Note to most mourning journalists: You are not like Walter Cronkite

July 18, 2009 | By | 1 Reply More

Glenn Greenwald offers yet another column sharply critical of many of today’s so-called journalists.  It is well worth reading the entire thing.  Here’s an excerpt:

[M]edia stars will spend ample time flamboyantly commemorating Cronkite’s death as though he reflects well on what they do (though probably not nearly as much time as they spent dwelling on the death of Tim Russert, whose sycophantic servitude to Beltway power and “accommodating head waiter”-like, mindless stenography did indeed represent quite accurately what today’s media stars actually do).  In fact, within Cronkite’s most

Image: public domain: Library of Congress

Image: public domain: Library of Congress

important moments one finds the essence of journalism that today’s modern media stars not only fail to exhibit, but explicitly disclaim as their responsibility.

Greenwald also quotes New York Magazine’s Yada Juan, quoting Harper‘s Lewis Lapham:

The new tradition is that the press speaks on behalf of the government.” An example? “Tim Russert was a spokesman for power, wealth, and privilege,” Lapham said. “That’s why 1,000 people came to his memorial service. Because essentially he was a shill for the government. It didn’t matter whether it was Democratic or Republican. It was for the status quo.” What about Russert’s rep for catching pols in lies? “That was bullshit,” he said.

Greenwald includes a short clip of an interview where Walter Cronkite expresses his greatest regret.  And here is one of his best moments, when he forcefully spoke truth to power.

Note:,  Even Cronkite got caught up on the power and patriotism of war, a fact that is documented in the transcript of the excellent documentary, “War Made Easy,” which I reviewed here.

NORMAN SOLOMON: Every war, we have US news media that have praised the latest
in the state-of-the-art killing technology, from the present moment to the war in Vietnam.

WALTER CRONKITE: B-57s — the British call them Canberra jets — we’re using them
very effectively here in this war in Vietnam to dive-bomb the Vietcong in these jungles
beyond Da Nang here. Colonel, what’s our mission we’re about to embark on?

AIR FORCE COLONEL: Well, our mission today, sir, is to report down to the site of the
ambush seventy miles south of here and attempt to kill the VC.

WALTER CRONKITE: The colonel has just advised me that that is our target area right
over there. One, two, three, four, we dropped our bomb, but now a tremendous G-load as
we pull out of that dive. Oh, I know something of what those astronauts must go through.
Well, colonel.


WALTER CRONKITE: It’s a great way to go to war.

You can watch the entire documentary here (1 hour and 10 mintes) .


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Category: Media, Politics

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. Tim Hogan says:

    Godspeed, Walter Cronkite!

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