“And that’s the way it is …”
It feels as if the last bit of actual journalism in America is now dead.
In «What We Lose With Cronkite’s Death», Bruce Maiman sums it up pretty well:
“… it’s a reminder, too, that the broadcasting style and journalistic credibility that Cronkite represents also seems to be fading into history. Cronkite’s death was inevitable rather than sad, but what is sad is that no one has picked up his mantle to deliver the news in a fashion that doesn’t glorify something or someone, or trash something or someone. Cronkite set a standard for conveying the news that was at once warm, measured, dignified, good humored and uncompromising.”
He also notes one of my favorite stories about Cronkite:
“In her autobiography, «A Desperate Passion», physician and Nuclear Freeze activist Helen Caldicott tells the story of when she met Cronkite and his wife Betsy at a dinner one night: “Walter amazed me by saying that if he had his way, he would remove all U.S. nuclear weapons from Europe. “What would the Russians do then, roll over people with their tanks?” he asked. I said: “The American people love you, Walter. Why don’t you tell them that?” He laughed and replied, “I’m only loved because they don’t know what I think.””
The ever-excellent Glenn Greenwald, writing in Salon, touches on all of this in «Celebrating Cronkite While Ignoring What He Did»:
“Tellingly, his most celebrated and significant moment — Greg Mitchell says “this broadcast would help save many thousands of lives, U.S. and Vietnamese, perhaps even a million” — was when he stood up and announced that Americans shouldn’t trust the statements being made about the war by the U.S. Government and military, and that the specific claims they were making were almost certainly false. In other words, Cronkite’s best moment was when he did exactly that which the modern journalist today insists they must not ever do — directly contradict claims from government and military officials and suggest that such claims should not be believed. These days, our leading media outlets won’t even use words that are disapproved of by the Government.”
Cronkite, and the pathetic remains of American journalism, will be laid to rest on Thursday.
And THAT, my friends, is the way it is, on this Sunday, 20-Jul-09, the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing.