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.
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.