Politics & Policy

Seeing Trouble

Conspiracies to help you cope.

Monday was a great day for conspiracy theorists. There were new revelations about the deaths of Princess Diana and the assassination of President Kennedy. First, Mohamed Al-Fayed finally got his day in court at the Princess Di inquest in London. Then a box of evidence was found in an old safe in Dallas which included a “transcript” suggesting that Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby had known each other before the. What a present for the paranoid.

Let’s start with Al-Fayed. Though Diana and his son Dodi died more than ten years ago, and though there have already been several investigations that have concluded their deaths accidental, this was the first time Al-Fayed was able to air his conspiracy theory before a jury.

According to Al-Fayed, Diana and his son were “murdered,” their assassination plotted by no less than Prince Philip, whom Al-Fayed called a “Nazi” and a “racist.” Additional conspirators, he claimed, include other royals, “Tony Blair and his henchmen,” as well as members of MI6, Scotland Yard , the French police, French doctors, and the princess’s sister. Quite a conspiracy.

And why were they murdered? Because Diana was expecting Dodi’s child, and they were to announce their engagement once she had returned to London and told her sons. Of course, friends of Diana’s have testified that she was not pregnant, and had told them she had no intention of becoming engaged to Dodi because she needed marriage “like a rash on my face.”

Other inquests have concluded rather straightforwardly that Henri Paul, the driver of the princess’s car (an employee of Al-Fayed’s), was very drunk, drove too fast, and lost control of the vehicle. Not so, according to Al-Fayed. Paul was sober and the princess’s car was sideswiped by a car driven by a photographer who was employed by MI6. What’s more, French pathologists had swapped Paul’s blood with someone else’s to show he was drunk.

Ten years ago, the shock of Diana’s death was great and mourning for her worldwide. And though it was at a time when she was still feuding with the royal family and had, in fact, told a lawyer that she feared she might be killed in a staged car crash, most people blamed her death on the paparazzi who were pursuing her rather than on an assassination attempt orchestrated by the Palace. Though Al-Fayed has been making these claims for years, he has never known much support.

But there are many who are still convinced the assassination of JFK was a conspiracy. In fact, almost three quarters of Americans believe Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone. In book after book, everyone from Fidel Castro to LBJ to the Mafia has been linked to a plot. The new evidence — if one could call it evidence — discovered by the Dallas County district attorney Craig Watkins, is an alleged transcript of a conversation between Oswald and Jack Ruby two months before the assassination in Dealey Plaza. Ruby supposedly tells Oswald that the “boys in Chicago” want to get rid of Bobby Kennedy. Oswald suggests the way to get rid of him is to shoot his brother. Ruby replies “But that wouldn’t be patriotic.”

It was found in a so-called “treasure trove” related to Ruby’s trial, in the Dallas courthouse. Ruby’s holster and brass knuckles, as well as letters to and from the then–district attorney Henry Wade were found. There was also a contract for a movie that Wade was working on. Most people think the transcript is a fake, similar to a document published by the Warren Commission, or, possibly, part of movie script.

But, hey, that won’t stop conspiracy theorists. They can’t believe Oswald was just an embittered loner with a rifle and a good vantage point, or that Ruby simply found his way into the Dallas police station when Oswald was being moved. My husband, a reporter for the London Daily Mail, was behind Oswald when he was shot. Like most journalists who were in Dallas right after the assassination, he believes there was no conspiracy. Just so with Diana’s death: She left the safety and security of the best hotel in Paris to get into a car with a drunk driver. No conspiracy, just bad luck.

But we need conspiracy theories because when bad things happen that are random and inscrutable, it just too much to take. But bad things can happen for no reason at all to the most photogenic and photographed people in the world, as well as to any of us.

– Myrna Blyth, long-time editor of Ladies Home Journal and founding editor of More, is author of Spin Sisters: How the Women of the Media Sell Unhappiness — and Liberalism — to the Women of America. Blyth is also an NRO contributor.

Myrna BlythMyrna Blyth is senior vice president and editorial director of AARP Media. She is the former editor-in-chief and publishing director of Ladies’ Home Journal. She was the founding editor and ...


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