Not one CBS Evening News cast anchored by Walter Cronkite came in my lifetime. That simultaneously dates me and possibly mutes my opinion to some who might read this. Hear me out if you dare...
Walter Cronkite is a pillar of television news, maybe one of its two strongest along with Edward R. Murrow. What Cronkite did and how he did it shaped everything about broadcast reporting. From his reports on the European and African fronts of World War II, to political conventions, to the reenactments of You Are There, and of course, the anchor desk -- Cronkite was the face of news.
The most critical moments of the 1950s, 60s and 70s were narrated by him. His voice is synonymous with Kennedy's death, Nixon's fall, and Armstrong's step. I only have old clips as my foundation, but watching them, I can't help but be drawn in by his delivery and his genuine nature. His cadence was digestible. His words were understandable. He was real.
Cronkite was about facts by all accounts, so here are some facts. His commentary may have been the final nail in the coffin of the Vietnam War. President Johnson himself said so. Democratic Party leaders wanted Uncle Walter, still anchoring, to run for president. Cronkite, in his forced retirement, voiced liberal leanings and made it known that a world government, in his mind, should be stronger. He notably said he was happy to sit next to Satan if, as Pat Robertson said, attempts for a world governing body were devilish and only proper upon Christ's return. Cronkite thought Fox News was a right wing organization.
I will not provide opinion on the above -- though I would hope Cronkite would characterize MSNBC in its proper left-leaning light -- but the above don't play well in this conservative corner of the country, especially what I'm reading from those who are vocal in hiding in anonymity under the blanket of our great First Amendment. The fact that he attended the University of Texas probably put him at the devil's right hand for some before he condemned the latest war in Iraq.
From all I have read and seen, save for the Vietnam commentary that I find regrettable, as an anchor, Cronkite gave facts and painted accurate pictures of America as it happened. Provide me with facts to the contrary and I'd be happy to revise my historical belief, but I believe America could trust the man when he was behind the anchor desk or in the field. En masse, they did.
If Cronkite was, indeed, a pillar of accuracy and integrity and objectivity, maybe the weight of today's expanding "journalism" has cracked that pillar a bit. For myself, for whatever its worth, I'll take what he stood for and use it every day I do my job.
That's the way it should be.