ABC and Dan Rather Perpetuate Myth Right Wing Hate Killed Kennedy

Lee Harvey Oswald was far-left defector to the Soviet Union, but you’d never know that from Sunday’s ABC This Week which focused on Dallas as a cauldron of segregationist hate for President Kennedy without any mention of the political orientation of the actual assassin.

Using Dan Rather as his expert, ex-CBS and current ABC reporter Byron Pitts perpetuated the myth that right-wing hate was somehow responsible for what occurred in Dallas: “Nowhere in Texas did the jagged edge of segregation cut deeper, anti-Kennedy sentiment spew any stronger. This flyer [“Wanted for Treason”] greeted the President when he arrived.”

Rather had warned: “Everybody knew, if there was going to be trouble anywhere, it would be in Dallas.”

Pitts never identified Oswald as a communist or mentioned his defection to the Soviet Union, offering only this about him: “While questions linger today about Lee Harvey Oswald’s role, one thing is certain, he was the first man ever murdered on live TV.”

In contrast, on CBS's Face the Nation, Bob Schieffer noted “there had been threats of demonstrations and even violence from scattered right wing hate groups before Kennedy came to Dallas,” but he also managed to point out “his reception in every city, including Dallas, was overwhelmingly friendly” and “the man who shot him was anything but a right wing zealot. He was an itinerant loner, a loser and a failure who had defected to the Soviet Union. He was not from Dallas or of Dallas.”

From the November 17 ABC This Week with George Stephanopoulos, hosted by Martha Raddatz:

BYRON PITTS: In a nation long opposed to kings and queens, the Kennedys were American royalty. And then, came Dallas. Less than an hour after touching down at Love Field, President John F. Kennedy was dead. Former CBS News correspondent Dan Rather was there.

DAN RATHER: Everybody knew, if there was going to be trouble anywhere, it would be in Dallas.

PITTS: Why?

RATHER: Because of the history.

PITTS: Dallas 1963, nowhere in Texas did the jagged edge of segregation cut deeper, anti-Kennedy sentiment spew any stronger. This flyer greeted the President when he arrived.

RATHER: It’s very important to understand, you say well, if there’s going to be trouble in Dallas, nobody I knew of was thinking of assassination.

Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center