I was a green 24-year-old cub reporter for KRLD-TV and barely knew how to operate a camera when history happened.
Even after 46 years have drifted by, I still have a little difficulty discussing the Kennedy assassination. Part of me wants to pump our book “When the News Went Live” while part of me recalls the numbness of those terrible days back in November of 1963.
I am always surprised at book signings when I choke up while describing the President and Mrs. Kennedy landing in Dallas. It is still emotional to remember. But we must.
Here’s what I wrote for Birds on a Wire, a blog written by a friend in New England:
My news director, Eddie Barker, divided us into teams of reporters to cover the JFK trip to Dallas. I helped George Sanderson film Air Force One landing at Love Field. Bob Huffaker picked up coverage as the procession rolled past welcoming crowds lining the curb along Main Street -- toward the triple underpass at Dealey Plaza. In the motorcade, we had Jim Underwood riding in one of the press cars. Bill Mercer was covering the live desk in the studio.
When the shooting started, I was outside the Trade Mart awaiting the President’s arrival for his noon speech.
Suddenly, sirens wailed from the freeway overpass. Lots of sirens. In the crowd, a woman started crying, “He’s been hit. He’s been hit.” With what? Rock? Bottle? Brick? I never thought rifle fire.
And in that instant, the world changed. The whole damned world.
A handful of new JFK documentaries will air tonight and tomorrow. Three of my buddies and co-authors will be featured. I couldn’t make the trip to Dallas at the time of the productions.
The History Channel will air JFK: Three Shots that Changed America sometime near or on the 22nd.
The National Geographic Channel will air The Lost JFK Tapes: The Assassination Monday the 23rd.
The History Channel's and National Geographic's documentaries use all the reporters’ various voices to tell the story without any voice-over narration, and both are excellent and reliable.
The Discovery Channel will air two JFK specials on Sunday the 22nd: Did the Mob Kill JFK? and JFK: The Ruby Connection. The two are supposed to run back-to-back at 8 PM (ET/PT) and 9 PM (ET/PT).
Huffaker writes: “I know nothing of what Did the Mob Kill JFK? will turn out to be, but I participated in the reenactment of the Oswald shooting in JFK: The Ruby Connection, along with Detective Jim Leavelle, photographer Bob Jackson, and other fellow geezers who were in the midst of it. Since I am skeptical of conspiracists to the point of disgust, I'm hoping that JFK: The Ruby Connection will not be embarrassingly sensational.”
When the News Went Live is available in hardcover and paperback.
Pictured below are Jim Leavelle and Bob. Detective Leavelle, you’ll recall, was handcuffed to Lee Harvey Oswald as Jack Ruby came out of the crowd and fired that fateful shot.