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Excerpted from TOP DOWN by Jim Lehrer. Copyright © 2013 by Jim Lehrer. Excerpted by permission of Random House, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Excerpted from TOP DOWN by Jim Lehrer. Copyright © 2013 by Jim Lehrer. Excerpted by permission of Random House, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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Published by wamu885
Excerpted from TOP DOWN by Jim Lehrer. Copyright © 2013 by Jim Lehrer. Excerpted by permission of Random House, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpted from TOP DOWN by Jim Lehrer. Copyright © 2013 by Jim Lehrer. Excerpted by permission of Random House, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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Published by: wamu885 on Oct 03, 2013
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05/15/2014

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ONE"Where Were
You
?" There it was--the most universal of questions we ask one another following an epic public event. Now it was the title for a fifth anniversary discussion at the National Press Club indowntown Washington. On that November, 1968, noon hour the complete question for thediscussion was, of course, "Where were you on November 22, 1963, when John F. Kennedy wasassassinated?"I was delighted--excited, frankly--to be one of the three panelists invited to speak. And  proud to be a club member because this was truly the center of my universe. The bureau officesof my newspaper, The Dallas Tribune, were on the fifth floor of the Press Club building on 14thStreet, two blocks from the White House.I had told my own story before. It seemed that everyone in America had at least ten timesover. But this was the first time I did so in such a public way. More than 300 people--most of them fellow journalists--filled the room.The two other panelists spoke before me. The first speaker was a wire service man whohad been on the Washington news desk that November day. He told about the emotionalexhaustion of the conflicting pulls of duty and grief that gripped everyone taking in, writing,confirming, packaging stories from and throughout the world.The second, a Washington-based network television correspondent who had been in theDallas motorcade press bus, recalled the scraps of his and others' frantic searches for what had 
 
actually happened. Was Kennedy really hit? If so, where? Was he dead? Where did the shotscome from? Has anybody been arrested? What was Jackie doing crawling back on the trunk of the limo after the shots were fired? Where can I find an eyewitness? Where can I find atelephone?Perhaps I should have felt intimidated as the youngest and least experienced journalist of the three. But I felt that I matched the other two speakers for interest and delivery. My dad, also anewspaperman, always said I had "a gift of gab", a trait my mother saw as a good thing thatcould someday lead me from print to television. ("Mark my words, Jack," she said more thanonce, "you could be another Chet Huntley.") But I had absolutely no interest in ever being ontelevision. I was a print man. I was a writer.But I did spend more time than usual on exactly what to wear to the press club event.Brainy newspaperman was the look I was going for with my brown and black wool sportcoat,gray slacks and button-down blue Oxford cloth shirt with solid dark brown tie. Back in Dallas, Ialways wore a tie but it was, more often than not, loose from the collar. That kind of style wasOK for a local newsroom but not for a Washington correspondent. I did it up tight with a smartmilitary half-Windsor.The other press club panelists spoke mostly from notes while I had written out my story,which I read almost word for word after practicing several times in front of the bathroom mirror at my apartment.When it was my turn at the podium I began: "I was working as a reporter for theafternoon newspaper, The Dallas Tribune, on November 22, 1963. My assignment was to cover the arrival of President and Mrs. Kennedy at Love Field, stay at the airport until they came back after a motorcade through downtown and a noon luncheon at the Dallas Trade Mart, and then

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