One year ago: Walter Cronkite
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For two generations of Americans, one man was the epitome of broadcast news: Walter Cronkite, who died one year ago. The CBS anchor -- with his steady baritone voice -- informed, guided and reassured the nation through the tumultuous 1960s and ‘70s. He was widely regarded as the most trusted man in America.
Cronkite aimed for a straightforward, objective news delivery style. He rarely showed emotion, but when he did, it was a national moment. Images of him tearing up at the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and chanting ‘Go baby, go!’ as Apollo 11 lifted off for the moon are burned into the nation’s memory.
After a rare moment of commentary in which Cronkite declared the Vietnam war unwinnable, President Lyndon Johnson reportedly turned to an aided and said, ‘If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America.’ Many observers speculated that this was a major reason Johnson decided not to run for a second term -- and offered to negotiate with the North Vietnamese.
Cronkite was so prominent in American life, that it is from his role covering political conventions that the term ‘anchorman’ was born -- a testament to his central role in the broadcasts.
When Cronkite famously signed off the news with ‘And that’s the way it is,’ many Americans believed him.
‘Walter was truly the father of television news,’ Morley Safer, a correspondent for CBS’ ’60 Minutes,’ said in a statement. ‘The trust that viewers placed in him was based on the recognition of his fairness, honesty and strict objectivity.’
For more about the famed anchorman, read Walter Cronkite’s obituary by The Times.
-- Michael Farr