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Just 10 of The Many Reasons Why I Still Miss Walter Cronkite

Updated on December 27, 2016
kenneth avery profile image

Kenneth has been a member of HubPages for five years. He is retired from a 23-year career in the weekly newspaper business.

Feeble glimpse of a legend

Walter Leland Cronkite, Jr. (November 4, 1916 – July 17, 2009) was an American broadcast journalist, best known as anchorman for the CBS Evening News for 19 years (1962–81). During the heyday of CBS News in the 1960s and 1970s, he was often cited as "the most trusted man in America" after being so named in an opinion poll.

He reported many events from 1937 to 1981, including bombings in World War II; the Nuremberg trials; combat in the Vietnam War; the Dawson's Field hijackings; Watergate; the Iran Hostage Crisis; and the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, civil rights pioneer Martin Luther King, Jr., and Beatles musician John Lennon. He was also known for his extensive coverage of the U.S. space program, from Project Mercury to the Moon landings to the Space Shuttle. He was the only non-NASA recipient of a Moon-rock award. Cronkite is well known for his departing catchphrase "And that's the way it is," followed by the broadcast's date.

Cronkite's toughest news item to broadcast

Source

Walter Cronkite

speaks at the STS-107 Columbia Remembrance at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC February 2 2004.

 Walter Cronkite in 1985
Walter Cronkite in 1985 | Source

Personal reflections

of this giant of a news anchor are not as glamorous as those of a higher writing intellect. I put up no false fronts. These are my thoughts and no one else's. Cronkite was an important part of my evening every Monday through Friday from 5:30 to 6 p.m., CST., from CBS Network. I seldom missed this telecast.

Cronkite probably never was told about him having "that certain" look and tone about him that said what and whom he was. He never had to say, "This is Walter Cronkite, anchorman for the CBS Evening News," that was said by an off-camera announcer. To me, that is pretty big.

No one, including Cronkite ever thought that Cronkite was perfect, above reproach, or even able to see through walls even though it appeared he was all of these descriptions. He told the news "like it was" no more and no less. Nothing added or nothing taken away from what his writers, editors, producers, and field reporters had filed for each newscast. Cronkite was on top of every story designated for every evening's newscast and why not? It was not just his credibility on stage. It was the entire CBS News Dept. I never fully understood this until I had put in 10 years in the weekly newspaper industry.

As you have already read and seen for yourself, I am no Dan Rather, his predecessor or Douglas Edwards who preceded Cronkite. I am but a simple rural man with a simple mind filled with simple thoughts dancing on the dangerous edge (sometimes) of fantasy and reality.

To this day, Dec. 26, 2016, here are just ten reasons why I (still) miss Walter Cronkite.

 NASA Remembers Walter Cronkite
NASA Remembers Walter Cronkite | Source

10.) Toughness: and I do not mean physical as much as mental toughness. If you will watch carefully the video on this hub of Cronkite having the awesome bulletin (covered in innocent blood) of telling us about the death of President John F. Kennedy. If it had been me, I would have collapsed.

9.) Appearance: a white suit, black tie, black suit coat. That was Walter Cronkite's wardrobe for his evening newscast. It was a fact that five minutes prior to each broadcast, Cronkite would whip out his black comb from his rear right pants pocket, comb his hair and slip on his suit coat with a second to spare before saying, "This is Walter Cronkite reporting."

8.) Wit: yes, you better bet that Walter Cronkite had a wit that was so sharp that it glistened in the sun. I do recall one and now very rare moment on one of his newscasts a story was running about some group of hippies in San Francisco protesting the Vietnam War. At story's end, a spokes-hippy was on camera talking in riddles about what the protest was about if the huge "Make Love Not War" signs on the backs of his friends were not a give-away. Suddenly one of those "million dollar moments" happened. A stray dog did the very first photo bomb throwing off the hippy speaker who said to the camera, "would, uhhh, somebody get the dog off the camera?" To which Walter Cronkite in his perfectly-timed dry wit replied, "which one?" And went to the next story without missing a beat.

7.) Believability: when Walter Cronkite said something, you listened. And believed what he was saying. That was not as important as why I am naming this reason of why I miss him. I, along with millions believed every word out of his mouth, but in the many years of broadcasting the news, Cronkite never abused this trust that people had placed in his abilities.

6.) Warmth: Cronkite could sharpen his sword on the sleaziest of busted corrupt politicians who dared to get themselves invited for an interview on Cronkite's broadcast to tell their side of them being busted by that city's vice squad. They all would leave in an more humble state of mind after being chewed up by "the master" Walter Cronkite. And Cronkite was not afraid to show his warm human side when reporting a story about how a certain area of the Appalachian Mountain Range was stricken with poverty and children were almost going hungry. To me this is pure talent to be able to do both and not sway from being a professional.

5.) Imperfection: very rarely you heard Cronkite misquote or misread a person's name in the news he was broadcasting, but if he did make an error, he never stopped and groveled to ask forgiveness. He simply went back, corrected the error and continued unencumbered.

4.) Trust: viewers trusted Walter Cronkite's reporting and producing and by the same token, Cronkite trusted the hundreds of faceless, nameless writers and behind-the-scenes workers who made each newscast possible.

3.) Calm: were you one of the millions to be blessed to watch Walter Cronkite in action? If you did, you would agree that Walter did not sweat when the pressure was on. (e.g. the nation being informed about the Watergate burglars being apprehended and how that mind be connected to President Richard Nixon and the Republican Party.) Not one drop of sweat dropped from Cronkite's forehead. That, my friends, is true experience.

2.) Self discipline: when a story went against his own views, you would never know it. Walter Cronkite could have easily been a Master Zen Buddhist as he would sit telling one fact after the other about the Democratic Party meeting to execute some outrageous political strategy that might affect the common folk in America. Walter told the story and signed off. Bam! Done!

1.) Sentiment: we only saw this once. When Cronkite gave homage to those working behind the cameras to make the CBS Evening News possible in a very selfless, non-egotistical manner. And then he said "his" trademark line: "and that's the way it is," on his final broadcast of the CBS Evening News. And was never at any moment, a quivering mass of strawberry Jell-O. He was the consummate professional.

Thanks for your time.

Good night, Fulton County, Georgia.

Where were you on Friday, March 6, 1981

© 2016 Kenneth Avery

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    • DreamerMeg profile image

      DreamerMeg 7 months ago from Northern Ireland

      Walter Cronkite's name was well known on this side of the big pond too! A news anchor like that has great responsibility, as you say.

    • profile image

      Kenneth Avery 6 months ago

      Hi, DreamerMeg, my good friend,

      You are so right in your comment. And Cronkite handled the

      awesome responsibility with such professionalism.

      Thank you for your nice comment.

      Write me anytime.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 5 months ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      I miss him too. We could really use a man like him right about now.

    • kenneth avery profile image
      Author

      Kenneth Avery 5 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, Sherry,

      I quickly agree with your comment 110%.

      Cronkite was built from integrity, class, and more importantly, class.

      Thank you, Sherry, for your comment on this serious piece.

      And do you recall me asking you for permission to run a version,

      Not a copy of your Rock 'N Roll Albums/Psychedelic Choices?

      I have finished my rough draft of my Rock Bands With Influence or something like that, but I have not got the patience to put it

      on HP for my friend, it is long and it is detailed.

      All thanks to you.

      Kenneth

    • kenneth avery profile image
      Author

      Kenneth Avery 5 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      DreamerMeg,

      I am very glad that Cronkite carried a lot of clout where

      you live, but that was Cronkite--friends all over the world.

      Stay in touch with me.

    • RonElFran profile image

      Ronald E. Franklin 5 months ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      I fondly remember Walter Cronkite, and the sense of unassuming authority with which he communicated the events of the day. But I wonder if in today's contentious and acrimonious climate Cronkite could be the Cronkite we knew. For example, given that Cronkite was committed to telling us "the way it is," isn't it very likely that Pres. Trump would include even Uncle Walter in his charge that the press is the "enemy of the people"?

      I think what we miss is not just Walter Cronkite, but the times in which he could tell us, "that's the way it is," and most Americans believed him.

    • kenneth avery profile image
      Author

      Kenneth Avery 4 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      RonElFran,

      I am with you in this query. Knowing Cronkite, he would mildly adapt to his atmosphere, but so much as to weaken his own integrity. Or that of the news items that he was responsible for reporting.

      I do wish we had a few Walters in today's news broadcasting business.

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