top of page
  • Writer's pictureFred Litwin

When will Oliver Stone Admit he was Wrong about Clay Shaw?

Clay Shaw outside the courtroom in New Orleans

In my response to the Matt Douthit and James DiEugenio review of my book, Oliver Stone's Film-Flam: The Demagogue of Dealey Plaza, I asked several questions of Oliver Stone, and a couple of them were about Clay Shaw:

When will Oliver Stone and James DiEugenio admit they are wrong about Clay Shaw? When will they apologize for their continued smearing of a good man?

Jim Garrison ruined Clay Shaw's life. He had retired in 1965 to write plays and restore properties in the French Quarter in New Orleans. He had a nice apartment on Dauphine Street, many friends in the Quarter, and enough money to have a happy life. All of that came to crashing end in March of 1967 when Jim Garrison charged him with conspiring to kill JFK.

The only evidence against him was from a Perry Russo recovered memory -- he had been hypnotized three times and was also interviewed after being injected with sodium pentothal.

The case took two years to go to trial at which he was quickly acquitted. The jury took about 50 minutes to reach their decision -- it would have been quicker, but some of the jurors had to pee.

Two days later, Jim Garrison charged Clay Shaw with two counts of perjury and that took another two years to quash. Shaw then filed a $5 million damages lawsuit against Jim Garrison, Perry Russo, and the financiers who were backing the investigation. Before the case could be heard, Shaw died of lung cancer, and the lawsuit had to be ultimately abandoned because he had no heirs.

Three first-generation researchers (David Lifton, Paul Hoch, and Sylvia Meagher) realized that Jim Garrison was a charlatan.

Meagher wrote a letter to the editor of Look Magazine after they ran "The Persecution of Clay Shaw":

The t in gentle in the second line doesn't show.

Meagher also split with some of the other critics over Jim Garrison. Here is an excerpt of a note she wrote about a phone call with Penn Jones:

In the late 1980s, Meagher was asked to act as a referee for Jim Garrison's manuscript. She found his chapter on the characters in New Orleans to be ridiculous:

I strongly recommend that people read some of my other blog posts about Sylvia Meagher and Jim Garrison:

Meagher's amazing comment on Garrison's book.

This phone call broke their relationship.

Sylvia Meagher's reply to Look Magazine's article "The Persecution of Clay Shaw."

An exchange of letters between Lane and Meagher.

Sylvia Meagher writes Clay Shaw, and he replies.

An unpublished Meagher memo on the trial of Clay Shaw.

Another unpublished Meagher memo on the Garrison investigation and Warren Report critics.

Sylvia Meagher's letter to the Editor regarding Garrison's interview in Playboy Magazine.

Meagher writes Harold Weisberg with her comments on the verdict.

James Phelan and Sylvia Meagher write Garrison letters about his book.

An exchange of letters between Thornley and Meagher.

Meagher writes Thornley about Lane's comment on RFK.

Meagher writes Clay Shaw.

Meagher writes Thornley with an opinion.

Exchange of letters between Meagher, Arnoni and Garrison.

Meagher writes Weisberg about the damage Garrison is doing to critics of the Warren Report.

Meagher replies to the New York Review of Books regarding Popkin's article on Garrison.

An exchange of letters between Popkin and Meagher.

Jim Garrison's treatment of Clay Shaw was horrific. And then along came Oliver Stone. He could easily have made a JFK conspiracy film without Jim Garrison. Unfortunately, he believed that Garrison's book, On the Trail of the Assassins, was non-fiction. What does that tell you about his critical faculties?

And look at how Tommy Lee Jones was told to portray Clay Shaw. He interviewed Garrison on three different occasions so that he could "come to a detailed understanding of Jim Garrison's point of view."

Q: What kind of inner life did you create?

Jones: He was a dedicated sadomasochist These guys, especially Ferrie [Joe Pesci], were also fascists, in love with the idea of fascism, which in those days to those guys was like a fad, part of a netherworld, and it was tied up with sadomasochism and gay life in the Quarter. Flirtations with fascism had more to do with styles and ways of decorating a private, separate life than they did with believing in fascism as a political alternative.

Then, Jones says that "Garrison's idea was that his whole life was a sham, and that all of his aloofness, snobbishness, and elegance was utter pretense. I had no idea whether it was true or not. The movie was from Jim's point of view. So, I'm playing Jim Garrison's Clay Shaw via Oliver Stone's Jim Garrison."

Let that sink in - "Jim Garrison's Clay Shaw via Oliver Stone's Jim Garrison."

Jones added that Shaw was a "deeply corrupt guy, according to he's led a dishonest life, and I imagine toward the end of it it started to catch up with him."

This is deeply offensive. While Clay Shaw was in the closet, he led his life with grace and dignity.

Oliver Stone has had many years to admit he was wrong on Clay Shaw. Instead, he doubled down on the nonsense in JFK: Destiny Betrayed. The so-called documentary series mentions Clay Shaw’s arrest “on charges that he was part of the conspiracy to kill President Kennedy …”

Nowhere in the series does it even say that Clay Shaw was tried and was acquitted of conspiracy. This is an astounding error of omission, because Stone makes a big deal out of the fact that Lee Harvey Oswald never had his day in court.

Nor does the film mention what Judge Herbert Christenberry said in 1971 after three days of hearings regarding the perjury charges. He found that Garrison “undertook his baseless investigation with the specific intent to deprive Shaw of his rights under the First, Fifth and Fourteenth amendments ... the only conclusion that can be drawn from Garrison’s actions is that he intentionally used the arrest for his own purposes, with complete disregard for the rights of Clay Shaw.”

Stone also alleges that Clay Shaw was a CIA agent. For conspiracy theorists like Oliver Stone, this is consorting with the enemy, and certainly enough to suggest participation in an assassination conspiracy. And on this he falls flat on his face. Shaw did have an association with the CIA, but he was just a source for the Domestic Contact Service from 1948 to 1956. Shaw’s career was in international trade and the CIA took an interest in his trips to the Caribbean, Central America and South America in 1949 and another trip to South America is 1951. When Shaw curtailed his international travel in 1956, his association with the CIA ended.

Clay Shaw was an outstanding citizen of New Orleans. There is a reason why a plaque celebrating his life hangs outside one of the many properties he refurbished during his life.

When conspiracy theorists discuss the assassination, they rarely talk about Clay Shaw. You won't find long strings on Shaw on the Facebook JFK groups and the people on other internet forums never really talk about him. Might that be because they all know that there is nothing to talk about?

You would think that if conspiracy theorists really believed that Shaw was involved in the JFK assassination, that they would be continually trying to debunk Carpenter's book. I think it's because there is absolutely no connection between Clay Shaw and the JFK assassination.

Mr. Stone, you were wrong about Clay Shaw. Isn't it time for you to apologize?

Over the past several months, I have shown in multiple blog posts how Oliver Stone's documentary series, JFK Revisited and JFK: Destiny Betrayed, misleads viewers. In fact, despite months of work, there are still many more misleading segments that need to be addressed. It's no wonder that the fact checkers of Netflix nixed the airing of the films.

There is a choice between four hours of tendentious nonsense (JFK: Destiny Betrayed) and two hours (JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass). As a handy guide for viewers, here are all those posts in order of their appearance in JFK: Destiny Betrayed and JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass, preceded by some general critiques.

The Viewer's Guide has now been updated to include the sources from my new book, Oliver Stone's Film-Flam: The Demagogue of Dealey Plaza.


Recent Posts

See All


Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page