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History, Video

History: the original CBS Kennedy assassination broadcast, as it happened. [video]

Here’s a creepy video. This is a recording of the video feed on CBS on the afternoon of November 22, 1963–complete with commercials, station breaks, and an episode of the soap opera As The World Turns. It’s pretty dull, unless you’re a fan of early 1960s TV. Then, at 10:01, announcer Walter Cronkite breaks in–audio only–with the famous words: “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.”

This is the actual broadcast as it occurred–no edits, no breaks, no commentary, nothing. This is what you would have seen on your TV screen on that fateful afternoon if you were watching CBS.

This is long (29 minutes total), but definitely worth watching especially in the later sections as the horrible news begins to come in. It’s pretty rare to find completely unedited footage like this, especially from so early an era. This was one of the darkest days in American history, and this is how it began for most people.

JFK, of course, was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald, firing from the Texas School  Book Depository in downtown Dallas. The 50th anniversary of this tragic event is coming up this November.

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  1. JFK had to know someone was out to get him. Although many think his was the age of Camelot, when you check up on the archives, you find he was sneaky and a liar – a politician. The bullets made him a martyr and suddenly a hero.

    • Henry Tchop

      His was the last presidency of the old school press. They saw things but kept secrets. The government was trusted in that era. The trust started to get eroded with LBJ’s handling of Viet-Nam (I know Kennedy put the troops in) and later with Watergate. I personally believe JFK’s biggest enemies were Castro and Kruschev. A thing I have always wondered was what did Oswald do and learn in the Soviet Union. Could it be possible he was trained to kill JFK? Or was he just a nut?

      • Henry, I highly recommend Vincent Bugliosi’s book “Reclaiming History: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy” which contains a very lengthy section on Oswald in the USSR, what he did, what he knew and what happened to him. What we know about his time in the USSR has been greatly enhanced by Soviet records released since 1991. Oswald received no intelligence training and in fact the Soviets were pretty embarrassed by his presence, so it seems pretty unlikely that he was trained to kill JFK or to do anything else. He was just a nut, deeply troubled in many aspects of his life. Anyway, the book is simply the best book ever written on JFK in my opinion, and is exhaustively researched. A fantastic read!

      • I honestly believe Oswald was duped into believing he was doing right by the country by getting rid of JFK – he wasn’t the brightest bulb in the pack. But JFK intensified Nam while he told the country he was cutting back; he was as 2-faced as any politician.

  2. Henry Tchop

    I have seen all the TV networks and WBAP-Dallas footage and listened to almost every radio broadcast of this event I could find. Regarding the television footage, it is amazing how the newsrooms were not ready for the breaking news. Many staff on radio and tv were out taking lunch. My guess for the reason for the bulletin screen with nobody on camera is that the camera was not warmed up and/or Cronkite simply was not in a tie and wearing make up. This was the case with all the networks. It was also really difficult for them to reach Dallas affiliates because there was not satillite technology that there is today. I actually thought that radio did a really good job getting the story fast.

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