Jefferson MorleySun, November 21, 2021, 5:09 PM
As a professional journalist who has been reporting on the assassination of John F. Kennedy for almost 30 years, I have long been skeptical about the pursuit of a proverbial “smoking gun” that supposedly will blow open the case of the murdered president. When the congressional deadline for the release of the last of the JFK files approached last month, I instinctively advised friends that there would no smoking gun in the released material.
After all, no serious investigative reporter seeks a single piece of evidence to decisively prove some kind of wrongdoing. To the contrary, good investigative journalism assembles myriad pieces of evidence into a mosaic that depicts a granular story of wrongdoing not previously visible to the public and law enforcement. Most prize-winning journalistic investigations do not depend on, or even feature, a “smoking gun” piece of evidence. So why should the JFK assassination story?
As the editor of the JFK Facts blog, I report on new pieces of evidence that filled in blank spaces in the historical record of JFK’s assassination. Think mosaic, not smoking gun.
But when the Biden White House announced late in the evening of Oct. 22 that the last of the JFK documents would not be released until December 2022 at the earliest, I began to rethink my caution. Friday nights are traditionally when the White House press office takes out the president’s smelliest garbage in hopes that the stench will pass by Monday morning. The announcement that the CIA and other federal agencies had delayed compliance with the 1992 JFK Records Act for the second time in four years was a story the White House understandably wanted to go away.