The Assassination of President Kennedy

Today is the 55th anniversary of the assassination in Dallas of President John F. Kennedy. If you’ve never seen the network footage of the coverage, here is the first hour or so from NBC that day. The lead anchors are Chet Huntley and Frank McGee. Not how primitive things are compared today, from the technical issues of trying to talk on the phone to a reporter, who was on a payphone in the lobby of Parkland Hospital, to the microphones and other equipment that were state-of-the-art back then.

Dave von Pein has the entire broadcast from all three networks uploaded to his JFK channel. His whole channel is worth watching.

17 thoughts on “The Assassination of President Kennedy

  1. I remember being told of his passing by one of the nuns in school. I was in 3rd or 4th grade. My sister was set to be married on the 24th and people wondered if they were going to go through with the wedding…they did. Happy Thanksgiving to you.

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    1. One of my elder aunts was in the hospital doing poorly when Mary and I were going to get married, and I asked “what happens if she dies?” My stepfather said “We go on with the show.” My cousin was married the Saturday after 9/11. By that time, there’s nothing else you can do.

      I’m guessing you were in 3rd grade because I was in second. I was sick, so I got to sit at home and watch the whole thing unfold.

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  2. I can remember it like it was yesterday. I worked in a large office and the mail boy was spreading the word. Of course, no one believed it at first. When it turned out to be true the office broke up into groups to talk about it. Plenty of tears and expressions of disbelief. Management sent everyone home for the day.

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    1. The strongest memory I have of that day is being so upset by the time I went to bed (I was seven and the three of us had been home with the flu that day) that I couldn’t sleep. Dad finally came in and said, “Johnny, you realize that Kennedy is up in heaven laughing his ass off at how upset everyone is.” He had a way with words…

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    1. They were reporters first and commentators second, and there was little time for commentary on the news in those days. They went through the “who, what, when, where, why and how” and trusted you the viewer with deciding what it meant. Now, it’s all commentary, and you can’t tell where the facts end and the talking head’s opinion on the subject begins.

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  3. I was not alive yet but I know this very well and my mom and dad talked about it. My dad always felt the 2 Kennedy’s “bit the hand that fed them” meaning going after the mafia since their dad was knee deep with them back in the 20’s. I listen to these reporters and how I wish these men were around now because they reported the facts

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    1. They saw their job as reporting the news and your job to figure out what it all meant. Now they tell you what everything means and leave it up to you to figure out what happened.

      There are lots of theories as to who murdered Kennedy (or had him murdered). Mary Rose Lincoln, who was Kennedy’s secretary, made a list, and the name that topped her list was LBJ. Other names were the Mafia, the KKK, Castro, the Russians, and a few others. No reason it couldn’t have been all of them working together.

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      1. John ~ I found it interesting that when they interviewed the people in the crowd they all felt it was the ‘lunatic right’. Then, Lee Harvey Oswald was nailed as the one and called the radical left because he was a ‘communist’. Some things never change and some things we’ll never know.

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  4. Thank you for sharing this. This is a long clip. I shall listen to it later.
    I wasn’t born then. What I have seen is the famous clip from CBS of Walter Cronkite breaking the news.
    (Came to your blog via the A2Z Blogging Challenge)
    — Pradeep | bpradeepnair.blogspot.com

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    1. There are plenty more long clips taken from the networks, some of the local stations, and from radio on the channnel I linked to. I was seven when it happened, so I remember seeing at least one of them live (probably CBS, because WGN in Chicago would pick up their feed in situations like this). To me, as a person interested in radio and TV broadcasting, it’s remarkable just how far we’ve come in 55 years. Now, CNN and Fox News would be out there along the parade route and probably have caught it live, something that was science fiction in 1963.

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