A Critical Look at Cronkite’s Legacy

The Wall Street Journal has an editorial that offers a critical look at the journalistic legacy of Walter Cronkite. This one is worth reading in full, but here’s an excerpt:

“The most important moment in his career came when he departed from the newsman’s role to play editorialist…

“Without the authority that derives from that trust, reporters get careless about objectivity, weakening the audience’s trust even further.

“The glory of Walter Cronkite’s career is that he did more than anyone to earn his viewers’ trust and establish his profession’s authority. The tragedy is that he also did more than anyone else to undermine them.”

8 Responses to A Critical Look at Cronkite’s Legacy

  1. paul July 21, 2009 at 12:04 pm #

    so let me get this straight…

    when Ken Lay, a man who swindled millions of people out of their life savings, dies, you offer an RIP.

    When Walter Kronkite dies, you post an article critical of his style of reporting.

    Your priorities are skewed Denny.

  2. Darius T July 21, 2009 at 2:08 pm #

    Lay got railroaded… he deserved a RIP. Don’t listen to the media reports, Paul. Do a little research.

  3. Denny Burk July 21, 2009 at 5:45 pm #

    Paul,

    You have long memory, my friend. FWIW: Walter Cronkite, RIP.

    Denny

  4. paul July 21, 2009 at 5:57 pm #

    Darius —

    Did Ken Lay (or his family for that matter) ever even attempt to make the slightest overture towards all of the people that he scammed? No.

    Does he deserve an RIP as a human being? I guess so. Does he deserve any respect beyond that? I guess you have to be a much better human being than me to afford him that.

    Denny — on a much lighter note…

    Derek Webb shows up on Gospel Soundcheck and you blog about it.

    I show up on Gospel Soundcheck, and you do nothing.

    When did Derek Webb ever contribute to the readability of your blog? If I was being serious, I might be really hurt and offended…

  5. Dave Miller July 21, 2009 at 6:08 pm #

    Walter Cronkite’s latter years served America well by giving unequivocal and undeniable evidence of the leftward tilt of the “unbiased” elite media in America.

  6. Nathan July 22, 2009 at 8:42 am #

    I want to agree with Paul that I find it surprising that Walter Cronkite is being lambasted on his death for the commentary that he opined about concerning the Tet Offensive. I think the commentator for the Wall Street Journal has an axe to grind and did.

    The reality of the late 60s is a very complicated one. It is easy to re-write history with 20/20 vision in the present. Cronkite giving his opinion on the news actually provided some insight on a war that was being hidden from the public, by the Johnson administration and by General Westmoreland.

    Now, before everybody jumps on me, I am not a pacifist and my family has a military background so I am not against just war. Having said that, by anyone’s assessment today, Vietnam was the worst run “war” we were ever involved in. The whole ideology of the Cold War and waging war to DMZ lines drawn in the sand is never in the best interests of the military or its men (in my opinion).

    And for that matter, where in the first ammendment does Freedom of the Press exclude the ability of its reporters to editorialize. Cronkite did not editorialize under the guise of it being fact, he gave his opinion.

    Is this blog not about opinion, hopefully based in fact, but requiring its readers to follow-up, check-it-out, and draw their own conclusions? Reporters have always “slanted” their opinion into the stories since Day One of the press as our Founders certainly slanted their reporting against the British government while reporting the truth.

    Was Cronkite a great reporter of his era? Yes! Was Cronkite perfect? Obviously Not! Does he deserve his legacy to be tarnished after his death? I guess that depends on who is doing the reporting.

  7. Darius T July 22, 2009 at 10:02 am #

    Paul, I’m not saying that Lay was completely moral in all of his actions or decisions. Only God knows that. I AM saying that the prosecution criminalized normal business procedures and Lay was the scapegoat. What the legal system did to him was anti-rule of law and unconscionable. He got tarred and feathered, just like Scooter Libby. Some prosecutors should go to jail for the way they practice their profession. They ruin people’s lives over nothing.

  8. Matthew Staton July 23, 2009 at 11:03 am #

    Human beings deserve dignity and respect at their passing. Thus the OT rules about taking care of bodies, even ones executed, thus David’s moving lament for Saul.

    So Michael Jackson deserves respect, Water-Cronkite (as he said it) deserves respect, Ken Lay…

    Paul, my brother – I will now rap your knuckles – you remember Denny’s comment about Ken Lay but I remember your comment about William F. Buckley on this blog, right before Denny locked it for comments. Oh, the irony!! You rapped him then for saying something NICE at someone’s passing 😛 I sentence you to 2 minutes in the hypocrisy corner.

    PS Congrats on getting listed on Gospel Soundcheck. I intend to buy a CD one of these days…

    (oh boy, I’m regretting this before I even send it, but I can’t help myself…)

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