Skip to comments.Don’t Mourn the Passing of Cronkite’s Era
Posted on 07/18/2009 3:48:35 PM PDT by Shout Bits
CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite died yesterday, so it is this blog's duty to tread lightly on his memory. His moniker as the most trusted man, however, speaks volumes about the naivety of Americans in the 1960's and the limited news sources then available.
While this blog hopes to tread lightly, the mainstream media rarely returns the favor. When Sen. Thurmond died, the press jumped on his segregationist past as a Democrat (while omitting the Democrat part). When Charlton Heston died, the press jumped on his supposedly controversial support of basic gun rights. When Pres. Reagan died, the media openly speculated as to whether the disease that claimed him explained his shaky second term. To this day, Hollywood slimes the late Pres. Nixon. Of course when Sen. Ted Kennedy fell seriously ill, the press had a blackout about Chappaquiddick. When the time comes for the ailing Sen. Byrd, don't expect a retrospective on his Ku Klux Klan activities.
Certainly, Cronkite was a likeable, nerdy news man grown from the days of radio. His delivery set new standards for dryness and apparent objectivity. Still, Cronkite was an active liberal, and he used the power of his anchor chair to advance his agenda.
Most famously, Cronkite declared the Vietnam War unwinnable, much to the dismay of Pres. Johnson. All evidence suggests that victory was quite possible. The US and South Vietnam troops won every notable battle of the war. The US, despite Chinese and Russian opposition, maintained air superiority throughout most of the war. The ratio of Allied to Northern casualties was also fully consistent with victory. The desperate suicidal Northern tactic of late January 1968, the Tet Offensive, was a disaster for the communists, costing them ruinous losses and revealing many of their secret resources. At that moment, when the US had repelled the North's efforts, Cronkite handed the communists a sword with his unwinnable editorial. Even years later when Pres. Nixon returned the fight to the North's resources with operation Linebacker, the weight of public opinion, fueled by the evening news, resulted in political capitulation.
But it is simply not reasonable to pin Vietnam on Cronkite. Cronkite certainly didn't devise Johnson's limited warfare sensibilities. Nobody elected Cronkite, and nobody was forced to believe his message of defeat. Most importantly, Cronkite was perfectly clear he was editorializing, not reporting. Rather than dig into Cronkite's politics, this blog asks why 1960's America believed him so. Frankly, it is hard to blame the public, because they were working in the dark.
1960's America had pathetically limited news resources, most of them left leaning. Public opinion was cultivated by three channels of TV, each a clone of the other, plus one PBS channel. The traditional news paper had already peaked in its media dominance by then, and many radio stations got their news from the same TV oligarchy. No cable, internet, or blogs then existed to challenge the media elite's filtering of the news. The media of the early and mid 20th century was famously cozy with Washington, making the term spin wholly unnecessary.
How times have changed. When Dan Rather, Cronkite's media heir, presented a letter suggesting that Pres. Bush (43) had received inappropriate favors during the Vietnam War, bloggers tore the document's credibility to shreds within a single news cycle. Rather, with the hubris of the old days, simply dismissed any criticism out of hand. Rather is now a reporter for HD Net, an extended basic cable special interest broadcaster. Independent thinkers, armed with the internet, reduced the most powerful newsman to a disgraced hack.
In Cronkite's day, no one was watching the watchdog. In the modern era, there is no single watchdog, and the people are better off for it. People remain vulnerable to groupthink and manipulation by the media they trust, but today there is no excuse for ignorance. While the US rightly mourns Cronkite's passing, the rest of us should celebrate the passing of his era in media.
There'll be more of course ~ always are, but these guys had to be at the top of the list.
This bozo undermined the war in Vietnam and pulled his Fellow Traveler LBJ with him, leading to the defeatism that prolonged that war and increased the American dead.
No sorrow from this corner.
I do miss Tony Snow. What a guy! I miss him.
I hope he has Chappaquiddick Ted on speeddial
That'd have to include the VP ~ he's had it THREE TIMES and is in obviously very bad shape. Can't even keep his Democrat thugcrackerasshat filter in place and just blurts out all sorts of things.
Who is Robert McNamara?
Robert Strange McNamara (June 9, 1916 July 6, 2009) was an American business executive and the eighth Secretary of Defense.
Cronkite was the first biased TV newsman.
“Now THAT was nicely said.”
I had the same thought.
Too bad more people won’t be reading it. The MSM still has a tight grip on the news many people receive. Nor do we own the internet. Talk radio is pretty much ours, thank goodness.
Cronkite may be dead but his legacy of biased newscasting and leftwing bootlicking lives on.
Or maybe I'm just old school....
You are way too kind. He has the blood of American soldiers on his hands, he sold the Vietnamese people into slavery.
He can rot in Hell!