When JFK first came out in late 1991, the media had prepared the public with a six-month propaganda barrage to doubt the factual accuracy of the film. That barrage began in both the Chicago Tribuneand the Washington Post with articles by Jon Margolis and George Lardner respectively. The attacks on the film kept up throughout its tenure in the theaters and into the Academy Awards ceremonies where, as researcher Richard Goad revealed, David Belin took out an ad in Variety to deliberately hurt the film’s chances at Oscar time. Looked at in retrospect, this campaign was clearly unprecedented in the history of movies. And Stone himself has admitted that the first attacks totally surprised him. Perhaps they should not have. In his film, Stone took up two issues that the establishment media does not wish to be touched upon in any serious or truthful way, i.e. the Kennedy assassination, and the investigation into that murder by the late Jim Garrison, District Attorney of New Orleans who, four years later, launched the only criminal prosecution ever into the murder of President Kennedy. Stone’s film advocated a conspiracy, and a high level one, into the JFK murder. His film portrayed Jim Garrison and his inquiry in a favorable light. Therefore, the big guns of the media pummeled him for months. The barrage was designed to assassinate both Stone, and the film’s message. The week the film opened both Time and Newsweek featured the film as a major story, the latter placed it on the cover. The idea was to massage the collective public mentality into not accepting the film’s message, or at least to create doubts about both the message and the messenger. Many people in the general public, although convinced the official story was not correct, had doubts about the film’s accuracy and total content.
The debate over Stone’s film went on for about a year in public. Not everything about it was negative. There were many programs on television that featured a measured debate about the facts of the film and the case in a careful and balanced way. Unfortunately, these programs were not the widely seen ones like a 48 HoursDan Rather special, which was an awful one-sided attack on Stone and the critics. The following year, in 1993, the media brought out its savior. In the year of the 30th anniversary of the JFK assassination.