7.17.2009

walter cronkite, 1916 - 2009

Long-time CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite is dead at age 92.

When I was growing up, Walter Cronkite was the nightly voice that helped end the Vietnam War.

The media was very different then. Network newscasts had enormous clout, and each network had a distinct political viewpoint. CBS wasn't radical by any means, but it was generally liberal. And of course, it was independent. It wasn't trying to entertain, and it took the appropriate adversarial relationship to government that journalism is meant to have.

Cronkite showed us the blood, the napalm, the amputations, the burned villages. He showed us the flag-draped coffins and the endless body counts.

I watched the news every night with my father, who would repeat, "What a waste. What a terrible waste."

My brother was draft age. My father and he explored their options, like a bad knee or Quaker meetings. Ultimately, my brother got a "good number" in the draft lottery, but my father always said that if it came to that, they would go to Canada together.

My father and I went to Washington on a bus from his union, and chanted "All We Are Saying Is Give Peace A Chance". It was my first demonstration.

Thinking of Walter Cronkite brings all that back for me.

Cronkite knew Iraq was just as wrong as Vietnam. You can read about that here on Common Dreams.

Rest In Peace.

9 comments:

Zorpheous said...

I remember what the rightwingnuts said about Walter Cronkite when he spoke out against the Iraq war,... I wonder what they will say about him tonight and this weekend,...

Caught the news on msnbc tonight,...

Walter Cronkite said it best, in order to be a good reporter you have to be liberal,... which is why the far rightwingers hated him, why they hate pbs and the other true investigative news shows,...

The world just became small and less interesting tonight.

L-girl said...

"in order to be a good reporter you have to be liberal"

That is so true. You have to be alive to other people's POVs, you have to have a healthy distrust of authority, you have to understand complexity, you have to question everything. So you can't be right-wing.

I feel really sad thinking he is gone.

Amy said...

My whole family just was so sad when we heard the news, even though we knew it was coming from reports we read the last few weeks.

My first real memory of him was November 22, 1963, and the days that followed. He was a comfort in one of the scariest periods of my life.

Stephanie said...

My mother and I uses to have some of the most vicious battles about the Iraq war. All she could say was

"I am sure they have information that we don't have. They must know what they are doing!"

Finally, one night after hearing Cronkite say all the very same things I had been saying for months...I was validated. End of discussion.

Thank you Mr. Cronkite! RIP

richard said...

Mr. Cronkite announcing the death of JFK, removing his thick glasses, head bowed, choked up and speechless. His short silence and dignified demeanour spoke far more eloquently than anything he might have said.

[I'm too young to have seen this live but I've seen it dozens of times in documentaries]

richard said...

This was an era when "News" and "Entertainment" were kept separate.

L-girl said...

I was thinking more about this this morning. I don't mean to say journalism had always been great and now has suddenly declined.

There's always been tabloid journalism - and there's always been media that were stenographers for govt.

But the massive conglomeration of mainstream media into a few hands hadn't happened yet, so there were more voices - and more independent voices. CBS News prided itself on being one of those.

Cornelia said...

When I was growing up, Walter Cronkite was the nightly voice that helped end the Vietnam War.

Yeah.

Cornelia said...

My brother was draft age. My father and he explored their options, like a bad knee or Quaker meetings. Ultimately, my brother got a "good number" in the draft lottery, but my father always said that if it came to that, they would go to Canada together.

Very good. I am glad and relieved to hear that!