundreds of people, but I didn't have a research assistant -
ML: Well, Mr. [Dave] Perry claims that he WAS your research assistant [and] he certainly is cited repeatedly in your book.
GP: The point is not what's in, you know - but I still believe that's your position, but the key thing is there isn't a document out, and I will tell you, people have been poring, dozens and dozens of conspiracy theorists have been poring over -
ML: Let's not talk about the conspiracy theorists today. Let's talk about journalists and let's talk about the journalistic approach to the information, Mr. Posner. Let me start by saying that on page 12 of your book, Case Closed, you make an error in judgement as an objective journalist in dealing with the material of maybe the first psychobabbler in this country, Dr. Renatus Hartogs - the psychiatrist who interviewed Lee Harvey Oswald at the age of 13, and who at that time found no indication of psychotic changes, superior mental endowment, no retardation despite truancy, no psychotic mental changes - "a disturbed youngster who suffers under the impact of existing emotional isolation and deprivation."
Now, AFTER the assassination, Mr. Hartogs - who became, as I say, probably the first psychobabbler in this country - told Life Magazine that he was not surprised Oswald was arrested for the assassination of the president, for psychologically he [Oswald] had all the qualifications for being a potential assassin. He [Hartogs] went on to say that he had found him, Oswald, to have "definite traits of dangerousness and a potential for explosive aggressive assaultive acting out." These -
JK interrupts with unintelligible comment.
GP: But Mary, what's your -
ML: No, excuse me, Gerald, let me finish, because you've had a lot of air time over the last few years, and this is very important about the tone of your book and your intention with this book. Mr. Hartogs admitted to the Warren Commission after they presented him with his initial report on Oswald that had he had these [later] beliefs at the time he interviewed the 13-year-old Lee Harvey Oswald he would have written them down, but he didn't. So he [Hartogs] changed his story, as many people have over the years about Lee Harvey Oswald.
What did you do? You, instead of presenting both reports by Mr. Hartogs, including the earlier report - which you have repeatedly claimed that you used - the earliest possible reports from various witnesses - you chose to pick up on the later, totally erroneous report of Dr. Hartogs, who was probably seeking some kind of publicity for himself, as is common after events of this kind. He would have made a good witness in the O.J. Simpson trial -
JK makes unintelligible comment.
ML: I'm sorry, Joyce?
JK: Did you read the [Posner] book? Because Gerald's footnotes refer to both interviews -
ML: Oh, but no, of course, that's fascinating that he would not -
JK: Let Gerald answer -
ML: (laughs) He never lets anybody else answer, but let me give him a little time.
GP: What people like Mary have done is they have gone through my book line by line in the hope, in the eagerness, that somehow they will find a sentence that they will be able to say "Aha" -
ML: This [Hartogs issue] isn't a sentence. This is where you set the tone of your book - this is where you claim -
GP: (continuing, to JK) ...is what does that point she [ML] just raised have to do with the question - the key question - did Lee Harvey Oswald shoot Jack Kennedy on November 22nd?
ML: It has everything to do with your thesis that he [Oswald] was mentally disturbed and therefore had a motive -
GP: (talking over) ...a fine citizen, if he [Oswald] had gotten a silver star in Viet Nam, if he had been head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, it still wouldn't change my conclusion, that alone - from the scientific and physical evidence that I examine in detail - he was the only assassin in Dallas that day shooting at the president, and that's what Mary and everybody else misses.
ML: Let me bring up another point with Gerald; let me bring up another point specifically about evidence that Gerald has left out -
GP: (continuing over) ...a sociopath with a 12-dollar rifle who gets off a lucky shot -
ML: Yeah, your whole theory of Oswald as a sociopath starts with your distortion of the Renatus Hartogs report. But let's go further - just a minute, Gerald, let me finish - because there's a lot of other material here that you've distorted in your book that is directly relevant to who killed JFK in Dallas. You appropriated the work of a technical group called Failure Analysis, from the Bay area. Failure Analysis did an electronic analysis of the single bullet theory in Dealey Plaza, and came up with what I think is a very persuasive argument that the same bullet hit President Kennedy and Governor John Connally on November 22nd, 1963. But what you left out of your book - what Failure Analysis presented at the American Bar Association mock trial of Lee Harvey Oswald [for which] this was done, it wasn't done for your book, although you've let people think it was -
GP: That's absolutely -
ML: (continuing over) ...you left out the fact that according to Mr. Roger McCarthy, the CEO of Failure Analysis, that the same analysis that they did showed that the fatal head shot that killed President Kennedy could NOT be traced to the southeast corner window of the -
GP: That's false -
ML: (continuing) Texas Book Depository -
GP: Mary -
ML: I am quoting Mr. McCarthy, Gerald -
GP: No, you haven't - well, then Mr. McCarthy's wrong, because let me -
GP: Have you looked at the underlying research and the paperwork AND the study from Failure Analysis? Have you gone there?
ML: No, I haven't -
GP: OK, then -
ML: I have not gone there, but I do know that I have talked to the horse's mouth, and maybe we should -
GP: Wait a minute -
ML: But wait - I've got a number for Mr. McCarthy, shall we call him up?
GP: (continuing under) ...regardless -
ML: Shall we call up Mr. McCarthy? He's the technical man. You're not technical, I'm not technical, HE is.
GP: He's NOT as a matter of fact a technical man -
ML: He is the TECHNICAL DIRECTOR of Failure Analysis, he is their chief technical officer -
GP: Mary - you as a journalist -
ML: (talking over) Gerald, you're again - you are trying to outtalk the fact that you left out key information. Let's go on to the finding -
GP: Hold on a second -
ML: No, wait a minute - let's go on to the finding of the bar association trial - the finding of the bar association trial was a hung jury -
GP: (continuing) ...[can't say I] left out key information and then go on to another point -
JK: (continuing simultaneously) ...and then not let -
GP: (continuing) ...without giving me a chance to answer - it's absolutely false, and I will tell you something, the only -
ML: Your saying that it's false means nothing. I do have my interview with Mr. McCarthy, and I believe if we both call him up right now he will say the same thing.
GP: No, no - Mary -
ML: Do you want us to call him up?
GP: The only new -
ML: Do you want us to call him up?
GP: The only new information that Failure Analysis had - Mr. McCarthy can be furious about it, because I chastize him in the book for it and I go after him in a paperback as well - his studies did not break any new ground - the only new information that Failure Analysis developed was the development by Dr. [Robert] Piziale which showed that the single bullet is no longer a theory, but that in fact it is a fact - there is no magic -
ML: That's the only evidence that Failure Analysis came up with that you found useful in your book, Gerald. Now - let's talk about the new evidence in this assassination, the evidence that you did not consider -
GP: (continuing) ...is it you're angry about? You're angry -
ML: I'm not angry, Gerald -
GP: (continuing) I'm not angry at you -
ML: No, I'm not angry -
GP: (continuing) ...the conspiracy -
ML: I represent - no, I represent serious journalists who have published in the Washington Post, the Houston Post, the Dallas Times Herald - my husband just last Sunday had an article in the Washington Post on a totally different subject than the Kennedy assassination. We're prizewinning documentary makers for PBS, we've produced for major television production companies - we are journalists far more than you are - you are a lawyer - you did a lawyer's brief, a prosecutor's brief, against Lee Harvey Oswald. Let's call you what you are.
GP: My book was nominated for a Pulitzer -
JK: How can she [ML] SAY that?
ML: You - I'M nominated for the Pulitizer this year too, Gerald -
GP: (talking over) ...not nominated -
ML: You didn't win it [Pulitzer], and the year you claim to have been nominated they didn't give ANY Pulitzer -
GP: Not nominated - selected by the Pulizter Committee as one of three finalists -
ML: They didn't give - they did not give a Pulitzer that year, did they? So you didn't win the Pulitzer. (chuckles)
GP: No, because of the controversy over this book. But Mary -
ML: No, that's an excuse, Gerald -
GP: (continuing) ...talk about your book, which is based upon supposedly new information -
ML: Oh, it IS new information.
GP: (continuing) ...somebody who YEARS ago never said the same thing that you're now claiming he says years later -
ML: Oh, yes he did. Are you talking about John Elrod?
GP: Yeah -
ML: John Elrod went to the FBI in 1964, eight months after the assassination. He talked to his family immediately after the assassination, and the FBI called John Elrod a liar - are you referring to John Elrod?
GP: What does John Elrod's FBI statement say?
ML: It says that his "unknown cellmate" - and that was ridiculous, because he told the FBI who the cellmate was - had talked about Jack Ruby in the cell on November 22nd, 1963.
JK: Well let's tell the listeners that the unknown cellmate was Lee Harvey Oswald -
ML: It was indeed Lee Harvey Oswald.
GP: According to the 1993 version -
ML: No, according to the evidence -
GP: According to what he says today, thirty years later -
ML: (continuing) ...the evidence from the Dallas police files, which totally corroborates John Elrod's story, including phone logs and information on ANOTHER prisoner held in the same cell with Lee Harvey Oswald, who Elrod is able to describe perfectly.
GP: So it's been -
ML: This story, Joyce, went through the legal fact checking of the Washington Post and appeared in 1994 as a validated story -
JK: (continuing) ...Mary, just a second. I had the same question. Have they found the third person?
ML: He [third person] has been missing for over thirty years. I've talked with his brother, who says he has not seen him since the Kennedy assassination. He did not even return home for the funeral of their parents.
GP: You know, Joyce, what this is - this is another case of somebody who thirty years after the facts has decided they're -
ML: This is Gerald's song and dance - there you go again, Gerald, just like in the presidential debates - you've got a song and dance that you repeat like an automaton. You don't use rational thinking, you don't make the necessary analysis that good investigative reporters make. You play to the media in your book.
JK: Wait a minute, I thought that the book was compulsive and obsessive with footnotes, I mean it's not -
ML: Oh, oh, absolutely. Let me talk about a footnote in Mr. Posner's book [over protests] - no, let me talk about one, because -
GP: Mary, why don't we talk instead about Elrod -
ML: OK, fine. Let's talk about Elrod.
GP: How could you write a book about a man who then has changed his story after thirty years?
ML: Oh, he has never changed his story.
GP: Do you mean the FBI report -
ML: He has never changed his story, and his FBI report is correct. They [FBI] simply lied, and they lied in the report -
GP: (continuing) ...and then -
ML: No, excuse me, Gerald, excuse me Gerald - the FBI said, in the report, that John Elrod was never in the Dallas jail on November 22nd, 1963. But in February of 1992, five years ago, I found John Elrod's arrest record for November 22nd, 1963 in the Dallas police files. So who's lying? The FBI - unequivically lied about John Elrod. Why did they lie? Because the information John Elrod had to give is the cornerstone of the evidence that Lee Harvey Oswald was an informant for the FBI on a gunrunning operation involving Jack Ruby and the United States Military, arming anti-Castro Cubans in Texas in the month and a half prior to the assassination for a planned invasion of Cuba to occur in November 1963 -
GP: And you know what?
ML: (continuing) This is all in government files, Gerald, that you never LOOKED at. They were kept from the American people.
JK: Well, wait a second, it's like, you know, the three tramps' arrest records were lost as well -
GP: Yeah -
JK: (continuing) ...do you think that the three tramps are in this?
ML: Are you kidding? I discovered the arrest records for the three tramps - I personally was the person, the journalist, who discovered those. We reported it in a banner headline story in the Houston Post in 1992, showing that these men were indeed tramps. They were homeless people riding the rails. We have reported on both conspiratorial and anti-conspiratorial material in this case - unlike Gerald Posner.
GP: Mary, the wonderful thing is, you picked up a story from somebody who has spun a great tale here -
ML: Excuse me, Gerald - have you read our book? Have you read Oswald Talked?
GP: (continuing) You have no -
ML: Have you read Oswald Talked, Gerald?
GP: (continuing) ...dishonest, and I'm astonished -
ML: Have you read the book, Gerald?
GP: (continuing) ...and I'm amazed you were able -
ML: You have not read the book. You have not read the book.
GP: You have no supporting evidence -
ML: You have not read the book or you would know, as the Washington Post knew when they published John Elrod's story in 1994 that the documentation of the factual accuracy of his report is incontrovertible. But you haven't read the book because -
GP: (continuing) ...no, no, no, no -
ML: (continuing) ...because it's not the case that's closed, it's your mind that is closed.
GP: (continuing) ...no, no -
ML: You have a closed mind, you did when you began your book.
GP: You know, what you end up doing - and no matter how many people you can find who were in jail on November 22nd in Dallas -
ML: Gerald -
GP: If all of them pop up, Mary -
ML: Gerald - you're being a very foolish man. You're being a very foolish man because you don't have factual information. You can't discusss this book [Oswald Talked] -
JK: Wait a second -
ML: You can't discuss the book because you haven't read it.
JK: But I did read portions of the book -
ML: Have you read it all?
JK: (continuing) ...I didn't read it in its entirety, no -
ML: The book builds on overwhelming new evidence. I suggest both of you -
GP: (continuing) ...tell you that I am astonished that you were able to publish that as a book. It is not a book that -
ML: This is one of the best written books - according to very serious journalists, it's one of the best written books ever done on the assassination -
GP: (questioning) "serious journalists" -
ML: (continuing) ...and one of the best documented, probably the single best documented book ever done on this case -
GP: You can convince yourself it's good journalism, but I -
ML: Talk to Jefferson Morley at the Washington Post, talk to Jim Jennings at the Oakland Tribune -
JK: Yeah, but for everyone you name, Gerald Posner can name another person who's going to -
ML: Of course, he carefully - he carefully - he's a brilliant marketer - his book is a ridiculous book [as GP talks under] - he says he's surprised our book was published - I'mnot surprised at all his book was published, because he did it to court the major media -
GP: Oh, I see what you mean -
ML: As a clever marketer he knew that because they had committed years ago to Oswald as a lone assassin, he would get an unprecedented ride in the media, and that's exactly what happened.
JK: (continuing) ...allegations were true. The media is more inclined to believe that there is a conspiracy -
ML: Absolutely wrong.
GP: (continuing) ...would love to break a -
ML: Absolutely wrong, Joyce, I'm sorry.
JK: (continuing) ...than that Oswald acted alone. Believe me, I sit here - how many years have I been doing shows about the Kennedy assassination - and the only person who ever has agreed with me on the lone assassin theory - the only few people are ALWAYS outnumbered by the conspiratorialists -
ML: (as GP talks under) Oh, no - excuse me, let me make this point, Joyce - Gerald, let me make a point here, Gerald, because I'm tired of listening to your ranting and raving, I've listened to it now for four years - the most -
JK interrupts for COMMERCIAL BREAK.
JK: (after commercial) All right, well we just have a few minutes left with Gerald Posner and Mary La Fontaine, but as I said, the two - they're obviously very passionate about the subject and Nick [producer] knows he probably should have set these interviews up a little differently, but welcome to the world of WFTL. You can't fillibuster, guys, and both of you are very - you know -
GP: Mary, all - and Joyce - all I'm going to say before - and then I know that we only have to the end of the half hour and then that's it - but all I'm going to say is that in the end I invite any reader to read Mary's book and read my book - it's the only way to do it -
ML: I completely concur with that, that's about the only thing we concur with - and I want to say one other thing: our book has been far more attacked by conspiracy theorists than Gerald Posner's book ever was.
GP: Pardon me?
ML: Our book has been more attacked by the conspiracy theorists than your book ever was -
GP: You know - you know -
ML: (continuing) ...you can take up the Internet at any time of the day or night and read the literal attacks on this book by the conspiracy nuts - (as GP continues under)
GP: (continuing) ... [you] never had death threats -
ML: (continuing) ...and you have played on the stupidity and insanity of the conspiracy nuts. We have ignored the conspiracy nuts.
GP: (continuing) thought each was going to say something separately, but I will say this: that if you read both books, and you read any other conspiracy book out there and you read Case Closed -
ML: Ours is not a conspiracy book - yours is.
GP: (continuing) ...quote unquote evidence that's concocted or made up and somebody comes up with years later, but the credible evidence, if you test it against history, you'll find out that in this case, that besides everything we've been told and besides the film JFK, there's a simple answer and unfortunately -
ML: That is exactly correct, I agree with you on that, and the answer is there was a conspiracy to assassinate President Kennedy based on the new government documents in this case. There is no question that the government covered up the plan to invade Cuba the last week in November 1963 by a CIA-funded Cuban exile group, in Dallas, arming itself with the help of Jack Ruby and with Oswald as an FBI informant immediately prior to the assassination of President Kennedy -
GP: That's not true -
ML: Are you denying our government's own documents, Gerald? You need to start over on this case.
GP: Mary, you are astonishing, you don't have a document that says that Oswald and Ruby were part of a government plot and you know it -
ML: Excuse me, Gerald - you are totally -
GP: Where's your document?
ML: (continuing) ...totally misinterpreting what I'm saying. Oswald was the informant on the arrest of Jack Ruby's henchmen the week of the assassination, and it's incontrovertible (as GP continues under). Oswald was that informant - it is shown in this book -
GP: You're distorting history - where's the document?
ML: Excuse me, Gerald. Read the book and you'll see what the document is.
GP: Tell me what the document is in the book -
ML: Well, go back and read the book, Gerald.
GP: No, no, no, don't tell me that, what's the document?
JK: (joining in) Yeah - I've got - what's the document?
GP: (continuing) ...for all the listeners, what's the document?
ML: The document is the FBI report on the arrest of Whitter and Miller the week of November 18th, 1963, based on the informant's tip of Lee Harvey Oswald.
GP: (continuing) ...of a government plot. You just said that. Tell me the document.
ML: Gerald -
GP: You don't have it -
ML: Oh yes, we do - and it is in the FBI's own files in Washington. Go ASK for it, Gerald.
GP: You can't tell me the document -
ML: Go ask for it. I've told you what it is - it is the arrest report on the arrest of Donnell Whitter and Lawrence Miller on November 18th, 1963 -
GP: (under) That does not mean that Oswald -
ML: Go get it - Oswald was the informant on that arrest, Gerald.
GP: That does not -
ML: Go ask the FBI for that report, Gerald.
GP: That is your document, Mary, if that's what you -
ML: That and thousands of other documents discussed in this book make an incontrovertible case for a conspiracy in the assassination of President Kennedy - and you have a problem, Gerald: you're obsessed with this case. You can't go on, because this was your one - your one - happy day in the media.
JK: No, no, of all the people who I can say was NOT overly obsessed with this case - I would have to say that Gerald Posner has spread his books around a number of subjects -
ML: They're not read. His book on Perot was a disaster -
GP: (continuing) ...an historian -
ML: It was a disaster, it didn't sell.
JK: (continuing) ...his book on Mengele, I mean there's a - you know -
GP: My life's -
ML: By the way, is Mr. Marwell, the chairman of the Assassination Records Review Board, wasn't he your assistant on the Mengele book?
GP: Absolutely not, Mary - you have either - boy, I'll tell you - your information's wrong or your research is as bad as it looks in your book -
ML: Oh, you don't know Mr. Marwell? Do you know Mr. Marwell?
GP: (continuing) ...he was a historian for the United States Government at the time that I was doing the Mengele book -
ML: Uh huh, did he help you with that book?
ML: Did he help you with the book?
GP: Everybody in the United States Government helped me on that -
ML: Did Mr. MARWELL help you with the book?
GP: Yeah, it was supposed -
ML: Uh huh.
GP: My research assistant is my wife. But boy, Mary, do you mean to tell me that you as a journalist thought David Marwll, a historian in the United States Government, is my research assistant?
ML: No, no - I said did he help you with your research on the book, and you confirmed that he did.
GP: (continuing) ...not surprised that the book -
ML: You confirmed that he did assist you with that.
JK: Now listen, if you'd like to read these two books, both of whose authors claim that the other one is shoddy and slipshod -
JK: (continuing) Let me get the information to you. Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK, by Gerald -
ML: It's on remainder and you can get it for $8.99 - unfortunately, that's not true with our book.
GP: Buy a couple of copies and save -
ML: Yeah, and light your fire with 'em.
JK: (continuing) ...Random House. Then you have Oswald Talked: The New Evidence in the JFK Assassination, by Ray and Mary La Fontaine, by Pelican Books, and both are available on your book shelves. And thank you both for not allowing anyone in the listening audience to get in -
ML: I think it's the first time Gerald had a hard time getting a word in edgewise, he's decimated everybody with his motor mouth. But he finally met somebody who could talk and knew the evidence better than he did -
GP: Boy, I'll tell you, are you bad with the facts -
ML: (laughs) I'm sorry you lost the argument, Gerald.
Kirby The Konspiracy Boy Says, "I NEED 2 KONFORM!!!"