And that’s the way it was

Posted: May 2, 2023 by chrisharper in Uncategorized
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By Christopher Harper

When Fox settled its lawsuit with Dominion Voting Systems and then ousted Tucker Carlson, my former colleagues in journalism recalled the “glory days” of Walter Cronkite at CBS News.

But were those days so good?

In a recent biography of Cronkite, Douglas Brinkley investigates some of the anchor’s antics on and off the television screen.

Following are some of the revelations in the biography:

–Cronkite cut a deal with Pan Am to fly his family to worldwide vacation spots. Together with a handful of friends, they traveled across the globe with Cronkite snorkeling, swimming, and drinking, thanks to a friend at the airline. CBS News President Richard Salant was upset at what he deemed a blatant conflict of interest but took no action against his star anchor.

–Cronkite secretly bugged a committee room at the 1952 GOP convention.

–Cronkite misled viewers about 1964 GOP presidential nominee Barry Goldwater. On the day of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Cronkite nodded in thinly veiled contempt when handed a note on air that the Arizona senator had said “no comment.” Goldwater was attending his mother-in-law’s funeral that day.

“Whether or not Senator Goldwater wins the nomination,” Cronkite told viewers another day, “he is going places, the first place being Germany.” Although Goldwater had merely accepted an invitation to visit a U.S. Army facility there, correspondent Daniel Schorr said he was launching his campaign in “the center of Germany’s right wing.” 

–Although Cronkite and his fans maintained that the anchor kept his liberal views off the air, he met privately with Robert Kennedy in 1968 to urge him to run for president.

–After covering Nixon’s historic visit to China, Cronkite let loose with a night of partying in San Francisco. Cronkite and a colleague went to an infamous topless bar, and he was later spotted dining with a go-go dancer in a miniskirt and plunging neckline.

In reviewing the book, Howard Kurtz wrote: “Brinkley’s book will undoubtedly tarnish the Cronkite legacy. But my admiration for the man is only partly diminished. Perhaps it is too easy to judge him by today’s standards, any more than we should condemn Thomas Jefferson for owning slaves. Perhaps he simply reflected his times, when some journalists and politicians quietly collaborated, when conflicts of interest were routinely tolerated when a powerful media establishment could sweep its embarrassments under the rug.”

And that’s the way it was.

  1. Pod Hamp says:

    I have a feeling that things weren’t as great as we remember them being. We just didn’t realize because they were hidden or hushed up. Before the Internet, there weren’t as many ways to get information out, so it was easier to hide the bias and corruption.