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CBS Boston "Busing Crisis"

by Matt Delmont

This crisis coverage began on September 9, three days before the start of school, with reporting on a protest march to Boston Common. ABC’s Harry Reasoner described how “some 4000 demonstrators, all of them white, most of them women, booed [Senator Edward Kennedy] off a stage in downtown Boston,” when he attempted to explain his views on busing. On CBS, which estimated the crowd at 8000 to 10000, reporter Jackie Castleberry described how “As Senator Kennedy retreated to his office, the crowd began to push, hurling eggs and insults. Just as the Senator reached shelter inside, the crowd rushed, pounding and then shattering a glass window.” The television footage of the confrontation is chaotic. The images are unsteady, filmed by camera people jostled by the crowd, and the shouts of demonstrators are punctuated by the sound of shattering glass. The rally and confrontation cast Boston as a tense city and ABC and CBS closed their segment on notes of anticipation and apprehension. “For many other communities the first weeks of school have been traumatic,” ABC’s Lem Tucker concluded. “Boston officials thought they had prepared well enough to prevent that here. Today’s incident, however, leaves questions that cannot be answered until school opens on Thursday.” This feeling of anticipation and apprehension pervaded crisis coverage of busing in Boston, and television news presented the story as an unfolding drama that viewers could watch on a regular schedule. As NBC’s Richard Hunt noted on the eve of the opening of schools: “the police are worried, the Mayor is worried, blacks are worried, and whites are worried. So the prospect is many thousands of parents will keep their children home tomorrow and until they feel the schools are safe. And that may take weeks.”

CBS Boston Busing Crisis

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CBS News coverage of antibusing protest in Boston

from CBS Evening News (1974)
Creator: CBS
Distributor: CBS
Posted by Matt Delmont