Newsman Walter Cronkite has passed away at age 92.
I tend to echo Allahpundit’s sentiments, here. His life was long and successful, his death came at a late age we should all be so fortunate to see; I wish peace for his family, but absolutely dread another overindulgent media-waking. Particularly when the American public faces so many grave issues, the anticipation of watching the press glurge at another morbidly sentimental feast just feels exhausting.
That journalists were my first heroes is no secret; I even wrote about that youthful fixation in this piece for the CBS blog.
My tastes tended to run more to Nancy Dickerson, Chet Huntley, David Brinkley, Roger Grimsby and (latterly) Dan Rather, but Cronkite was, of course, part of my childhood news viewing and I vividly recall him being “the voice” of the JFK assassination story, as well as for most of the major news stories of that era. Martin Luther King’s murder and funeral; RFK’s remarkable response to that assassination and his own sudden, violent death. Kent State. Chicago, 1968 “We have Dan Rather on the floor…” Vietnam. President Johnson declaring, “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America.” Nixon’s resignation.
I’m sure Cronkite would have loved President Obama, just like the rest of the media hordes. But I would like to think that he would not have countenanced this sort of news-manipulation on his watch – that he would not have ignored those grassroots movements that did not fit his ideology, or enabled startling doublestandards, but who knows? Perhaps he’d have jumped into Free-American-Press-into-Pravda Devolution with both feet, if it made him feel like he was part of something “too big to fail.”
After his retirement, I would read profiles and interviews with Cronkite, and I found myself thinking of him – even when I was still a “liberal Democrat” – as something of an elitist; I would wonder if he had absorbed all that “most trusted man in America” stuff, to his detriment. Nothing so deftly distorts a person’s sense of himself than believing media-hype when it is thrown his way, and wearing the laurel of “most trusted man,” could affect the head, I think.
Who knows the answer to that question? I don’t. In op-ed pieces Cronkite could sometimes seem grave and wise, and sometimes cheap and shrill – just like the rest of us – so if he did believe his hype, he also managed to transcend it and maintain his humanity. His objection to wind farms off Nantucket were quickly withdrawn, and I liked what he said at the time:
“My alacrity in accepting an invitation to make a comment was partly my own dropping of my reportorial role of investigating a situation before making a comment,” he said. “I did not do it, and it was my fault.”
Cronkite was a loving family man – I remember a photo-essay of Cronkite and his son (or grandson?), in a boat. Being a kid who loved boats (albeit more humble boats, from which I’d be launched into the waist-deep water to dig up bushels of clams) I liked the photo, and the easy way he and the boy smiled at each other.
Walter Cronkite was also someone who did not subject the nation to a public-working-out of his personal anxieties, and these days, that is certainly something to be thankful for, and to praise.
So, RIP, Mr. Cronkite. I will not blame you for the media excesses we will have to endure for the next week to ten days.
I recall hoping that Tim Russert’s sad death would inspire some self-reflection within the ranks of the press, but that did not happen, so I doubt Cronkite’s death will wake them from their self-destructive sleep, either.
Sigh. Let us remind ourselves about Icons and Idols.
Newsbusters has major obits
Huffpo, just keep scrolling
Rightpundits: Cronkite’s Legacy
Remarks on Death of Cronkite
Ed Driscoll, not feeling too nostaligic
Radio Patriot: Recalls meeting Cronkite
Memorandum has all the links