Friday, July 17, 2009
CBS newsman Walter Cronkite, legendarily known as "The Most Trusted Man in America," passed away today at his home in New York at the age of 92. He had reportedly been suffering from cerebrovascular disease.
With the face of a small-town druggist, an easily-parodied delivery that was both herky-jerky and orotund (“As-tronaut Juhn Glenn...”), and a mien of utter seriousness, Walter Cronkite was the acknowledged king of the golden era of network news. Serving as the managing editor of the CBS Evening News between 1962 and 1981, Cronkite projected a professional authority and personal integrity that invested him with a credibility no contemporary journalist, operating in a more skeptical era, possesses. When Cronkite ended a broadcast with his signature “And that’s the way it is,” neither he nor his audience doubted that it was true.
Born in 1916 in St. Joseph, Missouri, Cronkite entered journalism as an undergraduate. But it was during World War II, as a reporter for UPI, that Cronkite first distinguished himself. He sent classic dispatches from battlefields in North Africa, Normandy, and from the belly of a B-17 bomber over Germany, and parachuted with airborne troops into Holland. He joined CBS News in 1950 and soon distinguished himself with his coverage of the Korean War. “He had that special quality that television demands,” David Halberstam wrote in The Powers That Be, “that audiences sense, and that is somehow intangible -- he had weight, he projected a kind of authority.”