My Musings: The Mark Lane Edition

JFK and Mark Lane
JFK and Mark Lane

This is the first of many blog posts I hope to share about important people in the JFK community I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. 


I met Mark Lane as a little girl and didn’t talk to him again until we were both on Geraldo.  I will tell you, many people have accused him of putting words in witness mouths, but my grandfather, Orville Nix,  never did.  He found him an “uppity, rude Yankee” but he felt that way about most people from the East (sorry, don’t mean to offend anyone) His idea of rude and ours would be different today.  Rude to my grandfather was in manners, not in anything else.  Though my grandfather had no ill words about him, my grandmother did.  Mr. Lane didn’t call her “ma’am”; he didn’t know what “iced tea” was when she offered it; he put his water glass on her coffee table without a coaster and left a mark.  Then, as he and his cameraman were leaving her home, the poor cameraman had a hard time manipulating the huge camera through the small kitchen and bumped it against her wall leaving a large dark mark.  My grandmother was a fiery woman.  She grabbed a broom and ran them both out of her house with it.  My grandfather was excited to be in what he called “Lane’s movie” and on his LP and book.  To my grandfather, he had hit the big time and Mr. Lane believed what he had seen and didn’t make him feel like he was insane.

Years passed and Mr. Lane wrote many books.  Rush to Judgment, in my opinion, is the best with Citizen’s Dissent being second.  The later ones were more regurgitations of previous findings.   Because of my grandfather’s history and like of Mr. Lane, I did a quick background study on him before being on Geraldo so I could speak with him about things we were both interested in.  So many things had been written about him over the years and though I was impressed that he was one of the first, if not THE first to question Lee Harvey Oswald’s innocence in the assassination from a legal standpoint, I was also aware that he represented James Earl Ray and of course Jim Jones and his cult.  When I read it in later years with a more mature understanding of it all, I was still impressed with his logic and passion.    I’ll be honest with all of you…I’m trying (and have been trying) to get in touch with him to see if there’s any legal recourse involved with the HSCA for losing my grandfather’s film.

Mark Lane did his best work in his younger years.  He was truly a reformer.  He ran for Vice-President with Dick Gregory as President for the Freedom and Peace Party.  Impressive to me.  The domino effect was clearly in action in regards to Mark Lane.  He became interested in the JFK case after reading an article about witnesses Jean Hill and Mary Moorman.  This led to his articles and book Rush to Judgment.  Jim Garrison said that Mark Lane’s work was seminal in forcing Garrison to put Clay Shaw on trial.  Lane worked with Garrison on the trial preparation.  Mark Lane has done many great things in his lifetime.  More than most people (or me) will ever do.

Anyway, he has had issues too…as all truth-seekers in this case at one time or another seem to have.  He has practiced, at times, shoddy research. He has misinterpreted documents. Is it part of his legal training?  Is it rhetoric?  Is it a character flaw?  Was he a victim of Operation Mockingbird?  Did he truly not know better?   He has also been attacked personally, something that normally happens when one has nothing else to argue.

“Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.
— Abraham Lincoln

I don’t know why personal choices have to be brought up; they can change with age, country or worldviews, but character doesn’t normally change.  Character is who you are.  Character is an important indicator of person to me and in my book,  if you lie once, it could be chalked up to a mistake; two lies?  it forces people to back away; 3 lies?  In my point of view you’re out.  (I love baseball!)

So by the time we were both on Geraldo,  he had been quite famous  for years and is one of those men who love their fame more than research at times.  There are many of them in all walks of life.  I tried to talk to him in the way I talk  and he looked down on me.  Of course, that made my Texas pride bristle.  Each time Geraldo would ask a question, he would break in to what I was saying.  During one of the commercial breaks, I pulled Geraldo aside and asked “Why did you bring me here?  You’re not asking about finding my grandfather’s film and I could have done a remote from Dallas for this little bit of time you’re giving me….you keep letting Lane talk and won’t give me any time at all.”  Geraldo, laughed, said a few key things about brash Texas women and the next segment he asked me about the missing film.  Lane, I believe was promoting Plausible Denial at the time, so he wanted as much time to talk about his book as he could.  Lane has always had one of those “speared tongues” and can cut you to the quick.  I have found with those people you have to treat them as they treat you one on one…that’s all they understand.  I would much rather deal with people one on one or face to face.

So…back to Geraldo…when I started talking, Lane interrupted yet again…again, another commercial break, and during that time I became fed up. I said, “Mark, if you’re going to keep interrupting me, I’m going to tell the audience about my grandmother chasing you out of the house with the broom”  He smirked, said he was sorry, and asked me to please not do that   We hugged afterwards and everything was fine.

All in all, I find Mark Lane quite intelligent, a ground-breaker, but a man who imbibes in huge ego-stroking and fame. Those traits aren’t my favorites, but I understand that he’s probably had to develop them for survival in his chosen profession and in his passion to find the truth. I don’t agree with all that he believes in.  I don’t believe Lee Harvey Oswald was totally innocent in this case.   I feel you can accept a person’s actions when you understand their motivation.  I don’t think he’s a sell-out by any means.  I just think he’s one of those guys that’s more vinegar than sugar….but that’s just my opinion.


To read more about Mark Lane’s colorful and active career, click here for information from John Simkin’s Spartacus website.

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