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Posts Tagged ‘JFk assassination’

When I was growing up, my dad got his news from three newspapers and three men on television. The newspapers and networks were owned by different people who had this in common: their main business was not energy or entertainment but rather, news. H&B

The three men were the veteran team of  Chet Huntley and David Brinkley over on NBC and, on CBS, the singular Walter Cronkite. My dad favored the Huntley/Brinkley report, perhaps because it so deftly combined a Washington insider feel (courtesy of Brinkley) with solid reporting on the rest of the world (Huntley’s turf). But it was hard not to watch Cronkite during the momentous events, of which there were many in the sixties and seventies. Cronkite’s style – his voice, his less than perfect face, the way he seemed on the verge of chuckling – was reassuring, even when covering the pain of the Kennedy assassination or the morass that represented the Vietnam War. His delight at the moon WK1landing was evident and paralleled our own. He would not – could not – give us the news without some sort of reaction, sometimes subtly (raising an eyebrow, removing his glasses to wipe away a tear), sometimes quite overtly (his comments about the progress of the Vietnam War). Were his reactions “appropriate” for a newscaster? No matter, they made him human, accessible, familiar and then, to millions of Americans something more:  the most trusted man in America.

That’s a heavily symbolic role to assume and Cronkite was apparently modest about assuming it. True, he spent a long time in the public eye during a continuing series of historic events. He was a part of the halcyon days of the television news program. Certainly luck and timing were responsible for his becoming so well-known and well-regarded. Brinkley broadcast during those years as well and so did Sam Donaldson over on ABC but it was Cronkite who became the icon. Perhaps the trust we placed in him spoke to our desperate need for something or someone we could count on. Nowadays, we still have that need, but we’re more likely to believe in a celebrity or a spiritualist or our personal shrink. Then, at that time in history, perhaps, it was inevitable that we would choose to invest our faith in an anchorman with a distinctive style who delivered – and occasionally showed us he was affected by – the news of the day. WK2

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