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Roundtable: JFK Assassination Changed TV Forever; Mayoral Race Presents Real Choice



Mark Sauer


Bob Laurence, San Diego Media Writer

David Rolland, San Diego CityBeat

Sandhya Dirks, KPBS News


How The JFK Assassination Changed TV Forever

The death of President John F. Kennedy was a television event in a way nothing before it was.

When Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated JFK on Nov. 22, 1963, Americans, and millions worldwide, sat in front of their televisions for hours at a time through four days of nearly round-the-clock news saturation.

In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, Americans got their first glimpse of how news was gathered, and many didn't like it. They found the process of pushing and shoving and running and general messiness unseemly and at odds with the manicured, neatly packaged stories they saw every night.

Seeing Oswald shot to death on live television was another unexpected horror.

Americans watched a respected news anchor nearly break down, the arrival of the president’s body in Washington, its repose in the White House East Room, the sad procession of the horse-drawn caisson and casket to the Capitol, the long lines at the public viewing in the rotunda (NBC broadcast live, uninterrupted coverage of mourners paying their respects through the overnight hours, a first), the funeral mass and, finally, the burial at Arlington National Cemetery on Nov. 25.

Since then, Americans have grown to expect that major events will trigger special, on-going live television and radio coverage (911, the shooting of President Reagan, Sandy Hook, Boston marathon Bombing), and citizen journalists using cameras on their cell phones and posting to the web play a large role in news today.

But in 1963, Abraham Zapruder, a manufacturer of women’s clothing in Dallas, was arguably one of the first – if not the first – to have his film of an historic event go viral – and stay there.

News Flash: San Diego Mayor's Race To Continue

It was a campaign of unlimited resources and relentless negativity, from robo-calls from a fake Karl Rove to non-stop television ads and a blizzard of nasty political fliers, the 2013 San Diego mayoral primary election to replace Bob Filner was both dirty and expensive.

But, as expected, it did not produce an outright winner.

Councilman Kevin Faulconer, a Republican, got nearly 44 percent of the vote and will run against Councilman David Alvarez, a Democrat, in the general election. Many observers believe Faulconer wanted to run against Alvarez, rather than the better-known Democrat, Nathan Fletcher. Consequently, attacks coming at Nathan Fletcher from both the left and the right proved too much for him.

Questions, as they say, abound. Did the two-pronged attacks really do in the Fletcher campaign, or was it something else? What will he do now? How resonant are Alvarez’s progressive politics for San Diegans? What role did super PACs, like the Lincoln Club, and the unions and their vast sums of money play in the election?

And finally, will the general election be just as expensive and mean-spirited as the primary?

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