Walter Cronkite Dies 1916 - 2009
Walter Cronkite was once hailed as "the most trusted" man in America - a title that stuck - because it rang true. He had been earning America's trust long before the 20 years he anchored the CBS Evening News.
He started as a wire service reporter and football announcer. As a war correspondent in World War Two, he braved anti-aircraft fire reporting from an allied bomber over Europe. The legendary Edward R. Murrow spotted him and recruited him for CBS. Television news was still in its infancy when Cronkite took over what was then the 15-minute long CBS Evening News in 1962. The following year Walter Cronkite was the first anchor on the air reporting the first of those "stories of the century" that made him part of American history.
His Kennedy Assassination anchoring helped to make television news America's chief news source during a crisis.
Americans were glued to black and white screens watching and listening to Walter Cronkite as Lee Harvey Oswald was later murdered, and the state funeral passed by. As the 1960's stretched on: more assassinations, and demonstrations - the national agonies of Vietnam, youthful draft-era upheavals... Walter Cronkite took the nation through it all
In 1968, after a visit to Vietnam war zones, he delivered a newspaper-style editorial questioning the course of the Vietnam War. Cronkite's on-air shift from what some saw as a war-supporter to war-critic is said by historians to have helped prepare Americans for stalemate...and defeat...in Vietnam.
He analyzed political conventions...told Americans that streets were burning (King riots)... that a President had lied (Nixon's farewell).
By the time he left the anchor chair, he had become a legend, a walking video archive, carrying long memories of a nation's sorrows and triumphs. His plainspoken steady gravitas had centered our attention - clearly and truly - on heartbreaking realities and lasting joys. Always there with a steady, professional eye his nation knew it could trust.
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