To Paul Schoenstein, managing editor of Hearst's New York Journal-American, the manuscript submitted by Columnist Dorothy Kilgallen was "a true blockbuster." By newspaper standards, to be sure, it was bulky. But last week, with a blast of trumpets, all 50,000 words landed on the pages of the Journal-American.
"Do You Follow?" "What you are about to read," began the copyrighted prologue, "is the transcript of the testimony given by Jack Ruby to Chief Justice Earl Warren and other members of the Warren Commission investigating the assassination of President Kennedy. The Warren Commission will not make public its findings until some time next month. But through sources close to the Warren Commission in Washington, I obtained a copy of the original transcript of Ruby's highly important testimony."
For three days, the Hearst papers rambled through Jack Ruby's troubled and often incoherent mind. "I want to say this to you," said Ruby at one juncture. "The Jewish people are being exterminated at this moment. Consequently, a whole new form of government is going to take over our country, and I know I won't live to see you another time. Do I sound sort of screwy in telling you these things?" Repeatedly, he demanded a lie-detector testlater grantedand begged Justice Warren to take him to Washington, on the grounds that his life was not safe in Dallas. He seemed uncertain of his audience: "Am I boring you?" he inquired, and again: "Do you follow the story as I tell it?"
Ruby also had trouble mentioning the name of the man he had killed: "Very rarely do I use the name Oswald. I don't know why." But once past this obstacle, he could be clear in his insistence that the deed was solely his own: "I was never malicious toward this person. No one else requested me to do anything. I never spoke to anyone about attempting to do anything. No subversive organization gave me any idea. No underworld person made any effort to contact me . . . The last thing I read was that Mrs. Kennedy may have to come back to Dallas for the trial, and I don't know what bug got hold of me . . . Suddenly the feeling, the emotional feeling, came within me that someone owed this debt to our beloved President to save her the ordeal of coming back." As exclusives go, however, the leaked transcript fell somewhat short of perfection. It presented few, if any, surprises: much the same ground had been covered during Ruby's lengthy trial in Dallas. Moreover, most of its thunder had been stolen by the Dallas Morning News, which, only three weeks after the Warren Commission's June session with Ruby, front-paged a copyrighted paraphrase of the same testimony. Like Miss Kilgallen, the News declined to reveal its source. Another leak furnished Dallas' Times Herald, with the full transcript of Ruby's lie-detector test.