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Kennedy’s Assassination: The Original Reality TV    

  By: Katie Petrick
   Published : November 7, 2017

Decades before reality television cemented its place in American culture, the Kennedy family from Boston, Massachusetts intrigued the nation.

In the early 1960s, for the first time in American history, families could tune in to see a young man leading the nation. In November 1960, John Fitzgerald Kennedy became the nation’s youngest elected and first Roman Catholic president.

For 1,036 days, Kennedy led the nation through domestic and international affairs, from the Cuban Missile Crisis to Bay of Pigs. And then, on November 22, 1963, life in America changed forever. An entirely new reality commenced when President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. This event shook the country to its core and arguably ended an era in American politics.

From that point forth, Americans became reserved, questioning their faith in the institutions and looking around to see if what had happened was just a horrific dream. It has been 54 years and many questions remain about what happened to the family of Camelot on that fateful day.

Like a true reality show, controversy envelopes the assassination. Was Lee Harvey Oswald, who admired Cuba’s communist dictator Fidel Castro and who defected to the Soviet Union for a few years, the lone assassin? According to the Warren Commission Report, yes. But from the moment the president was shot, conspiracy theories about motive have been abundant. Responsibility for Kennedy’s death have been placed on Oswald, Vice President Lyndon Johnson, the CIA, the mafia, Cuba, the Soviet Union, and Umbrella Man, to name just a handful of potential culprits. And for all those who have attempted to find the truth, endless rabbit holes have been dug.

Those at wits’ end desired the answer in the recent release of documents by the Trump administration. On October 26, the National Archives released nearly 2,900 documents about the Kennedy assassination. In releasing the documents, Trump was fulfilling the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992, which mandated a 25-year release deadline of all documents relating to the assassination unless the president explicitly withholds records. Just a week later, 676 records, mostly consisting of CIA-related documents, were released.

Historians, journalists, and conspiracy theorists were provided insightful information, including a document abruptly cut off detailing an interview concerning whether Oswald was a CIA agent or involved in the CIA. The line of questioning implied that the CIA would be at least partially responsible for Kennedy’s assassination. Many documents include connections of Oswald to the Soviet Union and Cuba. Focus has been given to a document explaining Oswald’s trip to Mexico right before the assassination. It was also documented that Lyndon Johnson was a member of the KKK early in his political career, and CIA documents revealed detailed plots to kill Castro.

But no smoking gun was found within the days’ worth document search.

"After strict consultation with General Kelly, the CIA and other agencies, I will be releasing ALL JFK files other than the names and addresses of any mentioned person who is still living," Trump tweeted on October 27, reassuring those who hoped for more information. "I am doing this for reasons of full disclosure, transparency and in order to put any and all conspiracy theories to rest."

The assassination of JFK may have been 54 years ago, but the reality is that the controversy is anything but quelled. There remains concern by the intelligence agencies that declassifying certain materials could be a threat to our national security.

What happened in 1963 continues in today’s reality show: communism, Cuba, Soviet Union (now Russia), U.S. spying agencies, and government intervention. All of these things remain at the forefront of the American experience. Stay tuned.

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