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History Channel withdraws JFK documentary

Controversial documentary accused former President Lyndon B. Johnson of complicity in Kennedy assassination.
/ Source: Reuters

The History Channel apologized and said it was withdrawing a controversial documentary aired last November that accused former President Lyndon B. Johnson of complicity in the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

A statement Wednesday from The History Channel said “The Guilty Men” program had “failed to offer viewers context and perspective.”

“The show wasn’t vetted as properly and thoroughly as it should have been,” station General Manager Dan Davids said.

“The History Channel apologizes to its viewers and to Mrs. Johnson and her family for airing the show.”

The History Channel said the documentary was withdrawn from home video sales and would no longer be broadcast on the network. Davids said the station would also strengthen its review procedures, especially of controversial shows.

“The Guilty Men,” the ninth episode of the “Men Who Killed Kennedy” series was produced by Briton Nigel Turner. It centered on the theory of author Barr McClellan, a former lawyer in a firm that represented Johnson, in his book “Blood, Money & Power: How L.B.J. Killed J.F.K.” His book was published by Hannover House last October.

The documentary, shown in the week of the 40th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination, caused a storm of protest from prominent veterans of the Johnson administration, including broadcaster Bill Moyers and Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Association of America.

In response, The History Channel assembled three historians to review the show. They slammed the LBJ conspiracy theory as ”entirely unfounded” and concluded that the documentary should not have been broadcast in the first place.

The historians are presenting their findings in a one-hour panel discussion on The History Channel on Wednesday night.

“The History Channel accepts the criticisms of these historians,” Davids said. “We have a great responsibility (to our viewers) and this time we did not live up to it.”

Book author McClellan, interviewed on the documentary program, said he tried to cooperate with the reviewing panel by sending them material but never heard back from them.

“It doesn’t seem as if they treated the subject fairly at all,” McClellan said in a telephone interview Wednesday from his home in Gulfport, Mississippi.