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Bob Schieffer Describes Interviewing Lee Harvey Oswald’s Mother Just After JFK Assassination

By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TV
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BOSTON (CBS) – It was the event that changed broadcast journalism forever.

Interact: Share Your Thoughts About JFK

The assassination of President John F. Kennedy 50 years ago was the moment when Americans began turning to television for major news events and not just the newspaper.

Photos: The Assassination

The initial reports crackled over TV and radio on November 22, 1963.

“Parkland Hospital has been told to stand by for a severe gunshot wound!”

“President Kennedy has been given a blood transfusion in an effort to save his life after he and Governor Connolly were shot in an assassination attempt in downtown Dallas.”

Photos: JFK’s Funeral

“I was 26 years old,” CBS News’ Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer told me in a recent interview, “and I had rushed in to the office on that awful day just to try to give them a hand on the city desk.”

The young reporter at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram had just heard the news.

Schieffer was about to have a brush with history. He’s now sharing that little known story.

“It was total bedlam, as you can imagine,” Schiffer said, describing the newsroom.

He picked up a ringing phone. It was a woman asking for a ride.

“I said lady, we don’t run a taxi service here and besides the president’s been shot! She said ‘Yes, I heard on the radio and I think my son is the one they’ve arrested,’ and it was Lee Harvey Oswald’s mother.”

Schieffer gave Marguerite Oswald an hour-long, strange ride, from Fort Worth to Dallas. He said she ranted about who would care for her and never mentioned her son’s arrest or concern for the dead president.

“In my mind,” remembers Schieffer,“ she was really the evil person in this piece, and some of the things she said were so outrageous that I didn’t put them in the story and I probably should have.”

Schieffer stayed with her at police headquarters, unnoticed for hours, calling information back to his paper.

“They were going to bring Oswald down to talk to his mother and I’m standing there saying, ‘I’m going to get to hear this, I may get to interview him. Who knows where this will go?’”

But an angry law enforcement officer finally realized he was a reporter.

“He said ‘Son, let me tell you something, you get outta here, because,’ he said, ‘if I ever see you again I’m going to kill you!”

“It’s the biggest interview I almost got and didn’t. It was just this amazing adventure in the midst of this great tragedy.”

Watch: Bob Schieffer Interview – Part 1

Watch Bob Schieffer Interview – Part 2

MORE LOCAL NEWS FROM CBS BOSTON

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