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Friday, May 07, 2004

Walter Cronkite Broadcast

Walter Cronkite's broadcast from February 27, 1968 is famous among students of mass media because of his willingness to break the journalistic acceptance of Vietnam.

Here's what Cronkite said on that night's newscast:
For it seems now more certain than ever that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate...

To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe, in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past. To suggest we are on the edge of defeat is to yield to unreasonable pessimism. To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, yet unsatisfactory, conclusion. On the off chance that military and political analysts are right, in the next few months we must test the enemy's intentions, in case this is indeed his last big gasp before negotiations. But it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could.
It was strong stuff. Remember, most Americans got their news in those days from one of the three major network TV broadcasts.

Cronkite was a true opinion leader. Tens of millions of people depended upon him to tell them what to think about -- and maybe what to think.

Greg Mitchell, writing in Editor & Publisher wonders who will be the Walter Cronkite of 2004. To date, he writes, no major newspaper has called for American withdrawal from Iraq.

Mitchell points to the "Nightline" appearance by General Odom this week. I missed it, but blogged about his interview with the Wall Street Journal earlier this week.

If a Republican General can come out against the war so forcefully, and call for a hastened withdrawal, surely a newspaper could.

Doesn't this further prove that the notion of the "liberal media" is a myth?

Update: Atrios links to the Editor & Publisher piece.