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Ten Things We Learned From Douglas Brinkley About Walter Cronkite

Wednesday, May 30, 2012 - 09:21 AM

Historian Douglas Brinkley has a new book about Walter Cronkite and was on the Brian Lehrer Show Tuesday to talk about the career and life of the "most trusted man in America." Here are 10 things that caught our ear. Listen to the full conversation below.

  • In 1972, the Quayle poll gave Cronkite the title of "the most trusted man in America" from a list that included Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew, and George McGovern. CBS News publicists "jumped on" the title during a time when distrust in American politics was rampant due to the Vietnam War and the emerging Watergate Scandal.
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  • Cronkite got on a plane to Vietnam when he learned about the Tet Offensive, embedding with US forces in the region. His time there would lead to one of the most significant commentaries about the situation abroad, stating that “at best it would end in a stalemate.” This showed a major shift in his centered to position to one that more on the “dove” side.
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  • Despite CBS Executive’s Dick Salant’s concerns, Cronkite kept with his signature sign off “And that’s the way it is,” inspired from Edward R. Murrow’s “And that’s the way it was.”
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  • Cronkite was one of the few major journalists to back Woodward and Bernstein’s investigation of the Watergate Scandal, spending the majority of his time on two segments covering the story.
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  • In 1952, the first time party conventions garnered major media coverage, Cronkite bugged a committee room where high level meetings were taking place.
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  • Cronkite gave a course called “How to Look Good on Television.” John F. Kennedy was one of his students.
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  • In 1968, Cronkite encouraged Robert Kennedy to run for President, believing Kennedy would be the only candidate to pull America out of the war in Vietnam.
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  • In 1960, Cronkite covered the Nixon – Kennedy debates. Kennedy thought that Cronkite covered his Catholicism too much and many believe that the two disagreed on Cronkite's reporting. Yet, in September 1963, during the first broadcast of Nightly News Kennedy was the first guest and the two talked about Vietnam.
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  • Many of Cronkite's close friends considered him to be a pacifist. He vehemently protested the First Gulf War and the war in Iraq.
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  • Cronkite quit in 1981 at the age of 64 but a year later “deeply regretted” retiring from his anchoring position.
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    Comments [1]

    Neil in Brooklyn

    "Nightly News" is the name of the NBC network news program. Cronkite anchored "The CBS Evening News."

    May. 30 2012 12:10 PM

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