Robert MacNeil remembers the 1963 gunshots that killed President Kennedy

BY Rachel Wellford  November 20, 2013 at 5:56 PM EDT

In the center of the chaos that ensued on Nov. 22, 1963 were NewsHour co-founders Robert MacNeil and Jim Lehrer. MacNeil was a White House correspondent for NBC News, while Lehrer was working the federal beat as a reporter for the Dallas Times-Herald. Both men were assigned to cover President John Kennedy’s visit to Dallas. They ended up reporting on his death.

Robert MacNeil rode in one of the press buses, just seven cars behind the presidential limousine of John F. Kennedy during his November visit to Dallas. The motorcade entered Dealey Plaza when MacNeil heard three loud bangs. MacNeil realized the noise he’d heard was gunfire, yelled to the driver to stop the bus and jumped out the door to run after the crowds of people he saw darting up what would later become known as “the grassy knoll.”

Unknown to the members of the press on the bus at the time, they would be covering the assassination of a president. MacNeil remembers his reaction to the shots and his attempts to report on such a chaotic event.

This video is an extended excerpt from MacNeil and Lehrer’s conversation with Judy Woodruff for our special report on the Kennedy assassination, 50 years later. Watch the special report on Thursday night’s broadcast of PBS NewsHour.


Watch more excerpts from MacNeil and Lehrer’s interview with Judy Woodruff on the Kennedy assassination:


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