Saturday, July 18, 2009

Walter Cronkite's Other Legacy

During Walter Cronkite’s decades spanning tenure at CBS he became known as “the most trusted man in America.” My daughter Nadia emailed me some links that lend perspective to Cronkite’s honorary title.

Walter Cronkite’s remarks at the end of his February 27, 1968 evening news broadcast, four decades ago today, were a watershed in the history of the MSM’s credibility.

Unless you’re at least 55 years old, you probably don’t remember that CBS broadcast 40 years ago. The most trusted man in America had recently returned from Vietnam where he hosted a documentary on the VC/NVA TET (New Year) offensive that began January 31, 1968. Back in NYC, he closed his program that night by introducing “an analysis that must be speculative, personal, [and] subjective.”
American Thinker

Cronkite went on to disparage our troop’s efforts in Viet Nam and he called for retreat. After hearing Cronkite’s comments President Johnson said, “That’s it. If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost middle America.”

Cronkite’s words emboldened the enemies of freedom both at home and abroad. We left the South Vietnamese unable to defend themselves. We left them to be slaughtered.

“On April 30, 1977, Pol Pot’s troops launched a surprise attack on 13 villages in eight Vietnamese border provinces. Ba Chuc was the hardest hit. The massacre was at its fiercest during the 12 days of occupation, April 18-30, 1978, during which the intruders killed 3,157 villagers. The survivors fled and took refuge in the pagodas of Tam Buu and Phi Lai or in caves on Mount Tuong, but they were soon discovered. The raiders shot them, slit their throats or beat them to death with sticks. Babies were flung into the air and pierced with bayonets. Women were raped and left to die with stakes planted in their genitals.”

Cronkite would downplay the effect that his words had and to my knowledge, he never addressed the genocide that took place after our withdrawal. Years later he returned to his pulpit:

The war in Iraq reminds us of the tragedy of the Vietnam War. Both wars began with false assertions by the president to the American people and the Congress. Like Vietnam, the Iraq War has introduced a new vocabulary: "shock and awe," "mission accomplished," "the surge." Like Vietnam, we have destroyed cities in order to save them. It is not a strategy for success.

The Bush administration has attempted to forestall ending the war by putting in more troops, but more troops will not solve the problem. We have lost the hearts and minds of most of the Iraqi people, and victory no longer seems to be even a remote possibility. It is time to end our occupation of Iraq, and bring our troops home.

Fortunately, this time we didn’t cut and run. We had pledged to bring freedom to the Iraqi people and we kept our word. Not only has America won the war that Cronkite and others said could not be won, more importantly, the Iraqi people have won.

America is the most generous country in the world. We give billions in aid to dozens of countries. The Left would say that we don’t give enough. That is because the Left doesn’t recognize America’s gift of freedom to so many, bought and paid for with American blood.

Cronkite was a pioneer in journalism and his Liberalism doesn’t diminish his achievements. But make no mistake, the line that Cronkite blurred between news and opinion correlates to lies and distortions presented as ‘news’ by the MSM today.

Read NewsBusters posts here and here and Free Republic's post here.

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