Monday, January 16, 2006

Cronkite Says It's Time to Leave

By way of the Huffington Post, here's an article from the AP:
PASADENA, Calif. - Former CBS anchor Walter Cronkite, whose 1968 conclusion that the Vietnam War was unwinnable keenly influenced public opinion then, said Sunday he'd say the same thing today about Iraq.

"It's my belief that we should get out now," Cronkite said in a meeting with reporters.

Now 89, the television journalist once known as "the most trusted man in America" has been off the "CBS Evening News" for nearly a quarter-century. He's still a CBS News employee, although he does little for them.

Cronkite said one of his proudest moments came at the end of a 1968 documentary he made following a visit to Vietnam during the Tet offensive. Urged by his boss to briefly set aside his objectivity to give his view of the situation, Cronkite said the war was unwinnable and that the U.S. should exit.

Then-President Lyndon Johnson reportedly told a White House aide after that, "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost Middle America."
"The most trusted man in America." I can't think of anyone in Washington that has that stature these days.


Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

Now that you mention it, I can't quite come up with anyone. For those in politics, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford and George McGovern come to mind. But in the current environment, the choice of even those thoroughly decent, honorable men no doubt would be hooted down by rabid partisans.

In the news business, I just don't know. We've come a long, long way from the remarkable era of Murrow, Huntly and Brinkley, Chancellor, Sevareid, Cronkite, Reasoner, etc. Thinking back, the quantity and quality of news they packed into a half hour was impressive. On-scene reports from around the world on the titanic Cold War struggle, wars, revolutions, espionage, disasters, etc.

They were serious professionals. If someone had suggested crowding their stuff out so fluff on the latest weight-loss fad or nonsense about Britney Spears could be included, I think they would've staged a mass walkout from their respective networks.

Now the media corporations give us multi-hour extravaganzas featuring canned or contracted-out video reports hosted by on-air personalities like Wolf Blitzer, Rita Cosby and Anderson Cooper. Too often, those reports are about runaway or abducted young women, or the latest crimes and trials of celebrity sleazeballs such as O.J. Simpson and Michael Jackson.

The corporate media's idea of a good time regarding politics is to bring on a supposedly balanced discussion featuring Newt Gingrich, George Will and Cokie Roberts. Or, elsewhere, Chris Matthews hosting a supposedly balanced discussion that includes himself, Andrea Mitchell and Pat Buchanan.

Stature? That has to be earned. Last time I checked, I didn't see anyone making much of an effort.

Oh, but at least our drivel is being dispensed by exceptionally good-looking people, in brilliant color, with stereo sound and soon, with digital clarity. Aren't we blessed?

11:02 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

I want to amend my comment above. It was written on an evening when I'm feeling angry and disgusted about the short shrift the media is giving Al Gore's excellent, evocative speech of today. Just as the media gave short shift, if any, to Sen. John Kerry's excellent speech at Brown University and Sen. Joe Biden's excellent speech at Columbia University, a few months back.

But just let Dick Cheney croak something absurd and insulting into a microphone at a Republican fund raiser, and CNN gives it wall-to-wall coverage and repeats that coverage through a 24-hour news cycle.

For balance to my comment above, Ted Koppel and Jim Lehrer are serious, highly professional and impeccably evenhanded journalists. Both operate at the highest level of professionalism , as they have over long careers. Both have stature aplenty.

11:37 PM  
Blogger Craig said...

I have a high regard for Ted Koppel and Jim Lehrer. Both have a great deal of integrity but both are constrained by the times. But they're certainly up there in stature.

I'm glad you mentioned Jimmy Carter. In the rest of the world, he is regarded as a highly respected elder statesman. At home, he's simply not as respected as he should be.

2:01 AM  

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