18 July 2009

“And that’s the way it is”

Walter Cronkite, arguably the most influential broadcaster of the 2nd half of 20th century, has died at the age of 92.  From 1982 to 1981 America watched Cronkite, who anchored the CBS evening news, to discover the way it was that day.  Even 10 years after his retirement, America voted him as the person they most trusted.

It is ironic that he should pass away as the 40 anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the moon is celebrated.  The space programme meant much to him.

I remember my first visit to the States in the 70’s and witnessing first hand how people would organise their evenings so they could watch Cronkite.  From memory his bulletins went out at 6.30pm local time.

Perhaps his most influential broadcast was on the Vietnam war.  Not only did it move public opinion, but after watching Lyndon Johnson decided not to seek re-election saying, "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost Middle America”:

Here is Cronkite as he is left nearly speechless when Eagle did land on the moon:

I was lucky enough to attend a talk he gave during his long retirement.  The mainly American audience literally sat on the edge their seats somewhat spellbound as he retold his experiences and the historic events that he reported.

Obama, in many ways the modern equivalent to Cronkite in the way he communicates, sums his contribution up well:

His influence was profound and should not be underestimated.  He was a legendary figure.

“And that’s the way it is” on this sad day.

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