THE MOST TRUSTED MAN IN AMERICA

“And that’s the way it is” by Rich Paschall


With so many bad sources of news in the world, who do you trust to give you reliable and up to date information?  I know it is tough to decide.  At one time there was radio, television, newspapers and your grandma’s gossip across the back fence.  You may also have had a few barroom buddies who seemed to be pretty up to date on the happenings in the nation and even the world.  Now that there are so many more options, how do you know who to trust and what to believe?

Perhaps you still rely on Aunt Mildred.  She always seems to be well read and has a tidbit of news on everything.  When she shows up at family gatherings she can easily dazzle those who would sit down to listen.  She always shows up early to the parties and is willing to stay until the very end, as long as there are snacks and highballs around.  Her whisky fueled news items show the great recall she has from the supermarket publications she gets regularly.  Sometimes she also gets the Sunday papers, but that is more for the store coupons than the news.

Then there is cousin Billy, also a regular at the family gatherings.  He tries not to get into arguments with Aunt Mildred because her vocabulary is better than his.  However, you just know he is right about his views of America.  His sources may seem a bit murky, but if you can not trust someone you practically grew up with, who can you trust?

cronkite-395Your nephew Chad is probably much more up to date than the others because he is on social media all the time, reading up on the environment, politics and his favorite rock bands.  He often shows you those clever memes that contain some of the best quotes for your education on the latest issues.  If you mention a topic, Chad can find a meme, video or highly respected blog that will educate you on what you need to know.  At least the blogs are highly respected by Chad, and you respect Chad, don’t you? (Chad respects this blog.)

When I was younger (much younger) and staying with my grandparents, dinner had to be finished by 5:30 PM so that my grandfather could get to his favorite chair.  We lived in the Central Time Zone and the CBS Evening news came on early.  It was OK because it fit right into their retirement schedule.  My grandparents had been farmers and were use to early breakfast and lunch, so 5 PM dinner did not seem too early.  Their main source of news was a Monday through Friday evening broadcast.

It was not just that it was a news program.  There were others at that time.  He could have watched the venerable team of Chet Huntley and David Brinkley.  He could have tuned to Howard K Smith and Harry Reasoner.  But my grandfather only followed the man who came to be known as the most trusted man in America.  Many years of strong and steady broadcasts of news events had led one man to the top of his field.

Solid reporting
Solid reporting

Walter Cronkite Jr. was a broadcast journalist who started his career in 1937 covering major news events around the globe.  Later he covered NASA and brought us all the early successes and some failures of the space program.  You could rely on Walter to describe the event and educate you on space all at the same time.  It was the facts that he brought to a broadcast, not the spin.

In 1962 he became the anchorman of the CBS Evening News and the main face of the news division.  If there was an important story, Walter told us about it.  With a confident and authoritative tone and a grandfatherly face, people came to trust him with the news.  In fact as his tenure on the evening news went on, polls began to show that it was not a politician or entertainer that people trusted most, it was Walter.

In 1963 I recall watching Walter as he told us all about the assassination of President Kennedy and the events that followed.  No I did not see the earliest broadcasts live, I was in grade school.  But I did see all that followed.  I have seen the early footage many times since in documentaries, as Walter had to tell a nation that the President was dead.  To this day that broadcast will evoke tears.

"President Kennedy died at 1 p.m. Central Standard Time."
“President Kennedy died at 1 p.m. Central Standard Time.”

Walter advised us of what was going on in Viet Nam.  Did it help turn a nation against the war?  Walter told us about Watergate extensively.  Did it help lead to the downfall of a President?  If he influenced public opinion, it was not because he twisted the facts or spun their meaning, it was because he reported them.

After 19 years, Walter Cronkite retired from the CBS Evening News.  CBS had a mandatory retirement age of 65 then.  Today they would probably let him go on as long as ratings were good.  He lived to be 92 and remained active for many years after “retirement.”

Are there any broadcasters today that enjoy the trust of American people like Walter Leland Cronkite Jr.?  Yes, I know the answer to that.  Everyone seems to be interpreting rather than just reporting.  They all appear to have a point of view and we may trust them about as much as we trust Aunt Mildred.  Of course, there are a few that trust Aunt Mildred a lot, “and that’s the way it is.”

Author: Rich Paschall

When the Windows Live Spaces were closed and our sites were sent to Word Press, I thought I might actually write a regular column. A couple years ago I finally decided to try out a weekly entry for a year and published something every Sunday as well as a few other dates. I reached that goal and continued on. I hope you find them interesting. They are my Sunday Night Blog. Thanks to the support of Marilyn Armstrong you may find me from time to time on her blog space, SERENDIPITY. Rich Paschall Education: DePaul University, Northeastern Illinois University Employment: Air freight professional

58 thoughts on “THE MOST TRUSTED MAN IN AMERICA”

  1. I wrote a comment and it’s gone. Maybe I forgot to post it. I’ve been doing that a lot, lately. So I’l write it again.

    Garry actually knew Walter (a little bit) and respected him enormously. I never met him — wish I had — but I was always sure that when Walter told said something, it was The Truth. He was the voice of news in my house growing up and after I left home, until he retired. Do you remember his role in setting up the Camp David Accords? He was as dedicated to the truth as anyone could possibly be and I doubt we’ll see his equal again.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. There were many good reporters at the time. They were not only in a race to get the story, but to get it right. We had come to believe that Walter was the best of them.
      I did not know about the Camp David Accords but can imagine that he could help to set this up. Who else would you trust?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Rich, as Marilyn mentioned, I knew Uncle Walter (He actually loved the nick name and laughed about it during “downtime” on his boat on “The Vineyard”). Cronkite used to love sharing beers/wine with a few, trusted local reporters and swap stories about the good old days with Ed Murrow. We all grumbled about fighting the suits. Cronkite said that was also Murrow’s main complaint. “We’re fighting windmills”, Uncle Walter said over beer #3 or #4, “but that’s our job and never forget it”.
        Most of those who shared those “down” times with Cronkite are either retired or fighting the suits in that big newsroom in the sky.
        It was a privilege to be part of that group.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not sure when exactly people in the news business lost track of the difference between facts, truth, and opinion, but it has been a long process. At least 50 years … It didn’t happen overnight. If you haven’t see the movie “Network,” see it. Also, “Network News.” At this point, there are very few news outlets that have the resources or the mandate to do good reporting.

      And that’s the way it is.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Facts and truth, pishaw, pishaw! Today emphasis is on youth and good looks. Gotta look god in front of that camera and who cares what you say. I understand Walter Cronkite actually spent time behind the lines during WWII. Not many of those types in news casting these days.., except a couple working for NPR.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Probably, but with less support and a lot less freedom. They still hire the best people they can find, at least in major markets … but they don’t give them either the wherewithal or professional license to do the job the way it ought to be done.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I was working during the period when the entertainment division took over. We “newsies” became pariahs to the corporate and management suits. Seems like I was fighting every day with the suits about content. Word was I had a bad attitude. ya think?

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Yes, Walter Cronkite was known and respected in Canada too. I think there are still a few reporters, in Canada, that I would believe. But I do like to get several sources before taking it all in.
    Leslie

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Leslie, that was my mantra during my working days. MULTIPLE sources, accept nothing on face value, check your gut and LISTEN carefully even to your adversaries.

      Liked by 2 people

        1. Leslie, on another-more pertinent subject. I anticipate the Blue Jays bouncing back in the ALCS and making this a 7 game series. But I think this is the Cubbies year.

          Liked by 2 people

            1. Leslie, Jays are gonna have to pull an ’04 Red Sox comeback to survive. I wonder if Jose Bautista likes being called “Joey Bats”. Personally, I hate those sophomoric nick names contrived by the dunderhead sports boys. Vin Scully would never resort to such childish stuff. “Joey Bats”, aarrgghh!
              Okay, I’ll take my meds.

              Liked by 2 people

                1. Leslie, I am really enjoying this post season with its teams. That’s the thing about being a beisbol fan. You can enjoy the games even when you’re team isn’t involved. Obviously, it’s special this year with the Cubbies favored to win it all. If they do, the story should top Orange Head news for at least one day and night.

                  Liked by 1 person

  4. Rich, I could spend all day with this post. But you knew that, didn’t you?
    I’m glad there are still people like Tom Brokaw and Ted Koppel around…even though they’re relegated to background slots.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. There is no real unbiased news reported today nor are there any news reporters that garner your respect like Walter Cronkite and the others you listed. Today, we have beauty queens and kings who can read teleprompters populated with entertainment news. I think I may be the only person who really doesn’t care who is or isn’t dancing or singing on the plethora of reality shows. Sorry, I’m definitely showing my age. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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