Category Archives: excellence in journalism

Walter Cronkite has died.

His health went downhill rapidly as I stated in June. He was 92. As I said last month, he was a great journalist. He called it as he saw it and I still hear his voice at the end of each newscast..

And that’s the way it is….

From the NYT today:

Mr. Cronkite anchored the “CBS Evening News” from 1962 to 1981, at a time when television became the dominant medium of the United States. He figuratively held the hand of the American public during the civil rights movement, the space race, the Vietnam war, and the impeachment of Richard Nixon. During his tenure, network newscasts were expanded to 30 minutes from 15.

“It is impossible to imagine CBS News, journalism or indeed America without Walter Cronkite,” Sean McManus, the president of CBS News, said in a statement. “More than just the best and most trusted anchor in history, he guided America through our crises, tragedies and also our victories and greatest moments. CBS has a great eulogy here.”

When the Chicago democratic convention turned to shit..he said so:

During the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Cronkite was anchoring the CBS network coverage as violence and protests occurred outside the convention, as well as scuffles inside the convention hall. When Dan Rather was punched to the floor (on camera) by security personnel, Cronkite commented, “I think we’ve got a bunch of thugs here, Dan.”

Yes they were thugs and yes Cronkite called it as he saw it. We have so few journalist’s with his type of honor these days..its very sad. He told me about Kennedy’s death and the death of Jack Ruby. He anchored the moonwalk for me as well as the civil rights movement. He was someone that told you the truth and I loved him for that. So few do it now these days with the birth of corporate media.

And it’s sad that he has left this earth..Rest in Peace sweet man, I adored you and you educated me like very few others did. I doubt I will see someone that rival’s you Mr. Cronkite. I am very sad today..but I hope you are talking up Edward R Murrow as I type this…

His editorial on the Tet Offensive can be watched here.

Walter Cronkite’s health declining rapidly

From the NYT via The Daily Beast:

The New York Times reported today that Walter Cronkite is gravely ill with cerebrovasuclar disease and, according to his family members, “not expected to recuperate.” “He is resting at home surrounded by family, friends and a wonderful medical team,” his three children said. Cronkite’s family told TVNewser, a blog, that he had been suffering from his disease for several years. The CBS News anchor was oftentimes described as “the most trusted man in America” during his work on CBS Evening News from 1960-81.

Cronkite was always on our tv every evening when I was a child. It was Cronkite that announced the news of JKF’s death for me and so many other important news stories. When I got older and moved out..he was on my tv every evening as well. I hope he is comfortable, pain-free and surrounded by those he loves and who love him.

From Wiki:

During the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Cronkite was anchoring the CBS network coverage as violence and protests occurred outside the convention, as well as scuffles inside the convention hall. When Dan Rather was punched to the floor (on camera) by security personnel, Cronkite commented, “I think we’ve got a bunch of thugs here, Dan.”

He is 92 years old and I can still hear his voice which was soothing and paternal for me.

And that’s the way it is….

Documentary on Helen Thomas

Rory Kennedy has produced a documentary for HBO on one of the best journalists to ever cover the White House, bar none.

Helen Thomas has covered the W.H. since 1961 and grilled nine Presidents. The documentary is called: Thank You Mr. President. Helen has been ill since May of this year, and hasn’t written a column since then. From the Editor and Publisher article on the HBO documentary:

“The movie is a fantastic narrative of Helen’s fantastic career,” said Charles Lewis, Washington bureau chief for Hearst Newspapers, where Thomas has written a column since 2000. “It is rich in history, rich in humor and the press’s relationship with the White House.”

Some Helen moments from the movie:

“I think that Presidents deserve to be questioned. Maybe irreverently, most of the time. Bring ‘em down a size,” she says in the film, according to HBO. “You see a president, ask a question. You have one chance in the barrel. Don’t blow it.”

“Access to a President doesn’t mean you’re gonna get the truth,” Thomas adds. “We had tremendous access when I started covering the White House. We realize now that we could walk right down the street, Main Street, with Jimmy Carter, we could walk with LBJ, side by side, even though there would be the usual secret service agents.

“We didn’t have the same code that you wouldn’t be able to get near a President, or they would feel threatened because of all of the security provisions, and so forth, that really have kept the press in their place,” she adds in the film. “So, it was very different. You really felt that you got to know the person. And, I think that’s gone.”

It doesn’t start until August 18th, but I love her work so much, that as soon as I heard, I had to put something up about it. We need more Helen Thomas’ in the White House Press Pool. Below is her pov on some of the Presidents she has covered.

On Lyndon B. Johnson: “Johnson was a man who certainly had to talk. He was very garrulous, in a sense, and he also very self-protective. He always would say, ‘Now, you know that’s off the record.’ At the same time, you also knew what he wanted you to write what you were seeing and hearing, but not attribute it to him. So we played the game.”

On Richard Nixon: “Once you lie, your credibility is shot. And, I really think if you lie too many times, then it’s all over. I believe the people have a right to know almost everything.”

On Gerald Ford: “Gerald Ford was gentle, very kind. His great aspiration was to be Speaker of the House. He never really aspired to be President, but lightening struck. He turned out to be a good president because he really restored confidence in the Oval Office and a sense of security in the country after the Watergate scandal.”

On Jimmy Carter: “Jimmy Carter is a very spiritual man. I think he almost missed his calling. He would have been a great minister. I think his greatest contribution to the country is that he made human rights a centerpiece of his foreign policy.”

On Ronald Reagan: “[His advisors] taught him to say, ‘This is not a press conference.’ And, they had him quite trained on that. And, one day, we asked him about what was happening, and he said to us, ‘I can’t answer that.’ We said, ‘Why?’ He said, ‘Because they won’t let me.’ And, he pointed to Baker, Meese, and Deaver, standing behind, very grim. ‘They won’t let me.’ And I said, ‘But, you’re the president!’”

On George H.W. Bush: “I think at the tale end, both he and Mrs. Bush began to really think that we were the cause of all their troubles. So the press was not liked at all.”

On Bill Clinton: “President Clinton didn’t understand that he was being denied his legitimacy as President by the ultra-right in this country, who never gave him one second, one moment where he could prevail. They were after him constantly, investigating him constantly .. I don’t understand how he possibly could’ve taken what he took. He was asked so many personal questions that I’ve never – no president has ever been subjected to that kind of tyranny.”

On George W. Bush: “When George Bush first became president, I think I attended two or three news conferences with him, and then I did get another question in, and there’s a blackout now, I believe, until the end of his term.“

Awesome woman, fantastic journalist. Some great insights are what I am looking forward to and I KNOW she won’t disappoint me.

Happy belated Birthday Mr. Murrow.

He would of been 100 years old yesterday. From wiki:

On March 9, 1954, Murrow, Friendly, and their news team produced a 30-minute See It Now special entitled “A Report on Senator Joseph McCarthy.” Murrow used excerpts from McCarthy’s own speeches and proclamations to criticize the senator and point out episodes where he had contradicted himself. Murrow knew full well that he was using the medium of television to attack a single man and expose him to nationwide scrutiny, and he was often quoted as having doubts about the method he used for this news report.

Murrow and his See It Now co-producer, Fred Friendly, paid for their own newspaper advertisement for the program; they were not allowed to use CBS’ money for the publicity campaign or even use the CBS logo. Nonetheless, this 30-minute TV episode contributed to a nationwide backlash against McCarthy and against the Red Scare in general, and it is seen as a turning point in the history of television.

The broadcast provoked tens of thousands of letters, telegrams and phone calls to CBS headquarters, running 15 to 1 in favor of Murrow. In a Murrow retrospective produced by CBS for the A&E Network series Biography, Friendly noted how truck drivers pulled up to Murrow on the street in subsequent days and shouted “Good show, Ed. Good show, Ed.”

Afterwards, Murrow offered McCarthy a chance to appear on See It Now to respond to the criticism that was given to him on the program. McCarthy accepted the invitation and made an appearance on See It Now three weeks later. However, McCarthy’s rebuttal to Murrow only decreased his popularity, already fading, even further.

He died two days after his birthday in 1965. Some of his memorable quotes:

“No one can terrorize a whole nation, unless we are all his accomplices.” – Speech to staff, March 9, 1954

“If we confuse dissent with disloyalty — if we deny the right of the individual to be wrong, unpopular, eccentric or unorthodox — if we deny the essence of racial equality, then hundreds of millions in Asia and Africa who are shopping about for a new allegiance will conclude that we are concerned to defend a myth and our present privileged status. Every act that denies or limits the freedom of the individual in this country costs us the. . . confidence of men and women who aspire to that freedom and independence of which we speak and for which our ancestors fought.” – Ford Fiftieth Anniversary Show, CBS and NBC, June 1953

There were so many…too many to list here. This museum has a good writeup of his entire career. Below is a tribute CBS did after Murrows death.
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The Peabodys are announced for 2007

The best in electronic media/journalism for 2007, as chosen by the Peabody board. For the complete here. Some notables:

Bob Woodruff Reporting: Wounds of War – The Long Road Home of Our Nation`s Veterans ABC News-Severely injured by a roadside bomb in Iraq, Woodruff made wounded veterans and their struggle with recovery and red tape his special focus and served them well with his sensitive, dogged reporting.

Money for Nothing, The Buried and the Dead, Television Justice, Kinder Prison WFAA-TV-The Dallas station distinguished itself with not one but four investigative series in 2007, probing dubious practices by the U.S. Export-Import Bank, the Texas Railroad Commission, a police department that got too cozy with a TV sexual-predator sting operation and a Homeland Security Prison holding immigrant families.

Just Words The Center for Emerging Media-Marc Steiner`s 55 weekly radio reports, four minutes each, gave voice to marginalized people – low-wage workers, recovering drug addicts, the homeless – who rarely get to speak for themselves in the mainstream media and, in doing so, made common social issues immediate and personal.

CBS News Sunday Morning: The Way Home CBS News-Two unflinchingly candid women who lost limbs while serving in the military in Iraq were the centerpiece of this powerful, thought-provoking report by correspondent Kimberly Dozier, a recovering war casualty herself.

Taxi to the Dark Side Jigsaw Pictures, Tall Woods, Wider Film, ZDF/ARTE-The brutal death of an Afghani cab driver while in U.S. military custody gave director Alex Gibney the central thread of his searing exploration of detainee interrogation techniques and who, ulimately, bears responsiblity.

FRONTLINE: Cheney`s Law FRONTLINE, Kirk Documentary Group, Ltd., WGBH-Boston-In a strongly researched and reported hour that sometimes played like a political thriller, “FRONTLINE” traced the Bush Administration`s expansion of Presidental wartime powers to a determined, secretive campaign by the Vice President, that stretches back three decades.

CBS News 60 Minutes: The Killings in Haditha CBS News, 60 Minutes-This thorough, open-minded investigation of the worst single killing of civilians by American troops since Vietnam put not just the incident into better perspective but the entire Iraq War and the terrible choices it presents both solidier and civilian.

And last but certainly not least:

The Colbert Report Hello Doggie Inc., Busboy Productions, and Spartina Productions-Let none dare call it “truthiness.” Colbert, in his weeknight Comedy Central send-up of politics and all that is bombastic and self-serving in cable-news bloviasion, has come into his own as one of electronic media`s sharpest satirists.