Walter Cronkite, often called the “Most Trusted Man in America,” passed away on July 17, 2009 at 92 years of age. Much like Paul Harvey, who passed away on February 28 of the same year, Cronkite was a familiar voice and news presence in my youth serving as the anchorman for the CBS Evening News from 1962 to 1981.
As a child growing up during those years, I was impacted by Cronkite’s coverage of the momentous occasions of my youth, reinforced through the years as those vignettes were telecast on specials again and again: President John F. Kennedy’s assassination; the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.; and his coverage of the Viet Nam War. However, my most vivid memories of Cronkite were his broadcasts during Apollo 11’s first trip to the moon and the amazing moon walk in 1969.
The Most Trusted Man in America
Walter Cronkite was a fatherly figure, trusted so much by the American public that he was dubbed “the most trusted man in America” repeatedly in viewer opinion polls. Much like Paul Harvey, if Walter Cronkite said it was so, you believed him. Other fond monikers bestowed on Walter Cronkite during his lifetime were “Uncle Walter” and the “dean of journalism,” but he humbly referred to himself a “comfortable old shoe.”
The First News Anchor
The term “anchor” was coined just for Walter Cronkite in 1952 to describe his role at both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, the first nationally-televised convention coverage. By the time I was old enough to watch TV, “news anchor” was a household term. Walter Cronkite also gave America one of its favorite slogans with his nightly sign-off: “And that’s the way it is.”
After his retirement in 1981, Walter Cronkite continued on as a special correspondent for CBS, CNN, and NPR, and he remained actively involved in the news world through 2006. It was reassuring to catch Cronkite still on the news from time to time, and on such occasions, I almost felt like a kid again, watching the news with my dad.
In June 2009 reports were published that the elderly broadcaster was ill, but those reports were called exaggerated by Cronkite’s executive assistant who said Cronkite was recovering at home. (MSNBC). However, Cronkite was suffering from cerebrovascular disease, and he died at his home in New York City a month later of the disease. And that’s the way it was.
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Paul Harvey – the Rest of His Story