JFK Assassination, 50 Years Later: A Guide to How TV Is Remembering the 35th President
Killing Kennedy debuted Sunday night on National Geographic Channel, bringing in a ratings bump still two weeks before the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's 1963 assassination. As Nov. 22 approaches, there is still a slew of JFK-centric programming hitting the small screen.
The television specials, airing by a diverse group of networks, reflect on Kennedy's life, sprawling family, legacy and tragic death -- perhaps also to inform younger generations of the historical significance of the events surrounding the president's assassination.
The Kennedy-themed TV schedule kicked off on Sunday, Nov. 3 with various retrospectives and will culminate in extensive coverage of the anniversary day ceremonies.
Continue reading for a list of JFK 50th anniversary television specials. While the initial air-dates are listed, many of the shows will repeat throughout November.
NOVA: “Cold Case JFK”
PBS, Wednesday, Nov. 13 at 9 p.m. ET/PT
This special episode of NOVA explores what modern science can reveal to us about Kennedy’s assassination. It is the first time since the original investigation by the FBI laboratory that forensic scientists trained in firearms identification and shooting-scene reconstruction review the ballistics evidence in the Dallas shooting.
Secrets of the Dead: “JFK: One PM Central Standard Time”
PBS, Wednesday, Nov. 13 at 10 p.m. ET/PT
George Clooney narrates this special, which chronicles the assassination of Kennedy, from the fatal shooting until Walter Cronkite's sorrowful pronouncement of the president's death one hour and eight minutes later. Also featured are rarely seen archival footage from the CBS newsroom and local broadcasts in Dallas.
48 Hours Presents: “As It Happened: John F. Kennedy 50 Years”
CBS, Saturday, Nov. 16 at 9 p.m. ET/PT
CBS News’ Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer looks at the life of the young president, his impact in the nation and how the events of 1963 continue to drive debates even today. The hourlong special features interviews with Dr. Kenneth Salyer, who in 1963 was on the team that tried to save the President, and author and historian Robert Caro.
Meet the Press
NBC, Sunday, Nov. 17
Tom Brokaw discusses his documentary Where Were You: The Day JFK Died, which airs later that week.
This Week with George Stephanopoulos
ABC, Sunday, Nov. 17 at 10 a.m. ET/PT
Following a special tribute to JFK, this installment will include a live panel discussion on the impact of Kennedy's legacy.
Kennedy’s Suicide Bomber
Smithsonian Channel, Sunday, Nov. 17 at 8 p.m. ET/PT
This hourlong documentary tells the lesser-known story of Richard Pavlick, a man who tried to kill President-Elect Kennedy in Palm Beach, Florida a month before JFK's presidency began.
The Day Kennedy Died
Smithsonian Channel, Sunday, Nov. 17 at 9 p.m. ET/PT
This two-hour special, narrated by Kevin Spacey, recounts the day with eyewitness accounts from a Secret Service agent, the doctor who tried to save the president, the man wrongly accused of Kennedy's murder and a bystander who was injured by shrapnel from one of the bullets fired at the president.
Letters to Jackie: Remembering President Kennedy
TLC, Sunday, Nov. 17 at 9 p.m. ET/PT
Based on a book of similar name, this special focuses on Jackie Kennedy’s life following the death of her husband. More than 20 actors, including Jessica Chastain, Viola Davis, Zooey Deschanel, Anne Hathaway, JohnKrasinski, Laura Linney, Mark Ruffalo, Octavia Spencer and Channing Tatum read some of the most powerful letters she received from mourners across the globe.
My Days in Dallas: A Remembrance with Dan Rather
AXS TV, Monday, Nov. 18 at 8 p.m. ET/PT
Dan Rather, who was on the ground covering JFK’s trip to Dallas in 1963, gives a first-hand report of the events that occurred that day in this retrospective.
Frontline: “Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald?”
PBS, Tuesday, Nov. 19 at 10 p.m. ET/PT
Was Lee Harvey Oswald an emotionally disturbed lone gunman, part of a conspiracy, a scapegoat or something else? This two-hour investigative biography examines the man responsible for the political crime of the century.
MacNeil and Lehrer Reflect on the JFK Assassination
PBS, Thursday, Nov. 21
Before they had even met, Robert MacNeil and Jim Lehrer were both assigned to cover President Kennedy’s visit to Dallas the day of his assassination. As part of PBS NewsHour’s coverage of the 50th Anniversary, MacNeil and Lehrer reflect on the events of that day and its aftermath.
Good Morning America
ABC, Thursday, Nov. 21 at 7 a.m. ET/PT
The show will provide an exclusive first-look at newly released audio recordings of police, investigators and on-site reporters from the tragic events surrounding Kennedy's death.
JFK: The Lost Tapes
Discovery Channel, Thursday, Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. ET/PT
This hourlong special, which will also air on Military Channel on Friday, Nov 22 at 9 p.m. ET/PT, will reveal new government tapes from Air Force One along with never-before-heard radio recordings from the Dallas Police Department.
HDNet Movies, Thursday, Nov. 21 at 8 pm
This Oscar-winning 1991 Oliver Stone film stars Kevin Costner, Sissy Spacek, Kevin Bacon, Tommy Lee Jones, Gary Oldman, Donald Sutherland, Jack Lemmon, Joe Pesci, John Candy, Walter Matthau and Ed Asner.
The Lost Kennedy Home Movies
H2, Thursday, Nov. 21 at 8 p.m. ET/PT
These rare home movies will show the Kennedy family through the years, including scenes of the last weekend Jack and Jackie Kennedy spent with Caroline and John Jr., just two weeks before JFK was shot.
TCM Commemorates the JFK Assassination 50th Anniversary
Turner Classic Movies, Thursday Nov. 21 at 8 p.m. ET/PT
TCM has a primetime lineup of documentaries about JFK's election presidency and death that includes Primary (1960), Adventures on the New Frontier (1961), Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment (1963), Faces of November (1964) and Four Days in November (1964), along with the drama PT 109 about JFK's service during World War II.
The Kennedy Assassination: 24 Hours After
H2, Thursday, Nov. 21 at 10 p.m. ET/PT
Originally aired in 2009, this special features never-before-seen transcripts only recently been made public that help to explain the events that took place in the 24-hour period after Kennedy's death, including the transfer of the presidency to Lyndon B. Johnson.
ABC, Friday, Nov. 22
The day’s coverage will feature live reporting from Dallas on Good Morning America, a series of reports on World News with Diane Sawyer, a discussion with the millennial generation family members of key participants on the day of the assassination on Nightline and a special live-stream coverage of the 50th anniversary ceremonies at the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston on ABCNews.com.
JFK Assassination: The Definitive Guide
History, Friday, Nov. 22 at 8 pm ET/PT
Who do Americans really think is responsible for Kennedy's death? That is the question History asked in a survey the channel conducted. This two-hour program unpacks the results, revealing which conspiracy theories are still alive today.
Kennedy Brothers: A Hardball Documentary
MSNBC, Friday, Nov. 22 at 8 p.m. ET/PT
First aired in 2009, Chris Matthews interviews members of the Kennedy family, biographers and historians in an effort to unpack the mysteries surrounding the family.
Commander In Chief: Inside the Oval Office: “Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis”
Military Channel, Friday, Nov. 22 at 8 p.m. ET/PT
This special first aired last year for the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, this episode, featuring rare images and declassified audio recordings, looks at the debates that took place in the White House that October of 1962.
JFK: Breaking the News
KCET, Friday, Nov. 22 at 8 p.m. ET/PT
Narrated by Jane Pauley, this documentary examines how reporters responded to the national tragedy through the lens of journalists working in Dallas in 1963.
Tom Brokaw Special: Where Were You?
NBC, Friday, Nov. 22 at 9 p.m. ET/PT
This two-hour long special, hosted by NBC special correspondent Tom Brokaw, combines archival footage with first-person stories to offer another perspective on the tragic day.
JFK: In His Own Words
HBO, Friday, Nov. 22 at 9 p.m. ET/PT
This one-time-only encore presentation of the 1988 documentary uses rare film footage and audio tapes to follow JFK's life from his childhood up until his last day as president.
The Kennedy Half-Century
KCET, Friday, Nov. 22 at 9 p.m. ET/PT
Based on Larry Sabato’s new book, this hourlong documentary explores the influence of President Kennedy’s life, administration and tragic death on the public, media and every subsequent U.S. president. It includes interviews with major political and media figures, including Bob Schieffer, Ron Reagan Jr., Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Ari Fleischer, James Carville, Julian Bond and Andrew Bell.
Lee Harvey Oswald: 48 Hours to Live
History, Friday, Nov. 22 at 10 p.m. ET/PT
This two-hour long special looks back on the final two days of the enigmatic Lee Harvey Oswald's life, including his attempt to flee, his capture by police and the interrogation by the Dallas police detectives before Jack Ruby shot him.