A Little TV News History
The first televised newscast wasn't seen by many, but the honor went to Lowell Thomas in 1939. Thomas was known for traveling to foreign countries to cover the events of the day. Such as, during World War One, filming and interviewing, British Officer T.E. Lawrence's campaigns turning him into "Lawrence of Arabia".
Again it was Lowell Thomas who, starting on February 21, 1940, had the "First Regularly Scheduled" television news broadcast. That actually was nothing more than showing him doing his regular radio broadcast on "Experimental Television Station W2XBS". "W2XBS" call sign was first changed to "WNBT Channel 1", the first commercial television station in the United States, and finally "WNBC" in New York City. Below Lowell Thomas in 1939.
The first serious television "News Broadcast" started in early 1941 on New York's "WCBW" now "WCBS-TV)". This was a weekday program at 2:30 PM and 7:30 PM hosted by Richard Hubbell. Like Thomas, Hubbell basically read radio script without the use on any other imagery such as maps, or photographs. I could not locate a picture of this pioneering newscaster.
At the time the few broadcasting stations were all located in New York City for those who could afford a television set. The average cost was $600, or in 2019 dollars $10,503.
The "First News Bulletin" happened on December 7, 1941 and is credited to when "WNBT's" announcer Raymond "Ray" Forrest. . Who broke into the station's showing of the 1940 comedy motion picture "Millionaire Playboy" to announce the attack on Pearl Harbor.
In this "First News Break" co-anchor Sam Cluff stood in front of a map of Hawaii and showed viewers were "Pearl Harbor" was located. Today, my reader might would think the entire country saw that "News Break", but that was not true and only those in "WNBT's" broadcasting area saw it.
Early television broadcasting was centered mainly in New York City, Detroit and Chicago. While there were "Experimental Stations" in other parts of the country. Most of the United States didn't have television stations, or were even aware television existed. To illustrate my point is the following:
KTLA: The First Commercially Licensed Television Station In The Western United States
Being a born and raised Los Angeles "Deadhead". When I was old enough to watch television, "KTLA", Channel 5, was a favorite. The station was originally "Experimental Television Station W6XYZ" founded in 1939. However, it wasn't until September 1942 that "W6XYZ" made it first "Experimental Broadcast".
On January 22, 1947, "W6XYZ" became "KTLA-TV" and made its first commercial broadcast in Los Angeles, if you owned a television set you saw it.
Other stations would follow "KTLA", see listing below, in what would become a major television market. It took two years and seven months from the station's first commercial broadcast for the last of the major networks, "ABC", to arrive.
By September 1947 Los Angeles was estimated to have between 350 to 600 television sets for the entire cities population. To give my reader a perspective of the number of Television Sets vs The Population of Los Angeles in 1947. The U.S. Census Bureau stated Los Angeles had a 1940 population of 1,504, 277 that grew in 1950 to 1,970,358. The actual 1947 population lies somewhere between those two figures, but shows that approximately only .01 to .03 percent of the total Los Angeles population had TV sets.
"KTLA" was a leader in National News Broadcasting Innovation. In 1952 Stan Chambers became the first newscaster to do a live broadcast of a Nevada Atomic Bomb Test.
In 1958 "KTLA", became the first television station to use a helicopter, they now called "The Telecopter", to carry video broadcasting equipment to cover news events as they were occurring.
The following is that listing of all the other Los Angeles Television Stations that came after "KTLA-TV".
"CBS" began commercial broadcasting in Los Angeles as "KTSL-TV", Channel 2, on May 6, 1948.
"KCOP" began commercial broadcasting in Los Angeles as "KLAC-TV", Channel 13, on September 17, 1948.
"KHJ" began commercial broadcasting in Los Angeles as either "KFI-TV", or "KSEE", Channel 9, October 6, 1948.
"KTTV" began commercial broadcasting in Los Angeles, Channel 11, on January 1, 1949
"NBC" began commercial broadcasting in Los Angeles as "KNBH-TV", Channel 4, on January 16, 1949
"ABC" began commercial broadcasting in Los Angeles as "KECA-TV", Channel 7, on September 16, 1949
A Clash of Titans
The "Titans" in this case were Edward R. Murrow and Walter Winchell and the "Clash" came during the "Army-McCarthy Hearings" on April 22, 1954. When the full power of television news coverage first impacted the entire United States. As American's sat transfixed in their living rooms watching the hearings on our 13 to 20 inch black and white TV screens.
Senator Joseph Raymond McCarthy
During World War 2 Joseph McCarthy joined the Marine Corps and flew 12 missions as a "Tail-Gunner" on a dive bomber. However, later some of his claims of his World War 2 service were proven to be highly exaggerated. In 1947 he was elected a Republican Senator representing his home state of Wisconsin. Later Senator McCarthy earned the derogatory nickname of "Tail-Gunner Joe" by the print media over his political tactics.
Starting in 1950 McCarthy started to make a name for himself as a fighter against "Communism" and "Subversives", real or not, in the United States. The term "McCarthyism" was created by the print news media and his influence reached into the other branch of Congress creating the "House Committee on Un-American Activities". That committee would lead to attacks on the Motion Picture Industry with the "Black Listings" of Producers, Directors and Actors. Their targets might have been, still where, or never had been members of the "Communist Party of the United States (CPUS)". What was overlooked in some cases was the fact American's had joined "The Party" during World War 2. As a sign of solidarity with our, at the time, ally the "Soviet Union" and ":Joseph Stalin".
To illustrate some of the "Madness" in the motion picture industry. A young actress named Nancy Davis went to the President of the "Screen Actors Guild (SAG)" Ronald Reagan. She was being subpoenaed to appear in front of the "House". However, there was another actress named Nancy Davis that was a member of "CPUS", but this Nancy Davis' career was in jeopardy over the confusion.
My article on "Black Listed" novelist, "The Werewolf of Paris", screenplay writer, "The Mark of the Vampire", and member of "CPUS" Guy Endore can be found at:
Edward Roscoe "R" Murrow
Edward R. Murrow was just another radio news reporter working for CBS until he went to Europe to interview famous people for the network. He hired a group of other reporters who formed what became known as "Murrow's Boys" One of these was future writer William L. Shirer, "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich", and in 1938 Shirer told Murrow of a story he was attempting to get out, but was being stopped by Austrian authorities. Murrow sent Shirer to London to broadcast an uncensored eye witness account of the take over of Austria by the Nazi's.
Murrow next chartered a plane so he could take over from William L. Shirer in Vienna. Which became the start of Edward R. Murrow's World War 2 broadcasting career. During the war Murrow became a household name in the United States. As he started his London, England, broadcasts with:
This Is London!After the war Murrow continued with "CBS Radio" and in the 1950's started to appear, at the end with a short news piece, on television's the "CBS Evening News". Initially that news program started broadcasting, July 1, 1941, as the "CBS Television News" and was the 7:30 PM news program with Richard Hubbell, on "WCBS-TV", I mentioned.
On November 18, 1951 Edward R. Murrow's "CBS Radio" program "Hear It Now" moved to "CBS Television" a "See It Now" still hosted by Murrow. His program covered major news stories of the day and would win four Emmy's. On October 2, 1953 Murrow began the "CBS" program "Person to Person" with him sitting in a chair and interviewing famous people. This program opened with Murrow telling the television audience:
Good evening, I'm Ed Murrow. And the name of the program is 'Person to Person'. It's all live – there's no film
Walter Winchell started out as a Vaudeville performer and this led to jobs as a Broadway show reviewer. Which morphed into Winchell as a Broadway and Hollywood gossip columnist for the tabloids, or the "National Enquirer's" of his day. He earned a name for himself and moved to radio and became competition for "Gossip Columnist's" Louella Parsons and Hedda Hopper.
During World War 2 Winchell attacked those American's who supported the Nazi's real or not. He was powerful enough to damage the reputation of "The Long Eagle" Charles Lindbergh and African American singer, actress, and pioneer Josephine Baker. Who had left the United States for Europe, became a major star and was attacked by Walter Winchell upon her return. My article about this remarkable women may be read at:
The Army-McCarthy Hearings
When Senator Joseph McCarthy came upon the scene and started his "Communist Hunts". "Gossip Columnist" Walter Winchell supported him whole heatedly on both his "ABC Radio" and television broadcasts. This support would extend through "The Army McCarthy Hearings".
On March 9, 1954 Edward R. Murrow finally received the go-ahead to do a "See It Now Special" on Senator Joseph McCarthy and "The Red Scare". Murrow used the tools of his trade and footage of actual speeches made by the Senator to show him contradicting himself. The program was a beautifully constructed attack. However, "CBS" Executives, politically during the "Black Listings, refused to finance this one "Special" Murrow episode. Murrow and the shows "CBS" Producer Fred W. Friendly used their own money. A few weeks later Senator McCarthy appeared live on a follow up to that "See It Now Special" and the general consensus was he didn't so well under Edward R. Murrow's questions. This is considered the first major step towards "Tail-Gunner Joe's" downfall.
The Senator made one very critical mistake in his "Hunt for American Communists". Joseph McCarthy attacked the United States Army and on April 22, 1954 television's true potential was revealed to the American public.
Earlier McCarthy's "Senate Committee on Government Operations" decided to investigate Communist Infiltration of the "United States Army Signal Corps" at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. Senator McCarthy appointed, a personal friend, 26 year old Roy Cohn as "Chief Council" and 29 year old Robert Kennedy as "Assistant Council" for his "Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations" that was given the investigation assignment.
The subcommittee's investigations proved mostly fruitless, BUT the Army countered. They, charged as the real reason behind the investigation, that Senator Joseph McCarthy and His Personal Staff had been seeking Special Treatment for Army Private G. David Schine. Apparently Private Schine was a close friend of Roy Cohn". McCarthy stated that accusation was made by the U.S. Army in "Bad Faith" and this led to more accusations on both sides.
Chaired by Senator Karl Mundt, reluctantly, Senator Joseph McCarthy's own subcommittee now held hearings on his charge and the Army's counter charge. What made these hearings different was for the first time in history they were "Televised Live Gavel to Gavel".
Above Senator Joseph McCarthy and "HIS" Roy Cohn at "The Army McCarthy Hearings".
On December 2, 1954 the United States Senate voted 67 to 22 to censure Senator Joseph McCarthy.
"The Camel News Caravan" Morphing Into "The Huntley-Brinkley Report"
Originally launched February 16, 1948, on NBC, was the 10 minute "NBC Television Newsreel" featuring "Fox Movietone News Reels" voiced over by John Cameron Swayze. The program became sponsored by "Camel Cigarettes", expanded to 15 minutes, and with a name change to "Camel News Caravan" on February 14, 1949. This was the first television news program to use actual filmed news rather than recycling theatrical newsreels. It also was the first to broadcast color news footage on February 16, 1954. John Cameron Swayze remained the anchor.
Swayze would become known for hosting television quiz shows. In October of 1948 he was hosting the popular "NBC Radio" quiz show "Who Said It?" Instead of calling him host it is believed for the first time the term "Anchorman" appears to have been used.
On October 29, 1956 "The Camel News Caravan" changed format and became known for the two news anchors as "The Huntley-Brinkley Report" aka: "The Texaco Huntley-Brinkley Report".
Chet Huntley was located in New York and David Brinkley was located in Washington, D.C. as the two discussed news events over a large television screen.
On the above television screen is David Brinkley and standing in the studio Chet Huntley.
David McClure Brinkley started his news career in 1943 as "NBC Radio's Washington Correspondent" and in 1952 moved to television making reports on "The Camel News Caravan".
Chester Robert "Chet" Huntley started his career on radio in Seattle, Washington, in 1934 and in 1937 moved to Los Angeles and "KFI" radio. Followed by another move in 1939 to 1951 with "CBS Radio", moved again from 1951 to 1955 to "ABC Radio" and in 1956 moved once more to "NBC Radio".
It was in 1956 that executives at "NBC" came up with the idea of pairing Huntley and Brinkley to cover the "Democratic Convention". It worked so well the executives replaced John Cameron Swayze's television program with "The Huntley-Brinkley Report". However, the program faced stiff opposition from the like of President Dwight David Eisenhower a major fan of "The Camel News Caravan" and specifically Swayze, but once "Texaco Gasoline" came on as a major sponsor. That sponsorship turned the program around and many viewers listened to the the two anchors closing:
Good night, Chet. Good night, David. And good night, for NBC NewsThe news program that President Eisenhower objected too. Would be on the air through July 31, 1970. It went from 15 minutes to 30 weekdays and added Saturday evenings for a total of 3,590 broadcasts.
"Douglas Edward's And The News" Morphing Into "The CBS Evening News With Walter Cronkite"
"CBS" originated its own 15 minutes television news cast on May 3, 1948 as "CBS Evening News". It soon became known for the programs host as "Douglas Edwards and the News".
Edwards had joined "CBS Radio" in 1942 and as the networks top correspondents shunned the idea of television in 1946. Douglas Edwards got the job of covering for television both the 1948 Democratic and Republican Conventions. That led Edwards to the originally entitled "CBS Evening News" with a mid-1950's viewership estimated at 30 million.
Over Douglas Edwards tenure he would cover the attempted assassination of President Harry Truman in November 1950, the June 1953 coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and the July 1956 sinking of of the Andrea Doria.
On November 30, 1956 the New York City news program became the first to use video tape for a "Time Delay" to be shown in the Pacific Time Zone. Making both coasts broadcasts at the same time of day within their respective Time Zones.
On April 16, 1962 "CBS" changed the anchor for their evening news program and "Douglas Edwards and the News" became "Walter Cronkite and the News". On the night Walter Leland Cronkite, Jr. first hosted the program. He didn't realize he would be associated with it for the next 19 years. On September 2, 1963 the title was returned to the "CBS Evening News".
Cronkite started his news career in Kansas City, Missouri, for "United Press International" and eventually during the Second World War, on board the U.S.S. Texas, became a war correspondent. After the war he accepted a job as one of "Murrow's Boys" and took over the "CBS Moscow Bureau".
"News and Views" With H.R. Baukhage Morphing Into The Nightly "ABC News"
"ABC" started their television news programming on August 11, 1948 with the 15 minute "News and Views" hosted by Hilmar Robert "H.R." Baukhage. The program ran through March 30, 1951.
Baukhage started out on the Army Newspaper "Stars and Stripes" during World War 1 and covered the 1919 "Paris Peace Conference". In 1932 he was doing five minute news breaks for "NBC Radio". He was in the White House on December 7, 1941 and was one of the first American's to learn of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
When "News and Views" went off the air the fledgling "ABC Television network" replaced it with "After the Deadlines". Another 15 minute news program, started on April 2, 1951, that was strategically placed at 7 PM, one half hour ahead of both "CBS" and "NBC" with their evening news. The program lasted until Oct 2, 1952 and was replaced by "All Star News".
On October 12, 1953 "ABC" launched "John Daly and the News". The 15 minute news program starred South African John Charles Patrick Croghan Daly. On that date Daly was known to television game show fans, on rival "CBS", as the host of "What's My Line". Where he had started as a panelist in 1950 and would remain through 1967.
John Daily hosted the "ABC" news program until December 16, 1960 and over his time the format had switched to 30 minutes in length. For the next five years what in 1961 became "ABC World News Tonight" had different hosts. Until 26 year old Canadian newscaster Peter Charles Archibald Ewart Jennings took over the reigns in 1965 and the title was changed to "Peter Jennings With The News".
However, the inexperienced Peter Jennings left the anchor chair in 1967 and the program simply became "ABC News" with a series of different hosts once more.
Mike Wallace And Harry Reasoner
Mike Wallace is the father of Chris W. Wallace the current host of cable network "Fox News Broadcasting's: Fox News Sunday".
Above Mike Wallace on the program "The Mike Wallace Interviews". Below on "60 Minutes.
Myron Leon "Mike" Wallace started out as a radio announcer in 1939, enlisted in the Navy during World War 2, became a "Staff Announcer" for "CBS Radio after the war and started to move into television in the 1950's. From 1955 through 1957 Wallace hosted the late night "DuMont" network interview show "Night Beat". Starting also in 1957 through 1958 Wallace hosted a prime time 30 minute program "The Mike Wallace Interviews". These included Actress Gloria Swanson, Actors Kirk Douglas and Peter Ustinov, Writers Ayn Rand and Rod Sterling. Along with former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and former Presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson.
Between July 13 to 17, 1959, Mike Wallace produced, with African American Journalist Louis Lomax, a five part program he hosted on PBS Station "WNTA-TV", Newark, New Jersey. Which the station distributed across the county. The program "The Hate That Hate Produced" introduced to "White America" the "Nation of Islam" and its charismatic leader "Malcolm X".
During the early 1960's the primary income for Mike Wallace was advertising "Parliament Cigarettes". From 1963 through 1966 he hosted the "CBS Morning News".
On September 24, 1968, at 10 PM Easter Standard Time, Mike Wallace and Harry Reasoner, co-hosted the first broadcast of a "CBS" bi-weekly news program entitled "60 Minutes". Which was described by Reasoner at the opening as:
kind of a magazine for television
Above Harry Reasoner and Mike Wallace.
After World War 2 Reasoner started a journalism career with "The Minneapolis Times" and in 1948 started to be heard on "CBS Radio. However, he stopped and went to work for the "United States Information Agency" in the Philippines. In 1956 Harry Reasoner joined "CBS News" working on television and from 1961 through 1963 was on "Calendar".
"Calendar" was a Daytime news program aimed at women. Harry Reasoner co-hosted with Mary Fickett. Fickett was known to the "CBS" target audience as an actress appearing on the soap operas "The Nurses" and "The Edge of Night".
"Calendar" was produced by Madeline Amgott. Amgott was both the first and only women to produce television news programming during the 1950's and 1960's.
On November 22, 1963 Harry Reasoner, Walter Cronkite and Charles Collingwood covered the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy for "CBS" news.
Above Walter Cronkite and below Harry Reasoner. I can never forget that day. I was in a High School History class when our principle came over the loud speaker to announce the assassination of the President.
Below Charles Collingwood with First Lady Jackie Kennedy at the White House. This was from "Valentine's Day" February 14, 1962 called "A Tour of the White House" and was broadcast simultaneously on both "CBS" and "NBC".
During World War 2 Charles Collingwood was covering the war for the "United Press' from London and Edward R. Murrow brought him into "Murrow's Boys". For "CBS" news Collingwood landed on "Utah Beach" hours after the first wave of soldiers on "D-Day", June 6, 1944 to cover the "Normandy Invasion".
When the war ended Collingwood became a major correspondent for "CBS Television" News. In 1959 he followed Murrow as the host of "Person to Person". Between 1964 and 1975 Charles Collingwood was the "Chief Correspondent" for "CBS" in Southeast Asia aka: Vietnam seen below.
Back in the United States while Charles Collingwood and other correspondents covered the "Vietnam War". Another war erupted on the streets of Los Angeles August 11, 1965.
On that day in August African-American Marquette Frye, a parole for robbery, was pulled over by a Police Officer for a minor traffic violation. An argument between the two broke out and for six days the city of Los Angeles experienced what became known as "The Watts Riot". Named for the prominently African-American area of the city it took place. As America experienced the riots on our television screens.
For my fellow "Angelinos" it was a nightmare. KTLA used its "Telecopter" for overhead imagery picked up by the major networks. News correspondents risked injury on the streets for their respective channels and papers.
When the "Watts Riots" ended, on August 16, 1965, nearly 4,000 members of the "California National Guard" had been used to assist the "Los Angeles Police Department", 34 people had died, 1,032 injured and 3,428 arrested. The property damage figure reached $40 million 1965 dollars. As of this writing that would equate to over $326 million 2019 dollars.
April 4, 1968, 6:01 PM, Lorrine Motel, Memphis, Tennessee
Standing on the the second floor balcony of "Room 306" of the Lorrine Motel, in Memphis, Tennessee. In what members of his staff and others referred too as "The King-Abernathy Suite", co-named for Baptist Minister and Civil Rights Leader Ralph Abernathy, Civil Rights Leader he Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot by James Earl Ray.
The major networks reported the death of the Civil Rights leader to America shortly after it happened and wanted if "The Dream" was dead too?
Later the Television Nation watched transfixed at the crowds that followed the coffin of "Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr." after the television broadcast of his funeral earlier.
Look above at what appears to be Walter Cronkite in a state of shock as he broadcasts the new of the fatal shooting. Little did Cronkite, or anyone else, expect what was to happen just two months later.
June 5, 1968, Midnight, Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles, California
Both "NBC" and "ABC" were in the process of signing off from their election news coverage. "CBS" was already off the air. Then the news of the shooting of Democratic Candidate Robert F. Kennedy came in and---
21 minutes later Joseph Benti, the "The CBS Morning News" anchor, who was preparing for the program, went on the air. Walter Cronkite joined Benti a half hour later and for a short time Mike Wallace joined the other two. Along with reporters from the scene of the shooting.
At "ABC" Howard K. Smith was signing off with co-anchor Bill Lawrence beside him. Then the closing billboard for the night appeared and a "John Phillip Sousa" march began. Suddenly televisions still tuned to the station saw the screens go blank and then a "Please Stand By" message appear.
"NBC" news anchor Frank McGee was still on camera. The unusual happened as his phone rang and he answered it. A visibly stunned McGee was getting a report of the shooting from the "Ambassador Hotel" as it was happening and his viewers witnessed his facial expression change as it came in.
So started the coverage of the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy.
"Fake News" Is Born
By August 1968 televising Political Conventions had become a norm for the public and the news media. The set ups for broadcasting were basically the same for each network, as the location permitted, and even the scripts, unless the "Unexpected" happened, seemed almost identical. It was a choice of which anchor the viewer preferred. The same could be said about coverage today.
The viewing audience was basically divided into three groups. First were the political junkies, or those extremely interested in a certain Candidate or Party issue. The second were those upset with the networks for "Preempting" their favorite programs and the third didn't care. They would have watched local programming anyway.
So when the "Democratic National Committee (DNC)" announced "Chicago's International Amphitheatre" as the site for their convention starting on August 26, 1968. In some respects the two groups, the news media and the public, thought same old, same old. Except possibly in Chicago itself, Although the assassination of Robert Kennedy hung over the possible nominees. As did a little something, I remember, the "Vietnam War".
However, that said there was always that "Unexpected".
Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley was a throw back to the old "Bosses" of Chicago and New York City. He controlled everything within "His" cities boundaries and had his hands in every pot. He was also a political animal upset with the Democratic Party not recognizing how great, in his own mind, he was.
For months, Mayor Daley, "CLAIMED" he planned to show off his cities achievements, but in the Anti-Vietnam War environment his actions seemed to have other motives. As Mayor Richard J. Daley prepared for a war of his own.
In the case of the 1968 Democratic Convention the "Unexpected" might have actually been the "Expected".
As it was known that two Anti-war groups, the "National Mobilization Committee to End the War In Vietnam" and the "Youth International Party" aka: "The Yippies", planned a peaceful youth festival to take place in Chicago during the convention. However, the radical "Students for a Democratic Society" also announced their plans to visit the city. In a controversial move Mayor Daley refused to issue permits to the three Protest groups for lawful demonstrations , or designate specific areas within Chicago to hold them. So any person found Protesting within the city limits would be breaking the law and subject to immediate arrest.
As Heather Hendershot, a Professor of film and media, at the "Massachusetts Institute of Technology", wrote in an article for the website "Politico Magazine", published September 2, 2018:
In the weeks leading up to the 1968 Democratic National Convention, Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daly turned his town into a fortress. He sealed the manhole covers with tar, so protesters couldn't hide in the sewers. He installed a fence topped with barbed wire around the Chicago International Amphitheatre. He put the entire police force of 12,000 men on 12-hour shifts and called in over 5,000 National Guardsmen. About 1,000 Secret Service and FBI agents were also on duty, as the city braced for 10,000 protesters who would soon arrive, wound up by a year of political assassinations, urban riots and the raging Vietnam War.
What could possibly go wrong?Her complete article covering the Democratic Convention and the News Coverage can be read at:
Mayor Daley made a similar move with the three media television giants, "CBS", "NBC" and "ABC". As he had with Chicago's authorities not issuing legal "Permits to Demonstrate" to the three Protest Groups,
Each network now received a very small, which was very unusual, amount of "Floor Passes" to cover the Democratic Convention from the "Floor of the Hall". Daley's move meant that the networks were limited on what they could show to the home television audience.
Mayor Richard J. Daley also had his "Traffic Authority" assign the networks parking areas not as close, as for other conventions, to the Amphritheatre. Causing the networks to have to run their cables longer distances that were even outside the fence in some instances. The "Traffic Authority" also denied parking access to several "Key Locations" throughout the city. Making it very hard to bring equipment into some of the areas were the protesters assembled such as "Grant Park".
Three days before the start of the Conventions a little political satire came from the "Yippies". Their leader Jerry Rubin, folk singer Phil Ochs and some other activists held a mock nominating convention. Their chosen nominee for President of the United States was a Pig named "Pigasus". The Chicago Police arrested Rubin, Ochs, and six others for illegal demonstrating as "CBS", "NBC" and "ABC" televised it.
There were other similar incidents that the media picked up on before the actual convention. Such as people sleeping in the parks after the 11 P.M. curfew being arrested by Chicago's finest.
While inside the Convention Hall, on August 26th, there was a problem with double slates of delegates for seating from Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina and Texas. The problem was that one of each State's two slate of delegates were racially motivated and all white. This presented the obvious problem of legitimacy for the "DNC". As to which delegates were the one's actually representing the Democratic Party and were to be seated in the Convention Hall. Of course the three networks covered this completely.
Then an incident involving "CBS" correspondent Dan Rather occurred on August 27th. While Rather attempted to interview a supposed Georgia delegate being "Hauled Out", his words, from the Amphitheatre by "Plain Clothes Security Guards". Whose "Guards" they were was never really established.
What happened was as Dan Rather started to ask the Georgia delegate for his name? One of the "Security Guards" punched him in the solar plexus. Rather was wearing a microphone and the whole incident was picked up live on "CBS" television as he repeatedly asked:
Don't push me. Take your hands off of me unless you intend to arrest me.The following two photos are of the incident which would televised on the other networks and some local television stations later.
After Dan Rather was let go he spoke with Walter Cronkite on the air.
Walter ... we tried to talk to the man and we got violently pushed out of the way. This is the kind of thing that has been going on outside the hall, this is the first time we've had it happen inside the hall. We ... I'm sorry to be out of breath, but somebody belted me in the stomach during that. What happened is a Georgia delegate, at least he had a Georgia delegate sign on, was being hauled out of the hall. We tried to talk to him to see why, who he was, what the situation was, and at that instant the security people, well as you can see, put me on the deck. I didn't do very wellCronkite did not endear himself to Mayor Richard J. Daley when he stated on air:
I think we've got a bunch of thugs here, Dan.
Things became really surreal at the Convention the following day. While inside the program proceeded toward the nominations of current Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey for President and Senator Walter Mondale, of Maine, for Vice President. Outside on August 28th an incident occurred in "Grant Park" that overshadowed everything.
At approximately 3:30 PM a young male protester lowered the American Flag the was flying in the park. The immediate response to his action, being sent to the networks for broadcasting, showed the Chicago Police braking through the estimated 10,000 Protesters and beginning to beat up the young man. The second response came from the assembled protesters and became known as "The Chicago Police Riot".
Concerning the rioting started by his own Police Department. Mayor Daley, in a televised news conference at "City Hall", stated what were his instructions to Police Superintendent James B. Conlisk:
I said to him very emphatically and very definitely that an order be issued by him immediately to shoot to kill any arsonist or anyone with a Molotov Cocktail in his hand, because they're potential murderers, and to shoot to maim or cripple anyone looting.So what about "Fake News"? Let me step back a little.
"Boss" Mayor Richard J. Daley, from the start, had attempted to control the Convention imagery the media saw inside the Amphitheatre and outside on the streets of Chicago. One of his actions within the hall was ordering the leader of the "Chicago International Amphitheatre House Band" to check with him as to what music they should play. Daley was also controlling how loud they played it as a way to drown out certain protesting delegates voices. Mayor Daley was also able to plant people on the Convention Floor to make him seem supportive of the "Chicago Electricians Union". When he wasn't and a strike was pending that almost stopped the Democratic Convention from even starting up.
One of the voices Mayor Richard J. Daley wanted the band to drown out belonged to Connecticut Senator Abe Ribicoff. Who wanted us out of Vietnam and supported Non-Violent Protests against the War. Basically over 80 percent of Americans during the primaries wanted the United States out of Southeast Asia. A peace plank was presented for a vote. It lost 1,567 3/4 votes to 1,0412 1/4 inside the Hall.
Current Vice President Hubert Humphrey supported President Lyndon Baines Johnson's policies and wanted to actually increase our involvement. A version of what was playing out on the streets of Chicago. Between Pro and Anti-Vietnam War Protesters was taking place on the Convention floor between the delegations and all three networks brought it, along with the riots in the streets, into every American's home.
During the original nomination process for President. Senator Ribicoff and the Connecticut delegation were supportive of South Dakota Senator George McGovern. In his nomination speech for McGovern, Ribicoff stated:
And with George McGovern as President of the United States we wouldn't have GESTAPO TACTICS, my emphasis, in the streets of Chicago! With George McGovern we wouldn't have a Nation Guard. You Bet. You Bet.https://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/abrahamribicoff1968dnc.htm
Mayor Daley countered speaking into the on stage microphone. That he knew was on, because Daley had somehow managed to control the microphone's use during the entire convention, with an attack on Senator Ribicoff's religion. The Senator was Jewish and the words chosen by the Mayor were aimed at that fact. What he actually said is debated, because the sound quality of the broadcast, controlled by Daley supporters (?), was garbled. According to many people able to read lips throughout the country the words chosen by Mayor Daley were:
Fuck you, you Jew son of a bitch!Later the defenders of the Mayor claimed he called Senator Ribicoff:
You Fakerand never used the four letter word, or use the second part of the sentence at all.
However, Mayor Richard J. Daley said his defenders claim was actually false and he didn't want himself censored when telling the truth. The Mayor's Defender's position was also denied by Chicago newspaper reporter Mike Royko who heard clearly the words spoken and wrote his article as such. In 1971 Royko wrote an unauthorized biography of Richard J. Daley simply called "Boss".
"Democratic" Mayor Richard J. Daley's defenders surprisingly included the "Conservative Media". Like the Democratic supporters of President Johnson and Vice President Humphrey. The "Conservative Media" backed the American intervention in South Vietnam and Cambodia and not the "Peaceniks".
Of the three broadcast networks jumping between the events in the Convention Hall and Streets of Chicago. It wasn't "NBC" with Chet Huntley and David Brinkley, or "ABC" with Frank Reynolds and Howard K. Smith, the Conservative media attacked.
It was "CBS" and Walter Cronkite!
Even before the "1968 Democratic Convention" officially started Cronkite was calling things as he saw them and the "CBS" Executives backed their main anchor, but Mayor Richard J. Daley and the Conservative media thought otherwise.
Things started to build, because the above quote was followed by the words used by Walter Cronkite to defend his colleague Dan Rather. Even though the "Rather Incident" was clearly shown on "CBS" and as I said other networks later in the evening.
Adding to the above was an even greater sin in the "Conservative Media's" minds. This was Walter Leland Cronkite's apparent sympathy for the "Hippies", "Yippies" and other American's, such as Senator George McGovern and Senator Abraham Ribicoff, that wanted the United States out of Southeast Asia.
Their view of the Anchor previously occurred when Cronkite had shown his views of the Vietnam War, on February 27, 1968, with a "CBS Special":
"Report from Vietnam: Who, What, When, Where, Why?" with:
We have been too often disappointed by the optimism of the American leaders, both in Vietnam and Washington, to have faith any longer in the silver linings they find in the darkest clouds. They may be right, that Hanoi's winter-spring offensive has been forced by the Communist realization that they could not win the longer war of attrition, and that the Communists hope that any success in the offensive will improve their position for eventual negotiations. It would improve their position, and it would also require our realization, that we should have had all along, that any negotiations must be that – negotiations, not the dictation of peace terms. For it seems now more certain than ever that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate. This summer's almost certain standoff will either end in real give-and-take negotiations or terrible escalation; and for every means we have to escalate, the enemy can match us, and that applies to invasion of the North, the use of nuclear weapons, or the mere commitment of one hundred, or two hundred, or three hundred thousand more American troops to the battle. And with each escalation, the world comes closer to the brink of cosmic disaster.
To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe, in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past. To suggest we are on the edge of defeat is to yield to unreasonable pessimism. To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, yet unsatisfactory, conclusion. On the off chance that military and political analysts are right, in the next few months we must test the enemy's intentions, in case this is indeed his last big gasp before negotiations. But it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could.
The "Conservative Media's" Vietnam position was that "CBS" did not support "Real American Values" as illustrated by Walter Cronkite's reporting prior to and at the Chicago Convention. Adding to that was their support of Mayor Daley over "Jewish" Senator Ribicoff . As a result they started reporting that "CBS was FAKE NEWS!"
At the end of the Democratic Convention Mayor Richard J. Daley asked their radio listeners and television viewership to start a write-in campaign against "CBS" and the "Conservative Media" jumped in with support.
Returning to Professor Heather Hendershot:
By early October of 1968, CBS received 8,670 letters about Chicago, 60 Minutes' Harry Reasoner reported that the mail ran 11-1 against the network. A viewer in Ohio wrote, "I've never seen search a disgusting display of one-sided reporting in all the years I've watched television". From South Carolina, a letter writer griped, "Your coverage was----slanted in favor of the hoodlums and beatniks and slurred the police trying to preserve order"....A side note:
In 1968 acclaimed American Cinematographer Haskell Wexler wrote, directed and co-produced a small motion picture that would have gone unnoticed except for what happened. He took actors Robert Forester and Verna Bloom to Chicago. His film was to be a story about a television news cameraman covering the Democratic Convention. Who meets a single mother and has an affair.
Instead the story became an unflinching "Docu-Drama" of the riots and the convention, Initially, released August 27, 1969, "Medium Cool" was Rated "X", but in 1970 the picture was re-rated "R".
On November 10, 1969 a film from director John Sturges starring Gregory Peck, Richard Crenna, David Janssen, James Franciscus and Gene Hackman was released. The fictional story "Marooned", based upon a novel by Martin Caidin of the same name, told the story of a Space Mission gone wrong and the efforts to rescue the crew before they die in orbit.
Fiction became reality on April 11, 1970 with the launch of "Apollo 13".
The News Coverage of Apollo 13
The launch seemed to go as planned with a perfect first stage burn, but the second stage engine shut down two minutes early. To compensate the third and fourth stage engines burned longer than scheduled and "Apollo 13" reached very close to the planned "Parking Orbit". Everything now seemed fine.
Two hours later "Apollo 13" was on its way to the moon. It would be determined that the second stage engine was automatically shut down by the vehicles guidance system, because of thrust chamber pressure fluctuations. Again no real problem was thought to have occurred.
At 30 hours 40 minutes and 50 seconds into the mission to "Fra Mauro" on the Moon. The crew of "Apollo 13" performed a burn to put the vehicle on a hybrid trajectory to the landing spot. This was all being shown as the television cameras were running for the viewers on Earth.
At 55 hours exactly into the mission Jim Lovell acting as a sort of emcee was giving the television viewers a tour of "Apollo 13" . At the time the networks were not taking his feed and it was being save for a later time slot.
Approximately six and a half minutes after the broadcast ended things on board "Apollo 13" started to go bad. Jim Lovell was stowing the camera equipment, Fred Haise had just completed the inspection of the "Lunar Module" after testing its systems, Jack Swigert was receiving altitude instructions from Jack Lousma in Houston. The crew had already noted one of the pressure senors for one of the "Service Module's" oxygen tanks had been malfunctioning. Sy Liebergot, at Houston, in charge of monitoring the electrical systems noticed a problem and asked for a fix for the on board fans to be relayed to "Apollo 13". After a short delay the request was given to Jack Swigert and he activated the necessary switches to make the requested fix.
95 seconds later the crew of Apollo 13 heard a large bang!
The "Bang" was instantaneously followed by electrical power fluctuations and the firing of the attitude control thrusters. "Apollo 13" lost contract with Earth for approximately 1.8 seconds until the system automatically corrected itself. At which point Lovell was heard to say:
Okay. Houston, we've had a problem hereThe networks, who had not taken Jim Lovell's guided tour of "Apollo 13", were now on the air covering a life and death situation in outer space.
The primary coverage on "ABC" was by Frank Reynolds and Howard K. Smith. While "NBC" had John Chancellor, Chet Huntley, who would retire in August, David Brinkley and Frank McGee. On "CBS" the main duties still went to Walter Cronkite.
Above and below stills of the "CBS" coverage.
Below a still of the "BBC" coverage of "Apollo 13".
Above two stills from inside "Apollo 13". Below After the crew after splash down.
It is estimated that 40 million Americans watched all six and a half hours of network coverage of the return to Earth of the "Apollo 13" crew. While at least another 30 million watch some of that days coverage.
18 Missing Minutes
On June 17, 1972 a group of inept burglars broke into an office building housing the "Democratic National Committee". The name of the building was "The Watergate" .
On February 7, 1973 the United States Senate voted 77 to 0 to create a "Select Committee to Investigate "Watergate" and Senator Sam Ervin would head it.
Above far left Senator Fred Thompson, Ranking Member Senator Howard Baker and Chairman Sam Ervin.
The three networks would broadcast the live hearings between May 17 to August 7, 1973. American's of all political views sat transfix in front of their television sets as they watched the downfall of an American President.
Below Dick Cavett in the hearing room reporting for "ABC".
Above the "CBS" War Room with Walter Cronkite and Sandy Socolow to his right. Socolow was a "CBS" Executive who worked closely with Cronkite to shape the network's coverage of both Vietnam and Watergate.
5 PM Eastern Standard Time June 1, 1980
At that time and on that date Television News changed forever, or did it?
In 1978 Robert Edward "Ted" Turner III contacted media executive Maurice Wolfe "Reese" Schonfeld that he had reconsidered Schonfeld's 1977 idea. The two started making plans for a "24 hour" news service. The result of their plans made its first broadcast on June 1, 1980 as the "Cable News Network (CNN)" and a new form of television news was introduced to America.