Perhaps inadvertently, the text of the Associated Press’s earliest video coverage (scroll down the right frame at the link) of Walter Cronkite’s death would appear to say a lot about how journalists see themselves — and it’s not as objective communicators of what is occurring in the world:
Cronkite: “Hello, I’m Walter Cronkite.”
AP’s Diane Kepler, narrator: He was the most trusted man in America.
Cronkite (November 22, 1963): From Dallas, Texas, the flash apparently official. President Kennedy died at 1PM Central Standard Time, 2 o’clock Eastern Standard Time, some 38 minutes ago.
DK: Walter Cronkite, for many the quintessential TV journalist, has died. For most Americans he was the man to turn to on everything from the assassination of President Kennedy to what to think about the war in Vietnam.
Cronkite (1968): But it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then would be to negotiate, not as victims, but as an honorable people, who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could.
DK: He covered battlefields, the coronation of Queen Elizabeth, and was a familiar presence to all of the presidents he covered. But it was his presence and his ability to tell a story with his Midwestern intonations that endeared him to Americans from coast to coast, always promising always to report an event the way it is.
Cronkite (apparently in the late 1950s or 1960, ahead of an interview with John F. Kennedy): Our interview with the Senator will be entirely unrehearsed. It will be spontaneous, it will not be edited. The questions have not been submitted to Mr. (John F.) Kennedy in advance. And I will be asking them of him for the first time.
DK: His familiarity led many to call him “Uncle Walter,” and even though he didn’t know them personally, he sometimes shared America’s enthusiasm on the air, like when man first walked on the moon.
Cronkite (July 20, 1969): “Man on the moon!”
Apollo 11′s Neil Armstrong: Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.
Apollo 11′s Neil Armstrong: We’re going to be busy for a minute.
DK: Cronkite left the anchor desk in 1981, handing the reins over to Dan Rather. However, Cronkite wouldn’t soon disappear from the landscape. He backed then-President Clinton when he was suffering from the Lewinsky scandal. He also condemned former President George W. Bush’s decision to go to war in Iraq.
Cronkite: If the war we are fighting cannot be sustained with the people knowing what it takes to win that war, then we shouldn’t be there in first place.”
DK: Walter Cronkite, dead at the age of 92. Diane Kepling, the Associated Press.
Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.