Walter Cronkite, RIP
July 17, 2009 5:34 PM   Subscribe

 
Wow.

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posted by paisley henosis at 5:35 PM on July 17, 2009


That's the way it is.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 5:35 PM on July 17, 2009 [5 favorites]


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posted by aerotive at 5:35 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by tarheelcoxn at 5:36 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by Windigo at 5:36 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by esmerelda_jenkins at 5:37 PM on July 17, 2009


Ugh. Literally the death of journalism.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:37 PM on July 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


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posted by aheckler at 5:37 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by sloe at 5:38 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by Guy Smiley at 5:38 PM on July 17, 2009


Thank you, Uncle Walter.
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posted by robotico at 5:38 PM on July 17, 2009


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And that's the way he was.
posted by wendell at 5:39 PM on July 17, 2009




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posted by Senor Cardgage at 5:40 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by paddbear at 5:41 PM on July 17, 2009


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I still hear his voice from the Spaceship Earth ride at Epcot in my dreams sometimes. I have some of his oldest surviving broadcasts in my collection of news and radio shows, but that is what I will always remember the most.

The world has one less wonderful voice.
posted by strixus at 5:42 PM on July 17, 2009


You know, he hung on for a lot longer than I thought! He was sick before Ed McMahon died. RIP, sir.
posted by queensissy at 5:42 PM on July 17, 2009


The Year of Feeling Old continues.
posted by darth_tedious at 5:42 PM on July 17, 2009 [27 favorites]


I remember watching him as a kid with my family long before I could actually comprehend the news stories themselves. I just enjoyed watching the man talk - I can't imagine there being another tv newsman that could exude the same mix of authority and and comfort.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 5:43 PM on July 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


When we've lost Cronkite, we've lost Middle America.
posted by DU at 5:43 PM on July 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


Maybe he'll finally get that interview with Charles Schulz.
posted by pxe2000 at 5:43 PM on July 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


. x1000
posted by brundlefly at 5:44 PM on July 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by xorry at 5:44 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by jabberjaw at 5:44 PM on July 17, 2009


He had that kind of voice and that cadence that some people have where you will literally listen to them talk about anything at all.

He could have given me detailed instructions on the history of Hungarian basket-weaving and I probably wouldnt have reached for the remote.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 5:44 PM on July 17, 2009 [5 favorites]


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posted by ericb at 5:45 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by jeoc at 5:45 PM on July 17, 2009


And seconding XQUZYPHYR as there is NOBODY in the TV News Biz today fit to be in the same room with him. I remember his coverage of NASA vividly (and it's the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11... you bet we watched the CBS coverage of "one small step") and his unwillingness to be controlled by a Corporate/Establishment 'Conventional Wisdom' when it was wrong. He WAS the Conventional Wisdom back in the days when Wisdom COULD BE Conventional.
posted by wendell at 5:45 PM on July 17, 2009 [5 favorites]


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The saddest thing for us Midwesterners since Paul Harvey died.
posted by jock@law at 5:45 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by John of Michigan at 5:46 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by horsemuth at 5:46 PM on July 17, 2009


So appropriate for this weekend's 40th commermoration: Walter Cronkite And The Lunar Landing.

He was such a space and NASA fan.
posted by ericb at 5:47 PM on July 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


This one hurts. As a kid I loved to watch him. I didn't always understand what he was reporting about or care, but I watched him regardless.

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posted by DieHipsterDie at 5:48 PM on July 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


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posted by gursky at 5:49 PM on July 17, 2009


Godspeed, sir. The world of broadcast news stands in your shadow, and is for your loss a poorer and sadder place.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 5:49 PM on July 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh boy.

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posted by futureisunwritten at 5:49 PM on July 17, 2009


Watching old newscasts of Mr. Cronkite always made me a little sad that I was born after the golden age of television news was over. Rest in peace.
posted by honeybee413 at 5:50 PM on July 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Don't miss the companion to the FPP link, Memorable Reports by Walter Cronkite.

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posted by churl at 5:51 PM on July 17, 2009


Aw. I knew this was coming, but it doesn't make it any easier.

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Random anecdote: when my sister was quite small, she was once quizzed by someone as to whether she could name the Seven Dwarfs. She very confidently ticked them off: Grumpy, Dopey, Sneezy, Sleepy, Bashful, Doc, and Walter Cornkite. yes, Cornkite.
posted by scody at 5:52 PM on July 17, 2009 [15 favorites]


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posted by contessa at 5:53 PM on July 17, 2009


He narrated the century.

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posted by MrVisible at 5:54 PM on July 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Everyone's food is now safe from his spit.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 5:54 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by Tacodog at 5:54 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:55 PM on July 17, 2009


Some of my earliest memories are of watching the Mercury missions, glued to the set while Walter Cronkite patiently explained that we were still at T-minus 10 and holding. For me, Walter Cronkite was the Voice of NASA and, by extension, Hope for the Future.

Don McClean needs to write a new song: the Day the News Died.
posted by SPrintF at 5:55 PM on July 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


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posted by The World Famous at 5:56 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by rewil at 5:56 PM on July 17, 2009


He seemed like one of the good ones.

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posted by eyeballkid at 5:56 PM on July 17, 2009


He was such a space and NASA fan.

There's the rare and collectible letterpress book Remembering The Moon, published in 1989 (edition: 250 bound) by then wunderkind, Harvard undergrad Luke Pontifell, Thornwillow Press (West Stockbridge, MA).

There's always Cronkite's 2 DVD set -- Man On The Moon with Walter Cronkite - 40th Anniversary Collector's Embossed Tin available to the 'rest of us.'
posted by ericb at 5:58 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by josher71 at 5:58 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by Xoebe at 5:59 PM on July 17, 2009


Remembering The Moon, published in 1989...

BTW -- Cronkite wrote the book to commemorate the 20th. anniversary of the lunar landing.
posted by ericb at 6:00 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by Beardman at 6:01 PM on July 17, 2009


I'm too young to have had much of an impression of Cronkite outside of school, but my dad had an experience with him that really drove home the man's professionalism. I've mentioned it before, so here's a repost:

My dad's job puts him in regular contact with the MLB. A few years ago he was working at a spring training camp for one of the major teams. The training complex had received a special visit from Walter Cronkite and his daughter, Kathy, who were apparently big baseball fans. After the visit there was some joking amongst the players concerning the unflattering similarities between the two.

The next day during batting practice, my dad was sitting next to another player at the "bullpen", which was little more than a bench set against the front-row fence. They were talking about the visit when the other player casually snarks, "So, that Cronkite, he sure got a face for radio, huh?"

Without missing a beat my dad says, "Sure, but he looks downright handsome next to his daughter."

(Crappy thing to say, yeah, but it's baseball banter, what're you gonna do.)

Anyway, an inning or so later my dad leans back to stretch his neck, when he catches sight of the seats behind him.

Walter Cronkite was sitting in the front row. Kathy was right next to him. Their knees were practically touching the back of his head.

My dad turns beet red, the other player just smirks a little and turns away. Kathy is visibly pissed.

And Cronkite? He narrows his eyes, gathers up all the righteous anger and gravitas of a world class anchor, and... nods. Just nods.

And that's the way it was.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:02 PM on July 17, 2009 [17 favorites]


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posted by crickets at 6:03 PM on July 17, 2009


He retired from his nightly news spot in what? 1983? More than 25 years, and he still cast a huge shadow over every news anchor that followed. He was everybody's idea of what a newscaster should be. And there's been nobody better since. And that's the way it is, July 17th 2009.

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posted by wabbittwax at 6:04 PM on July 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


A true gentleman. There won't be another one like him. RIP, uncle Walt.
posted by Devils Slide at 6:04 PM on July 17, 2009


Ol' Walter made it into a Dylan song, too. Remember?

I was sittin' home alone one night,
In L.A., watchin' old Cronkite on the seven o'clock news...


-Black Diamond Bay

RIP, Walter Cronkite.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:05 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by namasaya at 6:06 PM on July 17, 2009



posted by pyramid termite at 6:06 PM on July 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


deeee oooooohhhhh teeeeee

A big dot and moment of silence for Walter. It's like the Michael Jackson thing. The whole everything changed so making an apples/apples comparison might not be possible but for quite a while he was pretty fucking credible.
posted by fixedgear at 6:07 PM on July 17, 2009


Art Buchwald's roast of fellow Martha's Vineyard summer resident Walter Cronkite (March 5, 1981):
“March is the cruelest month of the year, particularly this year when we all lose Walter Cronkite as anchorman on the CBS Nightly News. We are not only saying goodbye to a man who has spent more time in our homes than most of our children, but also to a person who has been voted, year after year, as the most trusted man in America.

I am a personal friend of Walter's and I now can reveal for the first time how Walter achieved this title.

Walter Cronkite was born in St. Joseph, Mo., the only child of a dentist and a housewife. When he was 7 years old, his mother sent him to the store for a quart of milk. Walter saw a lady drop a dime on the floor of the store. He picked it up and gave it to her. She patted him on the head and said, ‘Someday you will be the most trusted man in this country.’

This incident changed Walter's life because he finally knew what he wanted to be when he grew up.

His family moved to Houston where Walter attended Sidney Lanier High School, and was the only student the teachers would trust to clean the blackboards.

He was also the only boy that parents in Houston would trust with their daughters. Walter never violated that trust, and most of the girls he went out with reported it was the most boring date they ever had.

After finishing high school Walter enrolled at the University of Texas where he majored in Trustworthiness, with a minor in Integrity.

Although he had a brilliant scholastic record, his social life suffered because the word was out that Walter could be trusted not to make a pass at a girl. The coeds at the University of Texas refused to have anything to do with him.

For the first time Walter started having doubts about wanting to be the most trusted man in America.

He told his mother, ‘Maybe I should go into law or politics instead.’

His mother sympathized with him and said, ‘I know it's hard not to lie and cheat and mess around in convertibles, but someday if you stick to your vows and become America's most trusted man, women will throw themselves at you feet, and you will never have to do without again.’

So Walter graduated from the University of Texas ‘magna cum virgin’ to take up his role in journalism, which many say is the second oldest profession in the world.

Walter worked on newspapers, for wire services and eventually joined the electronic media. In 1962 he took over the CBS Evening News, and achieved his dream of becoming the most trusted man in this country.

The role Walter Cronkite has played in all our lives cannot be overestimated. I recall during on of the space shots, when the astronauts were having trouble with their capsule, Walter was the first to tell us that there was a malfunction in a computer that had made the ship lose control. I was sick with fear, but my wife said, ‘Don't worry, Walter will solve the problem.’

Sure enough, 20 minutes later Walter was back on the air, reporting the computer had been fixed and the astronauts were safe.

A man less trustworthy would have taken credit for correcting the problem, but Walter refused. Yet everyone in America knew that once again Cronkite had saved the day.

Walter is not leaving television. He will be doing specials and other news-worthy events. But he won't be coming into our living rooms every night anymore.

We'll miss him not only in the evenings, but also during the space shots and political conventions and the summit talks.

But most of all the American people will have to find another person in this country they can trust. With a population of only 220 million citizens to choose from, it isn't going to be easy.”
posted by ericb at 6:08 PM on July 17, 2009 [17 favorites]


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posted by Ranucci at 6:09 PM on July 17, 2009


When I was growing up, I dreaded news hour because that's when my dad would turn off whatever I was watching and watch Cronkite. No more Gilligan's Island or Scooby Doo or whatever was being shown on Channel 11 or 5. I came to associate Cronkite's face with the news and, before he retired, I'd learned that if Cronkite said it, it must be true.

When he retired and that other guy took over, the news didn't look or sound right. In fact, it hasn't really looked or sounded right since.
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:09 PM on July 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


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Farewell, Walt.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 6:10 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by ambulance blues at 6:10 PM on July 17, 2009


Cronkite was one of the last broadcasters to take the news seriously. Now it's all gotchas, horse races, and meta-commentary.

When I lived in Montreal, the only American channel we got was the CBS station in Plattsburgh, Vermont, so the American voice of record for me was Cronkite.

Cronkite and the full original broadcast of the Apollo 11 moon landing, July 20, 1969, part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7 and part 8.

Cronkite reflecting on the experience.

The moon landing is still all Cronkite for me, and he seems locked in that black and white world for good, but not everyone is. This morning I listened to a local news radio station interview Buzz Aldrin as part of the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11's flight. While the genuflecting announcer was working his way through another, "But how did it feeeeeel?" question, you could hear Aldrin's cell phone ring, then after a couple of moments of Aldrin gathering his wits and trying to wrap up the interview, he made sure to mention his new book, his MySpace page and his Twitter feed.

I don't think Cronkite ever tweeted. I like that.

(After fact-checking myself) Not him. Not him, either.

Recreation of a 1964 WCBS signoff in lieu of a .
posted by maudlin at 6:11 PM on July 17, 2009 [8 favorites]


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posted by ruelle at 6:12 PM on July 17, 2009


In Saigon, the United States Embassy has been overrun by suicide squads. Khe Sahn is standing by to be overrun. We also have reports that a division of N.V.A. has occupied all of the city of Hue south of the Perfume River. In strategic terms, Charlie's cut the country in half, the civilian press are about to wet their pants, and we've heard even Cronkite's going to say the war is now unwinnable.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:13 PM on July 17, 2009


Mostly knew him from brief clips on my contry's TV channels, and then later on the interwebs. Anyway: He seemed like a good guy, so yeah:

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posted by Dumsnill at 6:13 PM on July 17, 2009


Due to a combination of the era and the format and the man himself - the standards he set were very high. There is just no one who has filled his shoes since his retirement. His integrity had [and now has] become a part of the past. Today's media figures cannot seem to retrieve or achieve his level of relevance or respect. He will be missed.

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posted by Rashomon at 6:14 PM on July 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by Smart Dalek at 6:17 PM on July 17, 2009


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I read an article in Utne last month that claims we're at the height of civilization in this country, but I think we've actually passed it. It's all downhill from here, kids.
posted by PuppyCat at 6:17 PM on July 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


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(falls to knees) WHEN WILL IT END?
posted by Askiba at 6:19 PM on July 17, 2009


. It's hard to remember how central CBS and NBC nightly news were to the national culture back then. Before talk radio and cable news and blogs, you had a choice between Huntley and Brinkley on NBC and Uncle Walter on CBS. Cronkite had a huge audience compared to the nightly news these days and you always knew that he took the responsibility seriously.
posted by octothorpe at 6:19 PM on July 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


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(w/David Brinkley, David Halberstam, Tom Wicker)
posted by hooptycritter at 6:20 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by jlkr at 6:23 PM on July 17, 2009


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Last (and I suppose first) of his profession that I trusted in the visceral manner that presumably is good for network audience share. In my defense, I was three. I still miss his voice in the evenings.
posted by mwhybark at 6:24 PM on July 17, 2009


Everyone's food is now safe from his spit.

Huh?
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 6:24 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by R. Mutt at 6:25 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by BitterOldPunk at 6:26 PM on July 17, 2009


ericb, that was awesome. I miss Art too.
posted by mwhybark at 6:28 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by Heretic at 6:28 PM on July 17, 2009


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Thank you, Walter, and goodnight.
posted by Kinbote at 6:30 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by Ironmouth at 6:31 PM on July 17, 2009


I'm too young to have experienced Cronkite's career, but not too young for film projectors in school. As a result, my first exposure to Cronkite was "You are There", an educational TV show in which Cronkite and a team of fake reporters gave reports outside historical events. I have the distinct memory of a well-worn film strip with Cronkite holding a giant microphone outside Independence Hall, reporting on the signing of the Declaration of Independence. There's something really ennobling about the idea of the US having its own voice to document its history, like a baseball team with its own announcer.

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posted by l33tpolicywonk at 6:31 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by iamkimiam at 6:31 PM on July 17, 2009


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Wow. He was the face of the news for my grandparents, parents, and me A little blond kid sitting on an old braided rug in front of a flickering television set (that had a BIG knob with which you used to turn to one of four channels! Such choices!). We watched him come on sometime after All in the Family (I think? I can't exactly remember but that sounds right.)

Man, I feel old.
posted by jeanmari at 6:33 PM on July 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Walter Cronkite's UFO story
posted by hortense at 6:34 PM on July 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


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posted by BlooPen at 6:35 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by tommasz at 6:35 PM on July 17, 2009


That's unpossible! Who's next, Dick Clark?!

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posted by porpoise at 6:37 PM on July 17, 2009


Goodbye, Uncle Walt. From World War II to the Apollo program, the Vietnam War, and the assassination of JFK, you covered it all. The important events of my childhood came to us in your voice. I wonder who's the most trusted man in America today?
posted by Quietgal at 6:39 PM on July 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Noooooooooooo… Well, dammit.

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posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:41 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by marsha56 at 6:41 PM on July 17, 2009


Back when Disney still did animation by hand, in America, they had an animation studio in the MGM part of Disney World. It was also an attraction, and you could walk through and at one point you could watch the animators working, through windows. It was like they were animals at a zoo or something.

Anyway, the real attraction was a series of videos playing along the way on TV monitors mounted on the ceiling, which talked about the process of creating animation. And it featured Walter Cronkite and Robin Williams. Williams played a tourist who was converted into an animated character (sort of like a refugee from "Peter Pan") and Cronkite was the calm, elderly one who told Williams all the things that were going on.

Williams was in full-on manic mode the whole time. And I've heard tell that in the real filming sessions, they had to do a lot of retakes because Cronkite kept breaking up laughing at Williams' antics.

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When I heard this news, I thought to myself, "Now there's no single man that everyone trusts and believes."
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:41 PM on July 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


I remember learning about him as a journalism student. Today we've all experienced the passing of a legend.
posted by crasiman at 6:43 PM on July 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's funny how the news has gone downhill since Cronkite left. Rather was/is great compared to modern news anchors, but he was/is no Walter Cronkite. Cronkite was the peak.

Luckily for him, he left before politics got to the point where slandering the newsmen was considered within the realm of reason. I can only imagine what rumors the operatives of today would have spread about him were he still on the air and reporting the truth about the shenanigans in Washington.

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posted by wierdo at 6:44 PM on July 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


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posted by saslett at 6:44 PM on July 17, 2009


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What has happened to television journalism? Is there no man in this great country worthy to succeed this dear, late broadcaster?
posted by kjh at 6:47 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by Schlimmbesserung at 6:48 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by The Ardship of Cambry at 6:51 PM on July 17, 2009


Funny you should mention Disney, because as a kid, I was convinced that Walt Disney and Walter Cronkite were the same guy.

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posted by OolooKitty at 6:51 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by Catblack at 6:52 PM on July 17, 2009


Anyone who grew up in a certain era remembers Walter Cronkite well, even if you didn't watch him very much on TV directly -- he was such an integral part of the everyday cultural currency that his name came up everywhere, even in the middle of throwaway lines on sitcoms like "The Mary Tyler Moore Show."

Talk about a piece of America dying and vanishing -- it doesn't get much more iconic and quintessential than Mr. Cronkite. None of this is even talking about his historical impact -- his broadcast commentary in February 1968 about the Vietnam War was incomparable in its impact, absolutely incomparable. And that's just one single example, out of hundreds.

"And that's the way it is, Friday, July 17, 2009. This is Walter Cronkite. Good night."
posted by blucevalo at 6:53 PM on July 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wasn't he dating Carly Simon's sister? The real estate agent?
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 6:55 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by functionequalsform at 6:55 PM on July 17, 2009


One more voice from my childhood now exists only in my memory.

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posted by The Light Fantastic at 6:56 PM on July 17, 2009 [1 favorite]




Farewell Mr. Cronkite. He was a man of grace and gravitas. Watching him breaking the news of Kennedy's death still gives me chills; there's one second where his voice breaks a little, and then he's the calm, informative voice of reason yet again. RIP.

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And another bit of my childhood falls away into the sea...
posted by jokeefe at 6:59 PM on July 17, 2009


When he left my evenings, I at least could see him every year hosting the Vienna New Year's Concert and the Kennedy Center Honors. Then that was gone too, and now he's gone. He was a true class act.
posted by girlhacker at 7:00 PM on July 17, 2009


In your rush to get FRIST PSOT, you couldn't have actually taken a few minutes to construct something that actually paid some respect to the man and his work? Ah well.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:02 PM on July 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by cerebus19 at 7:06 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by vibrotronica at 7:09 PM on July 17, 2009


I remember being a little boy, sitting in tandem with my brother in our fathers lap... all sitting comfortably in dads Lay-Z-Boy chair... Watching him speak and listening intently.

So many memorable people from my childhood have faded away...

Such a wonderful and trustworthy man. An authority all to his own.

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posted by PROD_TPSL at 7:09 PM on July 17, 2009


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Only recently did I learn of how Mr Cronkite reported on the Vietnam war. Wow.

Thank you Mr Cronkite.
posted by Artful Codger at 7:12 PM on July 17, 2009


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Cronkite was also a racing driver early in his life. (Here's a piece of him talking about sports cars and racing.)
posted by maxwelton at 7:13 PM on July 17, 2009


Goodnight sir, they don't make em like you anymore.
posted by Divine_Wino at 7:14 PM on July 17, 2009


I mostly know Walter Cronkite from school vidoes. It seems like every event in 20th Century history had an accompanying Cronkite video.

But, every time I saw him, I remember thinking, "Why isn't the news like this anymore?"

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posted by Netzapper at 7:16 PM on July 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


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Mind-boggling, in today's world, that anybody in TV news could be seen as "the most trusted person in America."
posted by PlusDistance at 7:16 PM on July 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Random anecdote: when my sister was quite small, she was once quizzed by someone as to whether she could name the Seven Dwarfs. She very confidently ticked them off: Grumpy, Dopey, Sneezy, Sleepy, Bashful, Doc, and Walter Cornkite. yes, Cornkite.

My brother and I, when we were small, called him "Walter Klikclak."

The footage of him reacting to the lunar module touching down on the moon -- that gobsmacked grin, that shake of the head, and the "oh boy" -- is something I find incredibly endearing. Because you know that every single "I have to be professional and unemotional" instinct he had just went out the window, for a split second, and he gave into "you know what, sod it, this is just so damn cool."

. Godspeed, Uncle Klikclak.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:18 PM on July 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yes, sorry stavros, I suck at MeFi. Take it to MeTa if you want to join the pile-on there.
posted by the dief at 7:19 PM on July 17, 2009


Stupid personal anecdote: When JFK was assassinated, my family was in the process of moving into a new house in a new neighborhood and it was my first day at a new school (3rd grade). The kid who "showed me the ropes" (son of my dad's coworker who became a good friend) talked about how the elementary school had a student council and elected class officials, and when the Principal came into class to grimly announce that The President had been shot and the school was letting out early, I thought she was talking about the Student Body President and thought "what kind of school is THIS?" I remained confused until I got back to the chaotic new house and saw on a portable TV in the kitchen (not its intended place but most everything, including the living room TV, was not yet unpacked) the grim visage of Uncle Walter and I realized... "OMG. THAT President".

And yes, The LAST person to deserve the title "Most Trusted Man in America" deserves better. He CERTAINLY deserves more attention from the MainStreamMedia than Tim Russert got. I'm actually afraid to turn on the TV.
posted by wendell at 7:20 PM on July 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


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posted by voltairemodern at 7:21 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by ameliajayne at 7:24 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by Mael Oui at 7:26 PM on July 17, 2009


As a kid, my heroes were the Apollo astronauts, and Walter Cronkite was my Howard Cosell.
posted by The Deej at 7:29 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by nevercalm at 7:32 PM on July 17, 2009




Walter Cronkite's Last Newscast (Video | March 6, 1981).
posted by ericb at 7:34 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by Soliloquy at 7:35 PM on July 17, 2009


Everyday at seven I've been watching Walter

I learned a lot since you've been gone

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posted by yhbc at 7:36 PM on July 17, 2009


Johnny Carson does Cronkite's last newscast.

About as fitting a tribute as I can imagine.
posted by Cyrano at 7:36 PM on July 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


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posted by DaddyNewt at 7:39 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by condour75 at 7:39 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by sarcasticah at 7:42 PM on July 17, 2009


Cronkite on his 40-years of summering on Martha's Vineyard: "I don’t know of any place quit like it, and I’ve traveled a great deal around the world and this nation of ours. This is unique."

One of his final interviews was with the Vineyard Gazette in June 2007 "in the front room of his house overlooking the Edgartown inner harbor."
posted by ericb at 7:42 PM on July 17, 2009


God, I miss real news. And real journalists. Rest in peace, sir.
posted by Space Kitty at 7:43 PM on July 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


SNL had three actors portraying Cronkite nine times over 24 years. He's the cultural icon that never quit.

Bill Murray portrayal listing
Dave Thomas portrayal listing
Darrel Hammond portrayal listing
posted by jeanmari at 7:44 PM on July 17, 2009


Wasn't he dating Carly Simon's sister? The real estate agent?

Yes. His wife of 60-plus years died in 2005, and he and Joanna Simon started dating in 2006. Of course they'd known each other for decades, from Martha's Vineyard community preservation activities, and Simon was a journalist before she did the real estate thing.

He had a long, rich life and, in addition to his distinguished career, was very active in lots of causes. I met him in passing a couple of times, at big charity events, and was always starstruck. He was The Voice of News from my childhood, and I admired him so much.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:44 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by kuujjuarapik at 7:46 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by rougy at 7:47 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by Brody's chum at 7:48 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by mrzer0 at 7:49 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by starman at 7:50 PM on July 17, 2009


Sorry, sorry, I won't believe this news until I hear it from Cronkite himself.
posted by Kikkoman at 7:53 PM on July 17, 2009 [7 favorites]


Wow, I forgot about how everyone used to run around in the background on the evening news until I watched this Cronkite clip.
posted by jeanmari at 7:54 PM on July 17, 2009


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One of my first memories is sitting on my grandaddy's lap watching Cronkite on a black and white tv. We lived out in the country and tv was a treat for the 6 o'clock news and Cowboys games. It was never on. But when it was I could sit on Grandaddy's lap and watch with him. Being the early 70's it was almost always Vietnam war coverage. Walter Cronkite is...part of my life.
posted by green herring at 7:55 PM on July 17, 2009


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what a summer :(
posted by exlotuseater at 7:59 PM on July 17, 2009


Here's a remarkable moment... the press secretary of a former president calls Walter during the newscast to give him some important news.

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posted by evilcolonel at 7:59 PM on July 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


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posted by gubo at 8:01 PM on July 17, 2009


Walter Cronkite (with colleagues) on "What's My Line?" circa 1956, with Cronkite attempting to disguise his voice.
posted by jeanmari at 8:03 PM on July 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


So it goes.

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posted by endotoxin at 8:03 PM on July 17, 2009


Damn

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posted by tyllwin at 8:10 PM on July 17, 2009


Got to ride a scooter by his house when we went to Martha's Vineyard, he was literally and definitively, the news.

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posted by Sphinx at 8:10 PM on July 17, 2009


Cyrano wrote: Johnny Carson does Cronkite's last newscast.

About as fitting a tribute as I can imagine.


Strangely, I found that more interesting just as a reminder of what was going on in those days (Reagan slashing the budget and reporting on the Vela Incident) than as it being Cronkite's last newscast. It's too bad the whole thing isn't available.
posted by wierdo at 8:14 PM on July 17, 2009


Walter Cronkite's pro-drug-legalization letter

What a brave man -- he didn't just have the guts to tell it like it is on TV, he did so right up to the end. Here's to you, Walter.
posted by vorfeed at 8:14 PM on July 17, 2009 [5 favorites]


He was the primary voice of reason for my earliest memories of television. He was a world-class mensch, and between him and Murrow, there went journalistic integrity on television.


posted by dbiedny at 8:27 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by Faint of Butt at 8:28 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by jonp72 at 8:28 PM on July 17, 2009


He's the reason they were called anchors.

I don't think there are any real news "anchors" out there anymore. Not because there aren't journalists who could grow into that role (though I know many people believe that), but because the role doesn't exist in today's media landscape. That feels like a loss to me.
posted by Noon Under the Trees at 8:31 PM on July 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


I come home to this right after the happy time of our Indianapolis Mefi 10th meetup. What a downer.

Walter Cronkite did, indeed, narrate most of the last half of the 20th century for America. I grew up watching him- from the Kennedy assassination, to hearing him almost choke up in wonder when the Eagle landed on the Moon. He was probably the most authentic voice I can imagine- you knew how he felt, and you knew he was telling it to you straight.

I'll miss him. We'd all be better off if the news still adhered to the standards he held so dear.
posted by pjern at 8:34 PM on July 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by longsleeves at 8:37 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by YoBananaBoy at 8:39 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by spilon at 8:45 PM on July 17, 2009


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And the motorcade sped on.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:46 PM on July 17, 2009


Good night, Walter.

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posted by jaimev at 8:54 PM on July 17, 2009


From 2001 to 2005, Cronkite contributed his memories on various historic events to NPR. I would hear these on the way home from work. It was great to spend part of my commute with the anchorman who gave me all the news I needed to know up to the age of 9.

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posted by grabbingsand at 8:58 PM on July 17, 2009


NPR just gave us a rerun of on of his earlier interviews (from 5, 10, 15, 20 years ago...and I know the number makes a difference here) in which Cronkite opined than the anchorman had way more influence than he should. (When I quoted this to wife she snorted and said "Since when did Brian Williams influence anybody?").

Well, twenty, thirty, forty years ago it was different. And to be an anchorman did imply that you knew what you were talking about and had an opinion about it, despite your necessary distance from the more explicitly political ramifications about your stance.

Cronkite's Vietnam war coverage was kind of a bridge between Murrow and today's blow-dried 'droids.

Us boomers realized that the "news" was real, because of the lingering influence of real journalism in Cronkite - and, especially, in all those behind the scenes people who shaped the evening news. The world - and the outsized place America had in its events - was important, and that's why we watched the news almost every night.

Now, the evening news is corporate pap. Everyone agrees; few care; fewer care to try to change it.

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posted by kozad at 8:59 PM on July 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Damn.
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posted by Thorzdad at 8:59 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by localroger at 8:59 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by honest knave at 9:02 PM on July 17, 2009


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(There's a Republican flack/hack, Alex Castellanos, who appears on CNN to repeat his Party's talking points. And yet, to me, he always sounds authoritative, I always raise my head and listen harder when he talks, no matter what bilge he's selling, because he sounds just like Walter Cronkite. That's how powerful Cronkite was -- even after eight years of Bush, just sounding like him can dress up even Republican Party mendacities.)

Good night Uncle Walter.
posted by orthogonality at 9:03 PM on July 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by brandz at 9:07 PM on July 17, 2009


SNL had three actors portraying Cronkite nine times over 24 years. He's the cultural icon that never quit.

The man had his own muppet, Walter Cranky. That's a cultural icon for you.
posted by twoleftfeet at 9:15 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by Skygazer at 9:18 PM on July 17, 2009


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Good night.
posted by neewom at 9:24 PM on July 17, 2009


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I had the opportunity to meet him once. I was speechless.
posted by pianoboy at 9:24 PM on July 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by rahnefan at 9:26 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by effwerd at 9:27 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by Decimask at 9:28 PM on July 17, 2009


So sad . . . such a loss.
posted by ahimsakid at 9:30 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:37 PM on July 17, 2009


The last time I saw him on television, elegantly saying goodbye to Chet Huntley.

On July 7, 1952, the term "anchor" was coined to describe Cronkite's role at both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, which marked the first nationally-televised convention coverage.

Not knowing anything about his character, I can only say he portrayed fairness and adultly mature intelligence beautifully.

May he rest in peace.
posted by nickyskye at 9:44 PM on July 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


*sniff*

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posted by dejah420 at 9:45 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by Malice at 9:47 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by The Great Big Mulp at 10:00 PM on July 17, 2009


. . .
posted by deCadmus at 10:00 PM on July 17, 2009


Also: Walter Cronkite and the Lunar Landing
posted by dejah420 at 10:02 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by IvoShandor at 10:07 PM on July 17, 2009


.

I'm just now aware of how much his influence pervaded (my) modern culture. I'm young enough that I was barely alive when he broadcast the fall of Saigon, but it just struck me that whenever I watch footage of the moon landings or of the Vietnam war, it does not seem real unless I hear Cronkite's voice, explaining it all to me.

Like pretty much everyone else, I've grown more than a bit jaded with modern news reporting and I'm going to miss being able to watch the news and actually believe what the anchor behind the desk it telling me.
posted by nogudnik at 10:12 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by podwarrior at 10:30 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by heeeraldo at 10:33 PM on July 17, 2009


I only started watching the news regularly as a young teenager, a few years after Cronkite retired. Even then, whenever I heard his voice it would make me regret that I'd totally missed the golden age of TV news.

Only later did my grandparents mention that the Cronkites were their neighbors in Kansas City in the early '40s, when Walter was mostly off reporting on WWII. Betsy Cronkite babysat my dad frequently, and my grandparents had years' worth of holiday cards from them. I really wish I'd asked for more details.

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posted by lisa g at 10:36 PM on July 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by roll truck roll at 10:37 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:39 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by jabo at 10:43 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by dancestoblue at 10:44 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by strange chain at 10:51 PM on July 17, 2009


Everyone's food is now safe from his spit.

Huh?


It's a reference to the Walter Cronkite Spit in My Food website - long since deceased after Walter searched for his own name on the internet and found that was the first hit.
posted by benzenedream at 10:55 PM on July 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by ssmith at 10:56 PM on July 17, 2009


Anchor.

*sigh*


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posted by darkstar at 11:08 PM on July 17, 2009


And so the Trojans buried Hector breaker of horses.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:15 PM on July 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Goodnight Walter.

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posted by faineant at 11:24 PM on July 17, 2009


I've read this whole thread and unless a comment got past me, there hasn't been one negative thing said about Cronkite. That says a lot about a man, especially considering this is MeFi and there are usually at least a few detractors even in an obit post.
posted by Devils Slide at 11:26 PM on July 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


post=thread
posted by Devils Slide at 11:28 PM on July 17, 2009


He would not fit in today's world of national 'journalism', sometimes what we need most is beyond our reach.
posted by edgeways at 11:28 PM on July 17, 2009



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posted by EatTheWeak at 11:43 PM on July 17, 2009


This man, the memory of this one man, stirs in me the single-deepest feeling of security I ever experienced as a child. (I was born in January of 1965.)

It was not him per se. Rather, it was the response he evoked from the adults around me my entire childhood as they listened to Walter Cronkite. It was as they were actually hearing something worth paying attention to, it was as if ordinary play was suspended to here what This Voice had to say.

In Largo, FL, people watched Walter Cronkite nightly! At every house. And the response was always the same: It was as if the voice of the human resistance was speaking, the village elder, the world's population's commentator of the moment.

His voice to me is the voice of sanity and reason. I am glad to have that. I will cherish it always.

*
posted by humannaire at 11:46 PM on July 17, 2009 [6 favorites]


This death is meaningless to me because there aren't enough links in the original post.

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posted by jeremy b at 11:50 PM on July 17, 2009


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posted by Mitheral at 12:13 AM on July 18, 2009


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posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 12:14 AM on July 18, 2009


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I was lucky enough to meet him in 1981 at a distant relative's wedding. He told me a story about the groom's dog peeing on his brand new sailboat, in that beautiful Midwestern baritone.
posted by aquanaut at 12:17 AM on July 18, 2009


I used to have a ridiculously huge crush on Walter Cronkite when I was a toddler. I don't remember this at all, but my grandmother tells me I used to get in trouble almost every night for sidling up to the TV, trying to kiss Walter through the TV screen and then gleefully smacking him across the face.

(Eventually I moved on to Richard Dawson, which of course ended in heartbreak. But I never forgot Walter.)

A thousand . for you, Uncle Walt. Godspeed.
posted by palomar at 12:42 AM on July 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


Devils Slide: I've read this whole thread and unless a comment got past me, there hasn't been one negative thing said about Cronkite.

On FOX News earlier this evening, Liz Trotta slammed Cronkite for his on-air statement that the conflict in Viet Nam could not be won. She said that he "cast doubt" on that very important war against Communism. She said this about twenty minutes after they announced his death.

We can rest easy, knowing that integrity is alive and well in television news.
posted by tzikeh at 1:53 AM on July 18, 2009


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posted by doctor_negative at 2:25 AM on July 18, 2009


On FOX News earlier this evening, Liz Trotta slammed Cronkite for his on-air statement that the conflict in Viet Nam could not be won. She said that he "cast doubt" on that very important war against Communism. She said this about twenty minutes after they announced his death.


Just...wow. I don't even know who Ms. Trotta is, but the whole cast on Fox News can't hold a candle to Mr. Cronkite in terms of integrity. The traditional period doesn't seem enough, but I don't know what else to say, so

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posted by TedW at 2:32 AM on July 18, 2009


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posted by rand at 2:58 AM on July 18, 2009


Aw man, that just sucks. He was one of the great ones.

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posted by bwg at 3:22 AM on July 18, 2009


the whole cast on Fox News can't hold a candle to Mr. Cronkite in terms of integrity.

Understatement of the year. And you know what else about the whole cast on Fox News? They can KISS MY ASS!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:26 AM on July 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


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posted by mmoncur at 3:27 AM on July 18, 2009


Fox News had to piss on Walter's grave. His honesty and forthrightness is the model for them of what NOT to do.
posted by wendell at 3:36 AM on July 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by lapolla at 3:44 AM on July 18, 2009


What are the news? Now, not a single new.
posted by Goofyy at 3:59 AM on July 18, 2009


crasiman: I remember learning about him as a journalism student.

This is amazing to me. For at least two generations before you, Cronkite is, to this very day, the definition of the nightly news and the benchmark for professional broadcast media. The thought that he would (for later generations) be an abstract lesson from "back in the old days" had simply never occurred to me.

Anyway, like a lot of you I listened to Cronkite as a kid. He managed to convey both gravitas and humanity and I trusted in him as much as I trusted in Santa Claus or my dad. When he retired, the news "sounded wrong" and has sounded wrong ever since.

RIP, Walter. You are remembered and revered and that's the way it is.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:21 AM on July 18, 2009


When he retired from the news, Cronkite did a science show "Walter Cronkite's Universe"
Cronkite was a long-time science buff, and the show was his idea.
It was also part of the early 1980's media discovery of 'science'. Discover magazine was started about then, along with other magazines and shows that folded fairly quickly.
This seems to be the only youtube clip of 'Universe'.

I worked on the show's title sequence. The offices were in a building on west 57 street, near the river. It was also the home of Captain Kangaroo and some other low-key CBS programs. I remeber thinking "so this is where CBS keeps its PBS-type shows--far far away."
posted by hexatron at 4:42 AM on July 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


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posted by Mali at 4:57 AM on July 18, 2009


I still remember his voice from countless shows and watching old archives of CBS news that I somehow have. RIP.
posted by Michael Leung at 5:18 AM on July 18, 2009


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posted by Vindaloo at 5:50 AM on July 18, 2009


Oh my, it's so sad watching the coverage. The clip of Cronkite announcing Kennedy's death is being shown repeatedly, as well as announcing the deaths of Martin Luther King. It's haunting. What a terrific journalist. We need journalism of that caliber, and no one comes close. .
posted by theora55 at 5:58 AM on July 18, 2009


Sorry, hortense, but the Cronkite UFO story is bullshit. The guy who wrote it was outed on my show, he's a total and complete fraud, and he made up that tale, as well as a bunch of other stuff.
posted by dbiedny at 6:30 AM on July 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


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posted by JustKeepSwimming at 6:41 AM on July 18, 2009


Godspeed.

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posted by SkylitDrawl at 6:48 AM on July 18, 2009


This thread got me thinking. My parents never watched the news when us kids were around. Maybe something to do with the Vietnam War, I'll have to ask them. My most clear memory of Cronkite was the 1970's revival of You Are There. At the time I thought that was pretty much the coolest television in the whole world.
posted by marxchivist at 6:56 AM on July 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


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Walter Cronkite was a huge inspiration to me. When I was 14, I was obsessed with becoming the anchor of the CBS Evening News-- so I produced, wrote and anchored my own weekly local cable access news show (this was when cable access was new, right when CNN and MTV were founded and home video cameras were just being introduced).

For a school project, I decided to produce a documentary about the history of TV news and asked many TV journalists for interviews. He said yes!!! To some random 14 year old girl. (Unlike Barbara Walters, I might add). Sadly, I never got to actually tape the interview, though I did get to tape Meredith Vieira, Chuck Scarborough and Mary Alice Williams (who was one of the first CNN anchors, on the brand new CNN set).

Years later, I met him when I was a producer for Charlie Rose and was amused to learn that he, like me, was a deadhead.

It was brave of him to come out for legalization-- and did not receive the attention it deserved.

We need more people with his integrity, intelligence and kindness. He was a big part of why I went into journalism-- and why I am so upset by attacks on the mainstream media that do not acknowledge the value it can have.
posted by Maias at 6:57 AM on July 18, 2009 [7 favorites]


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posted by disclaimer at 7:00 AM on July 18, 2009


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posted by kuppajava at 7:04 AM on July 18, 2009


You know what's sad? Listening to Katie Couric talking about Walter Cronkite.
posted by tommasz at 7:12 AM on July 18, 2009 [6 favorites]


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posted by HumanComplex at 7:57 AM on July 18, 2009


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posted by awesomebrad at 8:09 AM on July 18, 2009


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posted by Mental Wimp at 8:12 AM on July 18, 2009


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posted by Sys Rq at 9:02 AM on July 18, 2009


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posted by Drasher at 9:15 AM on July 18, 2009




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posted by boubelium at 9:48 AM on July 18, 2009


jeanmari: "Walter Cronkite (with colleagues) on "What's My Line?" circa 1956, with Cronkite attempting to disguise his voice."

If you guys haven't watched this, do so. Just wonderful, hearing Cronkite talking like Mickey Mouse....
posted by JHarris at 11:03 AM on July 18, 2009


this is weird. i just wiki'd him about 2 weeks ago to find out if i missed his death. and then i did. just saw the metatalk post & came right here.

cronkite brought me through the vietnam war, the invasion of the beatles, watergate, the death of a pope and the assassination of a president, and any and every important social and political event of two decades. he seemed like such a nice guy; the kind of guy you wish was your uncle instead of your crazy uncle blockhead john*.

he WAS the most trusted man in america. not only will he be missed, he's been missed for years.

*just kidding uncle blocky. i can't say i ever understood what the hell you were talking about or why you used to gift us with multiple cases of slim jims, but i still love you. say hello to walter for me, will ya?
posted by msconduct at 11:25 AM on July 18, 2009


It's been so sad to see such icons make their final exit. When larger-than-life people check out, I feel even more speckish.

I imagine that this is how my mother feels, right now in her little apartment. How much more connected I am to a therapeutic forum for this feeling than she is. The feeling that time is going by so fast and the people you always imagine will be there, someday aren't there. I'll have to touch base with her today...

I'm a wee bit young to remember Cronkite as intimately as some of you do, but certainly know how much respect he is due.

Rest in peace, Walter Cronkite. You did it up.
posted by Grlnxtdr at 11:28 AM on July 18, 2009


A harder hitting piece on Walter Cronkite. Hard to disagree.
posted by VikingSword at 11:51 AM on July 18, 2009


Here's hoping Cronkite, Murrow, and Hunter S. Thompson can hook up for a few beers.

(Man, I'd love to be in on that conversation.)

R.I.P.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 11:53 AM on July 18, 2009


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posted by aquafortis at 12:17 PM on July 18, 2009


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posted by Fuzzy Monster at 1:44 PM on July 18, 2009




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posted by 2X2LcallingCQ at 3:57 PM on July 18, 2009




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posted by SuzySmith at 12:57 AM on July 19, 2009


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posted by Halloween Jack at 9:37 AM on July 19, 2009




I suppose the nearest thing we have now to Walter Cronkite is er..........David Letterman?
posted by Nicholas West at 1:42 PM on July 19, 2009


No. Jon Stewart!
posted by ericb at 1:58 PM on July 19, 2009


I suppose the nearest thing we have now to Walter Cronkite is er..........David Letterman?

then

No. Jon Stewart!

As I think about it, I think I probably do trust Jon Stewart about as well as I would have trusted Cronkite. Yeah, he's a comedian and an entertainer foremost, but I really do feel like he's the only talking head on the TV who even occasionally challenges the status quo. And he's the only sane voice who's actually speaking his mind.
posted by Netzapper at 4:15 PM on July 19, 2009


Walter Cronkite on 'What's My Line' (1956) [video | 9:00].
posted by ericb at 5:04 PM on July 19, 2009




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posted by phrits at 4:48 AM on July 20, 2009


I grew up with my Dad yelling at the TV during the evening news hosted by Dan Rathers, now I know why he was so critical of Dan Rather and had such animosity for for him. After reading about Mr. Cronkite and talking with my parents about their beloved anchorman, I realize that he was an exception reporter and that my Dad just wasn't willing to accept Dan for Walter. Times have changed and it seems like our anchors have lost their edge & insight, newscasters seem to focusing more on being impartial or towing the network's bias & partyline.
posted by tothemoon at 5:09 AM on July 20, 2009


I suppose the nearest thing we have now to Walter Cronkite is er..........David Letterman?

No. Jon Stewart!


Bill Moyers, actually.



(Okay, yeah, Jon Stewart.)
posted by Sys Rq at 3:20 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


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