The Spectacle Blog

The Sheer Talent of Walter Cronkite

By on 6.12.12 | 11:22AM

The bias of the Washington Post is comic, showing up all over the paper, including in sections where one would think only clinical descriptions might apply, such as the list of "Washington bestsellers." Here is how the paper last Sunday described Edward Klein's The Amateur: "Another character attack on the workings of the White House." The paper is clearly disappointed that Klein's book has turned up on the bestseller list. But the paper's spirit picks up as it goes down the list. Its description for Douglas Brinkley's Cronkite is: "The spare title belies the complexity and sheer talent of the beloved newsman profiled within." Sheer talent? That's an enthusiastic description for a news reader. 

Several years back I interviewed Tom Wolfe for TAS and I recall his comments about Cronkite (I can't remember at the moment if these remarks made it into the printed interview). Wolfe told me that back in his days as a daily journalist he was once given the assignment of finding out "what Walter Cronkite does all day." Not much, Wolfe discovered. Even though Cronkite had crowned himself "managing editor" of the news program, he didn't manage much and edited even less. He would usually roll in late and just make sure that he could pronounce the names in the copy properly before going on air.

Media critic Howard Kurtz, by the way, has revised his judgment of Cronkite in the light of the Brinkley biography. Kurtz, while still praising Cronkite, acknowledges that he was a conveyor belt of liberal bias, doctored footage on occasion, went on conflict-of-interest junkets, and would hit topless bars while posing as a "pipe-smoking family man."

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