The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Cronkite’s legacy will endure

By Steve Knight/editor-in-chief

The first era of network television news officially ended July 17 when Walter Cronkite, former anchor of the CBS Evening News died.

After legendary producer Don Hewitt, who died Aug. 19, created the title of anchorman for him, Cronkite, known as “the most trusted man in America,” then defined it for future generations of journalists.

The University of Texas dropout was a giant among giants at a time when CBS, NBC and ABC were the only choices for television news.

Yes, there were actually only three channels at that time.

When Cronkite took over Evening News anchorman duties in 1962, Jon Stewart was only an infant.

Cronkite was the master of ad-lib, many times reporting without the aid of a teleprompter or script.

Only one event left Cronkite gasping for words — the moment of Apollo 11’s moon landing on July 20, 1969, when he proclaimed “Gosh! Wow! Gee!”

Cronkite described a journalist’s role in a 2006 Huffington Post blog.

“As anchorman of the CBS Evening News, I signed off my nightly broadcasts for nearly two decades with a simple statement: ‘And that’s the way it is,’” he said. “To me, that encapsulates the newsman’s highest ideal: to report the facts as he sees them, without regard for the consequences or controversy that may ensue.”

He never interjected his opinion about any events, with one exception — Feb. 27, 1968.

Closing a documentary program about the Vietnam War, Cronkite’s influential and compelling words changed public opinion and may have saved an untold number of lives.

“We have been too often disappointed by the optimism of the American leaders, both in Vietnam and Washington, to have faith any longer in the silver linings they find in the darkest clouds,” he said.

“But it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could.”

After watching the CBS broadcast, President Lyndon B. Johnson reportedly said, “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost middle America.” Johnson decided not to run for reelection.

No journalist had that kind of influence before, and, with respect to Brian Williams, Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric, no journalist will have that kind of influence again.

But Cronkite’s words may be as relevant today as they were then.

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