Journalists gathered at the National Press Club Monday to promote a new book on the assassination of President Kennedy and share their recollections 40 years after he was killed.
CBS Chief Washington and Capitol Hill correspondent Bob Schieffer moderated the discussion, which featured ABC News Washington correspondent Bob Clark, former Westinghouse White House correspondent Sid Davis and former WNEW Radio reporter Ike Pappas.
The book, “President Kennedy Has Been Shot,” reveals the events of the assassination chronologically through the accounts of various reporters and witnesses.
The event corresponded with the 40th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy, who was killed on Nov. 22, 1963, in Dallas.
Sitting in front of enlarged pictures of the book’s cover and a U.S. News and World Report article on the assassination, Clark – who was riding five cars behind the presidential limousine as it drove through Dallas – described the moment when Kennedy was gunned down.
“Right as we turned in front of the Texas School Book Depository I heard three extremely loud and clear shots,” said Clark, referring to the building from which suspected assassin Lee Harvey Oswald reportedly fired three shots.
Clark told the audience of 100 that he and other journalists were unaware of exactly what happened because they could not see the presidential limousine.
Pappas said he was emerging from a subway station in New York City when he was informed of the president’s assassination. “A woman came up to me saying how the president had been shot.
Pappas said WNEW radio gave him $500 and told him to find a way to Dallas.
Despite the closure of every national airport following the assassination, Pappas was able to board an American Airlines jet to Dallas for journalists and federal officials.
Davis said the trip Kennedy took to Dallas was the first on which his wife, Jacqueline, accompanied him.
“The president was always very shy and this was the first time we saw him show public affection,” he said.
Davis was also one of three journalists to witness Lyndon B. Johnson being sworn in as president on Air Force One. Davis described a resolute Johnson and a distraught Jacqueline Kennedy, who stood beside Johnson in a show of support for the new president
“She had streaks of blood on her stockings and skirt since she was cradling the president as he was wounded,” he said.
By the time Pappas reached Dallas, Oswald had been arrested as the prime suspect in Kennedy’s assassination.
“As Oswald passed by I went forward and asked, ‘Do you have anything to say in your defense?'” Pappas said.
Pappas said as he spoke the word “defense” he saw a black flash in front of him.
“I felt the shock of the weapon,” he said. “There was a pause in my report, and I just kept telling myself not to freeze.”