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CBS 11 News Producer Recalls JFK Phone Call

(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Doug Dunbar
Doug is co-anchor of CBS 11 News at 5, 6 and 10 p.m. He is a mult...
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FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) - As we countdown to the commemoration of the assassination of President Kennedy — a remarkable story involving CBS newsman Bob Schieffer.

He was a cub reporter at the Fort Worth Star Telegram the day JFK was killed.

He took a call that day that would be one of the biggest scoops of his career.

But what Bob never knew was the reason he even got that call.

He found out recently, it was thanks to an 11-year-old boy, who is now a member of the CBS 11 family.

In 1963, Schieffer worked at the Star Telegram alongside Jack Douglas Sr., the father of CBS 11 Senior Investigative Producer Jack Douglas Jr.

On the day President Kennedy was shot, Schieffer raced to the Star Telegram building.

“It was total bedlam in the office, every phone was ringing,” recalls Schieffer.

Interestingly, at a house in west Fort Worth’s Ridglea Hills neighborhood, the phone was ringing as well.

“The phone rings, I pick it up, and the lady on the other end says something to the effect of ‘Is your dad there?’ I said ‘No ma’am,’” said Douglas.

That’s because Jack’s father was at the paper. What then 11-year-old Jack Douglas heard next, led to one of Bob Schieffer’s biggest scoops ever.

“She said, ‘I need to talk to him, I think my son has been arrested for killing the president,” said Douglas.

The voice on the phone was Marguerite Oswald. Douglas gave her his father’s number at the Star T.  Bob Schieffer took the call.

“A woman calls in and says, ‘Is there anyone who can give me a ride to Dallas?’ I said, ‘Lady, we don’t run a taxi service here, and besides, the president’s been shot.’ She said, ‘Yes, I heard it on the radio. And I think my son is the one they’ve arrested.’”

As Lee Harvey Oswald was being processed at the Dallas Police Department, Schieffer and a colleague picked up Marguerite Oswald, and drove his biggest interview yet, straight to Dallas.

“From the moment she got in the car, she didn’t ask about the president. She wanted to know, do they think my son did it? But it was all about everybody will feel sorry for his wife, but nobody will feel sorry for me, and I’ll starve to death,” recalls Schieffer.

At the police station, Schieffer had a stroke of luck that gave him more time to question Oswald’s mother.

“I said, ‘I’m the one who brought Mrs. Oswald over here, his mother. Is there anywhere we can put her so these reporters won’t bother her?’ He just assumed I was a detective, which I had hoped he would.”

From a simple redirected phone call came an exclusive interview, with the mother of the man who killed the president, and a story that helped define a career.

“In all the years I’ve spent in journalism, I’ve never had an adventure that quite matched the one I had that day,” said Schieffer.

Schieffer never knew the connection to Jack Douglas Sr. and his son until just weeks ago.

 

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