So argues Lance DeHaven-Smith. He is a professor in the Reubin O’D. Askew School of Public Administration and Policy at Florida State University. He also served as President of the Florida Political Science Association. He is author of a dozen books, including The Battle for Florida, which analyzes the disputed 2000 presidential election. DeHaven-Smith has appeared on Good Morning America, the Today Show, NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw, CBS Nightly News with Dan Rather, the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, and other national TV and radio shows.
Here is his book’s thesis.
Ever since the Warren Commission concluded that a lone gunman assassinated President John F. Kennedy, people who doubt that finding have been widely dismissed as conspiracy theorists, despite credible evidence that right-wing elements in the CIA, FBI, and Secret Service—and possibly even senior government officials—were also involved. Why has suspicion of criminal wrongdoing at the highest levels of government been rejected out-of-hand as paranoid thinking akin to superstition?
Where did the phrase come from? The CIA. He shows that the term “conspiracy theory” came into the American language as a way to to deflect criticism of the Warren Commission. He traces it back to a CIA propaganda campaign to discredit doubters of the commission’s report.
The strategy has worked amazingly well. Were it not for the World Wide Web, it would be working even better today.