Walter Cronkite, dead at the age of 92. I am sorry for the loss to his family and friends. It means, however, very little to me and I am having difficultly even being particularly moved by the man's death.
Yes, I remember Cronkite from my childhood. He was frequently a guest in our home, reading the news of the day. There was little choice in those days. There were only three channels. In our home, my parents watched the Huntley-Brinkley Report as often as Cronkite. There was not special love of Cronkite and I certainly never heard the "Uncle Walter" nonsense from them. My parents were sensible mid-westerners, bless them, and I am lucky for that fate of birth. They no more thought reverently of a news anchor any more than they thought any particular politician was worthy of worship. Matter of fact, the very name of JFK set them to cringing. Kennedy fortune was the fruit of rum running and my father was in the distillery biz. And there was no way my mother thought Jackie was special. She was thought to be fake and a social climber of the worst kind.
Cronkite is not beloved by my husband, that is for sure. My husband is a veteran of the Vietnam War. Cronkite betrayed this country and our military when he took it upon himself, after a trip to the war zone, to force his own political view on America. He stated that the Tet Offensive was a failure and that is also how the other journalists reported it at the time. History proved them wrong and the military members overseas at the time did not forget Cronkite's arrogance or treachery. In later years Cronkite was asked if he regretted making the claim that the war was not winnable and he said no he didn't. In fact, Cronkite was key in our loss. He was not the only element, from JFK committing us to the war to decisions LBJ and his people made, there were many to place blame upon. He certainly had a big part in shifting public opinion.
In recent years, Cronkite took it upon himself to enlighten us with his political opinions whenever the opportunity arose. He was certain the Iraq war was lost - like Harry Reid, he stated so, too. Both said so pre-surge and both were on the wrong side of history. Again. Any apologies to our troops? No.
Cronkite was well aware of his power to shape public opinion. He was good at the aw-shucks demeanor but he was hardly the ordinary man. He was wealthy, powerful and one of the elites of New York and Washington D.C. society. He lived a wealthy man's life. He ushered in the current death of journalism.
Cronkite brought journalism in as a pro and left as a political hack. That was unfortunate. He paved the way for the likes of Dan Rather, a nasty partisan reporter; and up to today's group of celebrity obsessed and cocooned anchors. Why would anyone take Katie Couric seriously?
Cronkite lived a long, luxurious life. Good on him. He was reported to be a good family man. Good, too. He was the one for whom the term "anchor" was tailored in the news business. He reported admirably from the invasion at Normandy. Give credit where credit is due.
People on television are not a part of our families. The confusion is dangerous. None of them should be given power for reading news to us.