50 years ago: The JFK assassination

posted at 8:41 am on November 22, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, cut down in Dallas in the third year of his term by Lee Harvey Oswald, who like so many other political assassins in history was nothing more than a failed crank, of the communist variety in this case.  Media organizations will offer retrospectives all day long, with replays of their live coverage beginning this afternoon.  This is the relevant part of the CBS News record, in which Walter Cronkite informs the nation (based on confirmation from Dan Rather at the scene) that the President was indeed dead:

To call this a seminal event in American history is a rather large understatement.  The assassination started a turbulent decade of protests and worse, more assassinations — Martin Luther King and Kennedy’s brother Robert among them — and the expansion of what would then be America’s longest war, and its most divisive in a hundred years. One could fill a library of books about the assassination itself, and fill Alcratraz several times over with purported conspirators and ringleaders who supposedly masterminded it.  We could fill another library with books about how the event changed America, mostly for the worse, and what it means today.

I don’t have any recollection of the assassination myself; I was only seven months old when it took place.  I can still understand what people mean when they say that they can always remember exactly where they were when they heard the news.  I have the same connection to the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan 18 years later, which fortunately turned out better for him and for America.  And of course, all of us have that shared sense of memory about 9/11.

Even though I don’t have that connection to today’s event, it is still well worth noting for its cultural and political impact.  Looking at the recollections and the 50-year-old coverage is like looking through a hazy and monochromatic telescope to an America that passed from the scene with the President, if it really existed at all. I’ll miss that coverage as I’ll be doing a show today, but most of it is on YouTube now, and I may watch it this weekend when I have more time.

What do you recall about the assassination? And what do you think it means, 50 years later?

Update: My old friend (and first paying editor!) Ira Stoll has a new book on the subject: JFK, Conservative. Be sure to check it out, on Kindle or audiobook as well.

Update: John Ziegler has an excellent essay on the coverage of the assassination — why it was so good, and what we can learn from it.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 2 3

A double agent? I’m not sure ya really wanna run too far with that, but more power to you anyway.

Right, you’re seeing things again. I said he was a lone individual who believed in some sort of Marxism and that he, and he alone, killed JFK.

He infiltrated the anti-Castro group on his own as part of the crazy game he was playing. The guy was removed from reality.

I guess you missed that part.

Tell us again about how the anti-Castro Cubans did JFK in.

Because the WC and HSCA that you quote say there is no evidence.

SteveMG on November 22, 2013 at 3:28 PM

So Kennedy’s flagrant serial infidelities -even in the WH- are irrelevant?
Akzed on November 22, 2013 at 2:59 PM

For me they are.
I can only imagine they weren’t for Jackie.
But not my biz.

verbaluce on November 22, 2013 at 3:54 PM

Tell us again about how the anti-Castro Cubans did JFK in.
Because the WC and HSCA that you quote say there is no evidence.
SteveMG on November 22, 2013 at 3:28 PM

Scroll back up and you’ll note that was not the question raised. The question you offered was of Oswald palling around with anti-Commies. I merely addressed it in noting that, using the historical and governmental evidence, Oswald was indeed involved in anti-Commie activities. I’m assuming you consider Castro a commie.

By the way, the conclusion of the most recent government investigation on the killing of JFK, the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations, was there was a “high probability that at least two gunmen fired at the President”. Hmmmm…..maybe the other, CIA identified, Oswald I mentioned before was shooter # 2, ya think? Twin brothers working together?

You were shown to be obviously incorrect about Jack Ruby and David Ferrie, this is just another area where you were uniformed.

whatcat on November 22, 2013 at 3:54 PM

And, watching the liberal c-jerk and the heebs on our side getting all nostalgic and teary eyed, priceless.
Pass the Texas bbq, man,

RovesChins on November 22, 2013 at 12:17 PM

HEEBS?

Solaratov on November 22, 2013 at 5:37 PM

I think, in part the John John plane crash thing is tied to that iconic picture of him saluting during the funeral procession. But the reality is that he died in typical Kennedy arrogance. The usual plane was unavailable so John John took out a plane he really didn’t know how to fly.

Happy Nomad on November 22, 2013 at 11:23 AM

You’re right about the arrogance, but I’ll clarify the actual situation. The plane Junior was flying was in fact his own plane, but he had only flown it at night once without a flight instructor sitting next to him. He also was not Instrument Rated, which technically was not required in the conditions that evening-but other pilots on the exact same route that evening reported “no visible horizon” due to haze.

The main problem was that he had originally planned to leave Teterboro Airport well before sunset so he would arrive in MA before it got dark, but was delayed at the airport waiting for…his sister-in-law, who got held up at work in Manhattan.

His arrogance surfaced when he decided to take off at dusk anyway. Oh, and he also was flying with one bad foot. He had injured an ankle 6 weeks earlier and had a cast.

He broke the ankle in…a paragliding accident.

Del Dolemonte on November 22, 2013 at 5:58 PM

And, watching the liberal c-jerk and the heebs on our side getting all nostalgic and teary eyed, priceless.
Pass the Texas bbq, man,

RovesChins on November 22, 2013 at 12:17 PM

HEEBS?

Solaratov on November 22, 2013 at 5:37 PM

I know. I apologized and blame my iPad.

RovesChins on November 22, 2013 at 6:12 PM

In 1963, we were barely out of the golden age of radio, and television had only begun really proliferating into a large number of homes. Nightly TV news had only begun to gather entire families every night around Walter Cronkite at the dinner table. It’s how a 7-year old kid knew anything at all about the news or what his dad thought about Kennedy, Kruschev, and Castro.

This assassination was the first real-time, nationally-televised event of brutal, ugly violence and tragic national loss in history. It was so sudden and violent that it utterly smashed the innocence and cultural sensibilities of the entire postwar ’50′s Ozzy & Harriet generation in ways that still aren’t fully appreciated. It destabilized the entire culture, which history shows quickly unraveled and degraded throughout the ’60s and beyond. It was the first 9/11-level trauma live TV media event in history.

Harbingeing on November 22, 2013 at 12:49 PM

Not for some of us!

On this day in 1963 our family was living on O’ahu, as my Dad was stationed there in the service. At the time the new 50th State had no live network TV, as there was not yet a Pacific TV satellite in service (the first one, Telstar, had only been launched the year before). As a result all of the network shows we got were shown a week after they aired on the Mainland-the tapes would be flown out to Honolulu from LAX.

We did get live network radio broadcasts out there, but they were static-plagued as they had to be relayed by high frequency radio from the Left Coast.

For the 4 days after 11/22, the Honolulu TV stations had their sister stations in LA rush tape of the live TV coverage to LAX to put on the next flight to Honolulu, where they arrived 6 hours later. This worked so well for them that their next gimmick was to have the nightly newscasts for each day flown out as soon as they were done. As a result, we got that night’s “Huntley-Brinkley Report”, via the miracle of tape-delay, on the same night it was aired!

A couple of weeks ago, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser did a story about how the Honolulu TV stations coped with covering the assassination, but sad to say it was behind a paywall so I didn’t bother to read it.

Del Dolemonte on November 22, 2013 at 6:15 PM

Dan Rather stole the scoop from Eddie Barker, station manager of the local CBS TV affiliate, KRLD.

Always the ass****.

Labamigo on November 22, 2013 at 6:15 PM

Oh, another point re. the JFK Junior plane crash. When the wreckage was recovered and analyzed they found that Junior had set both of the plane’s radios to the wrong frequencies. The NTSB accident report didn’t speculate on whether or not that could have contributed to the crash.

Del Dolemonte on November 22, 2013 at 6:45 PM

In 1963, my mother was 19 and my dad was 21. He would cast his first presidential vote the following year-for Goldwater. Ma would have to wait until ’68.
On-I think-the 20th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination-I asked Ma what she felt that day. She informed me that she had no use for democrats-so Kennedy dying meant nothing to her. yeah-she went moonbatty in her last years…but that was then.

Me personally-I think that the lowered flags today were a joke.

annoyinglittletwerp on November 22, 2013 at 8:04 PM

I’ll write here what I wrote in the book at the JFK museum in Dallas:

That’s what he gets for the Bay of Pigs.

kuro_shogun on November 22, 2013 at 10:07 PM

In the late 1970s I was a graduate student in political science at UT-Austin (they called the department “Government” at the time; go figure). One day, another of the teaching assistants came into our shared office looking, literally*, as if she was about to faint. I asked if she was sick, but she said no.
She had been a school teacher for a few years before going back for her Masters, and, on “the anniversary,” would always ask students where they had been when Kennedy was shot**, and then discuss their replies.
That day, none of her Freshman students had volunteered an answer; when she pressed them, one finally said, “Ma’am, I was in kindergarten.”

It really shook her up to think she had gotten so old.

*Really.

**I was in a sixth-grade class listening to the parade on our teacher’s radio.
Most of us didn’t really understand what happened, but it really shook him up.

AesopFan on November 22, 2013 at 11:47 PM

AesopFan on November 22, 2013 at 11:47 PM

I know it’s a day late, but it’s a pretty vivid memory — I was also in kindergarten when the news came to our school that Kennedy was shot. Our teacher sat at her desk and asked us all to sit quietly as she explained the initial news reports and asked us if we understood what happened. I and my classmates probably didn’t; all we knew was that things got very serious in the minutes after the announcement. Our teacher was probably in her 50s then and she presented the news very stoically.

I don’t know if it was because we were the youngest kids in the school at the time, but if there were any other reactions from the other teachers or older students, we didn’t see them. Perhaps they thought it best to just usher us out of class as quickly as possible.

Of course school was dismissed and my mom and aunt picked me up. We went home and watched the events unfold on TV and watched the funeral in the days afterward.

PatriotGal2257 on November 23, 2013 at 7:11 PM

To continue from my previous comment:

As a five-year-old, of course I had no political opinion of JFK. My parents liked him, so I liked him, too; my parents were working-class Democrats, the kind who are (or have been) very rapidly dying out, especially here in western PA.

But now, I know more about the Kennedys than I ever cared to know. I agree with what Rush has said: that if JFK had lived, he’d maybe have been written out of the Democrat party and may have undergone a similar transformation as did Ronald Reagan. “I didn’t leave the Democrat Party; it left me.” Any resemblance between Kennedy’s views then and the present-day Dems are farther apart than the Earth is from the Milky Way.

My mom, had she lived, would likely be a Republican now for the same reason and there’s no doubt she would be revulsed at everything the modern-day Democrats stand for today.

PatriotGal2257 on November 23, 2013 at 7:27 PM

PatriotGal2257 on November 23, 2013 at 7:27 PM

Yup, same here. My Mom would not recognize the Dem party of today.

whatcat on November 23, 2013 at 7:41 PM

Yup, same here. My Mom would not recognize the Dem party of today.

whatcat on November 23, 2013 at 7:41 PM

Truly. Who would have thought that the assassination of a president would be a catalyst of the major cultural upheaval where we find ourselves today?

Whatever impressions I had when I was a kid when I wondered what my life would be like as an adult, I’m sure I never would have thought that there would be someone in the White House like Obama, as anti-American a man as could be imagined. A trite observation, perhaps, but it still leaves me shaking my head.

PatriotGal2257 on November 23, 2013 at 8:30 PM

Truly. Who would have thought that the assassination of a president would be a catalyst of the major cultural upheaval where we find ourselves today?

Whatever impressions I had when I was a kid when I wondered what my life would be like as an adult, I’m sure I never would have thought that there would be someone in the White House like Obama, as anti-American a man as could be imagined. A trite observation, perhaps, but it still leaves me shaking my head.

PatriotGal2257 on November 23, 2013 at 8:30 PM

I don’t know if the assassination was a catalyst, but the Dem party sure went to Hades in a handbag. Even in the 70s, our Mom was getting disillusioned with it – gays, abortion, women’s lib, the whole PC bag. She was from the old school Dem background and it used to be that the word “Republican” was usually preceded by “D-mn”. Now she would be a Tea Party Republican! (Our Dad didn’t think too much of any politician – they were all crooks too him, heh.)

Obama is indeed, without a doubt, the worst person to ever be in the office. I don’t say that coming from a partisan place, but from common sense. If we could swap him for even Clinton it would be a big step up. JFK would be the best of the lot of “swapables”, even with his horrid personal life.

Hopefully things can start to be repaired when Obama is out of office. It’ll take a long time and lots of work. Too bad you can’t impeach a President based on his being a hapless, hopeless, clueless (and dangerous) moron.

whatcat on November 23, 2013 at 9:23 PM

whatcat on November 23, 2013 at 9:23 PM

Guess I wasn’t sure how to put it into words. It’s all more subtle and incremental than I think — the progression of the Democrat party from a relatively American-centric party to almost full-on Communism now, which inevitably reminds me of this. As the article states, a good bit of the points listed have come to pass.

I’m not sure I even understand the scope of the hard job ahead of us to mitigate and reverse the tremendous damage that has already been done by Obama and the people surrounding him.

PatriotGal2257 on November 23, 2013 at 10:13 PM

PatriotGal2257 on November 23, 2013 at 10:13 PM

Yeah, I agree. I’m just glad I was able to grow up in an America that wasn’t so mucked up as it is today. Things were not perfect, but still it was a wonderful era. I feel sorry for the kids who will have to bear the brunt of so many years of folly and Obama – for some of them I imagine it may be a rude awakening to how bad reality can be.

whatcat on November 23, 2013 at 10:32 PM

Yup, same here. My Mom would not recognize the Dem party of today.

whatcat on November 23, 2013 at 7:41 PM

My mother told me years ago her parents were “Kennedy Democrats”. They were the ones who got me listening to Rush back in 92 when I was in high school.

As for the Kennedy assassination, I just can’t give much of a darn these days. There are far far more important things to think about these days than JFK. Its just being used as a distraction.

oryguncon on November 24, 2013 at 12:05 PM

JFK? I thought that was John F*cking Kerry.

Meow on November 25, 2013 at 10:17 AM

Its like you guys post a story and then totally forget about it. This is still on your front page and the video has been defunct since the anniversary. I tweeted you with a truncated version and you still let this sloppy blogging happen. Pathetic… with Love, PapaG (A smaller, truncated version is better than no version): http://www.mrctv.org/videos/cronkite-gets-bulletin-john-f-kennedys-death

papa_giorgio on November 26, 2013 at 11:46 PM

Comment pages: 1 2 3