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I'm riveted to the stream of its 1963 coverage of the JFK assassination. It's a time machine--not just back to that day and weekend, but also to a world in some ways different, but in others ways very similar to where we are 50 years later.

I've already commented on how this news coverage is the model for how all other breaking news has been presented in the past 50 years--without, of course, the hype, the thematic headlines and theme songs.  But between the black and white lines, after adjusting the vertical hold [you have to be a certain age to know what that is], it's possible to notice some socio/cultural things about 1963...

Man-on-the-street interviews: A CBS reporter--on film, of course, because live remote coverage was really, really difficulty back then because of the size, heft and vacuum-tube technology of tv cameras--asks people on the street for their reactions. The reporter is male, and everyone, except for one, that he interviews is a male, too. The men sound logical and reasonable. The woman is crying...

Any women in the newsroom? Nope. Not visible, anyway.

Most of the men on the street are wearing hats [fedoras. Look it up.]

News reports refer to "a colored man" having been seen at the Texas Book Depository.

One thing that's the same: Gossip. Jumping to conclusions. Much of what was reported in the early phases was rumor: The "colored man."  Four shots fired. A German rifle. Four bullet casings. Even though the reporters of the day seem to us to be more "responsible," their interest in getting the scoop drove them to report some shaky stuff. [A recent documentary about CBS News says that Cronkite himself wanted the scoop, but waited to announce JFK's death until he got official word.]

Another familiar theme: Extremism. CBS news reporters, as well as people on the street, quickly speculate that right-wing extremists are involved in the assassination.

Also, some very familiar faces: In addition to Cronkite--Eric Sevareid, Dan Rather, and others--but you have to be on Medicare to remember some of them...

All in all, CBS should get major kudos for streaming this coverage. To paraphrase Walter Cronkite in later years..."And that's the way it was..."


Did you watch any or all of the CBS stream of 1963 JFK assassination coverage?

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