Home/ Features Archive - 2012/ Featured: Fonzi-Specter Interviews


Fonzi-Specter Interviews

In 1966, Philadelphia journalist Gaeton Fonzi interviewed Arlen Specter, the former Warren Commission staff member whose primary responsibility had been in the area of the medical and ballistics evidence. At this time the first books critical of the Commission, among them Edward Epstein's Inquest, were causing many in the mainstream media to question the Commission's conclusions, particularly related to its reconstruction of the shooting.

Philadelphia lawyer Vincent Salandria had written two important articles calling attention to problems with the Commission's account (see here and here), and had encouraged Fonzi to interview Specter. Fonzi did so, asking detailed questions of Specter about his work and the Commission's findings.

Commission Exhibit 903
Commission Exhibit 903. Arlen Specter
demonstrates the single-bullet theory in May 1964.

On the surface, the interviews may not contain any "bombshell" material (this may depend on the listener); Fonzi is largely deferential to the well-respected Specter, who would go on to become a U.S. Senator. But for those with even a bit of knowledge of the forensics of the JFK case, it is clear that Specter struggles awkwardly at several points to explain what is simply hard to believe. Right off the bat in the first recording, Specter dances around the basic question of whether Kennedy and Connally were hit by the same bullet, and if not, then whether there was sufficient time for a single gunman to hit them both with separate shots.

Fonzi initially expected Specter to have ready answers. He would later write in his book The Last Investigation the following: "After those interviews with Arlen Specter, my belief in that Government would never be the same."

Fonzi taped the three interviews, as well as a fourth discussion he had with Salandria between the 2nd and 3rd Specter interviews. He also made rough and hand-corrected but largely accurate transcripts of all four recordings.

Gaeton Fonzi and Arlen Specter both passed away earlier this year. Fonzi's widow Marie has kindly made the recordings and transcripts available to the Mary Ferrell Foundation, and they are presented here publicly for the first time. They are part of the permanent MFF Audio Archive, and may also be listened to below:

First Fonzi-Specter interview, Jun 28 1966 see transcript

Second Fonzi-Specter interview, Jun 29 1966 see transcript

Third Fonzi-Specter interview, Jul 8 1966 see transcript

Fonzi-Salandria discussion, Jul 1966 (exact date unknown) see transcript

© Mary Ferrell Foundation. All Rights Reserved. |Site Map |MFF Policies |Contact Us