Remembering a different Cronkite

This is a discussion on Remembering a different Cronkite within the Off Topic & Humor Discussion forums, part of the The Back Porch category; I'm not sure if this belongs in "Off topic..." or "In the News" or maybe even the "Law Enforcement, Military & Homeland Security Discussion" sub-forums. ...

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Thread: Remembering a different Cronkite

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    Remembering a different Cronkite

    I'm not sure if this belongs in "Off topic..." or "In the News" or maybe even the "Law Enforcement, Military & Homeland Security Discussion" sub-forums. It sort of has it all.

    Please move, if it's in the wrong place.

    One of the things I will grant to the Roanoke Time (Roanoke Virginia) is that they will publish letters and Op Ed pieces that are counter to their agenda. Doesn't stop them from loading up supposedly news with opinion and agenda. But they do offer others some (if not equal) time.

    IMHO, the writer has it right. Walter Cronkite was more responsible for under-cutting the troops in Nam than even Hanoi Jane. Not that she didn't try, but because he carried more weight and did more damage.

    Ditto, his reporting on the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago and his bashing of LEOs.

    IMHO, Cronkite was not just the "pioneer of opinion masquerading as news" (as the writer says) but he was the master at passing off his opinion and agenda as news.

    Remembering a different Cronkite - Roanoke.com

    Remembering a different Cronkite

    Robert Benne

    Benne lives in Salem.


    Now that a decent interval has passed since the death and commemorations of Walter Cronkite, I would like to offer a contrary opinion of Cronkite's work.

    Instead of praising him -- "the most trusted man in America" -- as the last in a line of unbiased, authoritative news readers and commentators, I view him as the first of those who claimed to be objective, but rather infused their stories with a strong point of view.

    It took some time for me to come to that judgment. During the Cronkite years, we as a nation were yet naive enough to take network news seriously. We sat down in front of our TVs at 6:30 each night and believed what we heard and saw. Because of that, Cronkite could do great damage -- and did.

    Let me give two examples, both from 1968. The first and most disturbing occurred in February 1968, when Cronkite visited Vietnam for a brief time right after the so-called Tet offensive of the Viet Cong, the guerilla arm of the North Vietnam communist state.

    Upon his return, Cronkite pronounced the war a "hopeless stalemate" and advised his audience that the United States should negotiate an end to the war and get out as soon as we could. President Johnson, hearing this, was purported to have exclaimed: "If I've lost Cronkite I've lost Middle America." One month later, he declined to run again for the presidency.

    The trouble with Cronkite's reporting was that it did not paint an accurate picture of the war or of the Tet offensive. A German friend of mine, who at that time had served a full five years in Vietnam as a correspondent for a major German newspaper, reported quite a different picture of the situation:

    "Many combat correspondents soon realized that the Tet offensive was a major North Vietnamese blunder, a detail on which most military historians agree these days. At Tet '68, Hanoi lost at least 45,000 men and its entire infrastructure in the South. And because of the massacres in Hue and elsewhere, it also lost much of its popular support."

    But Cronkite's version prevailed. From there on, the American public supported a defeatist withdrawal, even to the point of abandoning our South Vietnamese allies in 1975 after they had more or less won their fight with the communist North. The bloodbath that followed is common knowledge.

    The second example is Cronkite's reporting on the tumultuous Democratic Convention in Chicago in 1968. I lived in Chicago at that time and participated in some of the protest rallies until I sensed that the people controlling the rallies had quite a different agenda in mind than I had.

    They were an assortment of anti-American revolutionaries, sympathizers with the Viet Cong, nihilist Yippies, many privileged upper-middle class youth who were plain old hell-raisers, along with folks who genuinely thought the war was unjust. The most organized and activist groups wanted violence, and they provoked the Chicago police to react. Mayhem followed.

    Cronkite reported the tumult on CBS News after one particularly violent episode. "The police are beating our children!" he lamented, implying that the rioters were innocent juvenile bystanders assaulted by storm troopers.

    That sentence still rings in my ears after all these years because I knew his reporting was bogus, and because I knew it would gain sympathy for the rioters and help turn the Democratic Party decisively to the left. In the end, however, that turn to the left assured a victory for Richard Nixon.

    These two episodes involving Cronkite permanently dissuaded me from believing his tag line: "That's the way it is." From then on I, like millions of others, viewed with skepticism what our mass media offered. We realized that what was reported, how it was framed, how it was headlined and how it was "spun" all entered into the message we were given.

    Perhaps it is healthier that biases are now more expected and obvious. Given that, it is wise to read, watch and listen to multiple sources and decide for oneself. Read The Roanoke Times, but watch Fox News. Read both The Washington Post and The Washington Times.

    However, it is sadly the case that too many of us read, watch and listen only to those sources whose slant we already agree with. At any rate, far from being the "most trusted man in America" who gave us the unvarnished truth, Cronkite became for me a pioneer of opinion masquerading as news.
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    Dave H.:
    Sometime in late 1968 I was traveling through O'Hare Airport and happened upon a couple in their mid 40s, apparently returning from a visit with a wounded son at a military hospital.

    I don't remember the name of the battle, but it was urban, because their son complained that while they were fighting, the Vietnamese teenagers were going about their business.

    That did it for me.

    Not to rehash the latter half of the 1960s, but I remember the 1968 convention well, and no one acquitted themselves properly. It cost the Dems two elections and had incalculable repurcussions within our society that are still being felt.

    We buried Robert McNamara about a week ago. Let's bury the 1960s.

    Except for a few guys my age +/-, it is ancient history. We have decent relations with the Vietnamese government; better than with many others.
    You can call that a victory if you want. You can call that evidence that we made a bad call fighting in the first place. I don't care. I just don't want to hear about it any more.

    And for those who didn't live through any of that period as adults, I really don't want to hear what you think you got from a HS history book or a tv commentator 20 years after the fact. So if you were born after 1955, never subject to conscription, and don't have conscious direct adult knowledge of the times, please do me a favor and don't grace my post with a reply.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hopyard View Post
    We have decent relations with the Vietnamese government; better than with many others.
    You can call that a victory if you want. You can call that evidence that we made a bad call fighting in the first place. I don't care. I just don't want to hear about it any more.
    How do you feel about the millions of people murdered BECAUSE WE WITHDREW?

    Cronkite was a catalyst that infected public opinion with his anti-American rhetoric and outright lies.

    So if you were born after 1955, never subject to conscription, and don't have conscious direct adult knowledge of the times, please do me a favor and don't grace my post with a reply.
    I was born in 1956 and my birthday was picked fifth a year after the draft was terminated. I agree that the history books of today probably do not protray the era in an unbiased description but since my father was a wounded war veteran I paid close attention to the war and the surrounding politics.

    I appreciate your opinion but the fact remains MILLIONS of people died, partly because of Walter Cronkite.

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    Not to be rude

    Quote Originally Posted by SelfDefense View Post
    I was born in 1956 and my birthday was picked fifth a year after the draft was terminated.
    Not to be rude, did you also stay at a Holiday Inn Express?

    I'm just not interested in hearing opinions from folks who weren't adults at the time. You were 12 during the convention. Like most 12 year olds you probably had no clue what all the hub bub was about.

    So now, 41 almost 42 years after the fact you expect folks to take your kid's eye view of events seriously? I previously told you I voted for Nixon. Ever wonder why?

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    Yes, it is amazing how important things like that are glossed over in the name of revisionist history....
    "Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined". - Patrick Henry

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hopyard View Post
    Not to be rude, did you also stay at a Holiday Inn Express?
    I dont think that rude, just ridiculous and unresponsive.

    I'm just not interested in hearing opinions from folks who weren't adults at the time.
    I am not surprised you are not interested in the opinions of others. I would offer a suggestion for you. Some people are far more aware in their teens than others as adults later in life. Some of us were more interested in politics, education and furthering the cause of liberty than today's 'adult' liberals that think surrendering to enemies and redistribution of wealth are noble goals. But I am still interested, though bewildered, at their opinions. That does set us apart.


    I previously told you I voted for Nixon. Ever wonder why?
    You were more aware of the damaging effects of liberal groupthink than you are now?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hopyard View Post

    Let's bury the 1960s.
    Should. Try to. Just all the praise of Cronkite got to me.

    FWIIW, in my OP, I was really talking about more about opinion and agenda masquerading as news than about the actual events of the 60's.

    And now all the self-serving praise of that as being "unbiased" reporting of news is too much to stomach.
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    Veni, Vidi, Velcro

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    Cronkite was a closet anti-American and a border line Commie in my opinion. I never liked him, and, while I may have been young back then, I did see his smug face on TV and didn't like him then.

    I was actually quite happy when I heard he had died. I had been waiting for it and hoping it would happen for a long time.

    Now I can't wait for that fool and big time lefty Dan Rather to drop dead.
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    I agree about Cronkite and Rather, and there's several others who are still around I wish would just vanish. Live or dead, I don't care.

    Actually, I'd like for them to move to Cuba, Iran, or Venezuela.

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    Hopyard, if you don't want to hear about the 60's and Cronkite, why would you post in or even read this thread? The 60's is part of our history, good or bad. I want to know about it and I want my kids to know about it. BTW, I was born in '67. The year after my Dad returned from Vietnam. When he wants to talk about it, I shut up and listen. So do my kids because they want to know.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveH View Post
    Walter Cronkite was more responsible for under-cutting the troops in Nam than even Hanoi Jane. Not that she didn't try, but because he carried more weight and did more damage.
    I was serving on the DMZ in Vietnam in 1968. After thoroughly thrashing the NVA/VC during TET and while we had them enemy reeling from its overwhelming wounds, losses and casualties (approximately 45,000 communist soldiers were killed and an unknown number were wounded during a very short time), it seemed that Cronkite went out of his way to give the enemy a teriffic moral boost which up to that time had been denied to them. It worked. Whose team did he think he was playing for any way?

    It is true that Jane Fonda was an idiot dunce. However, with Cronkite we had a new enemy who had the privilege to hold the microphone every night and promote the enemy propaganda with advertising dollars, while we soldiers were denied an opportunity to rebut his traitorous claims.

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    By that logic, Hopyard, if you were born BEFORE 1956, those of us who face combat in the current wars shouldn't have to listen to the opinions of those who have (and who can't have) first hand experience of it...

    Speaking as the holder of a history degree (with a focus on American military history post WWI, and a minor in poli-sci), a combat veteran of two theaters and 32 months, and a member (albeit a peripheral one) of the US diplomatic corps, that attitude stinks on ice.
    A man fires a rifle for many years, and he goes to war. And afterward he turns the rifle in at the armory, and he believes he's finished with the rifle. But no matter what else he might do with his hands - love a woman, build a house, change his son's diaper - his hands remember the rifle.

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    [QUOTE=Hopyard;1245644]Dave H.:


    That did it for me.

    Not to rehash the latter half of the 1960s, but I remember the 1968 convention well, and no one acquitted themselves properly. It cost the Dems two elections and had incalculable repurcussions within our society that are still being felt.

    We buried Robert McNamara about a week ago. Let's bury the 1960s.

    Except for a few guys my age +/-, it is ancient history. Lot more then a few guys. Not for me, I was there and lived it. If you don't know your history you well make the same mistakes again. That's fact.I went through the 68 Tet and the News lied most of the time. You know that hasn't change. I well not bury my head in the sand and hope the bad things well go away.
    Last edited by SatCong; August 3rd, 2009 at 09:06 PM.
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    I didn't intend to diminish the enormity

    Quote Originally Posted by SatCong View Post
    ]Lot more then a few guys. Not for me, I was there and lived it. If you don't know your history you well make the same mistakes again. That's fact.I went through the 68 Tet and the News lied most of the time. You know that hasn't change. I well not bury my head in the sand and hope the bad things well go away.
    I didn't intend to diminish the enormity of the numbers of folks involved at the time. I was writing in terms of a % of folks in our population living today who lived through that era. The vietnam era vet is a small fraction of our population and of this board.

    I did not mean to in any way imply that only a few folks were caught up in that event. Too many.

    There has been a long term feud in this country which remains unsettled as to why that war became a catastrophe. Blaming folks like Cronkite is too easy. What about Madam Gno and her husband and the monks who immolated themselves to get those two out of power? ; and Madam Gno's curse on the Kennedy family that, "the chickens will come home to roost." The game may well have been over at that point, a year or so before the Gulf of Tonkien incident and several years before the 1968 events. So, you are right, you need to know your history. And you need to know the history even back to the French defeat.

    I don't believe in the power of curses, but the chickens did come home to roost, sadly, and in a very very bad way.

    And that is a part of the history of that conflict as well. So, let's remember that the whole era was extremely complex politically, militarily, and diplomatically, and blaming media is at best only one place to lay the blame, to focus anger.

    My point was that the architect, McNamara is gone. Cronkite is gone. Let's let them go in peace by not arguing events that were so horrific and which happened so long ago.

    I just don't appreciate hearing from "historians," (commentators and entertainers) who are way too young to have any recollection of the events, to have been involved, and who now (as then) try to make a catastrophe into a partisan issue.

    I don't like to remember any of it. It hurts.

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    [QUOTE=Hopyard;
    I don't like to remember any of it. It hurts.[/QUOTE]Sorry about your hurt, not really, after reading what you wrote is the bull I heard and read 40+ years ago.Now in 2009 I still read it and I HURT..
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