Author of New JFK Book Shreds Grassy Knoll Dictabelt Theory, Rips ‘Blame Dallas First’ Crowd

People pushing JFK assassination-conspiracy theories—and those who blame Dallas’ “poisonous right-wing” atmosphere for the president’s murder—won’t find much to like in the new work of Dr. Larry J. Sabato, founder of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. Sabato’s been in town flogging his new book, The Kennedy Half Century. A new TV documentary based on the book will be shown at the Angelika tonight.

During a talk at Old Parkland the other morning, Sabato said the book includes conclusive new evidence debunking the 1979 conclusion of the House Select Committee on Assassinations about the existence of a grassy-knoll shooter. The committee’s key piece of evidence—a Dallas police Dictabelt recording that supposedly preserved the sound of a fourth gunshot—was not even recorded at Dealey Plaza, but two miles away near the Trade Mart, Sabato discovered. Nor was there any gunfire on the tape. As a result, he said, the committee was “completely wrong.”

The author was similarly blunt about those who insist that Dallas’ 1960s political atmosphere somehow led to Kennedy’s murder. “It’s way past time to stop” blaming the city, Sabato said. “This could have happened anywhere. Was there a group of people who strongly opposed President Kennedy here? Yes. There was everywhere.” While some anti-Kennedy demonstrations probably went too far, he added, “it’s called the First Amendment.”