On This Day in History, President John F. Kennedy Was Shot

The Dallas Morning News, Nov. 23, 1963

The Dallas Morning News, Nov. 23, 1963. (Newseum collection)

On Nov. 22, 1963, UPI teletype machines in newsrooms across the country suddenly stopped transmitting a story on a Minneapolis murder trial to report breaking news: “Three shots were fired at President Kennedy’s motorcade today in downtown Dallas.”

Within minutes, Americans heard the ominous report, first on radio and then television. An hour later, they learned the 35th president of the United States was dead.

On display in the News Corporation News History Gallery are historic newspapers reporting the assassination, as well as scripts and notes from radio reporter Ike Pappas, who witnessed Oswald’s murder while taping an on-the-scene report.

Journalists didn’t have laptops, digital cameras or cellphones four decades ago. But using typewriters, film and land-line telephones, they reported every breaking development — from Parkland Hospital, where Kennedy was pronounced dead, to Love Field, where Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as president, to the Texas Theatre, where suspected assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was captured.

Television networks carried nonstop, commercial-free coverage for nearly four days. Two days after the assassination, TV viewers who were tuned to NBC, the only network that carried live coverage of Oswald’s jail transfer, witnessed the first live murder on television when nightclub owner Jack Ruby shot the accused assassin at point-blank range. The following day, more than 93 percent of U.S. TV households watched Kennedy’s funeral.

Other stories about the Kennedy assassination in the Newseum include:

On Nov. 22, 2013, the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the Newseum hosted “JFK Remembrance Day,” featuring a number of daylong JFK-themed discussions with authors, journalists and filmmakers. In this recorded discussion, historian James Swanson, author of the book “End of Days: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy” talked about the impact of that day.

In 2013, the Newseum also hosted former Secret Service agent Clint Hill and CBS News’s Bob Schieffer, who shared their memories of the day Kennedy was assassinated. The full program may be viewed here.

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