Walter Cronkite became "the most trusted man in America" during his years at CBS as a news anchor, but a new book suggests today's media would have ripped the anchor's façade apart and begged for his dismissal.
- (Photo: Courtesy of Arizona State University/Handout)
A broadcast journalist who began his career as a CBS anchor in 1962, Cronkite built a standing reputation for himself throughout his career. Reporting on large stories, which included the bombing during World War II, the Vietnam War, the death of President John F. Kennedy, and the rise of Martin Luther King, Cronkite also received a moon-Rock award from NASA to honor his coverage of the U.S. space program.
During one opinion poll the "And that's the way it is" anchor earned the title of being of the world's most trusted man. In a modern day of questionable media ethics, Cronkite may appear as an honest ghost of network's past. However, according to a new book, it is possibly the case that Cronkite was not so much honest as he was far less scrutinized.
"Unbeknownst to the millions who tuned in religiously to the CBS Evening News, Walter Cronkite cut a deal with Pan Am to fly his family to vacation spots around the world," Douglas Brinkley's "Cronkite" biography charges, according to the Daily Beast.
The book charges that Cronkite, amongst other things, got an exlcusive interview with Kennedy about running for president after secretly convincing him to do so, took part in misleading editing of Vietnam interview footage, and gave misleading coverage of certain political campaigns.
"Had Cronkite engaged in some of the same questionable conduct today- he secretly bugged a committee room at the 1952 GOP convention- he would have been bashed by the blogs, pilloried by the pundits, and quite possibly ousted by his employer," Daily Beast writer Howard Kurtz reported.
The book also suggests that Cronkite on occasion took to doing mischievous things like attending a topless bar and dining with a go-go dancer.
But according to the book's author, Cronkite's image went unscathed because not only was the anchor determined to protect it, but others were wary of bringing him down.
"Nobody wanted to go after Walter Cronkite," Brinkley wrote. Within CBS "he became a force of nature. He could almost dictate anything he wanted. He was the franchise."
Even Cronkite was, at times, aware that he was walking a mighty fine line of media ethics.
"I thought that some day the roof was going to fall in ... I don't know why to this day I got away with it," a number of sources quoted the anchor years later. As the book, which is set to go on sale Tuesday alleges, Cronkite handled news in a different era where the media was far less scrutinized than those whom the media was scrutinizing.