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Less was best when it came to Kennedy coverage Friday

The Baltimore Sun

I am not going to go deep on live TV coverage Friday of events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the death of John F. Kennedy in Dallas.

I was a TV columnist at the Dallas Times Herald during the 25th anniversary and I have endured all the media memorials of that horrible day in 1963 that anyone should be asked to bear. I wrote them up and I wrote them down as the civic leadership and media of Dallas tried to rehabilitate the city's image as much as righteously remember the president that died there in 1963.

But I do need to say that the best coverage I saw Friday of the live events in Dealey Plaza was on Fox News. And the main reason for the Fox success: The hosts and anchors mostly kept quiet and let the pictures and events speak for themselves.

I know that's a radical notion -- a host keeping his or her mouth shut for two seconds -- but Fox News was the channel that got it right Friday afternoon.

Some of the networks and channels were talking practically right up to the moment of silence. And then, when the U.S. Naval Academy Men's Glee Club had barely finished  "America the Beautiful," they started back up with their chatter. The stark, gray sadness of Dealey Plaza was apparently too much for the networks to bear. I'm surprised one of the networks didn't try to run a promo for a primetime sitcom.

Speaking of comedy, NBC anchor Brian Williams told viewers it was the "U.S. Navy Choir" they were hearing.

What's worse than talk that interrupts the somber beauty of such an elegiac moment?

Talk from a puffed-up guy who's on the fast track to becoming a parody of a anchorman getting one of the few facts he reported wrong. And NBC News had Williams travel all the way to Dallas to do it.

The worst mindless chatter came from Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC. And what was she offering? Her second-hand take on Lyndon Johnson biographer Robert Caro's brilliant reporting on Nov. 22, 1963 in Dallas.

Listening to her and NBC Presidential Historian Michael Beschloss talk over the address historian David McCullough was giving in Dealey Plaza made me want to scream.

The craziest thing some producers did?

They would show the glee club singing, but instead of the beauty of the music, we would hear anchor-desk babble.

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