Death of a president, 50 years on
Dr. Cyril Wecht is an internationally renowned forensic pathologist, author and former Allegheny County coroner. In 1978, he testified before a congressional committee disputing the Warren Commission conclusions and the single bullet theory regarding the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Wecht spoke to the Trib regarding recent revelations by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. that his father, Robert F. Kennedy, privately disagreed with the Warren Commission report.
Q: Were you surprised by the admission that Robert F. Kennedy actually didn't think much of the Warren Commission findings?
A: Well, no. That had already been revealed in an excellent book by David Talbot (2007's “Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years”), and I've seen other references to it. Not a negative word (about the report) was ever spoken publicly by him, to my knowledge, early on when he was attorney general and even later when he became a senator. But later on he did have those thoughts and feelings. I'm delighted that his son has now spoken out on this and stated what his father came to believe.
Q: If he was dissatisfied, why do you think he didn't express that publicly?
A: You have to keep in mind — and this is not conjecture — that the two people who hated Bobby Kennedy with a passion were the two most powerful people in America: Lyndon Johnson and (FBI director J. Edgar) Hoover. So not to make excuses for Bobby Kennedy, but I can understand that maybe it was wise (not to go public with any criticism). Why open your mouth if you are not going to get anywhere? You are going to run into a stone wall (regarding the assassination inquiry) during those first five years post-assassination (with Johnson and Hoover still in power).
Q: Where do RFK Jr.'s remarks fit in the Warren Commission conversation?
A: It strengthens the hand (of commission detractors). Many intelligent people who are not biased fail to recognize that we, the Warren Commission critics, are not a rogue element. We represent the overwhelming majority of Americans. Six weeks ago, I went to New York City at the request and expense of the History channel for a big program they are putting together (on the assassination). They had commissioned a survey of 2,200 people (and) they wanted to get my reaction to it. They asked if they thought the Warren Commission Report was correct, valid. Eighty-five percent of the people said no. Doesn't that say something? Take a poll today on baseball, apple pie, sex and motherhood and you won't get 85 percent of the people to say that they think they all are good.
Q: You've been an integral part of the Warren Commission discussion. How will you mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination this year?
A: On Oct. 17th, 18th and 19th, we'll have a 50th anniversary program at the (Cyril H. Wecht) Institute of Forensic Science and Law at Duquesne University. I think it will be the biggest (assassination-related) program in the country. We'll have all the major critics, researchers and so on. We had a huge program in 2003 for the 40th anniversary, and we expect to have another excellent program again this time.
Eric Heyl is a staff writer for Trib Total Media (412-320-7857 or email@example.com).
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers notebook: No decision on surgery for rookie CB Golson
- NFL notebook: Giants GM speaks with injured pass-rusher Pierre-Paul
- Authorities identify 2 men killed in fiery crash in Pittsburgh
- Inside the Steelers: Wide array of receiving options shine
- Pirates notebook: Trade movement confidence booster for Morse
- Spirit ending nonstop flights from Unity to Chicago, Las Vegas
- Man interviewed about deaths in East Hills back in Allegheny County Jail
- Pirates pitcher Burnett could return in 4 weeks
- Pennsylvania’s Class AAAA Basketball Player of the Year commits to Penn State
- Storms knock out power to more than 10,000 customerse_SClB
- Large crowd mourns Rayburn woman allegedly killed by escapee