The king is dead. Walter Cronkite gave earth 92 years and now has left it.
Back in the days before a 24-hour news cycle, before Ken and Barbie dolls learned to read Teleprompters, people like Cronkite applied the rules of journalism to their craft. They did the legwork, the homework and the back-breaking work of getting the story right, then presented it in as unbiased a manner as possible.
Back in the day, Cronkite was the heart, soul and face of television news. He was “The most trusted man in America” because he gave us the straight dope. He told us JFK had been shot and killed in Dallas and he paused for a moment, took off his eyeglasses, brushed aside tears, collected himself, returned his glasses to his nose and soldiered on. The only other time I saw him get teary eyed was the tears of joy he had reporting Neil Armstrong’s moonwalk 40 years ago.
He was the man who gave us weekly casualty counts from Vietnam. When Uncle Walter concluded that after so long and so catastrophic a casualty toll we should pull out, LBJ knew he had lost middle America’s support. He would not seek office again.
Whatever Cronkite told us we took as gospel. We thought and felt he would only tell us the truth. When he signed off each broadcast with “and that’s the way it is” we believed truly believed that’s the way it was.
Today we have pretty boys and girls relaying sound bites and pundits spewing talking points. We sensationalize everything and glamorize anything. But once upon a time, journalists roamed the earth, gathered the news and fed the masses truth. Cronkite was such a dinosaur and I am thankful he appeared in the magic box and talked to me.