Robert Kennedy's Assassination

By:Michelle Trueblood

Who was Robert Kennedy?

Robert Kennedy was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, on November 20, 1925. After managing his brother John's presidential campaign, Robert was appointed Attorney General of the United States in 1960. As AG, he fought organized crime and was a key supporter of the civil rights movement. After JFK's assassination, Robert was elected to the U.S. Senate representing the state of New York. RFK was himself assassinated on June 5, 1968, during the California Democratic presidential primary.
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The Assassination

What Happened

On June 5, 1968, following his victory speech at the California Democratic Primary at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, Kennedy was shot several times by Palestinian extremist Sirhan Sirhan. He died the next day at age 42, his promising presidential administration over before it began. The last of Kennedy’s 11 children was born six months after his untimely passing.
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Media Portrayals

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' 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.

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Bias and Criticism

For the past 40 years the issue of conspiracy in the Robert Kennedy assassination has continued to haunt America. With the recent release of Emilio Estevez"s movie "Bobby" a new generation of Americans has been inspired to look again at claims by conspiracy advocates that the assassination may have been conspiracy-led.Conspiracy advocates have promoted the idea that the convicted murderer of Robert Kennedy, Sirhan Sirhan, had been a"hypnotised assassin" and was controlled by others when he shot the senator in the pantry of the Los Angeles Ambassador Hotel shortly after midnight on June 5th 1968. Some witnesses at the scene told LAPD investigators that they saw Sirhan standing with the girl some time before Kennedy was shot. They claim this girl may have" controlled" a"hypnotically-programmed" Sirhan and that Sirhan had been accompanied by a"second gunman."
Robert Kennedy Project