38 Minutes Ago


This is Walter Cronkite, the most trusted man in America, announcing the death of President Kennedy on a CBS bulletin at 13.38, Central Standard Time, on 22 November 1963.

The painting captures the exact moment when he says “The news, now official, President Kennedy was pronounced dead at one o’clock Central Standard Time, some 38 minutes ago”.

I have just watched the whole bulletin, on you tube, from the moment the news came through until Kennedy was pronounced dead about an hour later.

Some people might think that this is a bit anal but I wanted to get an idea what people thought at the time when the whole event was very fresh in people’s minds.

What comes across more than anything is that people were completely confused at the time and had absolutely no idea what had happened. The Secret Service were running around like headless chickens and the press were running after them.

There is one story of a young press man who bumped in to an employee coming out of the School Book Depository and asked him if he knew where he could find a phone. The employee, himself a young man, pointed him toward an office and the press man phoned NBC to make his report.

William Manchester, who wrote Death of a President, subsequently discovered that the press man was Robert MacNeil who later became the great anchor-man and novelist and the employee was none other than Lee Harvey Oswald.

I have satisfied myself completely that the obfuscation that was later reported, whether accidental or by pre-meditated plan was very real. Confusion reigned and was pandemic. Perfect conditions for an assassination and indeed, a conspiracy.

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