WashPost Turns Kooky: The Tea Party Killed JFK?

The Washington Post created an entire special section to the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination, but on page AA-6, they embraced mythology instead of history. The Post excerpted leftist professor Bill Minutaglio’s book arguing the right-wingers killed JFK. The excerpt had no admission that Lee Harvey Oswald, the real killer, was a communist. The author claimed to NPR in October that Oswald was malleable, "he had to be shaped by this almost civic hysteria in Dallas."

In the paper, the headlined was “In 1963, the roots of a paranoid right.” Online, it was blunter: “Tea Party has roots in the Dallas of 1963.” It doesn’t matter that this movement was born in 2009:

To find the very roots of the tea party of 2013, just go back to downtown Dallas in 1963, back to the months and weeks leading to the Kennedy assassination. It was where and when a deeply angry political polarization, driven by a band of zealots, burst wide open in America.

It was fueled then, as now, by billionaires opposed to federal oversight, rabid media, Bible-thumping preachers and extremist lawmakers who had moved far from their political peers. In 1963, that strident minority hijacked the civic dialogue and brewed the boiling, toxic environment waiting for Kennedy the day he died.

As he planned his trip to Dallas in November 1963, President Kennedy knew that hundreds of thousands across Texas adored him — or at least, respected the office he held. But he also knew that there was an increasingly hysterical fringe.

As Kennedy approached Dallas, he turned to his wife, Jacqueline. “We’re heading into nut country today,” he said.

Minutaglio also smeared Sen. Ted Cruz as someone who “would have been quite comfortable” in with swastikas, bomb threats, cross-burnings and spitting mobs of hate:

Many historians now agree that the blind absolutism of these powerful men of Dallas in the early 1960s has been discredited.

But here we are in 2013 and the echo is painfully clear:

The ad hominem attacks against a “socialist president.” The howling broadcasters. The mega-rich men from Texas funding the political action campaigns. There is even another charismatic, Ivy-educated ideologue: Sen. Ted Cruz would have been quite comfortable in Dallas 1963.

In the days leading to Kennedy’s fateful hour in Dallas, the city experienced one dark moment after another. Swastikas were plastered on the high-end emporium Neiman Marcus. A bomb threat was made during a visit by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. A cross was burned on the lawn of a Holocaust survivor. U.N. Ambassador Adlai E. Stevenson II, in town for a speech, fled for his life after being surrounded by a spitting mob.


After all this character assassination, it’s a bit astonishing that Minutaglio sees himself as a healer. Check out his interview with the Austin Monthly:

I would argue to anyone that what happened to President Kennedy was really probably born out of something that was not just the isolated act of a madman, but this hysteria and this vitriol that might, might, might have had something to do with all of it, and that we should be on guard. The reason we should care about what happened then is that there are a lot of similarities between the political discourse today and in 1963.

We should be on guard, of course for the symptomatic outbreak that someone would want to hurt someone and murder someone, but that we need to talk with each other at a more constructive level and a more humanistic level and just get along.

Yeah, if you want to be constructive and just get along, hiss at the conservatives, “You killed Kennedy, you nuts.”

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis