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Remembering Walter Cronkite

The papers are chock full of wonderful obituaries remembering legendary news anchor Walter Cronkite who died yesterday at the age of 92.

The Post writes that "Cronkite's career reflected the arc of journalism in the mid-20th century" from wire service reporter to radio voice to, finally, television.

Of Cronkite, the New York Times' Douglas Martin wrote: "He became something of a national institution, with an unflappable delivery, a distinctively avuncular voice and a daily benediction: 'And that's the way it is.'"

CBS, the network that Cronkite helped put on the map via his nightly newscast, released a series of clips featuring the man known to many Americans as simply "Uncle Walter".

By Chris Cillizza  |  July 18, 2009; 9:03 AM ET
Categories:  Fix Notes  
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Comments

During the 1960s CBS Radio broadcast on Sunday nights (if my memory serves me correctly) a summary of the weeks events with reports for various reporters from hither and yawn. Therein Mr. Cronkite had a commentary segment, about 5 minutes, wherein he shed his neutrality. Whenever I caught that broadcast I couldn't help wishing he would "let it all out" on his TV news. Even so one must remember that the Young Republicans, the John Birch Society and their ilk referred to CBS as the "Communist Broadcasting Service."

Posted by: geraldsutliff1 | July 20, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

I remember a series of dramatizations of historical events hosted by Cronkite when I was young. I think it was called "You Are There".

He would open with the date, the event, and the phrase "you are there" and I think he closed by saying "And that's the way it was".

After reading the criticism, much deserved, of most current broadcast news, I feel compelled to say that the quality of broadcast journalism on both PBS and NPR is very good.
It is a welcome fact that 50 times as many persons listen to "Morning Edition" as watch
any cable news broadcast. And Lehrer is as trustworthy a voice as we may find.

Posted by: MoreAndBetterPolls | July 20, 2009 1:38 AM | Report abuse

Wow I had no idea Gregory was such a mediocrity. "That's not our role." My God, who got to him?

Did he learn that in a school of journalism?

Posted by: chrisfox8 | July 19, 2009 10:46 PM | Report abuse

"I think there are a lot of critics who think that [in the run-up to the Iraq War] . . . . if we did not stand up and say this is bogus, and you're a liar, and why are you doing this, that we didn't do our job. I respectfully disagree. It's not our role" -- David Gregory, MSNBC, May 28, 2008.

This pretty sums up the kind of journalists we have. Journalists like David Gregory of NBC don't think it is their job to stand up to the lies of the government in a time of war. They think of their celebrity status and perhaps think of themselves as part of the power elite. Just look at their demeaner on tv.

Posted by: kevin1231 | July 19, 2009 10:09 PM | Report abuse

Guess what Uncle Walter thought of Fox News?

Posted by: nodebris | July 19, 2009 5:00 PM | Report abuse

well, it's nice to see in the Fix that no one has bothered to repeat the AIM/Peter Braestrup wet dream that Cronkite and the MSM sold "US" out in Vietnam.

Posted by: edlharris | July 19, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

@broadwayjoe: I wonder if Jindal would run on his nickname or his real name? I can't see many Americans pulling the lever for "Bobby" any more than "Piyush." The base isn't going to go wild-eyed in enthusiasm for a guy who doesn't look and talk like them. I doubt Booby could drop his g's very convincingly.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | July 19, 2009 3:12 PM
__________
Regardless of whether he uses his real name or his made-up name, we can't see any of the former Confederate states, except his home state, voting for him. They would just stay home.

________

Just thinking about when we had Cronkite, Huntley and Brinkley, and Howard K Smith. Now we rely on Couric, Williams, and Chucky T., Morning Joe. They couldn't cover a jaywalking. Just a lot of Broder-atin'. Where did the MSM go so wrong?

Posted by: broadwayjoe | July 19, 2009 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Cronkite marked a transition from "Murrow's Boys" -- that is, journalists who quite literally kept journals (see Shirer's "Berlin Diary") -- to general assignment reporters focused on beating the competition to a story. After an extended and somewhat painful transition under Rather, Brokaw, and Reynolds, broadcast journalism today is focused almost entirely on a competition for ratings (which determine the profitability of news providers themselves). The saving grace has been technology, in that while we receive less understanding rooted in experience from television, we have an enormously increased exposure to events as they happen via all forms of communication. Whether this works to our benefit, of course, will really be determined by the education and understanding brought to what we see on television by the viewers.

Posted by: thewolf1 | July 19, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

@broadwayjoe: I wonder if Jindal would run on his nickname or his real name? I can't see many Americans pulling the lever for "Bobby" any more than "Piyush." The base isn't going to go wild-eyed in enthusiasm for a guy who doesn't look and talk like them. I doubt Booby could drop his g's very convincingly.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | July 19, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

@cf8: Piyush Jin'dal. Sort of like Ray' Gun. If nominated, Piyush will be the first major party candidate to get zero electoral votes.

Posted by: broadwayjoe | July 19, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

All I can say Cronkite was a giant and contributed something worthwhile to society and all the fan fare goes to a pedophile sicko who slept w/kids and monkeys oyyy what a world what a world

Posted by: lildg54 | July 19, 2009 12:16 PM
------------
Allegedly...

Posted by: broadwayjoe | July 19, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

What's your problem? Did you want Fix to do yet another post on Sarah Palin, "The case against Tip O'Neill," imminent GOP comebacks," or county commissioners you've never heard of?

==

Whoever is the next GOP savior needs to have a two-syllable name that can be chanted with an accent on the first.

REA-gan! REA-gan! REA-gan!

Palin would fit, Daniels would fit.

PA-lin! PA-lin! PA-lin!

"McCain" wasn't chantable.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | July 19, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

All I can say Cronkite was a giant and contributed something worthwhile to society and all the fan fare goes to a pedophile sicko who slept w/kids and monkeys oyyy what a world what a world

Posted by: lildg54 | July 19, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

With all the articles on Walter Cronkite by people who knew him, I fail to see what prompted "The Fix" to post this non-item.

Here he is telling absolutely nothing. Not even making a pretense of it. Why does he feel teh need to put in his two bit story, even when he doesn't have anything to put there?

Posted by: pKrishna43 | July 19, 2009 12:56 AM
---------------
Hush. Shhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

What's your problem? Did you want Fix to do yet another post on Sarah Palin, "The case against Tip O'Neill," imminent GOP comebacks," or county commissioners you've never heard of?

Trust us, a tribute to Walter Cronkite is far better than posts on those other hot topics.

Posted by: broadwayjoe | July 19, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse

This "multi-agency coordinated action "program" was created in part to ensure that another "liberal" mainstream media figure never again becomes the "most trusted man in America"...


http://nowpublic.com/world/gestapo-usa-govt-funded-vigilante-network-terrorizes-america

OR (if links are corrupted / disabled):

http://NowPublic.com/scrivener RE: "GESTAPO USA" (see "stream" or stories index).

Posted by: scrivener50 | July 19, 2009 8:17 AM | Report abuse

chill

Posted by: chrisfox8 | July 19, 2009 1:33 AM | Report abuse

With all the articles on Walter Cronkite by people who knew him, I fail to see what prompted "The Fix" to post this non-item.

Here he is telling absolutely nothing. Not even making a pretense of it. Why does he feel teh need to put in his two bit story, even when he doesn't have anything to put there?

Posted by: pKrishna43 | July 19, 2009 12:56 AM | Report abuse

@toritto: in fact the bomb added to the legend of Hitler as annoited by fate to lead Germany. Hitler believed in destiny and predestination. Once he bought a lottery ticket and made all kinds of plans for the money, was astonished when he didn't win.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | July 18, 2009 11:13 PM | Report abuse

I was thinking about his WWII capture story about his buddies yelling his name, Krankheit, which means disease in German

==

It means "sickness." Precise translation, in fact.

"Uncle Walter" was barely a joke. We really did trust the man, and more than anyone on television felt like he was a real presence in the house.

His voice was perfectly warm, and the word that cannot be escaped in describing it is "candence." His sentences resolved like dominant chords. He reported wars, assassinations, moon landings. Oh to have great news again.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | July 18, 2009 10:47 PM | Report abuse

Here's a good example, of the disgraceful rightwing media -- NBC.

'The Charleston Post and Courier has posted online (pdf) all 570 pages of emails obtained from the office of South Carolina governor Mark Sanford.

There's a bevy of information in there, but one exchange that jumped out at us was the one between Sanford's press secretary, Joel Sawyer (who just today announced he's quitting -- good for him!) and David Gregory, the host of NBC's Meet the Press. In courting Sanford's office, Gregory wrote that "coming on Meet The Press allows you to frame the conversation as you really want to."

All the networks aggressively wooed Sanford's office in the period during and just after his disappearance, in an effort to convince that their show offered the perfect forum for him to address the controversy. CNN's John King told Sawyer he had always appreciated Sanford's "kindness, candor, and hospitality," and added, in a transparent attempt to bond, "I'm all for anonymous escapes myself."

George Stephanopoulos offered his show, ABC's This Week, as a "civil forum to address this week's events." And producers for CBS's Face the Nation, ABC's Good Morning America, several Fox shows, and many others gave Sanford's office the hard sell too.

But the emails of Gregory -- who in the past has been known as a pretty aggressive questioner -- make particularly clear just what a get Sanford was seen as, and how far the networks were willing to go in promising a safe landing place for the governor.

Gregory's first email to Sawyer was sent at 12:24 p.m. on Wednesday June 24 -- that is, after Sanford had admitted to The State that he had actually been in Argentina, but before the famed stream-of-consciousness press conference where he admitted to an affair. Gregory wrote:

Hey Joel ...
Left you a message. Wanted you to hear directly from me that I want to have the Gov on Sunday on Meet The Press. I think it's exactly the right forum to answer the questions about his trip as well as giving him a platform to discuss the economy/stimulus and the future of the party. You know he will get a fair shake from me and coming on MTP puts all of this to rest.

Let's talk when you can.'

the 'liberal' media wanted to help sanford bury it, but he blurted it all out before anyone could stop him.

Posted by: drindl | July 18, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of Cronkite and Germany:

This coming Monday, July 20, will be the 65th anniversary of the last full day of Claus Phillip Marie Schenck Graf von Stauffenberg. (11/15/1907 - 7/21/1944).

Colonel von Stauffenberg was executed in the Bendlerblock for attempting to kill Adolph Hitler.

Claus was the 3rd of four sons of Alfred Schenck Graf von Staffenberg, the last “Count” of the Kingdon of Wurttenberg and Countess Caroline Grafin von Uxkull-Gyllenband. The Stauffenberg’s were one of the oldest aristocratic Roman Catholic families in Southern Germany.

Colonel von Stauffenberg never joined the Nazi party. He remained a practicing Roman Catholic until he died.

He was severely wounded with Rommel in North Africa, losing his left eye, his right hand and two fingers on his left hand.

He didn’t have to plant the bomb. He was effectively out of the fighting war. He knew the war was lost but never having been a member of the party and not guilty of any war crime he needed only to wait out the remaining months in relatively safety.

He planted the bomb anyway putting himself, his wife and his children in deadly jeopardy if he failed.

The plot did fail and Colonel von Stauffenberg and his compatriots, General Olbricht, Lt. Von Haeften and Colonel von Quirnheim were shot at 1 AM on July 21, 1944.

Perhaps one could make the argument that it was the beginning of the new Germany.

Posted by: toritto | July 18, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

He possessed tremendous integrity -- something that no one on broadcast news today has an ounce of. Sad to see that the art of journalism, which has was a master of, has descended into the parody it is, with few exceptions, now.

Posted by: drindl | July 18, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

ooops I meant Walter C. I was thinking about his WWII capture story about his buddies yelling his name, Krankheit, which means disease in German

Posted by: shrink2 | July 18, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

We should hope to live 92 years with the fullness and integrity of Walter K.

Carpe Diem.

Posted by: shrink2 | July 18, 2009 11:31 AM | Report abuse

When I heard the Walter C. had died I instantly thought of my mom.

The day President Kennedy was shot she was watching W. C. on T.V. for the latest updates.

When he took off his glasses and announced the President's passing, my mom burst into tears.

I was 21 years old and had never seen my mom cry. Three years later she was gone at age 43.

R. I. P. - both of you

Posted by: toritto | July 18, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Walter Cronkite was much loved in Austin. He was a 'Horn, and the Dean of the College of Communications "sits" in the endowed Cronkite Chair. His collected papers are on campus. He supplied the voice-over for the "What starts here changes the world - we're Texas" spots that you see during televised UT football and basketball games.

Wiki says he left UT after his junior year to pursue his journalism career - I always thought he was a graduate.
It also adds that he was in the UT Theater Circle with Ann Sheridan and Eli Wallach.

Just thought I'd add a local note about a towering national eminence.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | July 18, 2009 9:48 AM | Report abuse

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