Walter Cronkite Was The “Most Trusted Man In America”, But I Could Never Watch His Program Once I Moved To Johannesburg.
It was 40 years ago on March 6, 1981, that Walter Cronkite signed off for the last time as Anchor for CBS Evening News. I was married, living in Johannesburg by that time, and my wife, myself and our first- born boy, Yaakov Tzvi, were about ready to depart for Minneapolis to visit my parents and proudly introduce him to my relatives and friends.
When we arrived in Minneapolis, I really missed having the opportunity to watch Walter Cronkite. In fact, we needed to limit our expenses at that time and it really was not worth spending money on a TV because we also needed to pay for a TV license as well. The choice of programming was limited because TV only was introduced a few years earlier.
Television only premiered into the South African market during 1976. This was not because South Africa did not have the technology needed to make TV a reality for its population. But rather it was a planned move by the South African Government to keep its citizens in the dark about the reality of Apartheid.
So, while my fellow Americans were hearing many different stories about Apartheid, I was able to witness it firsthand with my own eyes for many years. An article describing the Government’s position on TV and why it was banned until 1976 can be viewed at the following link-
This article said South African Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd later compared TV with atomic bombs and poison gas.
“[Television] are modern things, but that does not mean they are desirable. The government has to watch for any dangers to the people, both spiritual and physical,” he said.
For Dr. Albert Hertzog, the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs at the time, TV for South Africa will be “over his dead body”. He described it as “a miniature bioscope (cinema) over which parents would have no control.”
Why Was Walter Cronkite So Well Respected?
Walter Leland Cronkite Jr. (November 4, 1916 – July 17, 2009) was an American broadcast journalist who served as anchorman for the CBS Evening News for 19 years (1962–1981). During the 1960s and 1970s, he was often cited as “the most trusted man in America” after being so named in an opinion poll.
In those years, there were only three major national news channels, NBC, ABC and CBS. Cronkite and CBS dominated the Evening News program slot because he came across as a genuine person who everyone could count on to report the news — accurately and fairly.
Those were the same words used by the CBS Anchor near the sign-off of the March 6 broadcast this past weekend to explain the network’s mission. But does that still hold true?
“Accurately and fairly” are defined as follows by Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
Accurately: in an accurate manner: without mistakes or errors
Fairly: without bias or distortion
Walter Cronkite’s Solution For Determining If LBJ’s Administration Was Telling The Truth About The Vietnam War
During the second half of 1967 the administration had become alarmed by criticism, both inside and outside the government, of declining public support for its Vietnam policies. According to public opinion polls, the percentage of Americans who believed that the U.S. had made a mistake by sending troops to Vietnam had risen from 25 percent in 1965 to 45 percent by December 1967. This was fueled by mounting casualty figures, raising taxes, and the feeling that there was no end to the war in sight. This prompted the administration to launch a so-called “Success Offensive”, a concerted effort to alter the widespread public perception that the war had reached a stalemate and to convince the American people that the administration’s policies were succeeding. Under the leadership of National Security Advisor Walt W. Rostow, the news media then was inundated by a wave of effusive optimism.
But that all suddenly changed with the Tet Offensive which gave Cronkite an incentive to travel to Vietnam in search of the truth.
In 1968 he left the anchor desk to report from Vietnam on the aftermath of the Tet Offensive. Upon his return Cronkite departed from his usual objectivity, declaring that the war could end only in a protracted stalemate. LBJ told his staff, “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America,” and some held that Johnson’s decision not to run for reelection that year was a direct result of Cronkite’s reporting.
If Cronkite Were Alive Today, Which Network Would He Most Likely Be Working For?
Definitely Not CBS
Long consigned to the evening news ratings basement, CBS Evening News has tried to find the right News Anchor to drive up its ratings, but it is obvious that no one has been able to match up to Walter Cronkite’s legacy.
Fox News Would Most Probably Be Cronkite’s New Home
I have been impressed how Fox News presenters Tucker Carlson, Hannity and Laura Ingraham attract viewers by analyzing facts. I am certain Walter Cronkite would have fit in quite well with their reporting style. As a result, Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News ended January with a 19-year streak as the top U.S. cable news network in viewership ratings.
You can view the ratings at the following link from deadline.com-
It Appears Fox News Is Trying To Make A Point That The Biden Administration Is Killing “Free Press”
I have recently switched my loyalty from CBS to Fox because it appears these various tactics such as banning certain people from social media, are consistent with the same tactics the South African Government was using during Apartheid which is totally unacceptable. And Fox is not afraid to point this out.
Fox News has also pointed out that President Biden has failed to hold a full press conference since taking office. Even when appearing before the Press, Biden only answers questions that are pre-approved by his staff members. That is not consistent with a Free Press.
Therefore, in my opinion, the claim by CBS News that it is following the principles of Walter Cronkite is no longer valid, because no one at CBS provides the same in-depth reporting and analysis critical of Biden’s Administration that is consistent with the Cronkite style.
That prize goes to Fox News.