Yesterday, I received an email message from the staff at WGBH-TV about their plans to broadcast anniversary tribute programs to mark 50 years since the assassination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963. I was nine years old when President Kennedy was killed, and that date “will live in infamy” for my generation as Dec. 7, 1941, lived in infamy for my parents’ generation—and then they experienced a second infamous day. I am not looking forward to anniversary recollections of the brutal shooting of JFK. When I got the email notice, I didn’t like the idea of “Channel 2″ selling me the JFK programs like an episode of Antiques Roadshow. It’s a sponsor pitch: “Learn how your company can join WGBH in remembering our native son.”
Here’s what WGBH sent:
This November, PBS pays tribute to President John F. Kennedy on the eve of the 50th anniversary of his assassination, with intriguing new takes on our 35th president’s life and death. PBS’s five television programs are anchored by JFK, a new four-hour, two-part special from WGBH’s award-winning history series American Experience that will air in November. The tribute kicks off with a special event at our WGBH Studios. Contact Nancy Dieterich, General Sales Manager, (firstname.lastname@example.org or 617.300.3730) to learn how your company can join WGBH in remembering our native son.
This doesn’t feel like the right thing to do. Selling cars on Presidents Day is one thing. Packaging JFK’s assassination is something else. Maybe their screen should just go dark for three hours on November 22.