Covering Chaos

All Exhibits

Timeline of News Events: 2:00-3:00 PM

2:06 p.m.

ABC—On live national television, Bob Clark, in a telephone interview, gives a description of Jackie Kennedy with President Kennedy's casket.

2:08 p.m.

CBS—Robert Pierpont calls the New York office and gives an account of what he has seen and continues to report events as they happen. He ends as Jackie Kennedy walks out of Parkland Memorial Hospital with her hand resting on her husband's coffin.

2:10 p.m.

ABC—Listeners learn of Vice President Johnson's plans to be sworn into office.

CBS—Cronkite announces reports of shock and sorrow across the nation:

I realized I'd been reporting all afternoon how the telephone circuits were tied up all over the nation as people called one another. And here, I was blocked the same way. All the lines were busy. Well, as you know, on automatic telephone exchange boards, the lines go right through ... Well, just as I sat there, one of them went black. And I grabbed it quickly, and sure enough, there was a woman on the phone with a very, I thought, phony English accent. 'Hello? Hello? Hello? Is this CBS? CBS?' And I said, 'Well, yes, this is CBS.' 'I’d like to speak to someone in the news. This is Mrs. Henry Johnson Jones.' I mean, at least three hyphens in the name, and [she] gave a Park Avenue address. And said, 'I want to complain to somebody at CBS News.' I said, 'You're speaking to someone in CBS News.' And she said, 'Well, I want to complain about your having that Walter Cronkite on the camera at a time like this, crying his crocodile tears when everybody knows he hated John Kennedy.' Well, of course, I certainly didn't hate John Kennedy, and that was, you know, something I didn't want to hear in the first place. And I was furious, and I said, 'Madam, you are speaking to Walter Cronkite. And you, madam, are a damned idiot.' And I slammed down the phone.

Walter Cronkite, Anchor, CBS News
April 14, 2004
Oral History Collection


KRLD—CBS waits to air footage from Parkland Memorial Hospital as KRLD processes it.

Interior of the Texas School Book Depository
Dallas Police Department photograph, R.W. "Rusty" Livingston Collection

WFAA—Tom Alyea tosses exposed film of the interior of the Texas School Book Depository to a coworker in the crowd outside the building. He then resumes his coverage of the police search within the sealed-off building.

New York Times—Tom Wicker calls in his story from the assassination to the swearing in.

2:13 p.m.

UPI—Jack Fallon sends a wire report that police arrested a gunman.

NBC—Tom Whalen announces that a weapon and three empty cartridges were found in the Texas School Book Depository.

2:15 p.m.

Dallas Times Herald—Three pages are replated: the front page and two pages on Kennedy.

2:30 p.m.

Dallas Times Herald—The paper releases an update to its regular edition with a 150-point banner stating, "President Dead."

Fort Worth Star-Telegram—The paper produces serial editions of the afternoon paper, remaking the front page page one whenever updates are available. Citizens in Fort Worth line up around the block at the Star-Telegram building to buy copies. 

2:32 p.m.

NBC—Robert MacNeil calls from Dallas reporting the president's condition upon arrival at Parkland Memorial Hospital based on doctors' reports.

2:35 p.m.

WFAA—From Parkland Memorial Hospital the WFAA remote truck relays footage of the hearse leaving for Love Field airport.

2:43 p.m.

WBAP—The station airs reports naming Lee Harvey Oswald as a suspect.

2:47 p.m.

Westinghouse—Sid Davis gives a pool report to two press buses of reporters at Love Field.

Sid Davis was one of three pool reporters assigned to cover the swearing in of Lyndon Johnson aboard Air Force One. Since the plane could carry only two members of the press back to Washington, Davis volunteered to leave before takeoff and brief the reporters that would soon be gathering at Love Field. As Davis disembarked the plane, veteran reporter Merriman Smith told Davis, "The oath was given at 2:27 p.m. Central Standard Time, kid!" However, when Davis began his pool report, he used his own notes, which indicated that the oath took place at 2:38 p.m. By the time Air Force One landed in Washington that evening, every news agency in the world had filed stories using 2:38 p.m. as the official time of the oath. A furious Merriman Smith confronted young Sid Davis at the White House late that night. Davis recalls: "It's a small detail, but it's not a very small detail to reporters. It was a month or two before he forgave me."

Sid Davis, White House Correspondent, Westinghouse Broadcasting
November 21, 2003
Adapted from Oral History Collection

ABC—The network announces that the White House's U.S. flag has been lowered to half-staff.

CBS—Viewers are informed that CBS will carry uninterrupted coverage until after the president's funeral.

UPI—Joe Carter calls in a report of Johnson's swearing in.

2:51 p.m.

NBC—The network announces the swearing in of President Johnson.