I have been glued to NatGeo, The History Channel and other networks that have been replaying the horrific events of November 22-25, 1963 (some, like NatGeo using never-before aired footage).
The whole sad and sordid JFK assassination anniversary got me wondering: what would the media coverage have been like if JFK had been assassinated on November 22, 2009, and not in 1963? Here are some random thoughts:
– MSNBC would have been there to cover the event live. They follow Obama to the most obscure town hall meetings, so why not ship off a team to Dealey Plaza?
– There would have been hundreds of Abraham Zapruder types, all of whom would have used their cell phones to capture the grisly second-by-second shooting from every possible angle (and, each would have been instantly posted on sites such as CNN.com).
– All three morning network teams would have immediately dispatched their anchors to Dallas for special 'Saturday morning aftermath' shows. 'Somber and sad news indeed, Ann. Thanks. Now, on a much lighter note, Al, I understand there's quite a snowstorm blowing in from the Northwest?'
– Eyewitnesses, School Book Depository employees, Dallas policemen and everyone else and their brother would be all a Twitter. Perhaps even Oswald himself would have had time to send a quick Tweet or two: 'No sir. I have not been accused of shooting anyone and I demand immediate legal representation.'
– The Hollywood entertainment sleaze casts would begin round-the-clock coverage of Jackie and the wardrobes she'd chosen to wear at various State affairs.
– Less scrupulous brand marketers would begin exploring signage opportunities on, or near, the grassy knoll. 'What do you mean we can't put our purple logo on the triple overpass? Says who?'
– I'm assuming the TSA would pull a power play and assume jurisdiction for the entire investigation, pushing out Dallas cops, Secret Service agents, the FBI and others.
– The first thought in everyone's mind wouldn't be a Communist plot but, rather, an Al Qaeda terrorist attack.
– The Playboy Channel would originate live coverage from Jack Ruby's strip club. 'Jack, you say that Oswald and the Secret Service agents were all here last night? Unreal.'
– Sarah Palin would issue a statement, passing along her heartfelt condolences and recall that she was able to see Russia the last time she visited Dallas.
– Conspiracy theorists would be blogging like mad and posting various, three-dimensional versions of the killing zone on various sites.
– Oswald's murder at the hands of Ruby would feature many more first-hand interviews of the latter, and include such questions as, 'Jack, how did you feel when you pulled the trigger?' Or 'Jack, what's next? A book and movie?'
In short, what struck me about the original coverage was its combination of shock, naïveté, caring and compassion. While there would be some trace of all four in modern-day coverage, I'm afraid we've become so immune to death and sleaze that there'd be a media circus of epic proportions.