Skip to comments.THE JFK ASSASSINATION: THE MEDIA IN 1963
Posted on 11/18/2013 9:13:31 AM PST by Nextrush
Television was the established cutting edge media in 1963 drawing in the young and continuing a rise to its zenith in the decades to come.
Radio and the newspapers had their place in the pecking order but they were on lower rungs.
Television was dominated by three major networks with two of them (CBS and NBC) being the leaders in ratings and advertising dwarfing the third network (ABC) in those statistics.
Cable distribution of television programs was in its infancy and limited mainly to retransmitting over the air stations from the cities to rural areas.
Around 580 analog television stations were broadcasting over the air signals with some using translators and cable systems to reach wider audiences outside their local areas.
Most of the stations affiliated with the three networks with others going it alone in the larger cities as independent stations broadcasting sports, old movies and rerunning old television shows.
A small group of educational television stations operated and they would soon develop and expand in their reach with taxpayers footing the bill. For the moment much of their support came from commercial broadcasters who donated used equipment and made some financial contributions.
Perhaps they were prodded along by government???
That's because the Kennedy Administration's Federal Communications Commission Chairman Newton Minow had decried television as a "vast wasteland" in a 1961 speech.
Edward R. Murrow, who had joined the Kennedy Administration as Director of the United States Information Agency, had made a similar speech to television news directors in 1958 causing a stir and friction with his then employer, CBS.
ABC was able to gain some prime time ratings traction in the late 1950's by programming "action" shows with western and crime themes. These new shows revved up the violence and sexual content. The other networks didn't sit still, they countered with their own action shows.
Technology was on the move in 1963 as NBC was inching its way towards a full color television service. The FCC had approved the RCA-NBC color system in the 1950's.
By 1963 NBC gave its viewers an educational hour in color at 6am, an hour or more of daytime shows and an hour or more of prime time shows in color, with the "Tonight Show" also being broadcast in color late at night.
There was no color on CBS and ABC only broadcast a few cartoon shows ("The Flintstones" and "The Jetsons") in color during the 1962-63 season.
NBC would make the full color conversion in the 1965-66 season and the other networks would quickly follow.
The ability of television to cover breaking news live was restricted in 1963 to microwave video links from bulky "mobile units". These tractor trailer or bus sized vehicles would bring studio cameras to field, establish links with a local station and begin sending video as soon as the cameras warmed up. It took studio cameras used in the field (the minicam was not full developed yet for local use) some 20 minutes to warm up so they could be used.
Networks would switch to local station studios for reports on breaking news that would include newsfilm shot in the field by the local stations. Connections from the networks to local stations were telephone company microwave links on the ground stretching thousands of miles across the country.
There were no internet video links in 1963 or satellite links to send video domestically either. The Telstar satellite across the Atlantic provided an intermittent link depending on its orbit. A Pacific satellite video link was about to open up at the time of the Kennedy Assassination.
It might be one station out in the country or three in a medium sized city or five or more if you lived in a populated area in or around the big cities.
The hundreds yea thousands of channels or video options we can see today were but a dream.
We all felt terrible, especially for Jackie and the children, even though I am reasonably certain that both of my parents voted for Nixon three years earlier.
Saw CBS’s special the other night, it was mainly just the old ‘historic’ films. Did not seem to be sappy, schmaltzy, editorialized or anything, just the historic films and discussing things like that was the first time in TV history they went wall-to-wall coverage of an event. It was straight-forward.
If that happened today, the first thing that would happen is NBC would brand Oswald “a former marine so obviously a right wing militia type” then they would photoshop an NRA logo on his tee-shirt in that photo of him holding up the rifle, then somehow get racism involved in it, then they would blame Republicans for it while doing everything they could to hide Oswald obsession with Marxism.
If we’re smart we’ll use this week to educate people on the nature of communists like Oswald and Leftism in general.
It was like that when I began watching television in the mid 1960’s. I had a set in my own room by 1968.
The local educational station ran test patterns in the middle of the day back then in between their broadcasts for schools.
Today they would say the Indian was offensive, claim the cross is promoting Christianity which offends Muslims and say the arrows pointing slightly right is promoting right wing politics.
I remember they played the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ or something religious. Those were better times.
Why does almost every cable channel put an annoying logo at the lower right corner of the screen which sometimes blocks what can be viewed? Hate that.
Yep, pretty much a vast wasteland from a liberal point of view. Shows like: My Three Sons, Ozzie and Harriet, Make Room for Daddy, Lucy, Andy Griffith, Dick Van Dyke Show, Bonanza, Gunsmoke, Dragnet, Father Knows Best, Lassie. Spewing all those family and American values all across the land. Nothing like the Progressive and cutting edge educational stuff that we have today. Can you imagine, no PBS, no MTV, no MSNBC. Barbaric.
In 1960-61 hundreds of students watched cartoons in color at Penn State on one lonely tv set in the large hall. We marveled that we could actually see colored dots jumping around to form fuzzy figures.
CBS was still pouting because the FCC had un-selected their color system in favor of NBC’s after the Korean War.
The reason we have so much discussion of “conspiracy” is because the Left can’t look bad or be held responsible for bad things happening.
I was at the campus radio station one night back around 1980 when a left-wing African Studies major did a documentary featuring the last speech of Reverend Jim Jones before the mass suicide with the poisioned Kool Aid.
The student was using the tape, where Jones described his People’s Temple as “Marxist-Leninist”, as proof it was the CIA who was behind all the deaths in Guyana.
The Jones speech was of course a broadside at all his enemies, real and imagined.
Jones was a left-wing kook himself and the leftist student felt the need to rewrite history to fit.
All the more so with the Kennedy Assassination.
And look at what is going on in Venezuela today. Toilet paper shortages and shop owners being arrested for making “obscene” profits.
That’s because the Kennedy Administration’s Federal Communications Commission Chairman Newton Minow had decried television as a “vast wasteland” in a 1961 speech.
He wouldn’t have had a chance in hell of getting elected without it — and Kennedy was the first to acknowledge that.
They are called watermarks and I’m pretty sure the content providers make them to that to help prevent piracy. Also, it identifies their stream so if somebody posts to YouTube, they will be able to send Google a take-down notice.
There was pecking order in the media.
During World War 2 they made Bill Paley of CBS a colonel, but David Sarnoff of NBC got to be a brigadier general.
too bad the DuMont network crashed and burn in the mid-50’s
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I am sure they have tried to blame Republicans for it
I was 13 in 1963, and I recall that all the stations signed off the air around midnight with a film of a jet (”my wings touched the face of God”) or the American flag and then showed the Indian test pattern starting around 5:30 am as they warmed up their cameras before beginning broadcasts at 6 am.
The MSM’s division of Proletainment (’Hollywood’) is often the lefty’ worst enemy. I remember seeing a piece of agit-prop, a movie called ‘Pleasantville’ that purported to show how vapid the ‘50s were to the world offered (presumably) by the Democrats.
The movie actually changed, Wizard of Oz-like, from black-and-white to color as the characters discovered the joys of liberality.
This was one of the things that helped me become a right-thinker, keeping in mind that we were neck-deep in Boy Clinton I believe at that time.
So now we’re enjoying the fruits of that personal ‘liberty’: no borders, a putrid kultursmog (Tyrell), no budget and an exponentially expanding debt/unemployment rate, a perpetually aggrieved ‘underclass’ supported by a maligned productive class cognizant of something called a “knockout game” (yes, the same MSM actually calling it a game) and the perpetrators are always simply disaffected youths. Enough rant.
Yeah, these are the wonder years all right. Good job Democrats.
They could have made a run at it with some solid programming, but the other guys had more money to put into the entertainment shows.
Dumont had boxing and they probably could have made a run as a sports channel.
It's actually refreshing to hear history as it happened rather than how we are now told it happened.
The station/network logo is also there to “burn” the show so if it’s illegally aired, they’ll know where it came from.
John Kenneth Gailbraith actually made a similar accusation at the time.
It’s in Manchester’s book.
The Death of a President: November 20-November 25, 1963 by William Manchester
Harvard economist John Kenneth Galbraith was a liberal (actually, socialist) member of the Kennedy administration. On the afternoon of the assassination, before he knew that Oswald had been arrested, he told Arthur Schlesinger:
“We let the Right inject this poison in the American bloodstream and this is the result.” (William Manchester, Death of a President, p. 354)
Cronkite kept harping on the a “Right Wingers” attacking Adlai Stevenson in Dallas just a few weeks before the assassination. So they just *knew* it had to be right wingers that killed JFK.
Today - it seems like he was only President ever killed or died in office. How the nation changed and all this other crap. Good lord, the nation changed when Lincoln was shot. The nation changed when McKinley was shot. The nation changed when Harding died in office. The nation changed when FDR died in office. It changed because the personnality of the man taking over as President made it change. No one mentions that Kennedy's Presidency was a failed one.
Galbraith remarked to Schlesinger, We let the Radical Right
inject this poison into the American bloodstream and this is the result.
Almost all of the White House family assumed that the assassination had been the work of the Radical Right.
Later that day, Schlesinger echoed the thought, You know,
the Radical Right has never been taken seriously in this
I have seen the media mention a full page ad by Republicans a week before as a possible incitement. As if a commie thought JFK was too liberal or something
From the historic film CBS showed, they called him “Lee Harold Oswald” a few times. Means nothing, they obviously did not have his name down yet but interesting to hear nonetheless.
General Walker ran as a Democrat for Governor in Texas.
“In February 1962, Walker entered the race but finished last among six candidates in a Democratic primary election that was won in a runoff election by John B. Connally, Jr., the choice of Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson.”
Who were the “radical right” back then?? A lot of Democrats were I would think.
I won't go into whether he acted alone or not. However, the MSM continues to bring up the dominant conservative political culture of the Dallas of that time, as if this fact was somehow to blame for a Marxist shooting at a politically liberal President.
Unfortunately, conservatives do their own version of historical revisionism. Kennedy was as reviled by conservatives 50 years ago as Obama is today, because of his weakness in dealing with the Soviets and the Cuban Communists and his liberal domestic agenda. In the latter case, a coalition of northern and western Republicans and southern Democrats thwarted many of his proposals. Yet Kennedy is made out to be a hero by today's conservatives, because he supported lowering marginal income tax rates.
You forgot to mention that, before that pattern appeared, Perry Como sang “The Lord’s Prayer” while the American flag freely wafted against a blue sky and F-100’s Super Sabres screamed across the TV screeen.
At least in Alabama it did when the state was still referred to as “The Heart of Dixie” instead of that brainlss “Stars Fell on Alamabama” on today’s license plates.
That’s the America I would like to remember but, alas, it is gone forever.
Yes, a lot of conservatives were still Democrats back then. I think “Radical Right” was code for the John Birch Society. But they had nothing to do with it, and the Kennedy worshipers were mightily disappointed when the assassin proved to be a Communist. See here Jackie Kennedy’s quote, also from the Manchester book.
And finally, Jackie Kennedy’s comment to her mother on hearing that a leftist had been arrested for killing her husband:
“He didn’t even have the satisfaction of being killed for civil rights . . . . It’s it had to be some silly little Communist.” (Manchester, Death of a President, p. 407)
If were smart well use this week to educate people on the nature of communists like Oswald and Leftism in general.
You mean about the 80% communist in the Government????
Ah you forgot, Have Gun will Travel, Wanted Dead or Alive with Steve Queen and the Jackie Gleason show from Miami.
There is a whole website about TV signoffs. I don’t know if some stations still do it. There are stations in small towns still but now cable and satellite are everywhere.
I know one of our stations use to play “America The Beautiful” by Ray Charles.
I remember well the times. He was not popular at all when he was killed. I’m not so sure he would have been re-elected in a race against Goldwater.
The 1964 LBJ race was run using JFK’s hearse as a prop. I don’t think anyone could have beaten LBJ. If you remember, LBJ kept almost all the Kennedy cabinet in their jobs. Those weasels had no problem switching loyalties.
Even RFK stayed on as Attorney General, and quit after the election, so he could run for the Senate from New York.
I was in kindergarten when the nuns rushed in at nap time and rolled in a tv so we could all watch the news of the assassination. I remember Walter Cronkite getting emotional and later Ruby shooting Oswald.
one doesn't need to go into whether or not he acted alone to know that something smelled about that guy. But with all that you mentioned about Oswald, that he got back into the country just by asking, with his wife, with money given to him by the US government to fly here, and we're supposed to believe that J Edgar Hoover's FBI wasn't watching every move he made?
Camelot would have been a bigger failure had it lasted longer.
The overemphasis on Kennedy’s assassination may be due to TV’s entry into history at the time, thus making a bigger impact on the US population, or the generation into which you were born, or both. Kennedy is the only President assassinated in my day, so it is no surprise this event has been more prevalent.
The thing that has me stumped is how so many conspiracy notions attend to this. Weren’t they supposed to release some significant documents on the 50th Anniversary? Some things the Kennedy’s did not want public till then?
Saw that image on many a Saturday morning while waiting for Popeye and Felix the Cat to entertain.
There was no point in running as a Republican in Texas, or in the rest of the South for that matter. A Republican couldn’t get elected to the Library Board. The Democrats were certainly the Segregationists, but they were also the Communists. Strange bunch, even back then.