Friday, June 19, 2009

TV News Icon Gravely Ill

"TVNewser," Mediabistro's blog, reports that 92-year-old legendary CBS anchor Walter Cronkite is gravely ill. The Chicago Sun-Times and The Los Angeles Times are among major media outlets that have run the TVNewser story.

Cronkite, known by his sobriquet, "Uncle Walter," was dubbed "the most trusted man in America" over the 19 years he served as managing editor and anchor of the CBS Evening News before vacating the chair for Dan Rather in 1981. He joined CBS in 1950 as a radio correspondent in Washington, D.C., after covering the WWII battlefront and the Nuremburg Trials for United Press and serving as UP Moscow bureau chief from 1946-48.

Born Walter Leland Cronkite, Jr., in St. Joseph, MO, in 1916, he became anchor of the 15-minute CBS Evening News in 1962. He is best remembered for his coverage of the JFK assassination, the U.S. space program and Apollo 13 in particular, and the Vietnam War. He is credited for swaying public opinion regarding the Vietnam War, following the bloody Tet Offensive (1968) when he said: "It seems now more certain than ever that the bloody experience of Vietnam is a stalemate," and called for negotiations with the North Vietnamese government.

Arizona State Univ. named its journalism school after Cronkite (a penny for his thoughts on ASU spurning President Obama?). His autobiography, A Reporter's Life (1996), was a bestseller. He lives in Edgartown on Martha's Vineyard.

He brought a gravitas to television news that is sadly lacking today. His "street cred" as a journalist was such that, long before the terms "infotainment" and "news lite" originated, he appeared as himself in the "newsroom" of "The Mary Tyler Moore" show and nobody flinched. Both his parents reached age 100, so one hopes that the reports of his failing health are exaggerated. The void his departure left from television news will never be filled.
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1 comment:

  1. Walter Cronkite could make the nation cry just by taking off his glasses. If you don't believe me, watch him report the death of President Kennedy. Wally, we hardly knew ya.