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Lbj Aides Push History Channel For Probe Of Show


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LBJ Aides Push History Channel For Probe of Show

By Howard Kurtz

Washington Post Staff Writer

Thursday, February 5, 2004; Page C01

A delegation of former Lyndon Johnson aides, led by Bill Moyers and Jack Valenti, demanded yesterday that the History Channel launch an independent investigation of its documentary charging that LBJ was involved in the assassination of President Kennedy.

At a meeting in New York with the cable channel's president and general manager, the group questioned how such unproven allegations could get on the air. "We're not going to quit until we get this stain expunged," said Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Association of America, who was on Air Force One when Johnson was sworn in.

Moyers, a television host and producer, said: "If someone came out after I had died and charged me with being a murderer, I'd hope my family would be up in arms about it. I'm concerned as a journalist worried about the record being besmirched, as an amateur historian and as someone who knew Lyndon Johnson."

History Channel spokeswoman Lynn Gardner said last night that the network has agreed to review the matter but has not decided whether outside experts would conduct the inquiry.

Asked about the propriety of accusing a former president of murder, she said: "Let's face it, there have been a million theories about Kennedy's assassination. There's never been one clear-cut finding. This is putting it forth for public debate. We're not endorsing any theory in any size, shape or form." Gardner said British producer Nigel Turner assembled the program.

Tom Johnson, the former chairman of CNN and now chairman of the LBJ Foundation, has tried to set up a meeting since "The Guilty Men" aired in November, marking the 40th anniversary of the assassination.

Nick Davatzes, president of parent company A&E Television Networks, granted the meeting only after the group obtained letters of protest from Lady Bird Johnson, the late president's wife, and former presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford.

"The show contained outright lies and cited a number of specific falsehoods," Tom Johnson said. "How does a show of this nature get on television?" He said the network should appoint an independent panel of historians and researchers to examine the program and publicize its findings.

A&E is jointly owned by NBC, Disney and Hearst. Chief executives of the three companies were sent copies of the Johnson, Ford and Carter letters.

The channel said in a statement following the program's first airing in November that "after reviewing the show, we agree that indeed we did not make it apparent that the material presented in this program is a theory." The channel said it was adding a new introduction for future airings.

One of those interviewed in "The Guilty Men" is Barr McClellan, the father of White House press secretary Scott McClellan. Barr McClellan has written a book charging Johnson with complicity in Kennedy's 1963 murder.

"LBJ was the man behind the decision to go ahead with an assassination," in part because he was "subject to being indicted" for a 12-year-old murder, McClellan told Fox News last fall.

Larry Temple, who joined yesterday's meeting as president of the Johnson Foundation, said that McClellan, a former partner in the law firm that represented Johnson, waited until other potential witnesses were dead before making his charges.

The program included "a scurrilous bunch of allegations" -- including that LBJ was responsible for his sister's death -- that are demonstrably false, Temple said. He said Johnson was described by the program as having discussed the conspiracy the night before the assassination during a dinner in Dallas with Richard Nixon, J. Edgar Hoover and two Texas oilmen. In fact, said Temple, the then-vice president appeared that night with Kennedy in Houston before 3,000 people.

The show also suggested that John Connally, then Texas governor, lured Kennedy to Dallas, Temple said, adding: "If John Connally was part of the conspiracy, why was he so dumb as to be in the car and get shot himself?"

In a promotion for "The Guilty Men," the History Channel said, "The roots of the crime lie buried deep in the heart of Texas and revolve around Lyndon Baines Johnson and high-powered supporters of the assassination who felt their fortunes threatened by JFK's presidency."


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When the Kennedy assassination occurred I was in a 7th grade classroom on an Air Force base in North Carolina. As the announcement that the President was dead was made on the intercom, a cheer came from some in my class...all of whom were from Texas.

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Rumours still persist of Lincoln's vp being involved in his. Ive been studing the case for years and dont believe Oswald acted alone--however, I dont think LBJ was involved. Im friends of Jim Marrs who wrote the book that Stone's JFK was based upon. We both think it had something to do with the Bay of Pigs and the Mob...

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As much as I dislike the Dumbo-earred LBJ, and as much as it's obvious he was a scalawag and crook on at least the local level, I don't think he was involved in the assassination either. Other organizations had far greater hatred of JFK than LBJ did.

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