Robert Breckenridge Ware MacNeil, OC, known sometimes as Robin MacNeil, (born January 19, 1931), is currently a novelist and formerly was a television news anchor and journalist who had paired with Jim Lehrer to create The MacNeil/Lehrer Report in 1975.
MacNeil was born in Montreal, the son of Margaret Virginia (née Oxner) and Robert A. S. MacNeil. He was raised in Halifax, Nova Scotia, went to boarding school at Upper Canada College, then attended Dalhousie University and later graduated from Carleton University in Ottawa in 1955. He began working in the news field at ITV in London, then for Reuters and then for NBC News as a correspondent in Washington, D.C. and New York City.
On November 22, 1963, MacNeil was covering President Kennedy's visit to Dallas for NBC News. After shots rang out in Dealey Plaza MacNeil, who was with the presidential motorcade, followed crowds running onto the Grassy Knoll (he appears in a photo taken just moments after the assassination). He then headed towards the nearest building and encountered a man leaving the Texas School Book Depository. He asked the man where the nearest telephone was and the man pointed and went on his way. MacNeil later learned the man he encountered at about 12:33 p.m. CST may have been Lee Harvey Oswald. This conclusion was made by historian William Manchester in his book The Death of a President (1967), who believed that Oswald, recounting the day's events to the Dallas police, mistook MacNeil as a Secret Service agent because of his suit, blond crew cut, and press badge (which Oswald apparently mistook for government identification). For his part, MacNeil says "it was possible, but I had no way of confirming that either of the young men I had spoken to was Oswald." On the phone, MacNeil relayed the first report of the shooting to Jim Holton of NBC Radio, who recoded MacNeil's records of what had happened. MacNeil then headed to Parkland Hospital where he arranged a phone connection with Frank McGee, who was anchoring the developments with Bill Ryan and Chet Huntley from NBC-TV in New York. At approximately 1:40 PM CST, MacNeil relayed to McGee that White House acting press secretary Malcolm Kilduff made the official announcement that President Kennedy had died at 1:00 CST. That evening, MacNeil went to Dallas police headquarters and saw Oswald twice at close range, including when Oswald said "I'm just a patsy," but he did not recognize Oswald.