Prof on 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination; media, conspiracy theories

November 11, 2013  

Mary Schott

Randy Roberts
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Randy Roberts, distinguished professor of history at Purdue University                                                            

Roberts, who will appear in the History channel's "Lee Harvey Oswald: 48 Hours to Live" on Nov. 22, focuses on modern American, pop culture and sports history. He also served as a history consultant in the 2009 "The Kennedy Assassination: 24 Hours After." 

During filming for the new Oswald documentary, Roberts focused on the evidence and facts after the assassination that reaffirms Oswald was the sole shooter and there was no conspiracy. Many conspiracy theories have played a role in the entertainment business as plots or subplots for films, he says. 

"We love conspiracy theories, and Oswald's life lent its self to conspiracy theories," Roberts says. "Here's a guy who spent time in the Soviet Union, whose wife is Russian and he was trying to get into Cuba during a hot time of the Cold War. Oswald also was a very odd character. If he hadn't been shot, we would have heard more for the man who was very ego driven and looking for attention. Had he lived, we would have been reassured he was the sole shooter and acted alone." 

Roberts also can talk about the groundbreaking television news coverage in 1963 and how that compares to today's media coverage. 

"The assassination coverage was a first on TV," said Randy Roberts, a distinguished professor of history. "We learned about it immediately when Walter Cronkrite broke in with the news. There were just a few networks in 1963, and assassination coverage was all that was on. Then the shooting of the assassin was captured live, and then there were a few days of televised mourning for President Kennedy." 

Roberts, who has written more than 30 American history books, including "Where the Domino Fell: America and Vietnam," "American Experiences: Readings in American History," "A Line in the Sand: The Alamo in Blood and Memory," "John Wayne American," "Rising Tide: Bear Bryant, Joe Namath, and Dixie's Last Quarter," "A Team for America: The Army-Navy Game That Rallied a Nation," "Papa Jack: Jack Johnson and the Era of White Hopes" and "Heavy Justice: The State of Indiana v. Michael G. Tyson." 

He also has made more than 50 appearances on television documentaries and films in the past 20 years including an HBO documentary "Joe Louis: America's Hero ... Betrayed" that aired in 2008. He also has been featured on television programming for the History channel, ESPN Classic, HBO, BBC, PBS, E!TV and on the ABC, CBS and NBC networks. 

Writer: Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9723, 

Source: Randy Roberts,   

Related websites:

College of Liberal Arts

Department of History 

LEE HARVEY OSWALD: 48 Hours to Live:

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