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November 22, 2013 3:00 PM “We Interrupt This Program….”

By Ed Kilgore

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.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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