PBS' MacNeil May Have Run Into Oswald After Shooting

Longtime anchor has died at 93
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 12, 2024 12:18 PM CDT
Robert MacNeil of PBS' Newshour Dies at 93
This 1973 image released by PBS shows co-anchors Jim Lehrer, left, and Robert MacNeil reporting on the Watergate hearings. MacNeil has died at 93. Lehrer died in 2020.   (PBS via AP)

A familiar face—and voice—from the world of news broadcasting is gone. Robert MacNeil, who partnered with Jim Lehrer for years on PBS, has died at age 93 in Manhattan, reports the Washington Post. No cause of death was specified by his family. MacNeil and Lehrer first paired up on PBS to cover the Watergate hearings in 1973, and the show eventually evolved into The MacNeil/Lehrer Report and then The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. Lehrer died in 2020. "The program offered a stark counterpoint to the ever-frothier newscasts on the commercial networks' local affiliates and was honored with every major broadcast journalism award," per the New York Times.

Both of the above outlets recount MacNeil's long and respected career, and one detail stands out: MacNeil was covering John F. Kennedy's visit to Dallas for NBC when the president was shot. He ran off the press bus, followed police, and made his way to the Texas School Book Depository—from which Lee Harvey Oswald is believed to have fired at Kennedy—looking for a phone to call his editor.

  • "As I ran up the steps, this young guy in shirt sleeves came out," the Canadian-born MacNeil told the Canadian Press in 2013. "I said, 'Where is there a phone?' He said, 'You better ask inside.' I didn't register his face because I was obsessed with finding a phone. ... Much later, it occurred to me that I was going in just about the time Oswald had been going out."
(More obituary stories.)

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