Alex Pasternack goes long on the Zapruder film for Motherboard.
Dan Rather, a very young Dan Rather, whose career was about to be minted, was CBS’s Dallas bureau chief at the time. He called New York, asked for Don Hewitt, and told him that “a guy named Zapruder was supposed to have film of the assassination and was going to put it up for sale.” Exactly how interested was Walter Cronkite’s evening news program? Hewitt, the show’s executive producer-and the long-time producer of 60 Minutes-insisted it was very interested, and quickly decided the best approach would require a bit of, well, courage.
“In my desire to get a hold of what was probably the most dramatic piece of news footage ever shot,” Hewett wrote, “I told Rather to go to Zapruder’s house, sock him in the jaw, take his film to our affiliate in Dallas, copy it onto videotape, and let the CBS lawyers decide whether it could be sold or whether it was in the public domain. And then take the film back to Zapruder’s house and give it back to him. That way, the only thing they could get him for was assault because he would have returned Zapruder’s property. Rather said, ‘Great idea. I’ll do it.’