Monday, June 20, 2022

The Assassination and Mrs. Paine-LN Experts Diminished?

Filmmaker Max Good tells Ruth Paine (1:23.00) that he has "tried to be objective" and "take in all different viewpoints" and not be "too biased." Paine responds skeptically, "Oh really?"

Mrs. Paine's skepticism is well founded. When analyzing the film, I found an imbalance between the individuals representing the conspiracy side of the debate and those arguing the lone assassin point of view in several respects. Let's meet the film's major players (listed in the credits under "Featuring"):


  • Jim DiEugenio-author and researcher
  • Dr. Gary Aguilar-researcher
  • Bill Simpich-author and researcher
  • Vincent Salandria-author and researcher
  • Peter Dale Scott-author and researcher
  • David Lifton-author and researcher
  • Dr. E. Martin Schotz-author and researcher
  • Sue Wheaton-(identified as a "peace activist" but she is also a conspiracy believer with a severe bias against Ruth Paine)

Lone Assassin

  • Ruth Paine-Warren Commission witness
  • Priscilla Johnson McMillan-author
  • Max Holland-author and researcher
  • Michael Paine-Warren Commission witness
  • Gerald Posner-author
  • Joe Alesi-researcher

What is immediately apparent is an 8 to 6 numeric imbalance in favor of the conspiracy side. But that is counting Michael Paine who appears in the film infrequently. Similarly, Joe Alesi appears in one segment only (Cuban Sympathizers). That means that four individuals (Ruth Paine herself, McMillan, Holland and Posner) are left to counter the onslaught of accusations by the conspiracy people. For his part, Michael Paine is interviewed by Good but only briefly. After Michael talks about Oswald's guilt, Good tells the audience that he has become increasingly "incoherent." Ultimately, Salandria tells viewers (without proof) that Michael is "an agent" of some unidentified group.

Posner is introduced by Good as follows: "Since the release of his 1993 best seller, Case Closed, author and attorney Gerald Posner has been the go-to expert representing the official story." Posner then gets 32 seconds to make his case for the Paines.

Compare that to the treatment accorded Salandria: "On the other hand you have a 92-year-old Philadelphia lawyer, Vince Salandria, a legend among conspiracy researchers. In 1964 he was among the first to publicly challenge the conclusions of the Warren Commission. For over fifty years his analysis of the case has been considered to be the most cutting edge, or the most extreme, depending on your persuasion." Salandria then has nearly a minute and a half to expound on the Paine's guilt.

But despite being labeled the "go-to expert" for the lone assassin theory, Posner is used in the film sparingly and his footage is sometimes utilized to make him appear to be arguing a point favorable to conspiracy believers. For instance, at 1:06:23 Posner says "Who gets two telephone calls on Sunday two days after the assassination from Lee Oswald in Prison? Ruth Paine." Later Posner adds "Those calls would have been a footnote to the entire story. They became important only because they were the last telephone calls that Lee Oswald made to anyone in the world and they were to Ruth Paine and the only person who can say what Oswald said is Ruth." This footage of Posner is used by Good to imply that Ruth has once again suspiciously appeared in the life of Oswald to influence his fate. Because of this purposeful diminishment of Posner, who could have quickly dispatched any and all conspiracy notions, Paine herself, Holland and McMillan are left to argue the bulk of the lone assassin cause and defend Mrs. Paine and her former husband.

While DiEugenio and his comrades argue for every conspiracy theory imaginable (some of which have been debunked years ago and are not supported by the documents displayed in the film) the trio of LN advocates soldiers on quite effectively. Then, at about 1:27:00, something fascinating happens. Ruth tells Good (1:26:48) "Max Holland has been a researcher especially looking at what the Warren Commission did and what they didn’t do. What they knew and what they didn’t know. That’s good research." Good immediately turns his attention to Holland.

Holland tells Good that he attended the same college (Antioch in Ohio) that Ruth Paine did. Holland also says that he worked for the Quakers (Ruth's religious affiliation) for two years. Soon after, Holland says the following while the film shows him retrieving a gun from a case:

A favorite tactic of conspiracy theorists is to make accusations that anybody who they disagree with has a connection with the intelligence community. Its been made against me, its been made against Ruth and Michael. The only explanation could be that we’re part of the coverup, paid by the CIA or [shrugs]. For better or worse I did write one article for a CIA published journal. So people have turned that into the fact that I work for the CIA. I was aware they gave monetary awards for best article of the year. That’s how I earn my living, is getting paid for my writing. So, accepted the award of course because it was a thousand dollars.

Earlier in the film, Good admits that "There are all kinds of claims and rumors about the Paines but no concrete evidence has ever directly linked them to the CIA." But incredibly, despite this knowledge, and Holland's explanation regarding the conspiracy playbook —anyone who disagrees with them must be accused of working for the CIA—Good, without any apparent self-awareness, busies himself doing exactly that. First, he implies that Holland, who attended the same college as Ruth and worked for the Quakers, will write whatever the CIA wants if they pay him enough.

Next, after Ruth gives a glowing description of McMillan and her seminal book Marina and Lee, Good turns his attention to the nonagenarian accusing her of being a "witting collaborator" for the CIA, a fact that she always denied.

Indeed, McMillan told Robbyn Swan in 1994, “My bottom line is that I never worked for the CIA… . I don’t know what was in the mind of the person who put me down as a Witting Collaborator … [In Moscow] I had no way of knowing who in the American Embassy, say, worked for the CIA and who didn’t.”

Note that the "witting collaborator" designation may be solely based on McMillan's reportage to the Domestic Contacts Division. McMillan cooperated with the agency in this respect along with thousands of other individuals. But she never considered herself a "witting collborator" in the manner that is implied by the film.

In a similar vein, Good presents a document that states "I think that Miss Johnson can be encouraged to write pretty much the articles that we [the CIA] want." But Good does not explain in what context the remark was made. McMillan was interviewed in 1962 by Donald Jameson of the CIA's Soviet Division. The sole purpose of the interview was to judge whether McMillan could be asked to write an article on poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko that was amenable to the agency.

Good further neglects to tell his viewers Jameson also stated that "It would be important to avoid making her think that she was being used as a propaganda tool and expected to write what she is told. I don't think she would go along with that idea at all"(emphasis added). This is probably why Jameson never even raised "the issue of her writing an article at our inspiration." The fact is, there is no evidence that McMillan ever wrote anything at the behest of the agency.

Some of the exchange Good has with McMillan occurs while a photo of Ruth and Michael Paine is displayed on McMillan's refrigerator. The implication is obvious.

To sum up, Max Good outright accuses or at least implies that three of the "featured" defenders of Paine and the lone assassin theory in his film, Paine herself, Holland and McMillan, are CIA employees or assets. I submit that this treatment would severely diminish (or totally cancel) the effectiveness of their assertions regarding Ruth and the lone assassin theory to an uninitiated viewer. On the other hand, while Good's film purports to be "objective," the conspiracy experts are allowed to present any theory they want (even those that are dubious at best or demonstrably false) with little or no pushback.


  1. Agree with your contention that it was totally one-sided. She showed the Oswalds compassion and this is the thanks she gets. And for a so-called "peace activist," Sue Wheaton is really nasty piece of work. Any idea why the Paines lived so modestly in Irving if they had all that Forbes money? Was it in a trust that they couldn't touch for certain period of time?

    1. I suspect (but don't know for sure) it was because they wanted to live "like everyone else" and didn't want others to know they were well off. I believe they had a sincere desire to help others and living ostentatiously would not be useful in that regard.


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