He has been called “the most trusted man in America.”
That’s right, I’m talking about Walter Cronkite — the longtime CBS News
anchor who virtually defined what television news is all about.
He was like a grandfatherly institution in the early days of TV. People
believed him. Uncle Walter wouldn’t lie to us, America believed.
Thus, when he gave his opinions, they had impact. One example was his
report on the Tet offensive in Vietnam, which is credited with swinging the
tide of opinion against the war.
I recap this historical background because only recently did I learn how
Cronkite got the job as news anchor at CBS.
Did you ever wonder about that? It’s a lesson in the way the
establishment media work. It illustrates the revolving door between the
press and politics in America. And it’s a story that probably would have
gone untold had it not been for a recent self-serving obituary in the
The July 10 issue of the socialist magazine reported on the death of
Blair Clark, who served as editor of the Nation from 1976 through 1978:
“Whether it was calling on Philip Roth to recommend a Nation literary editor
or persuading CBS News president Richard Salant to make Walter Cronkite
anchor of CBS Evening News, Blair had a gift for the recognition and
recruitment of excellence.”
Clark was not only the editor of the Nation, a publication that does some
excellent investigative reporting and raises some good questions, but one
that is decidedly Marxist in its political orientation, he was also heir to
the Clark thread fortune, a Harvard classmate and friend of John F. Kennedy,
a buddy of Washington Post Editor Ben Bradlee and the manager of Eugene
McCarthy’s 1968 campaign for the Democratic Party presidential nomination.
He veered back and forth between politics and journalism seamlessly (no
pun intended given his family’s connection to the thread industry) — as an
associate publisher of the New York Post, a reporter for the St. Louis
Post-Dispatch, vice president and general manager of CBS News and yet
remaining a fixture in Democratic Party politics throughout his career.
Clearly, Clark wasn’t the kind of man who would promote Walter Cronkite
for the most visible job in journalism because of his press accomplishments
alone. And Cronkite’s political activism since leaving his anchor job more
than suggests this has always been a man with a strong agenda.
In 1989, Cronkite spoke to a dinner organized by People for the American
Way, a group founded by Norman Lear. His candid politics surprised even that
- “I know liberalism isn’t dead in this country,” he said. “It
simply has, temporarily we hope, lost its voice.”
- “About the Democratic loss in this election … it was not just a
campaign strategy built on a defensive philosophy. It was not just an
opposition that conducted one of the most sophisticated and cynical
campaigns ever. … It was the fault of too many who found their voices
stilled by subtle ideological intimidation.”
- “We know that unilateral action in Grenada and Tripoli was wrong. We
know that Star Wars means uncontrollable escalation of the arms race. We
know that the real threat to democracy is half a nation in poverty. … We
know that religious beliefs cannot define patriotism. … God Almighty,
we’ve got to shout these truths in which we believe from the housetops. Like
that scene in the movie ‘Network,’ we’ve got to throw open our windows and
shout these truths to the streets and the heavens. And I bet we’ll find more
windows are thrown open to join the chorus than we’d ever dreamed possible.”
More recently, I have chronicled
the drift of Cronkite’s activism
toward promoting global government as the “final solution” for all the
appeared in 1999 at the United Nations to accept the Norman Cousins Global Governance Award from the World Federalists Association. He told those assembled, including Hillary Rodham Clinton, that the first step toward achieving a one-world government — his personal dream — is to strengthen the United Nations.
“It seems to many of us that if we are to avoid the eventual catastrophic world conflict we must strengthen the United Nations as a first step toward a world government patterned after our own government with a legislature, executive and judiciary, and police to enforce its international laws and keep the peace,” he said. “To do that, of course, we Americans will have to yield up some of our sovereignty. That would be a bitter pill. It would take a lot of courage, a lot of faith in the new order.”
Later, in an interview with the BBC, Cronkite described this new order as something that sounded like a militaristic world dictatorship, which, of course, it would have to be.
“I wouldn’t give up on the U.N. yet,” he said. “I think we are realizing that we are going to have to have an international rule of law. We need not only an executive to make international law, but we need the military forces to enforce that law and the judicial system to bring the criminals to justice before they have the opportunity to build military forces that use these horrid weapons that rogue nations and movements can get hold of — germs and atomic weapons.”
But it got even worse.
“American people are going to begin to realize they are going to have to yield some sovereignty to an international body to enforce world law, and I think that’s going to come to other people as well,” he said. “It’s a fair distance to get there, but we are not ever going to get there unless we keep trying to push ourselves onto the road.”
Can you imagine a so-called “newsman” promoting the ultimate form of centralized, all-powerful government? It’s incongruous. It’s mind-boggling. You don’t have to imagine. The man who was once the most powerful and influential “newsman” in America — and, thus, the world — has come out of the closet.
Do you feel manipulated? Are you still going to put your trust in the establishment press? Or are you going to be more selective and discerning in your information choices?
The truth is Walter Cronkite’s views are not at all out of line with most of his colleagues. It’s just that he now feels free to be more honest and up-front about those views than he did when he was “the most trusted man in America.”