CBS News Bulletin slide - 1960s
Fifty years ago today at 1:40 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, 12:40 p.m. Central, this slide suddenly interrupted CBS
's regular telecast of its soap opera, As the World Turns
. What followed was the first nationwide television report
that President John F. Kennedy
had been shot. The voice bringing the news to CBS viewers was the now-legendary Walter Cronkite
. Cronkite had to speak behind the slide because there was no “hot” camera in the newsroom and the vacuum tubes used in those days took 20 to 30 minutes to warm up enough to allow the equipment to be used.
The passage of time and what happened in American television from this point through the end of Cronkite’s tenure at CBS News
has made a huge imprint on the country’s collective memory. In many minds, it’s almost as if CBS was the only broadcaster that covered the assassination. This is certainly not the case.
I’m sure it will be repeated ad nauseum
today through all of the stuff coming through Tumblr, Twitter, and elsewhere on the 50th anniversary of this event that CBS will be streaming its full four days of coverage beginning today at 1:40 p.m. EST
, the same time the slide above first appeared on November 22, 1963. However, while probably not as crystal-clear as that stream will be, I would like to offer a much easier and broader alternative.
A gentleman named David Von Pein has an amazing collection of these videos including the 10 minutes of As the World Turns
that ran before the first bulletin (and the portion afterward before CBS went into four days of wall-to-wall coverage), all of the first day of NBC
's coverage including their opening announcement made in New York by Don Pardo
(yes, the long-time Saturday Night Live
's early coverage, and the early coverage of WFAA
in Dallas including an interview wih none other than Abraham Zapruder
. In addition, he has most of the known original radio coverage from the major networks plus great local coverage from several Dallas/Fort Worth stations. This includes an amazing 3-plus hours from KLIF (in its days at 1190 KHz) that begins with Kennedy’s arrival at Love Field
and contains tons of old music, commercials, and announcements before the big news breaks.
As Mr. Von Pein’s videos are occasionally removed from YouTube, it is always best to start at his page on Blogger to get to his material.The JFK Assassination As It Happened
There are many interesting things to be noted in all of the different versions of the coverage aside from the realization that CBS’s iconic broadcasts were not the only game in town. In a time well before mobile devices much less the Internet, it should be remembered that most people received the early hours of this news via radio. I also find it fascinating to see the inevitable mistakes certain broadcasts made and wonder how much they might have fueled some of the most stubborn of the conspiracy theories that followed.
I hope my Followers will take some time to go through at least part of Mr. Von Pein’s stunning collection. It is fascinating on many levels even though the subject is so terrible.