The King Assassination and CNN Disinformation
By Dr. William F. Pepper
As a friend and colleague of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., during the last year
of his life, James Earl Ray’s attorney, for the last ten years of his
life and, finally, lead Counsel for Dr. King’s family in the 1999 civil
trial which brought forward evidence from 70 witnesses over 30 days in Memphis,
I am compelled to comment, for the record, on the most recent documentary on
the assassination by CNN which is being aired on an ongoing basis. The fact
that my participation in the program was used to give it some credibility makes
this comment even more relevant.
It is one matter to distort the truth of how this great American prophet was
taken from us, but quite another to have mainstream media perpetuate disinformation
on matters of such public importance to the citizens of the Republic. An expert
witness, at the King family civil trial, William Schapp, set out the historical
use of government disinformation through mainstream media, dating back to the
The first half of the program was dedicated to James and his background and
history. While the program notably failed to provide a motive as to why this
escaped convict would even consider such an act, and racism had been excluded
by the earlier Congressional investigation, it was hinted at by a reference
of his refusal to go to a work farm attached to the Missouri prison because
of the number of blacks in that facility. In fact, James was afraid
of becoming tied into drug activity which was going on there and having his
term extended. He would regularly roll dice with black co-workers when he worked
in a shoe factory.
The program went on to allege that he and his brother robbed a bank in Alton,
Illinois, on July 12, 1967. This, allegedly, was the source of his funds, so
he did not need the handler he identified as Raoul, who we would eventually
identify. I don’t know the former detective they brought on camera,
but closer to the time, 1978, I spoke with the president of the bank and the
Chief of Police, and both told me that the Ray brothers had never been suspects,
and in fact they believed that they knew who did the robbery, but did not have
enough proof to charge them. Further, they confirmed that despite mainstream
published reports they had never been interviewed by the Congressional investigators,
the FBI or the reporting media’s investigative reporter.
In the second half of the program, the disinformation ran rampant; just a few
examples illustrate this point. The failure to match the throw down rifle to
the death slug became “inconclusive”. What does that mean?
There was no ballistics match. The gun was not and could not be regarded as
the murder weapon, and introduced into evidence as such. Yet it remains mounted
in the Civil Rights Museum as precisely that; now with CNN’s blessing.
We had four witnesses who saw figures in the bushes (one New York Times reporter,
Earl Caldwell), two observed the shooter coming down over the wall, another
(Reverend James Orange) saw smoke kicked up and rising from the bushes, and
another who saw the owner of the Grill which backed on to the Lorraine Motel,
rush, from the bushes, past her into his kitchen still carrying the smoking
gun he took from the shooter. CNN converted all of this evidence into
one “unreliable” witness. The next morning that crime scene
was cut down and cleaned. The CNN report supported the official story that the
shot came from the bathroom window. It was well known that we had a reliable
witness who saw the bathroom door open, with the light on, minutes before the
shooting, and no one inside. It was empty, of course, because the shot came
from the bushes. A clip from a CBS interview with a roomer who saw someone running
down the hall was cut off just before the reporter showed him a photo of James,
and he said that was not the man he saw. The man carrying the throw down bundle
of items James was told to leave in the room (which also contained the throw
down gun) dropped them in a doorway and got into the second Mustang and drove
away. We had a witness who identified that Mustang as having Arkansas plates.
It was parked south of James’s Mustang. We had two witnesses (one from
the Corps of Engineers) and signed statements, evidencing that James drove away
from the rooming house about 20 minutes before the shooting. All of
this was known and put under oath, and ignored by CNN.
Perhaps the most egregious action involved the use of the aged Captain of the
fire station, diagonally opposite the Motel. When I learned from military sources
that a psy ops unit of two photographers was on the roof of the station, and
one of my investigators interviewed both army photographers, I sought him out
ten years ago. At that earlier time he, testified under oath that he put them
on the roof, watched them unpack their still cameras and then left them there.
He never saw them again. Now 9 years later CNN puts on this old man who is clearly
confused about what he did back then and may not even have remembered his courtroom
testimony. They use that interview along with a photograph of the roof taken
at a time when the soldiers would have had ample time to disappear, to assert
that they were never there. It gets worse. When I suggested to the CNN
reporter that they interview the Captain, he said he was dead. They obviously
did not want me to speak with him.
There was more of the same, but surely, this is enough to constitute an insult
to the memory and legacy of Dr. King, an injustice to James Earl Ray and a violation
of every tenet of fair and objective reporting.
William Pepper was the attorney for the King family
In the Memphis civil action against Loyd Jowers and others,
known and unknown, for causing the wrongful death of Dr
Martin Luther King Jr…
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