The Trust is Broken

19 Jul
1916 - 2009

1916 - 2009

This is the face I saw every day, growing up.  Next to my father, Walter Cronkite, was the most prevalent male role model in my life for the first 14 or 15 years.  Every night at 5:30pm, Walt would deliver the news while my Mother was cooking dinner.  Most nights, my much older brother and sister were off somewhere doing their teenager thing, leaving my Dad and I to take in the world happenings of the day.  My father was not an extremely demanding parent, but he did encourage us to read the newspaper and to watch the evening news so that we understood the issues of our time.  It’s something that has proven to be invaluable in work and life, in general.

I’m not sure why, but our daily newspaper always came in the afternoon.  My father usually picked up the paper when he returned from work, precisely at 5:05 pm (his nursery business was around the corner).  Then, he went straight to the den, kicked off his shoes, put his feet up on the stool, and cracked open the newspaper.  I’d enter after finishing homework, turn on the enormous RCA console TV and flip the big manual knob to Channel 10, which was CBS in our town, to catch the sports and weather from the local news.  You see, I was the remote control to switch between the four channels we had access to.  I had just the right wrist action to fly between 10 and 3, around to 7 with a short stop at 15.  It took a special talent and an understanding of the optimum UHF antenna position, but after years of practice I had it down pat.

At promptly 5:30 pm, the reliable and familiar “Good Evening” from the most trusted man in America.  He then would dispense whatever vile and unconscienable acts mankind was committing on each other that day.  While I know that every generation has absorbed “news” that is astonishing and unbelievable, growing up in the late ’60s and ’70s was an endless diet of war, pestilence and death.  I’m talking assassinations, riots, protests, war fronts, burning bodies, cracked heads, hateful words, corruption, lies, murder, and general mayhem.  In short, it was NOT the best of times.

But, there were also fantastic, new “discoveries”….the space program, microwaves, trans-atlantic Concorde flights, The Beatles, cassette tapes, and unleaded gas.  Both good and bad, Walter Cronkite brought it all to us, with integrity, honesty and wit.

Unlike the biased and entertainment focused news from the likes of Katie, Brian, and assorted cable “anchors”, Cronkite’s news was gospel.  And, while there may have been some manipulation of the news, most journalists were searching for the “story”, to right wrongs, to change the world.  It was a serious time for serious news and Mr. Cronkite let us know the happenings of the day with appropriate seriousness.  While I don’t long for the crazy, volatile times of those days, I do long for the time when there was at least a perception of truth and trust in the news of today.  In Cronkite’s passing, perhaps today’s media will undertake a little introspection into just how shallow and superficial their news has become.  In the 24/7, sensational reality news of the new millenium, “news” people have lost the ideals of true journalism that Cronkite so aptly displayed in his tenure over some of America’s darkest days.  It is a credit to Cronkite’s integrity that no-one really knew, until well after his retirement, that he was a Democrat.  It was a testament to his objectivity and commitment to impartiality.  With all of the accolades sure to follow his passing, those delivering the news would be wise to follow more of his example. 

When CBS forced Cronkite into retirement in 1981 to replace him with a younger, shinier Dan Rather, it subsequently sold its soul and eventually lost its hold on night time news.  Rather’s obvious left bias would be his undoing, leaving him woefully short of Cronkite’s legacy and class.

As a child of the ’70s, I tip my proverbial hat to Walter Cronkite on a career and life well lived.  Perhaps the most appropriate homage to the end of Uncle Walt’s personal broadcast are his own iconic words:

And, that’s the way it is….July 18th, 2009

Musically, the one song that kept coming to my mind is John Mayer’s Waiting on the World to Change…

…when they own the information, oh, they can bend it all they want…..


Posted by on July 19, 2009 in John Mayer, memorials, the seventies, TV


Tags: , ,

3 responses to “The Trust is Broken

  1. AH

    July 20, 2009 at 12:05 am

    Excellent write up MM. It would be wonderful if some of today’s media “stars” were inspired by Walter Cronkite’s passing to look closely at what they do . . but would those who control the programming even allow the kind of reporting we remember ? Unfortunately it seems likely there is a parallel with the music industry . . it’s all about ratings and money – news is simply the product.

  2. little Deb

    July 21, 2009 at 9:12 am

    Great analogy MM. We didn’t get a paper at my house when I was growing up. With just Mom and no Dad and for whatever reason Mom didn’t want to read the newspaper. Grandma got the Sunday paper basically for the sales and coupons. But we did watch Mr. Cronkite every night. Today’s news casting brings this song to mind, unfortunately.

    And another thing that bugs the crap out of me are those Weather Channel guys who insist on “reporting” in the middle of hurricanes. “the wind is blowing”, it’s really raining, oooh some roof shingles just blew off, a tree fell down”. It’s stupid, unsafe and bad tv. The only exception would be what Brian Norcross did during Hurricane Andrew (which was originally headed right for my house in Ft. Lauderdale and made a last minute turn towards Dade County). I’d still move back to Florida in a heartbeat, but that’s another story. Anyway, Brian was talking people through it, telling them what to do, where to take cover, he even took phone calls from people who were in the middle of the storm to give them support.

    Unfortunately, I find myself watching the news and reading the paper less and less due to the scary things happening in our country right now, but again that’s another story.

    RIP Mr. Cronkite.

  3. kanniduba

    July 22, 2009 at 5:38 am

    Wonderful post MM. Yes, it is a sad state of affairs today. I’ve given up on TV “news.” I stopped the local paper delivery. I just can’t stand the media bias—and then the way the “news” is taken over for weeks on end by what they deem a “big story.” I swear, whenever something “big” happens, the media licks their lips and rubs it’s hands together in glee, figuring out how to milk the story for all it’s worth and for as long as they can. Sickening.
    I pick up what I can via the internet, picking and choosing what I read, and (I’m embarrassed to say) depend on Zan to fill me in if something important is going on.
    The days of quality media the likes of Mr. Walter Cronkite are gone, and I fear they will not return anytime soon. As long as Joe and Joanne Q. Public want sensationalism, that’s what the media will deliver in oversized doses.


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