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The claim we have examined in such detail probably does not deserve the attention it has received. It was based upon a simple mistake of observation: What Jack White said was present in the Moorman photo just wasn’t there! The importance of the claim, however, is what we can learn from its curious defense by Fetzer and White.
Remarkable about Fetzer and White’s defense of Moorman-in-the-street is that it comes a full six years after the claim was shown to be based on a careless reading of the Moorman photo. In the pages above, I have gone over many points. But these are not new. They were pointed out ad nauseum to Fetzer and White in, and since, 2002. The fact that their defense continues in 2009 signals a stubborn unwillingness on their part to engage with their critics. Over the last three months, Fetzer has proved a moving target. Once a single point was argued to a conclusion, he would introduce an extraneous point while never admitting the resolution of the first point. Again and again, he bombarded his critics and the public-at-large with alleged “proofs” that the Zapruder film has been falsified. When examined, the instances of proof end up being claims that Fetzer earlier made and were shown to be invalid. In this way, an invalid claim only gets buried to be resurrected again after people have forgotten its demise.
A second characteristic of the Fetzer-White defense is the proliferation of film alteration claims. The Moorman-in-the-street claim began with White and Fetzer claiming the Moorman photo was clearly genuine. As White put it in MIDP, “Because it was an instant photo that was copied and widely published within hours of the assassination, the Moorman Polaroid is guaranteed to be an authentic image.” However, as soon as it became apparent that the Moorman photo confirms Moorman’s position in the grass, we begin to hear about the likelihood of its alteration “especially in the area of the pedestal and the pergola.” Why would anyone care about altering the photo in this area? To conceal the fact that Zapruder and Sitzman never stood on the pedestal. Then what about the Betzner and Willis photos that clearly show persons dressed like Zapruder and Sitzman standing on the pedestal? Those photos were faked up too... And so it goes.
In 2009, on a the Education JFK assassination forum, Fetzer grandiloquently announced a new proof of Zapruder film fakery. Officer James Chaney gave an interview to ABC newsman Paul Good on the night of November 22nd saying he rode forward to inform the lead car about the shooting. Other reports by law enforcement officers seem to be saying the same thing. The Zapruder film shows no such thing, says Fetzer, hence the Zapruder film must have been altered. The Nix, Muchmore and Bell films show no such thing. Then they were altered too. A photograph taken by James Altgens shows no such thing. It was altered too.
Then Craig Lamson and others found additional photos of which Fetzer and White apparently were ignorant. The Daniel film and a still photo by Mel McIntire both matched the other films and showed Chaney trailing far behind the limousine. The McIntire still photo is particularly telling since it shows the Presidential limousine abreast of the lead car with the SS follow-up car close behind. Officer Chaney can be seen trailing about one hundred yards behind. Fetzer and White were asked repeatedly whether these photos were altered too. They declined to answer.
At the present time, it is not known whether Fetzer and White hold any of the Dealey Plaza photos to be genuine and unaltered. Their refusal to ever admit a mistake is comical. However, their ever-expanding claims of film alteration might have serious consequences, but only if they were believed.
Fortunately, it is clear this will not happen. Criticism already launched against the Fetzer-White claims has marginalized their efforts as far as the research community is concerned. Belief in alteration of the Zapruder film is generally looked upon as a kind of kooky religious belief. Meanwhile, Fetzer has moved on to the latest conspiration du jour.
The failure, however, of the Fetzer-White attack on the authenticity of the Zapruder film has had an unintended consequence.
There is a significant question concerning what evidence in the Kennedy assassination is to be considered authentic. The problems concerning the autopsy photos and x-rays hardly require mention. I believe there are significant questions regarding the provenance of CE 399 and perhaps other items of physical evidence. Eyewitness testimony is inherently unreliable and (as expected) in this case is filled with contradictions. Where then might we expect to find some bedrock of evidence in the case to use to evaluate the authenticity and significance of other evidence? Were Fetzer and White’s assault on the photo evidence from Dealey Plaza deemed successful, we would lose the photo record from Dealey Plaza as a source of vital evidence. The tabloid atmosphere already apparent on the internet could become permanent. Any claim could be launched because no body of evidence existed that could limit what might or might not be the case. Research on the case would be reduced to a cacophony of competing conspiracy theories each one contending that this or that piece of evidence was misleading because it had been altered.
For over a decade now, Fetzer and White have attempted to show discrepancies between the Zapruder film and other films and photos shot in Dealey Plaza. Their odd defense of Moorman-in-the-street is just part of this overall effort. Their effort is actually based upon a simple but incredibly powerful principle: Each photo and film taken in Dealey Plaza has to fit into a more general fabric. If you take photos and movies of a single event from multiple standpoints, all the films and photos have to agree. They can only vary with respect to the standpoint from which they were taken. For example, with respect to Mary Moorman, the Muchmore and Zapruder films show her from wildly different angles. Yet these films can be matched up frame-by-frame to lay out every detail of her actions as the limousine passes her. The same can be said of all the photos and films taken in Dealey Plaza. If a film or photo were altered, it would stand out. It would be discrepant with the rest of the photo record.
Because of the persistent but failing efforts of Fetzer, White and others, I can say with considerable confidence that the photo record from Dealey Plaza forms a seamless tapestry of what happened on November 22nd. If you want to know what happened there, then study the photo record. It is a self-authenticating whole that can stand as bedrock in the case. It can be used to evaluate both eyewitness testimony and physical evidence. Only by the sheerest luck did Abraham Zapruder climb up on that pedestal with his camera and Mary Moorman take her Polaroid along that day. Zapruder’s film and Moorman’s Polaroid (plus many other films and photos) give us the raw material to reconstruct the event insofar as it is possible. Without them, we in the research community would have gotten nowhere.
In the oddest way and against their will, the failure of
Fetzer and White to defend their claims has provided a singular gift...
a bedrock of evidence on which true research on the case can continue
Appendix A: What Mary Moorman said and didn’t say!
Mary Moorman has been interviewed numerous times by newsmen and law enforcement officers concerning what she saw and did on November 22nd. On that afternoon, she executed an Affidavit in the Sheriff’s Office. On February 15, 1969, she testified under oath in the Clay Shaw trial. I have collected below all the various statements of Mary Moorman I could find relevant to the question of her position when she took her famous photo. There probably are others. Without comment, I list them below for the record:
Affidavit Executed at the Sheriff’s Department on the afternoon of November 22nd
Moorman stated that “Mrs. Jean Hill and I were standing on the grass by the park on Elm Street... I had a Polaroid camera with me and was intending to take pictures of the President Kennedy and the motorcade.” She described taking two earlier photos. Then she stated:
FBI Interview of Moorman at Sheriff’s Department on the afternoon of November 22nd
Moorman was interviewed by Special Agents Perryman and Gemberling on the afternoon of November 22nd. She described taking an earlier photograph of a police officer leading the motorcade. Then she described taking her famous photograph:
KRLD Radio Interview of Mary Moorman, broadcast
around 3:45 PM (local time) 11/22/63
The text of this interview was supplied
by David Lifton to John Costella. Gary Mack listened to a Sixth Floor
Museum copy of the original tape and supplied a critical part. The
Lifton/Costella transcript stated: “Hogan: Were you up on that grassy bank there? Moorman:
(unclear) stepped out. We were right at the car.” By listening
to the Museum’s tape, Mack was able to correct Moorman’s
answer to read: “Yes, that’s where we were and I stepped
out in the street. We were right at the car.”
Bill Lord: Did you realize what had happened
when you heard the shots?
The Warren Report (9-27-64) (CBS-TV News Special) (Part 10) Walter Cronkite narrator, 3:33 - 3:53 seconds into Segment 10.
Moorman is filmed standing in the grass by the south curb of Elm Street. Whatever question prompted her response is cut edited. We have only the following words from her:
February 15, 1969, Moorman’s Sworn Testimony at the Shaw Trial
Moorman was asked to identify her famous photograph and did so. She was asked to “pin this flag on the location, your location, in Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963." After doing so, she was shown a large mock-up of Dealey Plaza and once again asked to place herself in the mock-up. She did so. (NOTE: The Court transcript, of course, does not indicate where she pinned the flag on the exhibit or placed herself in the mock-up. Since, a few minutes later, she identified herself in the Zapruder film in the grass by the curb, there is no reason to believe that she placed herself anywhere else on the exhibit or in the mock-up.)
Next, she was asked what she saw and heard on November 22nd and replied:
Finally, the Zapruder film was shown
and she was asked to “locate yourself in the picture... please walk to the film and
point to yourself.”(45) She pointed herself out as she appears
standing in the grass taking her photo in Zapruder frames 291-313.
KRLD interview of Moorman in 1997
Moorman: Uh, just immediately
before the presidential car came into view, we were, you know, there
was just tremendous excitement. And my friend who was with me, we were
right ready to take the picture. And she’s not timid. She, as the car approached us,
she did holler for the president, “Mr. President, look this way!” And
I’d stepped out off the curb into the street to take the picture.
And snapped it immediately. And that evidently was the first shot. You
know, I could hear the sound. And...
One can speculate endlessly about what a witness says in an interview. With regard to Moorman, it is clear that in her KRLD interview from 1997 she says she took her famous photo from the street. A twenty-second sound bite from CBS’s 1964 Warren Report broadcast has her saying the same thing. However, it is equally clear that this has not always been her story.
In her Sheriff’s Department Affidavit from the afternoon of November 22nd, she tells of taking her picture, and, “when I heard these shots ring out, I fell to the ground to keep from being hit myself.” To FBI agents Perryman and Gemberling, she said the same thing that afternoon:
In her NBC/WBAP-TV interview filmed around 1:00 PM (CST), she says,
In her ABC/WFAA-TV interview from that afternoon, she says,
The interviewer, Bill Lord, asks her if she lay down and she replies:
In her 1969 sworn testimony at the Shaw trial, Moorman identified herself in the Zapruder film standing in the grass taking her photo and indicated her “location in Dealey Plaza” on both a map and a mock-up of the Plaza.
All of these remarks and sworn testimony are confirmed
by later pictures showing Hill and Moorman seated on the grass at the
spot where earlier film and photos show them standing as Moorman snaps
Moorman: ... I got the camera focused
and then I snapped it in my picture, he slumped over.
In this transcript, Moorman does not say she took her famous photo from the street. On the contrary, she says “I fall behind my camera” [onto the grass]. When asked where she was standing, she says she was “on that grassy bank there” and goes on to say, “That’s where we were and I stepped out in the street.” Moorman does not say that she “stepped out in the street” to take her photo but only that she “stepped out into the street” at some point. That point could have been significantly before the limousine arrived opposite her or in the seconds after it passed.
In essence, what we have here is a dilemma that commonly surfaces in dealing with eye-witness accounts of an event. The contents of a photo or tape recording does not change over time. A person’s verbal account of what they saw or did, however, often does. In cases like this, one is faced with deciding between two conflicting statements: Was she in the street or in the grass when she took her famous photo?
In like circumstances, we would normally ask what other people observed. One could easily imagine a dialogue occurring like this:
As a matter of fact, this instance provides a fine example as to how the photo record from Dealey Plaza can be used effectively to resolve conflicts in eyewitness reports.
Why would Mary Moorman end up making confusing and conflicting statements as to where she was when she took her famous photo? I have a suggestion. It concerns the position she occupied in taking one – and perhaps two – of her earlier photos that afternoon.
Before the limousine arrived, Moorman snapped two photos of motorcyclists preceding the limousine. The first was of Officer G. C. McBride, a good friend of Moorman’s from high school days, who was riding in the advance guard that day. Her photo of him shows the officer looking straight into the camera with the Depository looming in the background. Internal evidence in the photo shows it was taken from a position in the street, looking up at the 58" high top of McBride’s windscreen.
A second photo was taken by Moorman of another school friend, Officer W. George Lumpkin, who lost the photo after Moorman gave it to him. Richard Trask interviewed Lumpkin in 1978. Lumpkin recalled Moorman taking the photo about two minutes before the assassination. “He thinks he stopped on Elm Street,” wrote Trask, “and briefly spoke with Moorman and Hill.” [NOTE: Trask, op. cit. , p. 234]
The fact that Lumpkin recalls stopping on Elm Street and talking with Moorman suggests that this photo too was taken from the street. If so, two out of the three photos she took that day were taken after she “stepped out in the street.” She may well have confused these two excursions into the street well ahead of the limousine with the taking of her famous photo. What remains in Moorman’s memory must be subject to speculation. What is not subject to speculation, however, is the indisputable fact that internal evidence in the photo itself, as well as abundant other photo and eyewitness evidence, demonstrates that it was taken from the grass not the street.
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