Robert Kennedy's Assassination
Who was Robert Kennedy?
As the shooting took place, ABC News was signing off from its electoral broadcast, while the CBS broadcast was already over. It was not until 21 minutes after the shots that CBS's coverage of the shooting would begin. The reporters who had been present to report on Kennedy's win in the primary ended up crowding into the kitchen where he had been shot and the immediate aftermath was captured only by audio recording and cameras that had no live transmission capability. ABC was able to show scant live footage from the kitchen after Kennedy had been transported but unlike CBS and NBC, all of ABC's coverage from the Ambassador was in black and white. CBS and NBC shot footage in the kitchen of the shooting's aftermath on color film, which could not be broadcast until it was developed two hours after the incident.
Reporter Andrew West of KRKD, a Mutual Broadcasting system radio affiliate in Los Angeles, captured on audio tape the sounds of the immediate aftermath of the shooting but not the actual shooting itself. Using his reel-to-reel tape recorder and attached microphone, West had just recorded the senator's victory speech. With the audio still rolling, West asked the Senator the following question...
Andrew West: "Senator, how are you going to counter Mr. Humphrey and his backgrounding you as far as the delegate votes go?"
Senator Kennedy: "It just goes back to the struggle for it."
After this brief exchange, West turned off his tape recorder and followed Kennedy and his entourage to the kitchen pantry. Just a few minutes later, seconds after Kennedy was shot, West turned his recorder on again and started reporting the sudden developments.....
Andrew West: "Senator Kennedy has been shot! Senator Kennedy has been shot; is that possible? Is that possible? It's.....is it possible, ladies and gentlemen? It is possible, he has.....not only Senator Kennedy, oh my God. Senator Kennedy has been shot, and another man, a Kennedy campaign manager, and possibly shot in the head."
Several seconds later, West gave an on-the-spot account of the struggle with Sirhan in the hotel kitchen pantry, shouting at Rafer Johnson to "Get the gun, Rafer, get the gun!" and telling others to "get a hold of [Sirhan's] thumb and break it, if you have to! Get his thumb!..... We don't want another Oswald!"
Over the following week, NBC devoted 55 hours to the shooting and aftermath, ABC 43, and CBS 42, with all three networks preempting their regular coverage and advertisements to cover the story.