Morning Joe Package Falsely Implies Right Wing Hate Led to JFK Assassination

President John F. Kennedy was assassinated 50 years ago by a Communist sympathizer, yet Friday’s Morning Joe on MSNBC ran a package that emphasized right-wing hate in Dallas while failing to mention Lee Harvey Oswald or his ideological leanings. The package, narrated by Brian Shactman, focused on the “unspoken speech” that President Kennedy was planning to give on the day he was shot.

Shactman just couldn’t help but mention those hateful right-wingers:

 

"Crowds lined the streets, among them a small but vocal group of right-wing extremists furious at the president’s politics."
 

Cut to SMU historian Jeffrey Engel providing this analysis:
 

"In many ways people down in the South perceived him as just another extension of Yankee power coming down from the North, telling people what to do."
 

That sounds like an environment in which an angry right-wing Southerner might shoot the president, doesn’t it? Shactman continued to paint that picture:
 

Letters to the editor [in the Dallas Morning News] called him the puppet of Pope John and a socialist pickpocket. A harshly critical full-page ad greeted the president to the city that morning. Upon seeing it, the president fatefully told his wife, "We’re heading into nut country today, but Jackie, if somebody wanted to shoot me from a window with a rifle, nobody can stop it, so why worry about it?"

 

After reciting those lines, Shactman should have pointed out that Kennedy was actually killed by a Communist sympathizer. But the package never mentioned Oswald or the fact that he defected years earlier to the Soviet Union. This left behind the false impression that right-wing hatred was responsible for Kennedy’s death.

The Lean Forward network should stop leaning back on tired, discredited tropes. What's more, as the only ostensibly conservative host on the network, Joe Scarborough owes it to his audience to stand up to such misinformation that occurs on his program.

Below is a transcript of the package:

 

BRIAN SHACTMAN: It has become known as the unspoken speech. The address President John F. Kennedy was supposed to give in Dallas 50 years ago today. Of course, it was a complicated time; Dallas, a complicated city where JFK found himself faced with a political firestorm, one of course that he never got out of.

CHET HUNTLEY: I have in front of me a copy of the speech which President Kennedy was to deliver at noon today. If I may, I should like to read this speech which was not delivered.

SHACTMAN: He arrived 50 years ago today in Dallas, a city divided.

JEFFREY ENGEL: He essentially came to try to settle a political fight that was breaking out among Democrats between the conservative branch of the Democratic Party led by Governor Connally, who was in the car, and the liberal wing. And he really came down to try to heal that rift.

SHACTMAN: Crowds lined the streets, among them a small but vocal group of right-wing extremists furious at the president’s politics.

ENGEL: In many ways people down in the South perceived him as just another extension of Yankee power coming down from the North, telling people what to do.



SHACTMAN: The Dallas Morning News had been especially harsh, endorsing Nixon in 1960 by warning Kennedy would usher in a welfare state and Marxist socialism. Letters to the editor called him the puppet of Pope John and a socialist pickpocket. A harshly critical full-page ad greeted the president to the city that morning. Upon seeing it, the president fatefully told his wife, “We’re heading into nut country today, but Jackie, if somebody wanted to shoot me from a window with a rifle, nobody can stop it, so why worry about it?” There was reason for concern. Less than a month earlier, UN Ambassador Adlai Stevenson was confronted by an angry mob.

ADLAI STEVENSON: Surely, my dear friend, I don't have to come here from Illinois to teach Texas manners, do I?

SHACTMAN: President Kennedy never would give that speech in Dallas.

UNIDENTIFIED: It is true that our president and Governor Connally in the motorcade have been shot.

SHACTMAN: Instead, NBC's Chet Huntley read the speech to the entire country.

HUNTLEY: ‘That we may achieve in our time and for all time the ancient vision of peace on earth, good will toward men. That must always be our goal. And the righteousness of our cause must always underlie our strength. For as was written long ago, accept the Lord to keep the city. The watchman waketh but in vain.’ That is the speech which President Kennedy was to deliver at approximately noon today, but he was cut down en route to the Trade Mart.

Paul Bremmer
Paul Bremmer is a Media Research Center News Analysis Division intern.