Yes, we know he died in 2009. But not even death can erase Walter Cronkite from our hearts and memories. Here are five reasons why this newsman extraordinaire is still so amazingly great.
1. His birthday led Google to create the best Doodle ever.
2. He truly was “the most trusted man in America” ― named so in a national opinion poll.
He sat at the CBS Nightly News anchor desk for 19 years and we are pretty sure that he never once made up a story. Shame on Fox News ― again ― for saying Hillary Clinton is about to be indicted. This time, at least, they admitted what they reported wasn’t actually true.
Bret Baier, the Fox host responsible for the original assertion, backtracked and said he had spoken “inartfully.” But of course by that time, the internet and social media were on fire with talk about the “looming indictment.” Walter Cronkite is twisting in his grave.
3. People looked at his career and said he “literally saw it all.”
Well, not quite all. From 1937 to 1981 he reported on wars (World War II, Vietnam); political corruption (Watergate); terrorism (the Iran Hostage Crisis) and domestic insanity (the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, civil rights pioneer Martin Luther King, Jr., and Beatles musician John Lennon.)
But Cronkite never saw anything that comes close to the bizarre disintegration of the 2016 election and civility in American culture. Seriously, can you imagine what he would have said about Donald Trump ― a presidential candidate ―being accused of sexually assaulting 13 women? Or a video of Trump bragging about “grabbing women by the pussy?”
Cronkite was married to the same woman for 65 years. She predeceased him or it undoubtedly would have been even longer. If Trump is elected, his third wife Melania will become the only First Lady to have ever posed nude for a men’s magazine.
4. He defined what objective journalism looks like.
Cronkite’s trademark closing line for the CBS Evening News was “And that’s the way it is,” followed by the date. But he was always careful not to use this phrase on the nights he ended the newscast with an opinion. Why? Because news is news and opinions are opinions.
Today? The line has blurred into nothing short of oblivion, at least in my opinion.
As Cronkite once said, “In seeking truth you have to get both sides of a story.”
5. He was the nation’s father figure through it all.
From the simple act of removing his glasses as he told the world about the death of JFK to his uncontrolled excitement over reporting on the first man to walk on the moon, Cronkite was there for us. He kept us calm during the accident at Three Mile Island. He showed his displeasure with the police breaking up protests at the 1968 Democratic Convention. And in the end, he faced his own retirement with equal grace. #MissingWalter #ElectionStress