Black Op Radio #848 Veteran author and researcher James DiEugenio interviewed filmmaker and television personality John Barbour on Black Op Radio. John has made three films about the JFK assassination and conducted a rare series of interviews during the 1980s with Jim Garrison, Mark Lane, and witnesses to the events in Dealy Plaza.
More information on John's films can be found on his website: http://johnbarboursworld.com/
This interview originally aired on Black Op Radio on August 17, 2017, and the audio can be found in Black Op Radio's archives as show #848.
Lightly edited for grammar and flow
Len Osanic: Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of Black Op Radio, today we are having two guests John Barbour, Jim DiEugenio, a conversation between the two of them. Let's just get right to it, hello Jim.
James DiEugenio: Good evening.
Len Osanic: Hello John.
John Barbour: Hi and thank you so much for doing this Len and thank you so much Jim for wanting to talk to me. I just loved the chats that we had at Canter's after the screening of the film and I'm always impressed by your work, so thank you very much.
James DiEugenio: You're welcome. Now, the first couple of things I want to talk to you about, is first, as far as I know, you're the only guy that ever had three films on Amazon. That would be The Garrison Tapes, The Last Word and your current film, I'm pretty sure I'm right about that. I don't know anybody who has ever produced and directed three films on the JFK assassination.
John Barbour: Well you're right about my doing the three films on the assassination, but The Garrison Tapes was never on Amazon and The Last Word On The Assassination was on Amazon but it wasn't on my site. I had done that three years ago, it was a ... because nobody, I had offered The Garrison Tapes on the 50th anniversary to everyone in the country and they had all turned it down so I decided that what I would do is I would go to UNLV, I would give Robert Kennedy, Jr. $25,000 to which he agreed to accept it. The person who set it up for me was Dick Russell who writes a lot of Bobby Kennedy's environment stuff and he was going to be the associate producer, George Knapp was going to interview Robert Kennedy, Jr., we were going to screen the documentary and then he was going to take questions and answers from the audience.
Two days beforehand he backed out. After he backed out the school said, "Well you still have this, can you still do something?" And they gave it to me for nothing, so I hired Joan Mellen and Dick Russell and Jim Marrs, Jim sadly passed away this week. I never thought, quite honestly James, I never thought that in front of all these students that anybody could follow the power of The Garrison Tapes, it's a very emotional movie. I must tell you, Dick Russell and Jim Marrs and Joan Mellen could have taken their act to Broadway, and they were brilliant. But anyway, it sold word of mouth, every month I would get a check for $400. It just sold gangbusters, but something happened between me and my friend, the royalties stopped coming in so I ordered Amazon not to screen it anymore.
Since this movie, The American Media And The Second Word On The Assassination Of President John F. Kennedy has only been up on Amazon for less than three weeks, has almost 2,000 hits and I'm getting scores of requests to see the first one, The Garrison Tapes. They can see that for nothing if they go to You Tube and its johnbarboursworld.com, they can watch that for nothing because I was never in this to make money. I've had a number of people say, "Why do you put out one and two now that you've got two out?" I'm just going to wait until two runs its course and see what happens.
I was never in it for the money, I was just thankful I had the money to tell Jim Garrison's story. I am not a conspiracy theorist, I am a story teller and I accidentally came across the story of Jim Garrison. It is the greatest, human, personal, most courageous story of any American whoever lived and it's about the most horrific murder of a President of The United States, and I was fortunate that I was the only one in the 10 years following the Clay Shaw trial to whom he would give an interview. In that case I'm blessed and the movie is blessed.
James DiEugenio: Now some of the other interviews, and this is what's kind of distinguishing about your films, let me name some of the other people that either you got interviews with or somehow you got a copy of an interview they did before. This would be, in addition to Jim Garrison, Fletcher Prouty, Nicholas Katzenbach, Bill Alford who was Jim Garrison's assistant DA at the time of the Shaw trial, Jim Leavelle, of course who everybody knows was one of the top police officers in the Dallas PD, Harold Weisberg, Jim Marrs, Lou Ivon another investigator for Jim Garrison, Mark Lane, Steve Jaffe, and Ed Hoffman. In addition to that you got Garrison's kids and Irvin Dymond and you actually got Irvin Dymond, who was Shaw's lawyer to admit he tried to get The Warren Report admitted into evidence and he failed.
That's a pretty great admission on camera. So these are some really interesting people that you got to sit down for you, right, and asked them some pretty probing questions. Just on the basis of those interviews, its well worth seeing these films, you know, those people are not easy to interview. Let me give you one example, I don't how the heck you got Katzenbach. How did you get him to sit down for you?
John Barbour: My wife has the most beautiful speaking voice you have ever heard in the world. My wife called Nicholas Katzenbach's office and said my husband has an exclusive interview with Jim Garrison and he would like to make a movie about his life. Of course, Nicholas Katzenbach knew who I was because I was a creator of Real People and I was one of the principle hosts of Real People so he probably thought something very gentle would come out of this whole enterprise so he agreed to do the interview. I did the interviews with all of them, as a matter of fact, the same thing happened with Dymond who was Clay Shaw's attorney. As soon as I walked into the office and he saw me, he looked behind me and he said, "Where's Sarita?" She had talked him into doing this and I was totally shocked about the information about his admitting on camera that he had tried to do this and he failed to introduce that.
To me, it was a crucial part of the Garrison trial of Clay Shaw and of course, it was totally suppressed by the media because as we point out in the film, if the media had said a three judge panel rules the 26 volumes of The Warren Report inadmissible because it's not an investigation, it's just hearsay, everything the government and media was saying about Jim Garrison would have collapsed.
James DiEugenio: The only other place that I've ever seen that information is in Mort Sahl's book Heartland, that's the only other place I've seen it. You're the only one who's actually ever got it on camera.
John Barbour: Yes, I am and I must say I was glad that I was able to mention Mort Sahl even though Mort Sahl and I had ... we had differences of opinion. It wasn't about the Kennedy thing it was about my very first comedy album done in 1966, called It's Tough To Be White and Dick Gregory was a big fan. My mentor, believe it or not when I started as a comic, was Redd Foxx and Redd Foxx was a close friend of Sarita which is unbelievable because you know his act was kind of dirty. Anyway, when Redd and Dick heard that I was going to do this, they said well let Dick do some of the liner notes for you and of course, Mort Sahl had heard about it and Mort offered to do some of the liner notes. I went up to his house to meet with him and he told me a horrifying story about how Joe Kennedy cost him his career and if you want to talk about it because it's related to Kennedy I will talk about it.
Anyway, he listened to the album and he loved it and then when I told him, "Well, these are the things that Dick Gregory is going to say." And he went berserk, he insulted Dick Gregory, he said there was nobody who was as good as Mort Sahl at doing this and how dare I put Dick Gregory on the same page with Mort Sahl? We parted company and I never spoke to him again, but I always supported him because he risked his career in Los Angeles and you may remember, even though you were a very young man, on Channel 11 every week he was doing stuff supporting Garrison. We show that in the movie until finally Channel 11 fired him.
James DiEugenio: Now, I want to get into, I think most people know about your background in the entertainment business. You were essentially the creator of that hit series Real People which was on, I think, NBC for three years, right?
John Barbour: The three years that I ran the show it was the number one show in America it got a 50 share. George Schlatter had signed a two year deal with NBC, there were 22 episodes, now on television you usually get 13 but they got 22. We got a contract for 44 episodes, he didn't want me anymore especially after we almost got into a fist fight in front of everyone over what he did to Garrison on Speak Up America and so he fired me. Within weeks of my being fired the ratings plummeted and they canceled the show. It ran another two years because it was pay or play, but the show was finished, sadly.
James DiEugenio: Okay, and you also, for a long time, you were a local television critic in LA, right? I mean movie critic, right?
John Barbour: Yes, I was the first one in America to review movies on television news. The first who actually reviewed movies was Judith Crist on the Today Show but I originated the AM show in Los Angeles and it came on following movies. The only reason the AM show got on the air, because in those days as we point out in the movie, a company could only own five television stations.
James DiEugenio: Right.
John Barbour: Or five newspapers so there were 1,500 separate owners of television and radio stations and all these stations could be challenged by any group in America. The Chicanos were challenging the license of ABC because they had no representation on the station, so what happened was the station got rid of movies, decided they would give a sop to the FCC and do a news information show and they first offered the show to a fellow named Mario Machado. Mario Machado was a bright, handsome, very popular Latino personality and announcer in Los Angeles. This is how America's changed and how the business has changed, he saw me at the Ice House breaking in some material one night, Jim, and he comes up to me after he said, "John, I just auditioned for a show they're doing at ABC called the AM Show and you should go down and audition, you'd be perfect."
I said, "You mean you just auditioned and you're recommending me?" And he said, "Yeah." I said, "But they're going to hire you, you're a Chicano, they're the ones doing the protesting." He said, "No, but you know more about the news because all your jokes are based on the news, go down and do it." I went down and auditioned, there were 40 guys I auditioned against and some of them were major motion picture stars and I got the job and within three months we were the best morning show in Los Angeles. That's when I began doing movie reviews because in my act I always talked about movies. As a result of that LA Magazine called me when Burt Prelutsky left to go to do a column for the LA Times, and so for 10 years I was also the film critic for Los Angeles Magazine, but that's how it happened.
James DiEugenio: Okay
John Barbour: I just want to add this quickly, I lost the AM Show because I had tried to book Garrison on after his publication of Heritage of Stone, I booked him and they fired me and canceled Garrison. I ended up at Channel 11 as the local critic and Tom Brokaw saw me and was a fan. He called and he said, "How would you like to come and work for the local news here in Channel Four?" I said, "You're kidding." He said, "Yeah, I'll arrange an audition for you and come over and audition." I auditioned and I got the job. I was there for five years, won Emmys three years in a row. I'm the only person in television who's one Emmys for both entertainment and in news. I never signed a contract because they would own my material and I didn't want them to own my material.
They kicked me out of the building three times. One of the times they kicked me out, you'll get a kick out of this, I wanted to review Mark Lane and Dick Gregory's book called Code Name Zorro, which was about the murder of Martin Luther King and the facts uncovered by the House Select Committee and it's a great book and a great read. The news director refused to put me on the air and kicked me out of the building. Well, what happened is I went to my lawyer and I said, "I want to sue NBC." He said, "What for? You don't have a contract." I said, "Well, its violation of my first amendment rights." He said, "You work for NBC, you don't have any first amendment rights, NBC does. If you want first amendment rights you start your own newspaper or you start your own publishing company or you start your own television station."
What had happened though, they had actually run a promo of me talking about Code Name Zorro and the switchboard was flooded, so they had to bring me back. They brought me back and America did not collapse because of my positive review of this wonderful book, which has now been changed the title I think has changed to Murder In Memphis.
James DiEugenio: All right, now what I want to get to now is about, and I think you touched on this already, how did you ever get the idea to interview Jim Garrison on national television?
John Barbour: I accidentally read his book Heritage of Stone. He had lost the Clay Shaw trial and I remember, I paid no attention to it, I believed, like Jim Garrison that the government was right, there was a no conspiracy. I kept saying, you know you arrest the guy in '67, it's 1969 two years, if the guy has nothing get out of his way and let him fall on his face. That's as much thought as I ever gave to it. But when I accidentally read Heritage of Stone standing in a book store, a used book store; I couldn't get over the wonderful information. I rushed to the phone the next morning and I called him. He answered the phone and I said, "Could I speak to Mr. Garrison, please." He said, "Speaking." I said, "Mr. Garrison, my name is John Barbour, I've got the number one show in Los Angeles, we're live, we take phone calls, people would love to talk to you, I just read your book."
He chuckled and he said, "Oh, you must be the other one, I only sold two copies." It was an insight into the man's wit. It was just so amazing but then he said this, he said, "John, it's 1970 and I don't think you're going to get away this, but you know 83% of the Harris poll, they don't think Oswald did it alone or he did it at all. But look at this, only 21% want an actual new investigation," he said, "What does that tell you about Americans?" And I said to him, "Mr. Garrison," I never called him Jim as friendly as we were, it was always Mr. Garrison. I said, "Mr. Garrison, listen, I know what my mother and father did on the pool table or in the rumble seat of the car or in the bedroom, but don't ever tell me, my mother's not a virgin."
He howled, he said, "Can I quote you?" I said, "Most certainly." Now I never knew if he did quote me but it became the title of my autobiography.
James DiEugenio: Okay, so you called him up and you arranged this interview and-
John Barbour: No, no, I was fired. That was in 1970 and I didn't talk to him again until 1980, ten years later. But during the Vietnam war we talked a lot, during Watergate we talked a lot because he loved a joke I did on television. I said, "Watergate is something that has put America on the brink of democracy." And he called applauding me so we used to talk but I had never met him. I did not meet him until Real People, which got on the air accidentally, became the number one show in America, and I read in the middle pages of the LA Times the House Select Committee had concluded four shots had been fired.
I picked up the phone immediately, asked him if he felt vindicated. Again, listen to what he said, he said, "John, I feel like blind man who's gotten a very small trophy in a dark room, only I know I got it." I thought, well Mr. Garrison, now everybody's going to know. First of all, how many of the networks have called you, how many news people have called you to do a story? He said, "John, you're the only one who has called me." That broke my heart, that really broke my heart. I said, "Well, I'm coming down right away and we're going to tell your story on a news show called Speak Up America." And I went down, put him on camera for three and a half hours. The most thrilling, frightening, inspiring, spine-chilling, hair-raising three and a half hours I ever spent in my life.
In that interview he talked a lot about the media but ignored it, because at the time I was making $30,000 an hour on Real People, $20,000 for the hour and $10,000 for the rerun. I didn't want anybody hammering the media. I just wanted to tell this man's great story and what a story it was. I mean, he gave me a list of the people who should be arrested at the time. He gave me the name of the fake Oswald, in prison back east and then he said this, he said, "John, bring that guy a Real People t-shirt and he'll tell you his story." He had the most magnificent sense of humor. I know you told me to be short but I will add this, you see in the film his response to Mike Wallace; Neil Simon, William Shakespeare, nor Mark Twain could write that brilliant ad lib, sardonic response to Mike Wallace.
I'm so happy that you pointed out to me afterwards that Mike Wallace was the not the first guy that CBS had sent down.
James DiEugenio: No, no, we're going to get to that. All right, now, a really dramatic story, a behind the scenes story, which I think really shows us the theme of your second film about the media is what happened to this interview once you brought it back to LA and were getting ready to edit it for broadcast. You actually show what happened to it in your current film and you actually name the people who were involved, Marjoe Gortner, Schlatter and a woman who was given orders by Schlatter to edit the film in a certain way that would mischaracterize what was Garrison said. Why don't you explain how that happened.
John Barbour: That girl was Donna Kanter. She was a very dear friend of mine. I hired her because I loved her father Hal Kanter who was the major comedy writer for the Academy Awards for about 25 years. I name names, that is why when I talk about how Project Mockingbird infiltrated the mainstream media I named the CEOs of the companies that allowed this. To get back to this story of course, there's so much material and the segments in Speak Up America were only eight minutes long. I had three hours of material and so the first eight minutes, the opening sound bite is Jim Garrison leaning forward into the camera saying, "Lee Harvey Oswald had nothing to do with the assassination, in fact, he never fired a gun." Well, the audience was staggered, they'd never heard this, this is 7:00 and 8:00 at night.
They're leaning forward listening to this and when I interviewed him in New Orleans, I said to him, "How many people do you think, how many shooters do you think there were?" And he said, "John, there were probably three, it's triangulation, that's what they call it in the military." He said, "There were two around the grassy knoll, one in the rear, probably one in the Dal-Tex building, not the book depository; and there are usually two on a team but since this is an important kill, they probably have a radio man. There were three teams of shooters, definitely." Then I say to him, "Well Mr. Garrison, aside from those nine people, how many people do you think knew, were aware that John Kennedy would be murdered in Dallas?"
He said, "It's on a need to know basis, you have the nine shooters," and then he extrapolates on the all the people who would probably know and a handful in Washington, DC. Then he finally says about 30. Anyway, part two was about to air and it was as if the Pope or the President was in NBC. You could not get into that studio. People were lining up to listen to what Mr. Garrison had to say. At the time I was having my house torn down and building a nice new house for my family with my newfound wealth, so I was in a rental property and I didn't go down to the studio. I had to be with my wife and family in this rental property and we're watching the show on television.
What happened was that when Marjoe Gortner says to Garrison, "How many shooters do you think there were in Dealey Plaza?" Jim Garrison says, "About 30." And I screamed at the film, "What is that?" And the phone rings and its Schlatter, and he says, "What do you think of that?" And I said, I'm screaming at him, "What did you? What did you do?" And he says, Schlatter said that, "He deserved that." In those days there used to be answering machines, my answering machine recorded George Schlatter and I called Garrison immediately. It's the only time in my life I sobbed out loud at this horror that had been done to this man.
I begged him to sue NBC. He had sued NBC previously because they bribed Perry Raymond Russo and he had Russo wired so they had to give him equal time on late night. I said, "This time you will own NBC and Schlatter, I've got the recording, it's deliberate." And as calmly as ever he said, "John, if I sued everyone that maligned me, I would never see my family or my staff. We love your show, we love Real People, keep doing that show and just send us some Real People t-shirts." And then he hung up. Oh my God, I was so devastated. The next day I go in and I, first of all confront Donna Kanter.
Donna Kanter tells me this story that she got called, it was around midnight she had to go down to the editing room. George Schlatter supervised the editing, she and the editor actually did the physical editing and she had been ordered not to call me. Of course, she started sobbing and then I confronted Schlatter. Schlatter got a start in this business as a bouncer at Zero's, he's a very tough guy and I must tell you, as small as I am, I almost came to blows with him. That was the end of me and that was the end of Real People. Strangely enough, I have no idea ... People ask me, why would George Schlatter do that? I don't know. I have no idea, except that he ended up being the producer of George Bush's inaugural ball.
James DiEugenio: He was also very close to Nixon.
John Barbour: Yes, they became good pals. I’ll tell you something interesting about Nixon. Roger Ailes, I was under contract to replace Merv Griffin at Westinghouse, and Roger Ailes was a young, handsome guy. I mean, since then it looked like he went on Orson Welles' diet. He would have been my producer and we used to talk about the news because that's where I got most of my jokes. He said to me, as a kid he said to me, "John, it's not what you put on the news that changes the world, it's what you don't report and put on the news that changes the world." And what they did not put on the news in regards of John Kennedy was the truth of Jim Garrison's case, he solved it in 1967.
James DiEugenio: All right, now, so you have this three and a half hour interview with Garrison, which got more or less slaughtered by George Schlatter, when you tried to get it on. You still had it, right?
John Barbour: Yes.
James DiEugenio: So you had this tremendous opportunity when Garrison's book was purchased by Oliver Stone and is that when you got the ... when you heard the news of that, did you get the idea of putting together this documentary, The Garrison Tapes?
John Barbour: The first thought that occurred to me, because I was a huge fan of Oliver's because of his movie Salvador. It's one of the great political movies ever made in America. My admiration for him was because he had mortgaged his house to finish the film. I thought, wow, I will call Oliver and see if he will executive produce it; because Garrison said only I was to tell the story and Garrison said it's not always the story, it's the story teller. Hamlet was written 11 times before it got into Shakespeare's hand and The Jumping Frog Of Calaveras County didn't exist until Mark Twain reported on it. Anyway, I called and in essence his secretary said, "Send the footage over here." I said, "No, you send Oliver here." And I never heard from them again after that.
I figured I'll do what Oliver did: I will sell my house, which I did. And in the process of selling the house I accidentally met a fellow who wanted to get into the movie business, a son of a very wealthy man who happened to have 200,000 dollars extra. He said, "I'll help you make the film." And his name was Lamar Card so that's how it happened and then we started making phone calls.
James DiEugenio: How did Fred Weintraub get involved; he was the producer, wasn't he?
John Barbour: Freddy Weintraub owned The Bitter End in New York which was one of the great launching pads for comics and singers. He brought Woodstock to Warner Brothers and he discovered Bruce Lee in Enter The Dragon. We were very close friends. He introduced me to Jane Fonda and when people called her Hanoi Jane and wanted her hung the same way they wanted Muhammed Ali hung because he wouldn't go to Vietnam and kill yellow people, and he said his problem was with white people. I had them on the AM show. Jane liked me so much she had me writing material for her husband who wanted to run for office so we became close friends. I thought my movie, my documentary would be so huge, riding on the coattails of Oliver Stone, because he was getting press immediately because of the attacks on him by George Lardner of the Washington Post.
Everyday we used to read these great exchanges between these two guys. Oliver was slammed by the Washington Post, he hadn't even released the film. And so I was really broken hearted that he wasn't going to be involved with it but I could understand. Thinking I was going to have a hit, I brought in Freddy Weintraub as my partner and he said, "John, this is going to be a political Woodstock, you're going to make millions." I said, "I don't want millions, I just want this story out there." And the major mistake was he sold it to Cinemax, they only aired it once and it killed what was a certain Oscar winner.
I got calls from people at the Academy: John, you've made a dreadful mistake. I said, "I didn't even know. Freddy sold it, he didn't have my permission to sell it." That was a mistake I was not going to make with this film. Three weeks ago it was accepted for Oscar consideration, I don't expect it to get a nomination. It is just too tough a movie. It's been rejected by every film festival, even New Orleans and Toronto, my home town. Everybody's rejecting it. They say they don't have room for it.
James DiEugenio: Now, even though Weintraub made that strategic mistake by selling it to Cinemax, you did get pretty good distribution on that. You sold it, back in those days they had videos in addition to ... I think DVDs were coming in later, but The Garrison Tapes was in every video store I ever walked into.
John Barbour: And you know what, I never saw a cent of it. I never a saw a cent of what Freddy Weintraub sold to Cinemax. I have never seen a cent from The Garrison Tapes, not one cent. You know what I get every year? I get a check for $1000 from Germany, every year. For some reason, some producer runs it in Germany every year, feels guilty and sends me a check for $1000. That's the only money I ever got back from it.
James DiEugenio: John, John, John, I have to tell you, I hope you got a different lawyer this time around. Like I said, that video was every place I went to. It sold a lot of copies.
John Barbour: Yes it did and still to this day people say, "Can I get a DVD of the original Garrison Tapes because my VHS is wearing out."
James DiEugenio: Right, exactly.
John Barbour: That's real sweet of you, thank you, that's sweet.
James DiEugenio: That's how that picture got produced, right? Now, there's many, many highlights that I could talk about with The Garrison Tapes, but there's two of them I want to go into, because you interviewed Garrison in 1980.
John Barbour: Right, September 5th.
James DiEugenio: What's so interesting about that, one of the many interesting things about that interview is that he discusses the whole Vietnam issue at length. What's so interesting about that is that whole issue about JFK withdrawing from Vietnam and being a possible reason for Kennedy's assassination, that really didn't break in to the mass media, until Stone's film came out.
John Barbour: That's absolutely right.
James DiEugenio: Right, but you actually had him talking about it 10 years earlier.
John Barbour: That's right.
James DiEugenio: You know, so that shows you, you know, just how prescient that the guy was.
John Barbour: He's more prescient than that. Listen to this, not only did he investigate Clay Shaw and David Ferrie's ties to the CIA--and by the way I have 67 boxes of Jim Garrison's material--but what he did was he investigated the origins of the CIA. He says on camera, "There's no need for a new agency like that and there's no problem with the Soviet Union threatening us, they lost 25 million people, they are no threat to us." In essence, that was the first real fake war, the Cold War. And they created the Central Intelligence Agency for the sole purpose of changing America's foreign policy and they do; the only way you can do that is changing the hearts and minds of the citizens, and you do that with the media.
They create Project Mockingbird and it's accepted by everyone in America, nobody challenges it from the Washington Post to Time Magazine to even Reader's Digest and we show [Senator Frank] Church in the '70s and [CIA Director] Helms, Richard Helms at the CIA saying we have 400 employees working for the CIA writing the news. That was then, that was then.
James DiEugenio: That's something that you devoted the whole chapter to in the second film.
John Barbour: Yes.
James DiEugenio: The thing I wanted to talk about in the first film, which I don't think you get enough credit for, is that the interview that you did, I don't know if that's your interview or if you got it from Mark Lane. The interview that you did with Roger Craig where he brings up two very important points about the rifle being a Mauser and also about the shells being very close together.
John Barbour: Exactly, yes.
James DiEugenio: I don't know if you know this, but he's been ridiculed for that by a lot of people who said, "No, it's not stamped Mauser, so Craig had to be lying. And no, you look at the pictures and the shells were dispersed." Those have both turned out to be wrong, and Roger Craig was correct because David Josephs did find a Mauser that has 7.65 stamped on the top of the rifle, and Tom Alyea who was the first person, the first civilian to go up to the sixth floor, has since testified to Larry Hancock that the shells were within a hand span of each other; that's how close they were and the Dallas Police dispersed them to make it look like they were scattered. Roger Craig, that poor guy, who took all that heat, for all those things he turned out to be right about. I'm glad he's in your film, because he ended up being correct on both those issues.
John Barbour: Well, I must say something James, I must say, you know more about the assassination probably than anybody I know except maybe Mark Lane. A wonderful piece of footage that we have with Roger Craig I got from Mark Lane, and Mark and I went over this a number of times. I did three hours of interviews with Mark Lane who was absolutely brilliant in the film talking especially about the Warren Commission and its secrecy, and then I also spent three hours with the magnificent Fletcher Prouty, but unfortunately I lost that footage when I lost my home in the 2008 crash.
James DiEugenio: That's really too bad. All right, but now, a couple of other highlights, I just want to mention in passing, the wonderful interview that you did with Orville Nix's daughter-
John Barbour: Yes, Gayle.
James DiEugenio: That was just terrific because it shows how CBS completely forced her father to fabricate a lie for their show.
John Barbour: No, no, he didn't fabricate the lie, CBS fabricated it because Gayle says no because he kept saying the shots came from behind the wooden fence and then the producer he says, "No, no, what does the Warren Commission say?" And Mr. Nix says, "It came from the book depository." They edited that.
James DiEugenio: Right.
John Barbour: He didn't say it, they edited it and it broke his heart and you could see it broke the daughter's heart, too.
James DiEugenio: Another point that you bring up in the Garrison interview and another thing that Garrison took a lot of heat and this also, he turned out to be right, he says in your interview that the motorcade route was changed at the last minute. And a lot of the professional critics of Garrison say no, no, no. It turns out, in Vince Palamara's next to last book, and he's the expert on the Secret Service, he proves that the motorcade route was changed a day before Kennedy got to Dallas. He was right about that, also.
John Barbour: Does Vince say who did it? Because there's an interesting moment in the three hours that I have, Jim has left the office for a minute to tend to some business and Mark Lane is sitting down taking his place and Mark and I are just chatting but the cameras are rolling. And Mark Lane names the guy who was the actual guy who ordered the change of the route of the motorcade. He says it softly but the guy had died at the time of the interview and I never went beyond that and I never brought it up in the film. There's a lot of stuff that's not in the film, Garrison was sure that a shot came from the sewer and I have pictures of Stephen Jaffe in that sewer because Garrison had sent him there.
James DiEugenio: Right, now, let's go to your second film, the movie that you just played in New York and in LA, to get Academy consideration, The American Media And The Second Assassination Of President John Kennedy. I don't know, you probably do know this, you know you begin both films with the same quote.
John Barbour: Yes, exactly.
James DiEugenio: Right, okay, I didn't think that was an accident. All right, it's the one about Kennedy saying we need a free flow of information.
John Barbour: That's right, it's media related.
James DiEugenio: Right, exactly. In the second film you also bring up something that was declassified by the ARRB, which is the first meeting, there were actually four of them, but you brought up the first one. The first meeting of the CIA's Garrison group and you excerpt the famous quote by Ray Rocca who was James Angleton's first assistant and I'll let you give the quote since...
John Barbour: No, no, you give the quote, no, listen I must tell you I could listen to you forever because you, no seriously-
James DiEugenio: I'm supposed to be asking you questions.
John Barbour: Listen, this is what John Kennedy said Jim, is a free flow of information.
James DiEugenio: All right.
John Barbour: There you go, you give the quote because people love to hear you when you do it because you are authenticating what I have shown in the film.
James DiEugenio: "Jim Garrison will attain a conviction of Clay Shaw". That was a quote that opened the meeting, so obviously the whole point was, what are we going to do now? In other words, this was the beginning of the CIA's program to obstruct Jim Garrison, which I've written at length about. Bill Davy has written at length about, Joan Mellen has written at length about. I'm really glad that you put that memo in your film. I have to tell you, for me the highlight of the movie was when you did that wonderful montage of the OJ Simpson case, the JonBenet Ramsey case, and the Bill Clinton impeachment case; and you compared the number of days that were involved in each, the cost of each to the taxpayers, the number of media that was involved in covering them and the number of stars that were made out of those giant brouhahas. That was just excellent, just beautifully done.
John Barbour: Let me tell you something quite honestly, I hate to say this even though it's about my film, as a film critic who has seen thousands of movies. There are two or three films that have fantastic openings: The Philadelphia Story, Citizen Kane, a lot of them. I must say, quite honestly, the first eight minutes of my movie with that sequence that you're talking about, to me is the most powerful, the most interesting, and most informative and entertaining eight minutes of any movie ever made in America.
James DiEugenio: Okay.
John Barbour: It says it all and then the next nine chapters-
James DiEugenio: It tells a lot about how crazy our culture is.
John Barbour: That's right, that's right.
James DiEugenio: Now, that montage, and I think the really, if you see the movie the second time, which I saw and I actually saw it a third time to prepare for this, nobody understands how many people made their career with for example, with the Clinton impeachment: To name just a few people, Laura Ingram and Ann Coulter, they were nobodies. They were nobodies before that. That's what launched their careers into the right wing media. What you did, is the inverse and said, "Now, who were the people who made their career by not investigating the JFK case?" And actually covering it up; let's be frank. Of course, the guy you really ream into among others, is Dan Rather and I have to say what John did here, he did something that I wasn't aware of. Everybody know the thing about Dan Rather completely distorting the Zapruder film by saying that John Kennedy's head moves violently forward, which he actually told the American public.
There were two other things that you got of him that I didn't even know existed. You have him saying and this, of course, is on national television, that the fatal wound came in at the base of the throat and exited the back of the neck.
John Barbour: Right.
James DiEugenio: I don't know how the hell you got that, you must have been looking at a lot of hours of TV footage because I never even knew that existed.
John Barbour: You know what, I've said this many, many times you heard me say it in Los Angeles, I'm not a religious person at all; but I think that this film is blessed because there were many, many moments when we ran into roadblocks and we couldn't move forward so I had nothing to do but go to the internet and start searching. That's how I found that piece of footage, quite by accident, and then of course, the wonderful, wonderful footage that I have of Richard Sprague. Richard Sprague was the first chief counsel for the House Select Committee and he said, "We will not hire FBI or CIA, they're the first to be investigated." And then we have him talking on camera about how they got rid of him when he subpoenaed all their stuff. I mean, there's so much that I'm pleased and proud of in the film and one of the things we'll get to later, I would like to get to later, is the business of Dan Rather and a few others who should keep him company-
James DiEugenio: And the other thing you have Dan Rather saying, that this was almost too funny, he goes, "It was an easy shot, you didn't have to be an expert."
John Barbour: That's right, oh my God, I can't believe he said it.
James DiEugenio: It's incredible because if you ever read my article about CBS news and how they covered up the JFK case, CBS completely manufactured their rifle demonstrations for the specific reason that the first expert guy they got, couldn't do it. He couldn't do it, and so he then talked to the producer, who I think was Les Midgley at that time, and he said: "Look, this is a really, really difficult feat of marksmanship and you got to be really, really lucky to do something like this." That's what he said. And so that's when they came in with this whole new idea; we're going to get 11 guys instead of just one and we're going to throw out all the ones where they missed or couldn't make the rifle work. Then what they did to finally do the ultimate rigging of that test is they made the target three times the size of what the actual target area on JFK's head and upper back would be. When you have Dan Rather saying something like that and then you read what CBS actually did, I mean really, it doesn't get any worse than that, does it?
John Barbour: No, it doesn't and it's almost like a dark English comedy, it's almost like Dr. Strangelove. You expect Peter Sellers to pop up and minute, it is just so...
James DiEugenio: Sterling Hayden.
John Barbour: Yeah, Sterling, oh yeah, the essences, yes, their essences, you're absolutely right. Wow, what a loss Stanley Kubrick was, he was an iconic filmmaker.
James DiEugenio: Now, let's go to you got some really good stuff that I thought was very interesting on Mockingbird and also the fact, because I don't think a young audience even remembers what the Fairness Doctrine was.
John Barbour: No, they don't.
James DiEugenio: Or what the equal time provision was, because they're not around anymore.
John Barbour: You have been a teacher and you know more about this case than anybody. When I finished the first draft, Dan Jacobs and I and Gino Munari, without whom I could have never finished the film, we screened it for a leading anchor woman who was the number one anchor woman in Reno. And at one point in the movie she screamed. I had been sitting behind her so when it was all over I said, "Hey, that had nothing to do with blood or head shots, why were you screaming?" She said, "I did not know, John, there was such a thing as a Fairness Doctrine or equal time or that a company could only own five stations years ago and I have a Master's in journalism." That's how under informed these people are in America.
James DiEugenio: It started with Reagan and then Clinton finished it.
John Barbour: Yes, he did, yes, he did.
James DiEugenio: Clinton finished it. But the Fairness Doctrine, and let's talk about how that directly relates to your movie; is when Walter Sheridan did his hatchet job, his one hour program on NBC on Jim Garrison, it was so outrageous and so one-sided that at that time, and being in the broadcast business you of course would know this like the back of your hand, at that time you could petition the FCC for equal time and a fair reply. That's how Garrison got on TV.
John Barbour: James, I had to interrupt to, that's true and Garrison did that but that is not how he got the equal time because when Sheridan tried to bribe Perry Russo in the motel room; Perry had called Garrison about the meeting and Garrison said, "Do you mind wearing a wire?" So he wired Russo and got Sheridan offering the bribe, he brought criminal charges against NBC, it wasn't the fairness thing that got him on the air, it was the criminal charge. NBC should have lost their license and Sheridan should have gone to jail.
James DiEugenio: Well, I agree with that, but that was probably all part ... Because what you have to do, you prepare a petition for the FCC and then they would go ahead and give you the time. What Sheridan did, I totally agree with you, I did a lot of work on that special in my book, and its unbelievable the violations of the norm, the violation of journalistic ethics that he got away with. He could only get away with it and I think this is pretty obvious to everybody today, is if the owner of NBC allowed him to, which he did.
John Barbour: Could I tell you a 30 second story of how powerful the Fairness Doctrine is and it's ... This is how strong that Fairness Doctrine was. First of all, when I had Ronald Reagan on my show when he was running for his second term as governor, I then had to have a Democrat on; I had to have a socialist and I had to have Nazi on, anybody who could get 5% of the popular vote had to get equal time. As a critic I reviewed Soylent Green. Do you remember the movie Soylent Green?
James DiEugenio: Yes, yes.
John Barbour: I decimated the film, and it's easy to get laughs as Don Rickles could have told you, if you're attacking stuff. I felt so bad about how cruel I was, I said, "Well, let me say something nice about the movie, the sets are absolutely beautiful, but they would be more beautiful if they were placed in front of the actors." Well, the producer, Jim, the producer at 20th Century Fox sued for equal time. It went through the California courts, it went through the state Supreme Court, and five years later it was heard by the Supreme Court of the United States. They ruled against him because, and this is in the ruling, John Barbour's review was of no public import.
James DiEugenio: Okay, that's a good one, all right, but you're exactly right. That's how great the Fairness Doctrine and the Equal Time Doctrines were and they've been completely, as you've mentioned in the movie, along with Bill Clinton and his rewriting of the Communications Act, that allowed these huge monopolies to take over all these ... Well we used to have limitations on how many stations, how many newspapers you could own.
John Barbour: Exactly.
James DiEugenio: Those are just about gone now.
John Barbour: It's gone, it's totally gone. You know, the only way you could ... You know, since the movie's come out, Jim, I have people saying well, who are the people in the shadow government and I tell them the shadow government are the people you elect every four years, because the people you elect are not allowed to govern since they murdered John Kennedy for crying out loud. The only way that this nation could be salvaged if somebody repeals the Communications Act. You remember at one time when Paramount and MGM and all these studios in the 50s owned theaters, they were forced to sell off their theaters because they were a monopoly. The media now is six monopolies and if you repeal the Communications Act and you go back to maybe only seven stations that you could own, there would be mass diversity in America. They do not want people in America, as George Carlin said, to be informed.
James DiEugenio: Bill Clinton was the best Republican president ever, that's the way that I look at it.
John Barbour: That is wonderful, there's applause for that one.
James DiEugenio: Yeah, all right, continuing with another thing that ... A really good interview that you brought in a guy who Len has had on his show, Lance deHaven-Smith-
John Barbour: Oh yes.
James DiEugenio: A professor from down there in Florida
John Barbour: Sweetheart.
James DiEugenio: What a wonderful book, and he included in there the whole thing about how the phrase conspiracy theorist first got injected into the mainstream media, which of course is through the famous CIA memo.
John Barbour: Yes.
James DiEugenio: Countering the critics and you have him in your film, also.
John Barbour: And the memos.
James DiEugenio: Yes, right, right. And that is exactly how it happened because he traced how often that term was used before 1967 and then how often it was used after 1967, and it just exploded into the lexicon. I was really glad to see that. And then you have Mike Wallace interviewing Garrison and you mentioned earlier, that was for the four hour CBS special in which Dan Rather and Cronkite tried to re-endorse the Warren Commission. That interview was the second one, because the first one which was done by a guy named Joe Wershba, Garrison came on too well. I've actually seen the transcript. So they sent Wallace in to go ahead and begin the interview with all the things about bribing witnesses and drugging witnesses. As you show in there, Garrison has a wonderfully humorous reply to that-
John Barbour: It was brilliant.
James DiEugenio: Yeah, right, it was terrific. You also have and by the way, this is something that not very many people know so I'm glad you touched on it in your film, Harry Connick Sr. was essentially part of the defense team at the Clay Shaw trial.
John Barbour: That's true.
James DiEugenio: Exactly correct and I'm glad you put it in your film. He was the liaison between the Justice Department and Shaw's lawyers and he did all kinds of favors for them. Another thing you did pretty well in your movie is that you showed how they got Garrison out of office. Mark Lane talked about it in your first film and you mentioned those two terrible trials that they fabricated to get Garrison out of office, which were complete side shows, should have never happened. That's how Connick won the office. Harry Connick turned out to be a nightmare to the citizens of New Orleans.
John Barbour: He was.
James DiEugenio: Right.
John Barbour: To the day he died he maligned Garrison.
James DiEugenio: Right, but I'm talking about as a DA though, he was a terrible DA. He actually got cited by the Supreme Court by name twice for the terrible things he did in his homicide investigations. Several people were sent to death row and at the last minute they got off because something happened to reveal the terrible things that Harry Connick, Sr. did. By the way, he's still alive, he's 91. Anybody can look up that record, it's just a terrible record and you compare it to Jim Garrison and it's night and day. Garrison was an excellent DA and almost everybody down there will tell you about his performance so I'm glad you brought that in also.
John Barbour: I wish I had been able to bring up the fact that he prevented the prosecution of James Baldwin for The Fire Next Time.
James DiEugenio: That's another great thing that Garrison did.
John Barbour: He did a lot of that kind of stuff and of course, as you saw in the first film the Supreme Court ruled that he was justified in making fun of elected officials which fortunately we can still do to this day, even though nobody has the courage to do it anymore.
James DiEugenio: In the latter part of the film you bring in Bill O'Reilly who essentially flips sides on the issue, right?
John Barbour: Yes.
James DiEugenio: When he began his career he did some pretty good work, right?
John Barbour: Yes, he did and we show some of it.
James DiEugenio: Yeah, then evidently he kind of sold his soul to the devil to become a prime time talking head on Fox News. You agree?
John Barbour: Oh absolutely, there's no question about that and again we show that. There are a lot of wonderful moments in the film and some of the things ... One of the things I'm really proud of, there had been a lot of really wonderful documentaries. I mean I was glued to The Men Who Killed Kennedy and of course it was Bill Moyers who got it off of the air because in the last episode they said it was Lyndon Johnson. In 1980 and Garrison says it in the film, "John, here's a list of people that should be arrested and tried for the murder of John Kennedy." Of course most of them are gone now but we found 10 who were not. This is the only documentary, Garrison solved the case. What we don't have is that Jim Garrison to bring a trial or prosecute people, that's what's missing. But the evidence is there.
It's a cold case at the Justice Department, we got an old fashioned FBI wanted poster and we highlighted four of the most important people who should be arrested, questioned or water boarded if you will about the murder of John Kennedy, beginning with Dan Rather. At the end of the film I deliver to it the Justice Department. It's the only movie that takes all of these facts and at the end you have this poor schlep-
James DiEugenio: Well John, I think what everybody wants to know is: what happened inside the Justice Department.
John Barbour: We couldn't get in, I went there with my attorney Brian Lloyd consigliore. There were 40 police cars surrounding the Justice Department. Now I was scared to death and I must tell you something, you are the first person in thousands who've asked me what happened when you went to the Justice Department. So compliments to you, you should be a journalist and you are a journalist and an investigative reporter. I thought they were there to arrest me. And Brian said, "Thank God I'm here." I'm wondering what my bail is going to be. It turned out, somebody had left a car parked next to the Justice Department with a suitcase in it and the car had been there about 45 minutes. They thought maybe it was a bomb or something and somehow or another it got all out of control.
A police officer was there, and I said, "Listen, I'm from Las Vegas and I'm doing this documentary about the assassination and there's something related to the Justice Department, could I do my stand up here in front of the Justice Department?" And they said, "By all means." So they were really nice and so I did it in one take because I wanted to get out of there. Then when I got home, and I emailed it and I sent it special delivery to the Justice Department. I have never heard from them. I guarantee you, that wanted poster is in their recreation room or their lunch room and it's on a dart board and they're throwing darts at these guys. You're the first one to ever ask me about that.
James DiEugenio: All right, to end the discussion, why don't you close out that story about Tom Brokaw because I think that's very interesting.
John Barbour: Yeah.
James DiEugenio: What happened at the 50th, go ahead, tell the audience about that.
John Barbour: On the 50th anniversary, no station, I mean you must remember even you bring up Bill O'Reilly and Geraldo; maybe 20 years ago they would do five minutes or so about maybe Garrison, or maybe there were questions about The Warren Report. On the 50th anniversary it wasn't anywhere. There was not one doubting word anywhere, and I called and sent emails to all of these stations offering it for nothing, got no reply. Then I accidentally read that my friend Tom Brokaw, who got me hired at NBC in the first place, can you believe that there is now a military channel in the United States of America? How close to Nuremberg is that, okay? In any event, I call him because it says that he's going to do an hour documentary on the JFK assassination for the new military channel.
I call him, his daughter went to Stanford and my son went to Stanford, so we had a lot in common aside from NBC. And I said, "Tom, congratulations, you're doing this." He said, "Great to hear from you, what can I do for you?" And I said, "Well, you know I had this documentary The Garrison Tapes, just get me five minutes in this hour of ... I didn't even get to finish." And he said, "No, Garrison. I love talking to you John, but no Garrison, hope we talk soon." And he hung up. That was it.
James DiEugenio: That tells, really, that tells you the whole story about the major media and the JFK case.
John Barbour: It does.
James DiEugenio: It really does.
John Barbour: It absolutely does. Now, we see a lot of documents that I know you guys are poring over and on the 26th of October the rest are supposed to be released. I don't think personally they'll ever be released. It's up to Trump. I have no idea what Trump is going to do, if he's even going to be president come October 26th. But I think it's all kind of a very interesting distraction. There will be a lot of interesting information there like the Rocca document that you just mentioned, but it's not going to lead to any arrests. It's not going to lead to a real investigation; you cannot have the government investigating itself. The Warren Commission proved that and 9/11 proved that you cannot have the government investigating itself. And we close the documentary again with a picture of John Kennedy. One of my favorite quotes of his, he said, "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible made violent revolution inevitable."
James DiEugenio: That's a great way to close the show.
John Barbour: It is and then we show Jim ... Oh and then you know I wrote a nasty note to the New Orleans Film Festival because, of course, I thought that they would take the film, being the home of Jim Garrison. But then I realized, that the establishment did not like Mr. Garrison. I pointed out in all of their tourist maps you cannot find a guide to Jim Garrison's tombstone, which says, "Let justice be done though the heavens fall." But they show you in big print where you can find gangster Carlos Marcello's tombstone and that's all you need to know about Harry Connick, Sr's New Orleans.
James DiEugenio: Yeah, as Garrison said in one of his private correspondences to the House Select Committee, he wrote: "Once I went ahead and indicted Clay Shaw, all of high society in New Orleans rose up, like a giant volcano and they began to go ahead and tar and feather me over this guy who they imagined was Mr. Clean." As we know today, with all the declassified documents, for instance the FBI knew that Clay Shaw was Clay Bertrand. The Justice Department knew that Clay Shaw was Clay Bertrand. Even Ed Guthman, the editor of the LA Times knew that Clay Shaw was Clay Bertrand.
John Barbour: You saw that in the first documentary when Shaw was fingerprinted and arrested, but the judge they wouldn't allow that to be introduced as evidence. There is something afoot, James. There is something afoot while there's still an internet, even though as I say in the film to me it's a bunch of nuts and corn. But if you're selective you will find great prizes. And you're one of these great prizes, as are a couple of other people that we show in the film. There is something going on in America, even though they are working now to shut down the internet or to make it impossible to earn a living on the internet, there is something really important that is going to happen. And Chris Hedges predicted it with the election of Donald Trump, that this may be the last president that we see before this sea change in America.
Again, I want to thank you so much and I should say you didn't bring it up but I'm going to bring it up. First of all, if I had shown you the rough cut beforehand this would be as long as The Men Who Killed Kennedy, it would be nine hours long. I had trouble keeping it down to two hours and ten minutes. There were a couple of flaws in the film as you pointed out, I called Hale Boggs a Senator when actually he was a Congressman. And you didn't bring it up but I'm going to tell you: I appreciate anything positive or negative about this film because you are so good at what you do. And you're on Garrison's side, so you're on the right side as far as I'm concerned. I want to really thank you for the time that you spent with me tonight and I hope we get back to Canter's because I do miss those pickles.
James DiEugenio: Okay, all right, have a good night John.
John Barbour: Thank you so much James, I really appreciate it. And Len, thank you for putting the two of us together and staying awake for us.
Len Osanic: No problem.
James DiEugenio: Okay, have a good night gentlemen.
John Barbour: Okay, good night.
Len Osanic: Okay, good night everybody.
John Barbour: Okay.
Len Osanic: All right, okay, bye