Wednesday, March 6, 2013

50 Years Since JFK Assassination Retrospective: Who Stationed Dan Rather At JFK Ambush Site?

Around three weeks before President Kennedy was ambushed, CBS News' then Bureau Chief in New Orleans, Dan Rather, was apparently told by then-CBS News Editor Ralph Paskman to set up extensive coverage of President Kennedy's November 22, 1963 motorcade through Dallas. And, coincidentally, at the very moment President Kennedy was ambushed, Rather was "on the other side of the railroad tracks, beyond the triple underpass, thirty yards from a grassy knoll," according to Rather's 1977 book, The Camera Never Blinks.

Although Rather claims he heard no shots on November 22, 1963, after President Kennedy's limousine rushed past him Rather apparently ran as fast as he could to the TV station of CBS's local affiliate, telephoned Parkland Hospital and was the first U.S. journalist to be informed by an unidentified hospital doctor that President Kennedy was dead.

After the JFK ambush, according to Rather, "We ran our leads through the FBI and the Dallas Police" and "Finally, we had a name: Abraham Zapruder." Rather claimed that:

"When we reached him, Zapruder did not know what he had...We helped arrange for Eastman Kodak to process the film. This job had to be done by the best equipment. It had to be done fast. And it had to be kept confidential."

But after he viewed the Zapruder film of President Kennedy's elimination, CBS's "Man in Dallas," coincidentally, apparently described its contents to television viewers in an erroneous way that implied that President Kennedy was not killed by shots from the grassy knoll. As BBC investigative reporter Anthony Summers wrote in his 1980 book, Conspiracy:

"If the only comprehensive visual record of the Kennedy assassination had been shown on November 22, 1963, most people in the United States would have gone to bed that night certain that their President [JFK] had been shot from the front and only perhaps--by an earlier shot--from behind. Americans were of course not shown the full Zapruder film until more than a decade later. They were, within days, given a verbal description of the footage on CBS television. Dan Rather, a television correspondent who had been permitted to view the film, was the narrator. Rather said that at the fatal head shot the President [JFK] `fell forward with considerable violence.' He omitted to say what in fact is mercilessly obvious from any alert viewing of the film. It is manifestly clear that the President [JFK] jerked backward at the moment of the shot that visibly exploded his head."

(Downtown 7/22/92)

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