Master of Arts
Date of Defense
From the moment President Kennedy was shot, the public had difficulty accepting Lee Harvey Oswald as the lone assassin, and spoke in terms of conspiracy. Polling data indicated that while Oswald may have participated in the plot, the majority believed others were also involved. Examining the public’s response to the vocal critics of the Warren Commission, the findings of both the Church Committee and the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), and the release of pertinent documents as a result of the Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act, an image of an unconvinced public is seen. Evidence of this can be seen not only in the number of cultural and literary endeavors dedicated to the topic, but also by the public’s insatiable appetite for said material. By examining literature both critical of and in support of the Warren Report, documents collected by the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB), and the public’s response expressed through the arts, indicates an ongoing culture of disbelief in the findings of the Warren Report. Polling data suggests that the Warren Report was not only ill received, but as additional information became public, the work of the Commission also became less reliable according to public opinion. This occurred despite of the efforts of traditional media outlets to not only marginalize critics, but also to weaponize the term “conspiracy theorist” as a pejorative. In the eyes of the public, a congressional committee reaching this conclusion not only acerbated their disbelief in the Warren Report, but also indicated that federal agencies had practiced an ongoing campaign of deception. As an expression of the Warren Report’s lack of credence is its ongoing debate through art. Manifesting itself in the form of literature, plays, film, television, song; the Warren Report’s selective use of testimony, missing evidence, and its rush to assure the public that Oswald was the lone-gunman had failed.
Fry, Adam T., "The Public’s Reaction, Over Time, to the Findings of the Warren Report" (2020). Theses. 387.