“We Interrupt This Program….”

I posted my juvenile memories of the Kennedy assassination earlier this week. But something I probably didn’t convey is the very different way breaking news was communicated back then, via the three major networks (and their radio affiliates).

HuffPost’s Jack Murkinson has an excellent compilation today of the immediate coverage by which most Americans learned of the Kennedy assassination. For many younger readers, it may be a revelation. For those of my sub-generation, it brings back bad memories of how one felt throughout most of the 1960s when the word “Bulletin” appeared on the TV screen and the words were intoned: “We interrupt this program for a special news bulletin.”

Back then, there were no bottom-of-the-screen scrolls, and they didn’t interrupt programming for celebrity news or sports results. So when the “Bulletin” came on, you immediately thought about an assassination, a war-or-rumor-of-war, or something else truly terrifying. The hair on the back of my neck rises at the thought, even now.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.