Why JFK Conspiracy Theories Don't Hold Up

Fred Kaplan debunks long-held suspicions of a second shooter

By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 15, 2013 11:36 AM CST

(Newser) – The majority of Americans believe a conspiracy surrounds John F. Kennedy's assassination. Fred Kaplan used to, too—before he debunked the theories. While they offer a bit of fantasy and comfort, the JFK conspiracy theories just don't hold up, Kaplan writes for Slate. First up: Some claimed Lee Harvey Oswald couldn't have shot both JFK and Texas Governor John Connally so quickly, offering that idea as proof of two shooters. But the idea that just one of Oswald's bullets hit both men makes sense, Kaplan writes. It was no "magic bullet": When you consider that JFK's seat was three inches higher than Connally's—a fact often missed—the path of a single bullet from JFK's upper back to Connally's ribcage and wrist is perfectly straight.

As for video showing Kennedy's head forced backward, apparently by the bullet—perhaps indicating a bullet shot from the "grassy knoll" up ahead, rather than by Oswald from behind—Kaplan says that's been debunked, too. Frame-by-frame analysis shows the bullet from behind pushed Kennedy's head ever so slightly forward, before a nerve exploded, sending his head back. And the audio that apparently included sounds from four bullets, when Oswald only shot three? A National Academy of Sciences investigation proved that not all the sounds heard were real gunfire; some even occurred after the assassination. "Case closed," Kaplan writes. For his full report, click here.

In this Oct. 22, 1962 file photo, President John F. Kennedy makes a national television speech from Washington.
In this Oct. 22, 1962 file photo, President John F. Kennedy makes a national television speech from Washington.   (AP Photo)
This image provided by Warner Bros. from Oliver Stone's 1991 movie JFK shows a recreation of the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy in Dallas.
This image provided by Warner Bros. from Oliver Stone's 1991 movie "JFK" shows a recreation of the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy in Dallas.   (AP Photo/Warner Bros.)
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