Saturday, July 18, 2009

RIP, Walter Cronkite

My Walter Cronkite appreciation is up at


Baylink said...

As it happens, another of Johnson's press aides is on-camera in the 6:53 obit CBS aired last night, and he phrases it the way I personally have always heard it:

"If I've lost Walter Cronkite, I've lost the war."

Baylink said...

And I'll reply to CCharlie over here:

Yes, Cronkite told us what to think. But you know what? People *want* to be told what to think, and I think a lot better of Uncle Walter for that job than I do Rush Limbaugh, or Matt Drudge (feather in his hatband, indeed).

I'll cop Ken Levine's observation for you; muse on this:

Was Cronkite a Democrat? Or a Republican? How do you know?

Eyeball Wit said...

Fitting, in a way, that this happens during the anniversary of Apollo 11, because that's my most enduring memory of him.

Pamela Jaye said...

Oddly, last night, after talking to my brother, Baylink, I started to search for my childhood memories of "Uncle" Walter - and found I really didn't have any. (Thinking further, my father may have referred to him as Walter Crankcase, but that may have been more wordplay than opinion).

What I do remember, as a kid (which I was in the 60's) is the strange pattern our lamp made on the parlor wall (before I was quite old enough to realize it was a pattern made by the lamp) and the nightly Goodnight David. Goodnight Chet.
(was that in the wrong order?)

So, I'm still trying to figure out when Baylink did all that Walter watching (and while I'm at it - Johnny Carson watching - though I believe the parents *did* watch him)

I have nothing against Mr. Cronkite (though apparently my roommate does) - I just have no memories (the closest I get to memories all belong to Kevin Arnold on The Wonder Years, I think).

As for telling people what to believe - there's a speech in The American President from Michael J Fox that was the first time I noticed he could act... about people drinking the sand.
I could go look it up, but Baylink can probably recite it from memory.

I know this is tangential, but why is it that no major network (and only a handful of minor ones) is making a splash about landing on the moon? is it cause it's 40 years, not 50?

I have no clue which news anchor narrated this event for me - I was 10 and in Children's Hospital in Boston that night (really bad asthma attack).
I do remember seeing it, though.

When I finally grew up and had to choose a network news program to watch, on my own - it was Peter Jennings, and I share Baylink's feelings on that one (not that I don't feel something in this case - just that, for me, it's not based on anything in my own life.)

I look forward to the special on Sunday night.

(and btw, I respect Ken's "was he a republican or democrat" question. If those who watched him don't know, that's good.)

Oh dear - I'm veering close to politics, so my next sentence won't be typed.

Nice article (but Ken spoiled me).
Alas, there won't be a lot of coverage of this - I mean not for long: we'll soon be back to Michael Jackson (yes, I'm watching the wrong programs).

What did he die of? CerebroVascular Illness? Makes me think stroke, but I've never heard it put that way, and the House in me is curious.

btw, I never knew which was Huntley and which was Brinkley till years later when Brinkley was with Peter Jennings.

Kensington said...

So now that he's dead we're supposed to pretend that we couldn't tell he was a Democrat? The vast majority of all journalists are liberal Democrats, but one of their most prominent members is supposed to be some kind of inscrutable enigma?

And even if he was, it's okay because people want to be told what to think?


Ken Levine's observation is vapid.

Robert said...

The notion that his liberal bias was unperceived (then or now) only seems to be held by people who share it. He was as partisan as Keith Olberman, just less deranged and better at hiding it.

7s Tim said...

I thought this blog generally tried to not get into political discussions? Are we just taking advantage because the teacher's not in class?

filmcricket said...

R.I.P. Mr. Cronkite. I fear your like will never be seen in America again. And nice obit, Alan - well done.

Tracey said...

I share your sadness at the loss of a man who seemed to personify that more unified era, when people didn't choose a news source that fit their preexisting bias. And it sickens me to see how quickly people chose to respond to an obituary by picking sides in the culture war and firing off barrages at the opposing side. Walter, rest in peace, you are in a place where none of this nonsense matters any more.

Halli said...

Just one comment: the idea that Walter represents an era when people didn't splinter their attention is an artifact of the technological and economic reality of TV, not a particular social reality of the era. Much as Pulitzer introduced the era of mass-market newspapers with multiple newspapers per city, the cable news and internet era have introduced a new era of multiple sources, not in response to social pressures, but in response to technological ones.

Pamela Jaye said...

I'm not sure that's true. Wasn't there a time when people said it was not polite to talk about politics, religion or sex? Now people do it a lot - at least on the internet - and frequently in a far from polite manner.
I feel as if someone had opened the floodgates.
But I'm with Tracey. Where Walter is, these things no longer matter.

One thing about the 60's - with the quest for the moon, there was often good news to report. Now the anchors have to cast around for a happy note to end a broadcast with. Or so it seems to me. (and I was never into the space thing - I don't think - until we landed on the moon, and after that, I didn't care either. I never understood the excitement that Enterprise tried to convey - and then one night I watched as JJ on American Dreams came up with a glove for the astronauts to wear. And suddenly I got it. Odd.
Perhaps 40 years later, I'll appreciate it more.

dez said...

Very nice column, Alan. I wish there were more newsmen around like Uncle Walter.

Karen said...

Wow, I see what happens when the "no politics" rule gets tossed out. Ugly.

A shame you can't enforce that rule over at, where it's even uglier.

I cried when I heard about Cronkite. He was such a huge part of my childhood.

Pamela Jaye said...

I looked over at
It was bad.
Sad that someone's death turns into such a battle. (I don't know how I feel about MJ's death, but the rapid switch from "he's a perv" to "he's a saint" threw me. Meanwhile, I wasn't hearing any negativity about WC before his death - ever. He had a job & he did it.)

Did Peter Jennings die before Alan had a log, or did he just not warrant an obit due to lesser stature?

The propensity to turn everything into an "us" vs "them" of late is getting a bit old.
Or maybe it's just expanding into areas that I frequent, where it did not, before?