The 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination is fast approaching. As a history buff and JFK fan, I’m an avid consumer of stuff about the assassination. I saw a swell program on the National Geographic Channel called The Lost JFK Tapes.They’re not really lost tapes, but unnoticed ones. Much of the 90 documentary uses local Dallas teevee new coverage, which has probably been on a shelf in a store room for half a century. They’ve structured the film to unfold as if it were live coverage, which it once was.Tick tock tick tock.
Of particular interest to me were the mistakes the local reporters made along the way. They had a *really* hard time with Oswald’s name, He was repeatedly called Harvey Lee Oswald and, my personal favorite, Lee Harold Oswald even after his identity had been established. The Dallas anchors also informed us that security was very tight right before jack Ruby plugged poor ole Lee Harold. In the immortal words of a certain Texas Governor not named John Connally, “OOPS.”
The anchor’s reaction to Ruby’s identity was priceless. He did a double take when handed a slip of paper with his name on it. I got the feeling he knew who Jack-o was and was perhaps even a habituee of the Carousel Lounge, Ruby’s strip club. If so, he was in good company: the joint was a favorite spot for Dallas cops, wise guys, bidnessmen, and hustlers alike.
It’s often said that journalism is the first draft of history. This neat little film is a reminder of the vagaries and fogginess of live teevee coverage. It’s gotten faster but it hasn’t gotten more accurate since the imperative is to get the story fast, first, and furious.
The Lost JFK Tapes is showing On Demand and will pop up again later in the week on TNGC. It’s worth a look see. Here’s a clip: