Walter Cronkite, R.I.P.

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Walter Cronkite, legendary reporter and anchorman for CBS for nearly a half century, died Friday at the venerable age of 92 in New York City.  A future critic of overtly opinionated news coverage that, to him, wrongly blurred the line between news reporting and biased commentary, Cronkite held his views close to his vest.  He maintained an admirable restraint even in segments, such as his famous 1968 report on Vietnam after the Tet Offensive and during the Watergate scandal, that was at that time and certainly in retrospect mild.  The late great David Halberstam’s terrific tome The Powers That Be accurately reflects just how much pressure, both from the Johnson and Nixon administrations, respectively, and within CBS, Cronkite and others faced when trying to incorporate information that cast those administrations in a negative but nonetheless accurate light for their policies and actions.  Later in life, and crucially after his retirement from CBS, he became an ardent critic of the current Iraq War, as well as the so-called war on drugs.

My memories of Cronkite mainly hark back to my childhood, when Cronkite reported on the U.S.’s loss in and extrication from Vietnam, the devastating economic crunch of the late 1970s, and the Iran Hostage crisis.  A sharp and, from what I could tell from his appearances on C-SPAN, pleasant man, Cronkite literally shaped a couple generations of Americans and people around the world in their views of events around them, and how news was and is now reported.

Rest in peace, Mr. Cronkite.  You were the way it was.

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Published in: on July 19, 2009 at 9:06 pm  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. They did a tribute to him on CBS last night in place of 60 minutes. it was a little light weight in my opinion, but still fairly nice. i guess with the limited attention spans of today’s audience ( and tv producers) it was the best they could come up with. he was a great man and a hallmark of integrity.

  2. I didn’t see it, Mike. I might also attribute it to the lightweight mentality of modern media, of which Cronkite was increasingly a critic. All these ass-kissers like David Gregory and his counterparts at FAUX fawning over Sanford in e-mails, just to get some access to that hypocrite and hack, is merely the latest example of the servile media mentality that cravenly kowtows to power. Cronkite, Halberstam, and others loathed that trend. I wonder if they addressed that on the CBS special.

  3. they were more intent on showing his appearances on mary tyler moore and whats my line- sad but true. hosted by robin williams – i kid you not.

    hey that book the powers that be was amazing, wasn’t it?

  4. Jeez. That CBS “tribute” sounds kind of schmaltzy. The Powers That Be is great, a terrific read for a book that long. The access that Halberstam got to such media giants was incredible. He was a workhorse, too.


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