R.I.P. Walter Cronkite


(YouTube link)


Veteran journalist and news anchorman Walter Cronkite died today. Often called "the most trusted man in America", Cronkite set a high standard for television journalism in the 20th century. He was 92 years old.
Mr. Cronkite anchored the “CBS Evening News” from 1962 to 1981, at a time when television became the dominant medium of the United States. He figuratively held the hand of the American public during the civil-rights movement, the space race, the Vietnam war and the impeachment of Richard Nixon. During his tenure, network newscasts were expanded to 30 minutes from 15.

And that's the way it is, July 17, 2009.

Link -via YesButNoButYes

See also: A collection of memorable reports from Walter Cronkite.

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In fact, WC used his mastery of the English language to say what he said better than I could.

"We have been too often disappointed by the optimism of the American leaders, both in Vietnam and Washington, to have faith any longer in the silver linings they find in the darkest clouds. They may be right, that Hanoi's winter-spring offensive has been forced by the Communist realization that they could not win the longer war of attrition, and that the Communists hope that any success in the offensive will improve their position for eventual negotiations. It would improve their position, and it would also require our realization, that we should have had all along, that any negotiations must be that -- negotiations, not the dictation of peace terms. For it seems now more certain than ever that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate. This summer's almost certain standoff will either end in real give-and-take negotiations or terrible escalation; and for every means we have to escalate, the enemy can match us, and that applies to invasion of the North, the use of nuclear weapons, or the mere commitment of one hundred, or two hundred, or three hundred thousand more American troops to the battle. And with each escalation, the world comes closer to the brink of cosmic disaster.

To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe, in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past. To suggest we are on the edge of defeat is to yield to unreasonable pessimism. To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, yet unsatisfactory, conclusion. On the off chance that military and political analysts are right, in the next few months we must test the enemy's intentions, in case this is indeed his last big gasp before negotiations. But it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could"
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While awaiting the cites from moderation limbo (thanks), I'll just say what I know. The Tet Offensive, which was a surprise attack across many fronts, ended up being stifled. The NV was pushed back, and their plan for ultimate triumph failed. There was however, a new realization of the cost of the war in the long run.

What Cronkite basically told his audience was just that. I believe the word was "stalemate." And he painted a grim portrait of the war to come, stimulating President Johnson to not seek re-election. I am clueless as to any lies that were told, and what damage was done.
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