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CNN Presents: Kennedy Has Been Shot

Aired November 16, 2003 - 20:00   ET


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And here they come, right down before us. I can see Mrs. Kennedy.

BILL BRADLEY, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, WASHINGTON POST: Kennedy liked the media. He liked reporters. He liked editors. He liked the process.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The press is having a field day.

TOM WICKER: Dallas was known at that time, it was known as the center of kind of right-wing, violent political activity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As we came into the heart of Dallas, I was in the first press bus. And the crowds were wonderful. They were -- it was a sunny day, a beautiful day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then as they turn the corner, there was this loud, explosive sound.

DAN RATHER, CBS NEWS: Then it clicked in me. I don't know what's happening, but something here is really wrong.

WILBORN HAMPTON, REPORTER, UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL: I picked up the phone and said, "UPI." This voice was screaming.

"Three shots were fired at the motorcade! Make it a bulletin precede!"

AARON BROWN, HOST, CNN PRESENTS: Three shots. One instant. One instant that changed this country forever.

Welcome to CNN PRESENTS. I'm Aaron Brown.

Almost everyone of a certain age can tell you where they were, what they were doing on November 22, 1963, that dark day in Dallas, the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

They can tell you how, for the first time, America turned not to print or radio, but to television, as the unimaginable played out before our eyes. They can tell you how we hung on every word, every image, from those still struggling to make sense of the senseless.

Nearly 40 years later, those journalists who were there can still recall with vivid, gripping detail the minutes and the hours and the days of one of the most traumatic events in modern American history. So, who better to tell the story? That's what we thought when we began "President Kennedy Has Been Shot," a documentary from Academy Award winning filmmaker, Gerardine Wurzburg.


ROBERT MACNEIL, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: Everybody kept twisting around and saying, "Where's Jackie? Where's Jackie?" Well, Jackie was standing beside me in the kitchen door. And she was smiling mischievously.

And the more they went on saying, "Where's Jackie?" -- we were twisting around -- she sort of giggled and waited more. And then she made her tactically delayed entrance, and to huge cheers. And she looked glowing, because she was wearing this pillbox hat and in pink, and her glossy hair.

And the cameraman, Mo Levy (ph) -- we looked at each other and I said to Mo, well, if nothing else happens, we've got a story in Jackie.

JOHN F. KENNEDY, 35th PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Two years ago I said that -- introduced myself in Paris by saying that I was the man who had accompanied Mrs. Kennedy to Paris. I'm getting that, somewhat that same sensation as I travel around Texas.


KENNEDY: Nobody wonders what Lyndon and I wear.


WILBORN HAMPTON, REPORTER, UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL: The whole trip to Texas was what was called a political fence-mending trip. The governor, John Connelly, was rather conservative. There was a senator, Ralph Yarborough, who was very liberal. They didn't get along.

The Vice President, of course, Lyndon Johnson was from Texas. And President Kennedy was already looking forward to the 1964 elections, presidential campaign, and certainly did not want to lose Texas because of a rift between the state's senior senator and its governor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now Air Force Number One taxiing in. And the crowd below cheering.

TOM WICKER, REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Adlai Stevenson had been attacked there just a few weeks before. And Dallas was known at that time, was known as the center of kind of right-wing, violent political activity.

And so there had been some talk about that. Would President Kennedy be safe?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Mrs. Kennedy -- and the crowd yells -- and the President of the United States.

Shaking hands now with the Dallas people, Governor and Mrs. Connelly.

HUGH SIDEY, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, TIME MAGAZINE: I had got off the press plane, and I was following the President and Jackie down the fence line. And it was wonderful. The people who were there. And they were very warm and cheerful.

And mostly I noticed they were young.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But here they come, right down toward us. I can see Mrs. Kennedy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And they went up and down, and we (ph) -- the fence line there. And it was just the same thing -- touching and shaking hands and posing with kids and that sort of thing. And then they got into their limousine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Riding his own car, personally escorting was the chief of police, the Presidential car moving out.

HAMPTON: After he arrived and got in the motorcade and started his -- the tour through downtown Dallas from Love Field, everybody sort of took a break.

There was going to be a slight pause while the motorcade went through town. And then it would all pick up again, the activity. Then the President reached the Trade Mart where he was going to deliver a major speech.

JACK FALLON, SOUTHWEST DIVISION NEWS MANAGER, UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL: Merriman Smith, who was our White House correspondent, was traveling with the White House group. And he would, of course, report the President's remarks, what he was saying.

HAMPTON: Smitty was a caricature of -- he could have been right out of central casting. His suit was rather rumpled. He sort of talked out of the side of his mouth. Anything, I expected to see a press card of his hat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The crowd down there was absolutely beautiful. And nothing went wrong where I was. The police had seen to it that they had extra patrols all over the motorcade route.

The crowd just surged up and down the street and cheered along Main Street as the motorcade came past.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I took a position on a corner, right across the street from the Depository Building. And as the motorcade approached, I was caught up in it like everybody else. There were the motorcycle escorts.

And then as the limo bearing the Connellys and the Kennedys came, I was riveted by the appearance of the Kennedys. They just looked great. They looked like a first couple should look. And then as they turned the corner, there was this loud, explosive sound.


MACNEIL: We turned into Dealey Plaza. And I looked at my watch. I was going to have to do a radio piece for the news on the hour at one o'clock. So I began making a couple of notes, thinking what I would use from the speech in the radio piece. And then there was a bang.

SIDEY: The sound, the rhythm of it -- there was no question in my mind. It was bang, bang, bang.

PIERCE ALLMAN, REPORTER: Things were happening in the limousine. Mr. Kennedy had -- his arms had gone up and he was beginning to topple to the left. And then Jackie came out of her seat and was coming up over him.

And about that time, I guess a Secret Service man from the following car jumped over the left rear fender of the car and covered them both. And they sped off.


SIDEY: The people on the grassy knoll -- it looked like that just a great wind had flattened them out. They were all lying down.

Now, I remember, as we first edged up, there was this young man, right down on the curb with a little boy, with his arm around the boy. And they were lying on the ground and he was pounding the earth with his hand.

And he was protecting his son and he was hammering the earth. And it -- you know, instantly you knew this was something horrible.

HAMPTON: At the time of the shots, Smitty grabbed the phone in the car -- the press car had a mobile telephone in it -- and dialed the office.

And I was standing next to a bank of phones by the news desk and the phone rang. And I sort of looked around to see if somebody else was going to answer it.

But there was no one, so I picked up the phone and said "UPI." And this voice that immediately recognized on the other end was screaming.

"Three shots were fired at the motorcade!"

I nearly dropped the phone. I grabbed it. I sort of screwed it into my ear and said what I said next, was "I can't hear you."

I had heard him perfectly, of course. But I was trying to buy myself some time. I just didn't know what to do.

He screamed it again, even louder, "Three shots were fired at the motorcade! Make it a bulletin precede!"

FALLON: I put in a bulletin, that three shots had been fired at the motorcade. Bingo. That's all.

And immediately the wire stopped. New York runs that main wire and it said, bureaus, other bureaus, hold off. Dallas, the wire is yours.

HAMPTON: And he pushed a little break lever and it stopped the story. And in the middle of a sentence, actually, and typed the bulletin that then would ring five bells all around the world.

And this would be the first word anybody in television, radio or newspapers had that shots were fired at the motorcade.

WALTER CRONKITE, ANCHOR, CBS EVENING NEWS: I heard bing, bing, bing, bing, bing. And I looked, kind of looked up. And Eddie is standing there at the United Press printer. And he says, "It says shots rang out in the streets of Dallas with the President going by."

And I said, "Whoa-oh!" And we were deciding what to do about getting on the air, because we didn't have a camera there at the time.

We learned at that point that you always have a warm camera in the news room and ready to go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here is a special bulletin from Dallas, Texas. Three shots were fired at President Kennedy's motorcade today in downtown Dallas, Texas.

This is ABC radio.

RATHER: I suspected something was wrong in the seconds that the motorcade whizzed past me. Then it clicked in me. I don't know what's happening, but something here is really wrong.

And so, I hightailed it back to the station. My one thing was, I've got to get back to KROD.

With the old journalism axiom, you know, there's a story here. I don't know what the story is, but there's a story here. And there's no story worth a damn unless you can get it out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One oh five wants to 1025 ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am at the hospital now. The President was taken in a few minutes ago, lifted from the car, placed on a stretcher. He was motionless. The First Lady leaned over him, crying.

Governor Connelly of Texas was also wounded. It's uncertain at this moment ...

BOB CLARK, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, ABC NEWS: There was a frozen scene inside the car. Jackie was not speaking to anyone. And nobody was speaking to her. After a minute or so, the -- Clint Hill, who was the Secret Service man who sort of covered himself with glory that day. But he was standing next to the car and he took off his jacket and put it over Kennedy's head and shoulders.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I got to Parkland, the place had already been cordoned off. The limousine was still there. Its doors were standing open. The bouquet of roses was lying on the back seat.

Senator Ralph Yarborough was just broken up, completely in tears. Congressman Jim Wright. They were all talking in hushed tones.

CRONKITE: Here is a bulletin from CBS News. In Dallas, Texas, three shots were fired at President Kennedy's motorcade in downtown Dallas. The first reports say that President Kennedy has been seriously wounded by this shooting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the downtown area, code three to Elm and Houston. (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Forty-three and Ross ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I got to Dealey Plaza probably, I'd say no more than 10 minutes after the shots had been fired, and it was already a scene of total chaos.

At the very beginning, the building was sealed. There were several reporters who had got in instantly -- Kent Biffle, Tom Aliyay (ph), Pierce Allman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ran up the sidewalk, up the steps to the Depository Building and asked a man where a phone was and he jerked his thumb and he said, "In there."

And the whole time that I was running, I'm thinking, you've got to -- you've got to get this on the air. But what -- what do you say?

It looked to me like the President was shot. If, in that very brief, chaotic visual moment, if what I saw and registered was accurate, it looked to me as if it was fatal.

But what do you say?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Attention all (UNINTELLIGIBLE), the suspect's on Elm and Houston, is thought to be an unknown white male about 30, slender build, 5' 10" tall, 165 pounds. No further description at this time ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had a call ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... information, so ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... from Tom Allier (ph), who was locked in on the sixth floor. He says, I'm up here and we've got the chicken bones, we've got the gun, we've got everything. And he says, but I can't get that film out of there. I says, you got a piece of tape? And he says, yes. And I said, tape it up real good and throw it out the back window.

There was a back side to the School Book Depository, and we were out there catching film coming out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a piece of film we would like to show you now. Burt Ship (ph) is our chief photographer and assistant news director of WFAA television.

This is -- well, roll the film, Burt, and if you would narrate it, please.

BURT SHIP (ph), PHOTOGRAPHER: Tom Allier (ph), one of our reporters and photographers, shot this film. And ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This film was thrown out one of the windows and developed in the last 10 or 15 minutes here and on the air.

SHIP (ph): But this is the inside of the building where the sniper was. Now the film starts getting a little bad. Looks like Tom lost his loop.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were in such a hurry to get the film on the air, that we were actually taking it out of the processing soup and putting it straight on the air without even editing it, putting it on the air wet.

EDDIE BARKER, REPORTING, KRLD-TV: The President was whisked to Parkland Hospital, which is located about a mile-and-a-half from this site, which would make it about three miles from the ...


BARKER REPORTING: ... site of the shooting ...

BARKER: ... position was just that I was up on the balcony there with the microphone. And I didn't even have a floor man with me.

And what little I knew was not much, other than that there was something amiss, because the motorcade did not stop, and it went on by. And then it was very shortly after that, that I had a doctor that I knew from Parkland came up and whispered in my ear.

BARKER REPORTING: And who are you, sir?


BARKER REPORTING: We have just been told by a member of the staff at Parkland Hospital, the President is dead. This is not -- what is the Governor's condition?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has been shot.

BARKER: Remember, I -- we had to build a long mike. And I put that mike under my arm and I said, what? How do you know? And he said, I just called the emergency room, and he's DOA.

And so, I knew my source. And I knew that he was right. And I then said it.

CRONKITE: Let us recall for you now what has transpired in this ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: KRLD is reporting -- they've been told by somebody in the hospital the President is dead. Only a rumor, but they've been told that. KRLD is saying that.

CRONKITE: Well, that's a repeat of something that you heard reported to you directly a moment ago from KRLD television in Dallas.

And that is the rumor that has reached them at the hotel, that the President is dead -- totally unconfirmed, apparently, as yet.


RATHER: Well, I called Parkland Hospital as quickly as possible and got the switchboard operator. I said, you know, please don't hang up on me, and give me somebody that I can talk to in authority that might know something.

And she said, doctor -- and the doctor was very matter-of-fact. I said, you know, what's happening, what's going on there. And he said, well -- he said, the President has been brought here and it's my understanding that he's dead.

SIDEY: People had seen priests go in. And Marianne Means and I were out on the -- out in the yard of the hospital when we saw the priests come out.

And we said, can you tell us anything. And they said, no, no. We can't -- we can't tell you anything. And Marianne said, well, is he -- is he dead? Is he alive? I forget exactly how she put it.

And one of the priests -- and my memory of it was the shorter one on the other side of the car -- said, "He's dead, all right." Just -- it just popped out.

RATHER: We had what we had. There had been no official announcement. And I know at the time I was thinking, well, kind of wish we'd discussed this a little bit more.

And they could have said, well, do you think we should play the "Star Spangled Banner"? And do you think we should announce to the nation and the world that the President is dead?

I might have said yes, but I'm not sure.

But it wasn't my call. And radio announced it immediately.

BARKER REPORTING: A flash from Dallas. Two priests who were with President Kennedy say he is dead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the latest information we have from Dallas. I will repeat with the greatest regret ...

CRONKITE: 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, it's the report from our correspondent, Dan Rather, in Dallas, Texas.

MACNEIL: We came around into a nurses' classroom, where all the cameras had been set up, and the microphones. And it was full of reporters.

And Mac Kilduff, who was the number two White House press spokesman, stood at the desk. And I remember he put his hands on the desk in a funny position, like this, pressing so that they bent back like this.

And the tears began running down his face. And he said, at one -- I regret to announce that at -- and somebody said, wait a minute. What time is it?

And so they said, well, it's 1:31 or something, whatever it was. Everybody wanted to read what time. And so we had to start again.

And by this time, the tears were just coursing down his cheeks. He was pressing on the desk to get himself under control.

HAMPTON: Kilduff said simply, "President John Fitzgerald Kennedy died at approximately one o'clock."

Anyway, I ran across the lobby. There was a man who apparently had just tried to make a phone call and didn't know what was (UNINTELLIGIBLE). And he was standing, looking at the pay phone, and I just sort of shoved past him and said, excuse me. I've got to do this.

And grabbed the phone and said, "Don, he's dead." I knew, "He's really dead."

I could hardly believe it myself. And he said, "What, Bill? Calm down. What is it? Who said it?" I said, "Kilduff, the White House guy."

"He's dead, Don. He's really dead."

CRONKITE: From Dallas, Texas, the flash, apparently official, President Kennedy died at 1 p.m. Central standard time, two o'clock Eastern standard time, some 38 minutes ago.

And Vice President Johnson has left the hospital in Dallas, but we do not know to where he has proceeded. Presumably, he will be taking the oath of office shortly, and become the 36th President of the United States.


HUGH SYNSWORTH, REPORTER, DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Donald got up there, and he jumped off. And Oswald hit McDonald real hard with his left hand. By that time two or three other cops were there coming from the other side. And they jumped on him. And it happened so fast, within seconds they had him and they had hand cuffed him. And I remember they took him out and -- the thing that stuck in my mind all these years -- all I heard Oswald say twice was I protest this police brutality.

HUGH SIDNEY, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, TIME MAGAZINE: When the doors opened in this part of the hospital, and they moved the casket out, and there were these -- my friends, you know tears streaming down their faces, and then Jackie, with her hand on the casket. And that's the first time I saw the blood stains on her dress.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, History happens in such kind of squalid places frequently. You know, we have our great ceremonies and that, but events take place in these small little reaches of humanity, and they are often not very effective, and here we were in the parking lot of the Parkview Hospital, and you know and just your kind of miserable, and this white hearse. And it just kind of paralyzed you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did he say to you after he was arrested?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He just said this is it; it's all over with now.




SID DAVIS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, WESTINGHOUSE BROADCASTING: When we sped into Love (ph) Field, we arrived just as the hearse had finished unloading the casket, the President's casket. And then we boarded the airplane. I counted 28 people in the room, there could have been slightly more than that, but the room was very crowded and very stuffy. The heat was unbearable really. And President Johnson, when Mrs. Kennedy came in, went to the door and took her by both hands, and brought her into the room. And then she stood to his left, Mrs. Johnson stood to his right, and then Judge Hughes, Sara (ph) Hughes delivered the oath.


SARA HUGHES, JUDGE: I do solemnly swear.

JOHNSON: I do solemnly swear.

HUGHES: That I will faithfully execute.

JOHNSON: I will faithfully execute.



HUGHES: And will to the best of my abilities.

JOHNSON: And will to the best of my abilities.


TOM WICKER, REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: C. Davis (ph) jumped off Air Force One, and sort of gave a press speech (UNINTELLIBLE) President Johnson, as he was by then having been sworn in, I know I would run downstairs to the telephone booths and phone in my story.


WICKER: Hello? I have some good things for you on the Kennedy story.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, where are you Tom?

WICKER: I'm in Dallas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, boy, now take it easy. OK, this Dallas November 22.

WICKER: John F. Kennedy was shot and killed here today. The President suffered a massive gun shot wound in the brain, and was pronounced dead at 1:00 pm Central Standard Time.


BOB SCHIEFFER (ph), REPORTER, FORT WOTH STAR TELEGRAM: Up until that time, people depended on print. Print is what validated an event. People didn't really believe it until they had seen it written down in black and white. And that's why that after this happened, people lined up at the "Star Telegram", and at other newspapers around the country to get these newspapers. They wanted to see it written down in print.

DARWIN PAYNE, REPORTER, DALLAS TIMES: The (UNINTELLIBLE) came over to my desk and gave me a sheet of paper with an address on it, 1026 North Deckley, said we found this is where Oswald lived. Go over there. It was a rooming house. Oswald had lived there about six weeks. He had taken a room there under an assumed name, O.H. Lee. And I found the housemother I guess you would call her, Earline Roberts (ph). She said he came here after the President was shot. I said, you sure are in a hurry. He didn't answer.

He had a -- his room was off the dining room. Then I'd go in and I'd describe the bed, light blue room, the single bed, the sheets were dumped in a pile. The blanket and the bedspread were dumped; it had a small air conditioner. There was a pack of chewing gum in the wastebasket...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (voice-over) This is a scene at Andrews Airforce Base, of the casket of -- bringing the body of President Kennedy is being transferred to an ambulance. The one plane, Airforce One, carried the body, the new President, and the mourning wife. Behind it comes Mrs. Kennedy, and Robert Kennedy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know that the world shares the sorrow that Mrs. Kennedy and her family bear. I will do my best. That is all I can do. I ask for your help, and God's.


SIDNEY: The events that day in classic journalistic fashion were not very remarkable. So it was just kind of straight forward reporting. And traveling back on Airforce One, that's what I did. I sat down and wrote -- oh Gosh, I don't I suppose two or three thousand words just trying to remember every fragment. Things like this you just wrote the immediate experience.


PAYNE: I think we had flown in that afternoon from all over the country. And it's the -- message from the "New York Times", and they report all that. So suddenly we had the national (UNINTELLIBLE).

ROBERT MACNEIL, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: It was a mob scene, and I don't know who all those people were. I believe I read later that Ruby (ph) was there that night, because he was a pal of a lot of the cops. And anybody could have been there. But it was very crowded, and very hot, and seemed very disorganized. And -- but the police seemed quite pleased to be parading their captive back and forth.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here comes Oswald down the hall again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you buy that rifle?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIBLE) dispatched you people have been given, but I emphatically deny these charges.


IKE PAPPAS, REPORTER, WNEW RADIO, NEW YORK: So they take Oswald away. Now I need a telephone. I've got to find a phone to communicate with my office, to tell them what the story is. And up comes this character. Who was wearing a black suit, pinstriped suit. A snap-brim grey Fedora (ph) hat. Walked fast. Came up and he said, you a reporter? I said yes.

Now I thought that he was a detective. Because he looked like a vice cop. So I thought, if he's a detective he has a telephone. So I think I'm going to cultivate this guy. And I said, no I'm a correspondent, and I'm from New York. And he said well -- and then I asked him, are you a detective? And he said no, I'm Jack Ruby.

SHIEFFER: The first thing I was told when I went to work on the police beat was get a hat. And I said a hat? For what? And they said so you'll look more like a detective. So here I was, a 26-year- old kid, wearing a snap rim felt hat, so I would look like a detective.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you kill the President?

LEE OSWALD: No, I have not been charged with that. In fact nobody has said that to me yet. First thing I heard about it was when the newspaper reporters in the hall asked me that question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have been charged.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have been charged.


OSWALD: A policeman hit me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was Oswald. Lee Oswald who was charged with the murder of the President of the United States, though he said he did not know it. He's been taken back upstairs.


PIERCE ALLMAN, PROGRAMMING MANAGER, WFAA TV: Up until this point, if you were a print reporter, you had good access to all the detectives, police chief, et cetera. Now it seemed different. The -- they waited for the television lights to come on before they started talking. Suddenly we couldn't get behind the scenes anymore. And it seemed to me that moment in history when television became preeminent in the coverage of an event such as that.

DAVIS: North Portico (ph) at that point was draped in the mourning (ph) crave (ph). And these 13 lanterns flickering in the driveway with this gray Navy ambulance proceeding up the driveway toward the North Portico (ph). And I tried to capture the feeling here of this moment. And decided to close the broadcast with the -- a poem that President Kennedy would recite on all of his campaign trips.

He liked to quote from Robert Frost many times. But one of the President's favorite quotations, and I believe it went something like this, I have promises to keep, and many miles to go before I sleep.


DAVIS: And with that, this is Sid Davis reporting from the White House.


DAVIS: He had just left a couple of days before healthy, and hail (ph), looking forward to running for election in 1964, and trying to heal the wounds in Texas, and doing all of that, and now you got this 46-year-old president back at the White House in a casket.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The line which formed here estimated by police at 500,000.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was marvelously solemn, and quite elaborate car indentation (ph) around the casket. And you brought your memories to that. I think people were all within themselves, and thinking what Kennedy's death meant to them.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The doors here will remain open until they must be closed at 10:00 tomorrow.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Here comes the truck. From yesterday morning it has been known that Oswald would be transferred from the Dallas city jail to the Dallas county jail.


DAN RATHERS, NEW ORLEANS BUREAU CHIEF, CBS NEWS: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) national cathedrals, national prayer service if you will. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) essay, and then the transfer of Lee Harvey Oswald (ph). Beautiful plan.

BOB HUFFAKER, REPORTER, KRLO-TV: I was going to be in the basement, and I was not to speak at all. I was going to let Nelson do all the talking. He was going to sit in our van, and watch tings on the monitors, since we would be switching cameras as the transfer took place.

RATHERS: Oswald was coming down from upstairs in the police station. Nelson then was on the scene, and sang (ph) to me my earpiece, come to me, because he's coming down. I'm (UNINTELLIGIBLE) come to us, got to come to us. At first he said in just about that tone of voice, very quickly. And New York said well hold your horses, Harry (ph) really likes this essay, spent a lot of time on it, and I want him to get the chance not only to do it, but to do it at his pace. And I'm saying well that's all fine, but keep in mind this is happening.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lee Oswald has been shot. There's the man with a gun, it's absolute panic. Absolute panic.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: NBC was on the air live. Of course it was a few seconds before the CBS people in New York realized that they had to push my button.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to try to bring in Bob Huffaker of KRLD. When you hear us down there Bob, will you give us an account of what happened?

HUFFAKER: Oswald fell to the concrete in front of our eyes, and Oswald was moved immediately from the area. No one knows...

(voice-over): And then it was a matter of still trying to keep talking and give information and stay on the air, while not knowing very much at all.

(on-camera): ...and an ambulance apparently is moving down now into the basement. Here comes the ambulance. And Oswald will be...


EDDIE BARSUR, NEWS DIRECTOR AND ANCHOR, KRLO-TV: We just blew it you know? And occasionally you do that. This was one of times we did. We didn't think anything was going to happen. Who in the world would have thought that you would take a prisoner in the police station, walk him out to put him in a car or whatever, and somebody's going to shoot him?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here comes Oswald. He is ashen and unconscious at this time. Now being moved in -- he's not moving.


HAMPTON: Police in their efforts to mollify or accommodate all of the world's press had actually gone ahead with their plan, and were going to stage the transfer as scheduled. And as a result, first big live story on television was the shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald (ph) by Jack Ruby (ph). And it was covered live around the world.

WICKER: I think that was the weekend that -- when television really supplanted the printed press as the national nervous system you know. I don't think there's any question of it. The press -- the television sort of held the country together. People you know just clustered around their TV's all the time.

HAMPTON: The coverage -- especially after the events immediately after the actual assassination of the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) rotunda of the funeral itself, all America was able to join in the national mourning, indeed all of the world was.

RATHERS: It is to this day impossible for me to describe the hammer to the heart that the death of President Kennedy, and acknowledge the realization that not only had someone taken a shot at him, not only had someone hit him with a shot, but they killed him with a shot did to the psyche of the country.

DAVIS: Without a doubt, this story was the biggest, most ripping graphic emotional story that a reporter could hope to cover, want to cover. I wish I didn't have to have covered it.

HAMPTON: It was an incredible day. But I soon began to realize that no matter how many bulletins or even flashes I dictated or covered, that nothing would ever quite be the same as that 1 day in Dallas.



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