July 18, 2009

Remembering Walter Cronkite

I'd like to say a few words about the late broadcasting legend, Walter Cronkite. I should first note that the title of my post is ironic as Cronkite has been retired from news anchoring for the entirety of my lifetime. But even so, I can clearly understand the affection people have for Cronkite and why contemporary opinion polls labeled him "the most trusted man in America". For Americans of an older generation, Cronkite's reputation was earned by two decades of authoritative news-casting, his affable demeanor, and his tremendous journalistic ethics. In remembering him, many have looked back to the historical moments he brought to the lives of Americans by virtue of his position. Chief among these is the Kennedy assassination.

Pundits have argued that Cronkite's greatness was in the emotion of his voice during that broadcast -- the pain of a common man forced to tell his country of the murder of its president -- choking back his own sadness to fulfill his journalistic duty. And while that is certainly true, that broadcast in particular was remarkable for what he did not say.

He did not embellish the truth. He did not plaster the story with adjectives. He did not call it tragic, even though it was. He did not insert his own commentary. Even in this apocalyptic moment, in the pit of his own despair, and in the darkness of a nation's uncertain future, Walter Cronkite simply read the news and left its meaning up to our interpretation.

He was the conduit between Americans and the world around them. He was the friendly man on the screen in the living room box. He was the last of his kind. He will be sorely missed.

And that's the way it is.

1 comment:

  1. Must trusted is a cliche, perhaps, but honestly, Walter Cronkite was the second most important man in my life.

    Walter Cronkite reinforced the lessons my father gave me.

    And then in so many ways, he became the man who helped shape my life into the extraordinary journey that it's been.

    Thank you, Mr. Cronkite.