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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Walter Cronkite: The Most Trusted Man in America

First of all, I have to admit that I didn’t even know he was still alive. I’ve often thought about him, on those few, rare occasions when I’ve watched the news on tv, but I don’t keep track of things well enough to know who’s dead and who’s still alive.
Can you imagine thinking of any “news” person today as The Most Trusted Person in America? Any of the talking heads, the emoting, opining, joking, editorializing News Celebrities?
What happened to reporting the news? What happened to the idea that the job of the reporter was to report:  to present the facts as clearly and concisely as possible without in any way distorting them or adding to them? Huh.
It’s another reason I don’t watch the news. You see or hear something you think is important (if you can wade through all the sensational crap about celebrities and kinky murders and political sex scandals), and you want to know if it’s actually true. Because, of course, you can’t tell.  And so you try to double-check it, to verify it. But you have to find a source that’s not owned by the same company that owns the one where you just heard the information in the first place—since you do want an independent corroboration.
It’s exhausting.
Who knows if the news we got back then was true? Who knows how it was altered before we heard it? But we never wondered, because we hadn’t yet had Watergate and the lies about Viet Nam. And we had Walter Cronkite.
I've missed Cronkite for years already. Sometimes when I’d listen to some news anchor joking around about some story, I would, instead, hear his voice, calm and measured and never silly and be taken back to all the endless evenings of my childhood, playing quietly while my parents watched the news, trusting that what they heard was what they needed to know.


aimee said...

ah, we just had this conversation last night. well, at the very least he just gave us the news without opining or whining in the middle of his delivery, unlike most of today's news anchors (or talk show hosts, which is what they really should be called.)

Chris said...

And Cronkite would never have editorialized about a piece of art in a news feature. (although I don't think the "ewwww" that came out of the little blonde on our local station even counts as editorializing)

mo said...

here's the latest blog from glenn greenwald regarding Cronkite and journalism in general. priceless.

lynda said...

I like Cronkite. That was when they gave us the news, not their opinion - I hate to break it to them- I don't care about "their" opinion--- I just want the news and not their interpretation.

Annie said...

For we people 'of a certain age' in Australia, Mr Cronkite was the voice of Apollo 11. How sad he didn't quite make the 40th Anniversary of the landing 8-(.

A gentleman, sadly missed.

Wabbit said...

He was awesome. And you're spot on about The News these days.