Like all but a few of the Dallas reporters, Eddie Barker bought into the official story of the assassination being promoted by the FBI and the national press that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone assassin. He imagined that Oswald did it to impress Marina with his manhood. But like other theories of motive for Oswald, none explain his adamant protestations of innocence after the fact.
The best forensic, ballistics and photographic evidence bear out Oswald’s claim that he was a patsy, but he was murdered in the Dallas jail before any trial could be held. Convicted first in the press and later by the flawed Warren Commission, Oswald’s defense has been left to authors and researchers instead.
Barker was also the first to report the death of Jack Ruby, the gunman who killed Oswald, after receiving a telephone call from Dallas Sheriff Decker. The article notes he got the first exclusive interview with Marina Oswald, who had been sequestered by powerful figures in Dallas. All of this suggests he had inside connections and could be trusted to run or kill certain stories. Real newsmen like Penn Jones, Jr. of the Midlothian Mirror or Dallas reporter Earl Golz were not given such favored treatment.
The national press reporters present who called in what would become the official version of three shots killing Kennedy and wounding Kennedy also rose immediately to top positions in the national news networks and broadcasters. Dan Rather reported for the same CBS affiliate station in Dallas at the time. Some courageous investigative reporters, like Dorothy Kilgallen, fought for access to the story, and died mysteriously before breaking it.
Reporter who broke the news of JFK’s death dies
Fox News, Dallas-Ft. Worth
Posted: Jul 23, 2012
In 1963 Barker was a news director and anchorman at Channel 4, then the CBS affiliate KRLD-TV.
On the day of President Kennedy’s visit to Dallas, Barker was assigned to the Trade Mart where JFK’s motorcade was headed for a luncheon. He instead reported the terrible news.
“We have just been told by a member of the staff at Parkland Hospital that the president is dead,” he said.
CBS leaned heavily on him in the days and years that followed. Lee Harvey Oswald’s window Marina gave her first interview to Barker and other exclusives followed.
His career was defined by the JFK story but didn’t end there.
He started in radio as a 16-year-old in San Antonio and was still doing a radio talk show in Paris, Texas into his 80s.
“He was a godsend to my life and my career,” said Norm Hitzges whose long and storied career in sports talk radio got its beginning when Barker hired him at Channel 4 in 1972.
“I learned more in the first two months under Eddie Barker than I’d learned about journalism in six years,” Hitzges said. “He’d pat us on the back and then he’d yell at us. But he was great for that. We needed to get up to speed quickly and we needed somebody who knew the business. Boy did Eddie know the business.”
The two remained close even after fading health put Barker in a nursing home. Hitzges saw him two weeks ago.
“I loved that man. That man was a giant in our industry,” he said.
It’s been said that if Walter Cronkite was the most trusted newsman in America, Barker was the most trusted in Dallas – Fort Worth.