The new History Channel special was well promoted, including a good deal of Facebook visibility. People called me and emailed me about it. It was a surprise to me becasue there had been no sign that the people involved had made any contact with the JFK research community, either to solicit help on their research or to peer review their findings. As it turns out the program appears to have gone even further in the direction of “entertainment history” that earlier efforts on the History Channel – which at least nominally included some panel comments to present point/counterpoint.
In point of fact there is so much wrong with even the first show in the series that it drew scathing remarks and reviews from people with extensive experience in the subject. You can get a feel for that with the following review:
The review says a good deal and much more could be said but I’m not going to belabor that point since there is little to nothing new in the shows content to date. Much of what is presented as ground breaking was known in as early as 1964 to the Warren Commission and areas such as Oswald in Mexico City have been explored in far more depth by several well respected historical researchers – who spent years and even decades on the subject rather than weeks.
In evaluating the series its important to realize that the show’s production company is a general freelance firm which has done shows ranging from topics such as “Booze Traveler” to “Spy World”, even revisiting Hitler (probably the 200th program on that topic by the History channel, which at one time was so focused on Germany during World War II that it was referred to as the Hitler Channel).
The on camera lead for their Hitler show is the same individual who leads the JFK team in the new special; whether they recruited him or he proposed the topic to them is unknown but its far from the first JFK show on cable entertainment channels. I refer to them in that manner since regardless of topic its become pretty clear that even their outdoor/adventure reality shows are highly sensationalized and clearly staged for maximum entertainment.
The JFK show’s lead is a former CIA Case Officer for Eastern Europe and he has been very active in retirement, serving as an intelligence columnist, major news outlet commentator/contributor and an intelligence/security analyst for CNN. He was also the host for the “Hunting Hitler” program on the History Channel.
Perhaps one of the more discouraging things about the new JFK special is that someone with his background would be part of a program with historical issues as noted in the linked review above. Hopefully that does not suggest anything about his more serious work as a news commentator – hopefully..
The other thing that must be noted is that as early as the first segment, the program appears to be going in the direction that every other book and movie program involving or steered by former CIA employees or CIA supported authors has – pointing towards a conspiracy with an Oswald/Castro/Cuba connection. From that perspective its almost as familiar as finding “entertainment history” on the History Channel. Many of us spend a lot of time these days arguing for “fact checking” on the stories you see out of this administration, off of media outlets and even from Facebook or email spamming. I can only advise the same diligence with what you encounter on cable TV, especially those shows promoted as real history.