Thursday, July 23, 2009

Speaking Truth To Power ~ Walter Cronkite





Before his astonishing on air critique and assessment of the Vietnam war in 1968, Walter Cronkite wrote in his reporter's notebook.. "Is it worth this many deaths? Is it worth this many deaths? Is it worth this many deaths?" over and over and over accompanied with source notes, meticulously analyzing the horrors of what he saw on the ground as a reporter in Vietnam, balancing his responsibility to just report the news with his own conscience, until he came to the conclusion that led him to offer his groundbreaking personal opinion from the news desk.

I admired him.
Walter Cronkite was a staple in our evening household. I've often said that nobody breathed during Carolina basketball games in my house. It was much the same with the evening news. You could not talk while daddy watched the news. The joke in our home was that because my dad shared the same first name as Walter Cronkite we would often say as kids, "Shhhh...be quiet! Daddy's on the news!" As my dad grew older he sported a grey moustache. He really does, to this day, resemble him quite a lot.


Whether you agreed with his controversial diversion from the news that night or not, I admired him for the courage to speak his mind. His voice, his calm, his composure.....will always be a part of the American journalism landscape. And I suspect, like the Walter who lived in my own house, a true hero to many.

Rest in peace.
You've lived an extraordinary life.



Images: Public domain

14 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

I remember it. And yes, I admired him for it.

Bud Weiser, WTIT said...

He was the most trusted man in America for good reasons. A fantstic tribute...

bobbie said...

There are no more like him in the business. Bill Moyers is another I admire, but even he is not a Cronkite. What passes for "news" today is a travesty.

Julia Smith said...

Walter Kronkite was a towering figure on so many levels. Definitely admired him and always loved his voice. I'm a sucker for beautiful male voices.

Mimi - I'll be taking a crack at your Queen Meme later tonight. I'll always be a bit late with your Queen Meme, as Friday is my only free day on my schedule. But I can't resist it...

Mimi Lenox said...

Charles - He broke the mold.

Mimi Lenox said...

Bud - Indeed.

Mimi Lenox said...

Bobbie - I fear you may be correct. I will miss that voice.

Mimi Lenox said...

Julia - He was an icon for all the right reasons.

Thank you for playing the meme! I can't wait to read your answers.

Kitten said...

I was only five when Uncle Walter left the airwaves, but I used to watch him with my dad every night. He used to call me into the room and say "Uncle Walter's on!" And no one was allowed to speak until after he said, "And that's the way it is."

I still can't believe he's gone.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

A great person, Mimi.

Mimi Lenox said...

Kitten - I've heard that others called him "Uncle Walter" but we never did for reasons explained in this post. Isn't it amazing how we get sooo attached to people like this?

Mimi Lenox said...

Jean-Luc - And I believe an honorable man.

Travis said...

I was too young to understand the importance of what he said that night. But I know now that his words carried the weight they did because he was an honest man. He spoke the truth on the news, based on the facts.

And so when he departed from simply reporting the news and gave his opinion, it was the truth.

The Gal Herself said...

I never understood what the fuss was about his Viet Nam commentary. He was reporting what he saw first hand. Journalists aren't supposed to do that? Did E R Morrow take so much pipe for slamming McCarthysim? Confusing.

Have you been to the Kennedy Library? The very last exhibit, the only one that references the assassination, is Uncle Walter removing his glasses and making the announcement to the country. To me it reinforces what you say in this tribute. He was an icon who personified his times.

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