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22 November 1963

Lorenz began his shift at 8 a. And I was to sit on the main news desk. Handed off the newscast. The Teletype operator would type words onto what was called punch tape. Then that clacked out on Teletypes all over the country. This was a hardwire operation run through a telephone company.

We paid for those wires.

FLASH President Dead: The first breaking news Teletype on JFK assassination

Bell starts to beat Smith on his back trying to get at the phone. EST with scenes from DC, where all evening mourners have been filing past the coffin in the Capitol rotunda. Television imprints a series of memorable snapshot images. During the mass, as the phrase from the president's first inaugural address comes through loudspeakers "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country " cameras dissolve to a shot of the flag draped coffin.

No sooner do commentators remind viewers that this day marks the president's son's third birthday, then outside the church, as the caisson passes by, little John F. The spirited stallion Black Jack, a riderless steed with boots pointed backwards in the stirrup, kicks up defiantly. Awed by the regal solemnity, network commentators are quiet and restrained, allowing the medium of the moving image to record a series of eloquent sounds: The quiet power of the spectacle is a masterpiece of televisual choreography.

Besides maintaining their own cameras and crews, each of the networks contributes cameras for pool coverage. CBS's Arthur Kane is assigned the task of directing the coverage of the procession and funereal, coordinating over 60 cameras stationed strategically along the route. NBC takes charge of feeding the signal via relay communications satellite to twenty-three countries around the globe.


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Even the Soviet Union, in a broadcasting first, uses a five-minute news report sent via Telestar. Unlike the fast breaking news from Dallas on Friday and Sunday, the coverage of a stationary, scheduled event built on the acquired expertise of network journalism. The colossal achievement came with a hefty price tag. Ironically, the one time none of the networks cared about ratings, the television audience was massive.

As if hypnotized, many Americans watch for hour upon hour at a stretch in an unprecedented immersion in deep involvement spectatorship. Not incidentally, the Zapruder film, the famous super 8mm record of the assassination, was not a part of the original televisual experience. Despite the best efforts of CBS's Dan Rather, exclusive rights to the most historically significant piece of amateur filmmaking in the twentieth century were obtained by Life magazine.

Almost certainly, however, in it would have been deemed too gruesome and disrespectful of the feelings of the Kennedy family to have been broadcast on network television. The saturation coverage of the assassination and burial of John F. Kennedy and the startling murder of his alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald on live television yielded a shared media experience of astonishing unanimity and unmatched impact, an imbedded cultural memory that as years passed seemed to comprise a collective consciousness for a generation. In time, it would seem appropriate that the telegenic president was memorialized by the medium that helped make him.

For its part, television--so long sneered at as a boob tube presided over by avaricious Lords of Kitsch--emerged from its four days in November as the only American institution accorded unconditional praise. Variety' s George Rosen spoke the consensus: University of Michigan Department of Journalism, Kennedy and the Media: The First Television President.

University Press of America, They had been flying for an hour and a half before H hour in Dallas. It appears as though something has happened in the motorcade route. Something, I repeat, has happened in the motorcade route. The plane was nearly miles west of Honolulu; bearing south from Midway but not yet halfway to Wake Island, where it was to refuel. UPI teletypes around the world started ticking out the news. One of them was on the communications deck of Aircraft , where the radio officer blinked in disbelief at what he read.

I leaped from my desk to get on the air. But the cameras were not yet in place for "The Evening News," so I rushed into an adjoining radio booth. Here is a bulletin from CBS News. The first reports say that President Kennedy has been seriously wounded by this shooting. In that plane over the Pacific, where the passenger cabin had neither radio nor television, protocol required that the radio operator take the UPI bulletin first to the ranking Cabinet member, Dean Rusk.

He told the Cabinet that the president had been shot, and that it could be fatal. Salinger insisted that the plane turn back to Honolulu immediately, but Rusk hesitated. He wanted to confirm facts, not press reports. You're listening to the original ground-to-air radio traffic just moments after the news first reached the plane over the Pacific, relayed from the UPI wire. These remarkable tapes provide a strikingly immediate document of men caught in an historic crisis.

Salinger was among the first to get on the frequency. All available information on the president follows: Con - he and Gov. Connally, of Texas, have been hit in the car in which they were riding. We do not know how serious the situation is.

Incomplete documents

We have no information. Bromley Smith is back here in the Situation Room now. We are getting our information over the tickers. Rusk wanted official information direct from the White House, but the only information the White House had to give was what it was getting from the press. That is affirmative, affirmative. This plane on which secretary of State, other Cabinet ministers headed for Japan, turning around, returning to Honolulu, will arrive there in approximately two hours.

Understand those departing Honolulu are turning around and will be back there in about two hours. With the White House so dispersed, there seemed reason to imagine a possibility even more unthinkable than assassination: Salinger was being addressed from the Situation Room by his code name, Wayside. In the confusion of the moment, he didn't know whether to return to Dallas or Washington. We'll be just kept advised so to determine whether some members of this party should go directly to Dallas. The Associated Press is coming out now to bulletin, to the effect that they believe the president was hit in the head.

That just came in. I sat at the news desk in shirtsleeves, surrounded by telephones, typewriters, a clutter of papers, and a lone apple that sat on the front edge of the desk. Our attention was focused so completely on Dallas, it hardly seemed newsworthy that half the government was 4, miles out over the Pacific. This is Walter Cronkite in our newsroom; and there has been an attempt, as perhaps you know now, on the life of President Kennedy. He was wounded in an automobile driving from Dallas Airport into downtown Dallas, along with Gov.

They've been taken to Parkland Hospital there, where their condition is as yet unknown. Hold on the line there, Wayside. We have some more information coming up.

Assassination of Kennedy

I read from the AP bulletin, Kennedy apparently shot in head. He fell face down in backseat of his car. Blood was on his head. Kennedy cried, "oh no! Connally remained half-seated, slumped to the left.

There was blood on his face and forehead. I have nothing further for you now. I will contact you if we get more. The president was pronounced dead at 2 p. Eastern Time, but the news was not released. Conflicting rumors continued to circulate. Wayside, this is Situation Room. We have conflicting reports now so we're not - getting no confirmation. We will call you again. I have relayed your intentions and present position to the front office. Your office has the word. We will call you again when we get confirmation.

Intrigue still surrounds assassination of President John F. Kennedy

Eddy Barker was news director of CBS's Dallas affiliate, and had some of the best police sources in the city. He was among the first to learn the true facts; and he worked closely with Bob Pierpoint and Dan Rather who were covering the Kennedy visit for the network. It's been one hour since that electrifying flash came over the wires that bullet shots had been heard to ring out in the Kennedy motorcade.

There is the report in Dallas that the president is dead, but that has not been confirmed by any other source. And as late as 15 minutes ago, it was reported by aides outside in the corridor that he was still alive. The extent of his injuries is not known, either. Regarding the probable assassin, a man 25 years old, we are - we just have a report from our correspondent Dan Rather, in Dallas, that he has confirmed that President Kennedy is dead. There is still no official confirmation of this, however Ten minutes later, press officer Malcolm Kilduff released the news, and it was official.

It fell to me to make the announcement for CBS. My emotion was apparent as I fought to control my composure, locking it inside a clinched jaw. From Dallas, Texas, the flash apparently official, President Kennedy died at 1 p.