Maureen Dowd — the queen of Knucklehead Row — has a column on the Brian Williams Lying Scandal this week. Dowd maintains that TV anchors don’t matter now anyway because we get our news online, so they’re no longer the trusted figures they once were. The column includes this gem: “One anchor exerted moral authority once and that was Walter Cronkite, because he risked his career to go on TV and tell the truth about the fact that we were losing the Vietnam War.”
What’s lovely about this sentence is that it is nearly as absent truth content as the sentence: “The helicopter we were traveling in was forced down after being hit by an RPG.”
The myth it refers to is that Walter Cronkite had some major effect on American opinion when he commented our forces were “mired in stalemate” in Vietnam in 1968. It is entirely a myth, thoroughly and reliably debunked by W. Joseph Campbell in his book Getting It Wrong. The word stalemate was being used about the Vietnam War a lot at that point, in major news sources, including the New York Times, which was, at the time, a newspaper. A plurality of Americans — 47% — had believed the war was a mistake for months by the time Cronkite said what he said. And no, Lyndon Johnson didn’t change his mind or policy one bit because of Cronkite’s remarks, and most likely didn’t even hear them. (Hit the link on myth above for more.)
I bring this up because it explains why Brian Williams’ trustworthiness doesn’t matter, why the trustworthiness of television (and newspaper) “journalists” no longer matters in general, and why the internet upended them and rendered them obsolete. It’s not merely one technology replacing another. Mainstream journalists could maintain their authority amidst the noise… if they just didn’t lie all the time. All. The. Time. It’s because they don’t tell the truth that we don’t trust them. They keep silent about what they don’t want us to know (say, the IRS scandal) and overplay what they want us to care about (the Valerie Plame non-scandal). And what Dowd’s column demonstrates is: They don’t even know what the truth is! They all live happily together in a foggy wonderland of left-wing mythology where its ALL Brian Williams under RPG fire all the time.
Cronkite “risked his career to go on TV and tell the truth,” and Edward R. Murrow toppled Joseph McCarthy and there was no stained Lewinsky dress and George W. Bush went AWOL and Obama called Benghazi a terrorist attack right away and the science is settled and Brian Williams took RPG fire. It’s all one thing, and only my polite upbringing keeps me from saying what that one thing is.
For a closer look at who Brian Williams is — who the entire mainstream media are — read this excellent piece from our friends at NewsBusters detailing RPG Man’s continual Obama kowtowing and distortions. And watch the unbelievable TV moment in the clip at the top.