Dugger: In the alarm and confusion, the reporters were full of doubt, and some were a little panicky. No one wanted to say what he was not sure of. Reporters had their editors on the phone and nothing definite to tell them.
Sid Davis, Westinghouse Broadcasting Company: I phoned to Washington saying, “Something has happened.”
Dugger: I went from reporters at telephones who did not know and asked me frantically what I knew—I went on a run to a group of four or five who were gathered around M. W. Stevenson, chief of the criminal investigation division of the Dallas police. “The President was hit, that’s our information at present.” He had been taken to Parkland. How badly hurt? “No, sir, I do not know.”
Wicker: At the Trade Mart, rumor was sweeping the hundreds of Texans eating their lunch. It was the only rumor I have ever seen; it was moving across that crowd like a wind over a wheatfield. A man eating a grapefruit seized my arm as I passed. “Has the President been shot?” he asked. “I don’t think so,” I said. “But something happened.”
Tom Kirkland, managing editor, Denton Record-Chronicle: The rumor started spreading here (at the Trade Mart) about 12:45 p.m., but nobody believed it. Everyone just stood around in disbelief. At about 1 p.m. [it was] announced that there had been a mishap during the parade. Everybody had finished eating. He told them that the mishap was not serious, but there would be a delay in the President’s address.
Wicker: With the other reporters—I suppose 35 of them—I went on through to the upstairs press room. We were hardly there when Marianne Means of Hearst Headline Service hung up a telephone, ran to a group of us and said, “The President’s been shot. He’s at Parkland Hospital.” One thing I learned that day; I suppose I already knew it, but that day made it plain. A reporter must trust his instinct. When Miss Means said those eight words—I never learned who told her—I knew absolutely they were true. Everyone did. We ran for the press buses.
Donovan: A man I took to be a Dallas radio station man said to me that the President had been shot and may be dead. Well, it was stupefying, utterly stupefying. We had just seen him in the bright sunshine with his wife Then there was a great clamor of “Where is he? Where is anybody? Where is the President?” This Dallas radio man went to a policeman and came back and said he was in Parkland Hospital. I said, “How can we get there?” and he said, “I have a station wagon. Come on. I will take you.” By this time we were all running back through the dining hall before the startled diners, and Tom Wicker, of The New York Times, was grabbed by the head waiter, who said, “Here, you can’t run in here.” Wicker just ran over him.
Wicker: I pulled free and ran on. Doug Kiker of the Herald Tribune barreled head-on into a waiter carrying a plate of potatoes. Waiter and potatoes flew about the room. Kiker ran on. He was in his first week with the Trib, and his first presidential trip.
Kirkland: At 1:07, Eric Johnsson announced in a very, very trembling voice: “I’m not sure that I can say what I have to say. I feel almost as I did on Pearl Harbor day.” At that point his voice broke. Then he announced that the President and the Governor had been shot It was quiet.
Donovan: Peter Lisagor, of the Chicago Daily News, and I and some other reporters got into a station wagon with his radio man and we went out of the Trade Mart at a breakneck clip with his horn blaring, through traffic, through lights. It was a horrifying ride.
Wicker: I barely got aboard a moving press bus. Bob Pierpoint of CBS was aboard and he said that he now recalled having heard something that could have been shots—or firecrackers, or motorcycle backfire. We talked anxiously, unbelieving, afraid.