Ted Cruz is many things. According to the internet, he's the zodiac killer, an overweight porn star, and the Penguin from Batman. Now the National Enquirer and Reddit users are accusing the Republican presidential candidate of being the son of a man connected to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
In a recent issue of the Enquirer, the tabloid alleges that Cruz's Cuban-born father, Rafael Cruz, knew Lee Harvey Oswald. The newspaper says it obtained "compelling photographic evidence" from the Warren Commission, an investigation into Kennedy's death organized by his successor President Lyndon B. Johnson.
The alleged evidence included a photo of a man handing out pro-Fidel Castro flyers with Oswald. "What we established through our reporting was myriad experts who went on-the-record to link the identity of the man in the Warren Commission photo to Ted Cruz's father," says Dylan Howard, AMI Chief Content Officer and Editor in Chief of the National Enquirer. "It was then that we made the call to publish, based on the opinion of trusted experts." (These experts include Mitch Goldstone, the president and chief executive officer of a company called ScanMyPhotos, a site and service that specializes in scanning photographs into a digital archive).
The Enquirer wasn't the first to allege a connection between Rafael and Oswald. It's unclear where the rumor started, but on Reddit two weeks ago, users began questioning if Cruz had connections to the assassination.
"If Oswald/CIA hired Cruz Sr. for his fake Commie street cred, why wouldn't Oswald/CIA hire Cruz Sr. to help him with the JFK hit?" a user named ShortRound7257 asks. "Obviously, they had insider help at the highest levels. LBJ and the Texas Judges actually sanctioned the killings, but Cruz Sr. could have been one of at least 5 shooters on the ground? No wonder the old man has been camera shy? This also explains Princeton Free Ride, Big Oil and the Bush Crime Family."
"Scalia weave into this?" responds a user named Triplechins.
Howard says the Enquirer learned of the rumor from the internet. "Our reporters saw the online chatter and immediately set about investigating the story further than the mainstream media were willing to do," he tells Broadly. In perfect harmony, new media conspiracists fed up to old media conspiracists.
The story followed after a slew of salacious Enquirer reports about Cruz, including March's viral story about Cruz's alleged five mistresses (Cruz denied the accusations). Unlike the JFK theory, mainstream media outlets reported on the sex scandal story because the Enquirer has a history of discovering politicians' sexual misdeeds before more prestigious newspapers.
In July 2008, for instance, they broke John Edwards' affair with Rielle Hunter. Their mix of in-depth factual investigations and questionable stories about dead presidents make the tabloid the perfect paper for conspiracies to thrive. Readers can never tell what's true or false, and that's the titillation required to keep a good conspiracy going.