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Ed Driscoll

Walter Cronkite: Liberalism in the Guise of Objectivity

March 16th, 2014 - 1:17 pm

A few months later, while the pair of Gay Raiders were being tried for second-degree criminal trespassing as a result of their stunt, Cronkite struck up a conversation with Segal, and expressed his sympathy for his cause:

At the end of the trial, Segal was fined $450, deeming the penalty “the happiest check I ever wrote.” Not only did the activist receive considerable media attention, but Cronkite asked to meet privately with him to better understand how CBS might cover gay pride events. Cronkite, moreover, even went so far as to introduce Segal as a “constructive viewer” to top brass at CBS. It had a telling effect. “Walter Cronkite was my friend and mentor,” Segal recalled. “After that incident, CBS News agreed to look into the ‘possibility’ that they were censoring or had a bias in reporting news. Walter showed a map on the Evening News of the U.S. and pointed out cities that had passed gay rights legislation. Network news was never the same after that.”

While there’s no doubt that gays were often treated harshly on the (uniformly liberal) TV news and entertainment shows of the day, Segal and Langhorne’s Rupert Pupkin-esque efforts at making their viewpoint known were deplorable. And they beg the question: how would Cronkite have responded if it were another group also being treated harshly by the liberal TV networks during that period — Vietnam vets, Second Amendment proponents, or pro-lifers — just to name a few groups at random?

Eventually, we get our answer: In early 1988 during the Democrat primaries, Cronkite, by then having retired from hosting the nightly news but still very much on the CBS payroll, was boozing it up with Joe Klein, then with New York magazine, now with Time, and Jerry Brown, once and future California governor, at the Wayfarer Inn in Bedford, New Hampshire. The archetypal television newsman was “shit-faced,” according to Klein, when a woman interrupted his bacchanalia to ask, “Mr. Cronkite, don’t you agree with me that abortion is wrong? What do you think?”

Whereupon Cronkite, with a dismissive wave of the hand and ironic expression, uttered the unutterable in his mellifluous voice. “Kill them all,” he said. The woman gasped. Almost fainted on the spot. At loose ends as to how to respond to such a deplorable remark, she just walked away discombobulated. “That put an end to the haranguing,” Klein said. “I don’t know whether Walter meant it or it was just a ploy to get her to go. But we laughed hard.”

In vino veritas? (Which in Cronkite’s case would translate into “In Maker’s Mark, truth.”)

The Hand Job

Of course, “kill them all” is the tacit motto of numerous radical environmentalists. In 1968, Paul Ehrlich published his infamous book The Population Bomb, one of the touchstones of what was called in the early 1970s, “Ecology.” By the end of the following year, Brinkley writes, “now that Neil Armstrong had walked on the Moon, Cronkite sensed that ecology would soon replace space exploration as the national obsession.” It certainly became, for a time, Cronkite’s obsession, often crowding out other more newsworthy stories during the critical year of 1970. At the beginning of the year, Cronkite jumped onboard the radical environmental movement wholeheartedly — “God damn it, we’ve got to get on this environmental story” — and as his producer Ron Bonn said at the time, “We wanted to grapple first with air pollution, the unbreathable air. But then we wanted to deal with the primary underlying problem, which was overpopulation.”

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Top Rated Comments   
funny that you mention Conkrite's voice as a key factor in his success.

I remain convinced that obama's voice is his secret sauce as well. The baritone coupled with the studious speaking manner, emanating from a person with the current PC-preferred skin color, has won him MILLIONS of votes...no matter how stupid the words are (and I do mean stupid). It's really that simple, because anybody who takes a moment to look can immediately see that the man is anti-American, a fool, a lightweight, an empty suit, a person of no accomplishment, and an arrogent idiot.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Exactly.
Robert Strange McNamara was almost single - handedly responsible for the substitution of cheaper ball powder in M-16 ammunition, which contributed mightily to the failure rate of early M-16's in the field.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
I remember well my first thoughts on hearing of his passing.

Many first thoughts wind up being ill-considered, but these seem pretty correct these years later.

They were: "F*** Walter Cronkite."
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (38)
All Comments   (38)
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As the rise of conservative media outposts, via the internet and Fox News, has rewritten the rules of how to deliver events as they unfold not as prepared versions written with the express purpose of shaping the political views of the audience, the reliance upon left-wing oracles has dwindled. The talking heads on the networks and their cable cohorts are lauded no more as the only voices that matter, if they're mentioned at all.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
There are also occasionally chronological errors — at one point, Brinkley writes that Cronkite was dining at the Stork Club when the tragic Apollo 1 fire near-instantly killed its crew in the midst of an otherwise routine preflight checkout on January 27, 1967. If Brinkley is referring to the legendary Manhattan watering hole founded by nightclub owner Sherman Billingsley, that club closed its doors in October of 1965. Later in the book, Brinkley writes, “Throughout 1994 and 1995, Cronkite grew discontented with how CNN, MSNBC, and the Fox News Channel interrupted broadcasts with ‘Breaking News’ flashes for silly items like an L.A. freeway chase or another Clinton sex allegation story.” But MSNBC and Fox News didn’t begin broadcasting until July and October of 1996, respectively.

These anecdotes remind me of one from Stalin's show trials in the 1930s. In one such trial, where Stalin's minions were trying to associate one of the defendants with anti-Soviet activities, they brought forward witnesses to testify that the defendant had met with enemy agents at the Bristol Hotel in Copenhagen a few years before. Western sources soon revealed that the Bristol Hotel had burned down years before the alleged meeting. But the show trial went on despite these revelations and defendant was duly convicted.

By the same token, Brinkley's errors will surely be dismissed as mere typos, not as game-changers. No trifling consideration like truth will be allowed to interfere with the narrative.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Something Walter must've missed re: Orwell:

"Within the intelligentsia, a derisive and mildly hostile attitude towards Britain is more or less compulsory, but it is an unfaked emotion in many cases. During the war it was manifested in the defeatism of the intelligentsia, which persisted long after it had become clear that the Axis powers could not win. Many people were undisguisedly pleased when Singapore fell or when the British were driven out of Greece, and there was a remarkable unwillingness to believe in good news, e.g., El Alamein, or the number of German planes shot down in the Battle of Britain. English left-wing intellectuals did not, of course, actually want the Germans or Japanese to win the war, but many of them could not help but get a certain kick out of seeing their own country humiliated . . . . In foreign politics many intellectuals follow the principle that any faction backed by Britain must be in the wrong."

- George Orwell, Notes on Nationalism, 1945.

“Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them....To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies — all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth.”
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
"radical environmentalism" like "mindless egalitarianism" is redundant.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
David Brinkley! That's too ironic to be irony. The man of the same name sat opposite Cronky on NBC--and was even more of a hack than Walter. At least Walter didn't strew beer cans on Cocoa Beach and then ask bums to pose on the sand as he reported the story on-camera that the Space Program "is a corrupting influence on the small towns of Brevard county."
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
It is easy now to see how the networks then, and the major networks now, are infected with liberal bias. The thing that surprises me is they do not seem to care in the least that they have been exposed. It seems that as a competitive business practice, one of them would make a showy move to create an "objective" image, such as hire a well known conservative for a prominent role.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Actually, Edith Efron of TV Guide wrote a book about it (the News Twisters) after the 1968 elections. And it wasn't easy then; you had to pore over transcripts and manually count the references. Pen and paper, no computers.

She later wrote a book about Environmental Wackos.

The earliest example of comprehensive, one-sided media left-wing bias I know of was the total misreporting of the Scopes "monkey" trial.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Gee, wait ‘til [the liberal base] discovers what Orwell’s Ingsoc stood for, let alone where national socialist Germany and the international socialist Soviet Union were on the ideological spectrum."

FIFY, Ed.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
FIFY???

What's that in English, please?
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
I believe he's saying that he's "fixed it for you".
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
funny that you mention Conkrite's voice as a key factor in his success.

I remain convinced that obama's voice is his secret sauce as well. The baritone coupled with the studious speaking manner, emanating from a person with the current PC-preferred skin color, has won him MILLIONS of votes...no matter how stupid the words are (and I do mean stupid). It's really that simple, because anybody who takes a moment to look can immediately see that the man is anti-American, a fool, a lightweight, an empty suit, a person of no accomplishment, and an arrogent idiot.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
I can't stand the sound of Obama's voice. If I listen to it more than a few seconds, I want to turn it off. Maybe it's the lisping and the dead monotone to his delivery.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
I agree that Obama's voice is a largely unrecognized aspect of his success.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Crokite's role in actively promoting the "Korean Airline Spy Plane" [the Russia-had- every-right-to-shoot-down-the-airliner school] nonsense is usually overlooked: http://www.jamesoberg.com/kal-007.html

And his pose as spaceflight expert also exaggerated
Cronkite on space: inspiration, not information
Honoring the enthusiasm, overlooking the inaccuracies
http://www.thespacereview.com/article/570/1
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Cronkite was a very large symptom but not the whole disease. In reading about his antics and those of his colleagues, you can see why Northeast Liberals thought their media monopoly was the greatest thing since indoor plumbing and sought to exploit it at every opportunity, even during sports broadcasts and so-called children's programming via frequent doses of Saturday morning PC (including those awful bowdlerized Bugs Bunny cartoons). To read back issues of Time Magazine, for example, is to recall a group of people who felt entitled, even obliged, to create a fantasy world and enforce its bizarre 'rules' through mockery, innuendo, false outrage, etc.

The tactics are the same (because they can never really change) but the megaphones are now as small as Dixie cups. As their monopoly dissolves along with their ideology you can see how their rage is compounded.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Since this is the period of my childhood, could you please give me some idea of the sort of PC I encountered. Especially in Bugs Bunny.

(I do think it was a good thing that Kellogg's, DC Comics, and the Mutual Broadcasting Network had Superman fight the KKK on radio in 1946, but it seems they also had him fighting the John Birch Society. While I can't stand the latter either, did he fight Communists also?)
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
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