Television news has given us the chance to witness history as it happened. As part of TV Guide Magazine's 60th anniversary, we look back at the breaking stories and interviews that viewers will never forget.
1. John F. Kennedy assassination (1963) TV anchors (particularly Walter Cronkite) provide solace and real-time reporting when the nation needs it most. After four days of continuous coverage from Dallas, where JFK was killed, and Arlington, where he was laid to rest, TV Guide Magazine declares, "The medium gained a new sense of what it could do."
2. Moon landing (1969) The journey of Apollo 11 and the lunar touchdown of astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin deliver the greatest TV show ever back on Earth, where an estimated audience of more than 700 million marvel at the astounding images.
3. September 11 attacks (2001) The horrific footage of two hijacked Boeing 767s colliding into the World Trade Center will forever remind us of America's darkest day. TV reporters help steady shaken viewers during the continuous coverage, but off camera they are weeping too.
4. President Nixon's resignation (1974) From the final Oval Office address to the awkward victory signs flashed from the helicopter on the White House lawn, Richard Nixon's downfall due to the Watergate scandal becomes riveting TV drama.
5. Gulf War (1991) The from-behind-enemy-lines reporting of CNN's Bernard Shaw, Peter Arnett and John Holliman as bombs fall over Baghdad marks the beginning of live-TV war coverage.
6. O.J. Simpson trial (1995) A not-guilty verdict for the football star and broadcaster accused of murder is the stunning climax of a live-news soap opera created by the advent of TV cameras in the courtroom.
7. Challenger explosion (1986) The glory of America's space program turns into unfathomable heartbreak when the shuttle breaks apart 73 seconds into its flight, killing seven crew members, including schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe.
8. Rescue of Baby Jessica (1987) The successful 58-hour effort to save trapped Texas toddler Jessica McClure from a backyard well becomes a defining moment for CNN as viewers tune in to the then-nascent around-the-clock cable news channel for live updates.
Page 2 of 4 - 9. Election-night debacle (2000) All the networks give the razor-close race for Florida's electoral votes to Al Gore and later to George W. Bush (who won the White House a month later, after the Supreme Court ruled against a recount). NBC's Tom Brokaw says, "We don't just have egg on our face, we have omelet all over our suits."
10. Death of Osama bin Laden (2011) President Barack Obama tells the nation in a televised address that U.S. Special Forces killed Al Queda leader Osama bin Laden. But, with the rise of social media, the news spreads first on Twitter.
The Other 50 (Chronologically)
¦ Vice presidential candidate Richard Nixon invokes his children's dog Checkers in a televised address that saves his political career. (1952)
¦ Edward R. Murrow's criticism of Joseph McCarthy in a CBS News special helps turn public sentiment against the Red-baiting senator. (1954)
¦ CBS Evening News shows exclusive footage of the Andrea Doria sinking into the Atlantic. (1956)
¦ President Dwight D. Eisenhower tells the nation he's sending in federal troops to carry out the court order to desegregate Little Rock schools. (1957)
¦ Nixon sweats his way through the first televised presidential debate with John F. Kennedy. (1960)
¦ David Susskind conducts a live interview with Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev at the height of Cold War tensions. (1960)
¦ Murrow's CBS documentary Harvest of Shame exposes the plight of migrant farm workers. (1960)
¦ Kennedy holds the first televised presidential news conference. (1961)
¦ Kennedy announces the blockade of Soviet ships bringing missiles to Cuba. (1962)
¦ CBS broadcasts Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech live from Washington, D.C. (1963)
¦ Jack Ruby's murder of accused presidential assassin Lee Harvey Oswald is shown live on NBC. (1963)
¦ CBS's Morley Safer reports on U.S. Marines burning the village of Cam Ne, a turning point in TV's coverage of the Vietnam War. (1965)
¦ The splashdown of manned space capsule Gemini 6 is covered live, thanks to the launch of the first commercial communications satellite, Early Bird. (1965)
¦ Walter Cronkite comes out against the Vietnam War on CBS Evening News. (1968)
¦ President Lyndon Johnson shocks the nation by announcing he won't run for a second term. (1968)
¦ King is gunned down in Memphis, sparking civil unrest in cities across the U.S. (1968)
¦ After winning California's Democratic presidential primary, Robert Kennedy is assassinated at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. (1968)
Page 3 of 4 - ¦ Security guards rough up CBS correspondents Dan Rather and Mike Wallace at the riot-torn Democratic National Convention. (1968)
¦ William F. Buckley threatens to punch Gore Vidal in the nose during ABC's DNC coverage. (1968)
¦ Nixon makes the first presidential visit to the People's Republic of China. (1972)
¦ Peter Jennings and Jim McKay report live from Munich at the Summer Olympics on the murders of 11 Israeli athletes. (1972)
¦ ABC's Barbara Walters becomes the first woman to coanchor a network evening newscast. (1976)
¦ In his second debate with Jimmy Carter, President Gerald Ford stunningly claims that Eastern Europe is not under Soviet domination. (1976)
¦ Cronkite brokers the first Egyptian-Israeli peace talks on his newscast. (1977)
¦ In his first interview after resigning over the Watergate scandal, Nixon tells reporter David Frost that he "let the American people down." (1977)
¦ Senator Ted Kennedy gives a rambling, incoherent answer when CBS's Roger Mudd asks why he wants to be president. (1979)
¦ Iran releases Americans held hostage as President Ronald Reagan is inaugurated. (1981)
¦ While Reagan recovers from an assassination attempt, Secretary of State Alexander Haig tells reporters he's "in control here in the White House." (1981)
¦ An estimated global audience of 750 million watch the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana. (1981)
¦ Col. Oliver North testifies before a congressional committee on his role in the Iran-Contra affair. (1987)
¦ Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker defend their scandal-plagued ministry on ABC's Nightline. (1987)
¦ TV cameras capture the standoff between a man and a line of tanks during pro-democracy protests in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. (1989)
¦ ABC's World Series telecast turns into coverage of a deadly earthquake that shakes San Francisco for 15 seconds. (1989)
¦ NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw reports live from the falling Berlin Wall hours after an East German official announced that citizens were "free to travel." (1989)
¦ Anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela is freed after 27 years of imprisonment in South Africa. (1990)
¦ Anita Hill raises allegations of sexual harassment against Supreme Court justice nominee Clarence Thomas. (1991)
¦ Rioting breaks out in Los Angeles after a jury finds four police officers not guilty in the beating of Rodney King. (1992)
¦ Presidential candidate Bill Clinton admits to 60 Minutes' Steve Kroft that he's caused "pain in his marriage" to Hillary Rodham Clinton. (1992)
¦ Ninety-five million people watch the police's low-speed pursuit of O.J. Simpson's white Ford Bronco. (1994)
¦ News breaks of a truck bomb killing 168 people at a federal office building in Oklahoma City. (1995)
¦ Nearly 34 million U.S. viewers watch Princess Diana's funeral over eight networks. (1997)
¦ Clinton confesses to his inappropriate relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. (1998)
¦ Barbara Walters' sit-down with Lewinsky on ABC draws 49 million viewers. (1999)
¦ Katie Couric undergoes a colonoscopy on NBC's Today. (2000)
Page 4 of 4 - ¦ President George W. Bush declares military success in Iraq on an aircraft carrier decorated with a banner reading mission accomplished. (2003)
¦ Fox News anchor Shepard Smith decries the government's response to victims of Hurricane Katrina. (2005)
¦ Vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin can't answer when CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric asks which newspapers she reads. (2008)
¦ The inauguration of Barack Obama as the first African-American U.S. president is the most live-streamed event in Internet history. (2009)
¦ The world watches as 33 Chilean miners are freed after being trapped underground for 69 days. (2010)
¦ Terrorism saturates TV news again when two bombs explode at the Boston Marathon. (2013)
View original The 60 Biggest News Moments of All Time at TVGuide.com
Other Links From TVGuide.com
- O.J. Simpson
- Walter Cronkite
- Tom Brokaw
- Barack Obama
- Bernard Shaw
- Richard Nixon
- Neil Armstrong
- Peter Arnett
- George W. Bush
- Al Gore
- Buzz Aldrin
- John F. Kennedy
- Osama bin Laden