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“Quite A Rhubarb”

November 24, 2013

JFK_lyinginstate

There is no way not to experience many emotions, and also to ponder the way things once were while watching the online replay of the CBS News coverage on the 50 anniversary of the death of President Kennedy.

There are countless things that stand out regarding the way news was reported and presented at that time.  Two quick nuggets.

One of the reporters in Dallas spoke about how United Nations Ambassador Adlai Stevenson had been at the receiving end of conservative protestors just a couple weeks prior to Kennedy’s trip to Texas.  The reporter noted that the events aimed at Stevenson had been “quite a rhubarb”.    I smiled at the description, having not heard that phrase in some time.

Another thing I noted that really tickled me was Walter Cronkite using a large book from time to time in the broadcasts.  At times the book was passed from someone off screen to Cronkite, where it was then placed in such a way that the anchor could look at.  At one point it was closed and Cronkite rested his arm on it, while the camera was able to pick up the title that was printed on the binding.   Facts On File 1964.   Clearly the book title was printed with the year named in advance, since the broadcast was obviously in 1963.

There were no computers to aid the reporters, but getting essential facts for the broadcast was so important that a large encyclopedic-type book was lifted about and consulted for information.  In spite of all the tragedy and sadness from those days also comes a gentle reminder of how broadcasting once was.

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