Geraldo Rivera on the historic first broadcast of the Zapruder film

This excellent video comes from the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas.

Rivera, a veteran TV correspondent, made history when he broadcast Abraham Zapruder’s home movie of JFK’s assassination on national television for the first time in March 1975.

Rivera reveals he took a big risk personally.

Giamatti as Zapruder
As seen in ‘Parkland,” Abraham Zapruder, played by Paul Giamatti.

ABC insisted Rivera, an up and coming correspondent, indemnify the company in case of legal asction.

“I, Geraldo Rivera agreed to assume all legal liability for broadcasting this copyrighted home movie,” Rivera says, “because ABC would assume none of it,”

“My point of view as listen, this is a historic document,” he went on “These people are suppressing a historic document that the America has to see.”

Enormous Reaction

“Rivera’s show generated “an enormous reaction –more letters, more phone calls, more comment from important people and word of mouth in the industry than from any other Rivera show,” wrote Stan Isaacs, columnist for Newsday, the tabloid of suburban Long Island, New York.

“TV people were impressed by considerable reaction that came from middle America,” he wrote, prompting Rivera to host another show three weeks later. This ninety minute special featured another agonizing replay of the film, followed by a debate between critics and defenders of the Warren Commission.

The impact was huge. The official story of Kennedy’s murder, never terribly credible according to public opinion polls, was widely called into question. 

“In the aftermath of Watergate and its stunning revelations,” wrote TV critic John J. O’Connor of the New York Times, “the whole of recent American history has been opened to re‐examination. The darkly improbable can no longer be casually considered impossible.”

As a result of Rivera’s show, the U.S. government reopened the JFK investigation, with three official inquiries (Rockefeller Commisison, Church Commitee, and House Select Committee on Assassinations), which revealed pervasive CIA, FBI and Secret Service misconduct as well as evidence of high-level malfeasance.

Thanks to Rivera, the American people began to obtain a much fuller, more comprehensive and realistic understanding of the causes of JFK”s death.


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