Coverage of the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination, including Bob Schieffer’s personal recounting of the day, scored big for CBS News’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday, drawing the show’s largest audience in 12 years.
The Nov. 17 telecast, which originated from the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, drew 4.6 million viewers, according to Nielsen. This put it well ahead of competitors “Meet the Press” on NBC (3.2 million) and “This Week” on ABC (2.8 million).
The last time “Face the Nation” drew a larger audience was the show’s first telecast to air following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
In adults 25-54, “Face the Nation” hit a nine-month high (1.1/5). This also easily beat “Meet the Press” and “This Week,” both of which did a 0.7/4.
Schieffer was a 26-year-old reporter for the Forth Worth Star-Telegram in 1963, and on Nov. 22 of that year, he gave Marguerite Oswald an hourlong ride from Fort Worth to Dallas. She had called the paper and needed to get to the police station, where her son was being held for questioning.
In addition to Schieffer’s rcmembrances of the day, Sunday’s episode also featured an interview Luci Baines Johnson, the youngest daughter of President Lyndon Johnson, who succeeded Kennedy. Guests on the broadcast included Hugh Aynesworth, former reporter for the Dallas Morning News; Mike Cochran, former correspondent for the Associated Press; Ronald Jones, former Chief Resident at Parkland Hospital, where President Kennedy was taken following the shooting; several authors who have written extensively about the assassination.
Season-to-date, “Face the Nation” remains the most-watched Sunday morning public affairs show, averaging 3.35 million — up 4% from last year.