Uncle Walter, Fraud

A book review by Howard Kurtz of much-revered newsman Walter Cronkite is available at the Daily Beast. The book was written by Douglas Brinkley and carries the title Cronkite.

The review is revealing—Cronkite was not all that; far from it—and brings up the question of confirmation bias, that is, why is it our minds are disinclined to discarding facts that conflict with our perceived reality? In this case, the perceived reality is that Cronkite was a man of unshakable ethics and was politically neutral. The facts show he wasn’t.

But first, how do icons like Walter Cronkite even come to be?

This question is unexplainable except through speculation about random success and marketing. I mean while Cronkite had a particular way of presenting himself that was well received and the competition to read the news was very limited, those don’t explain Cronkite’s development into an icon. Big events like the Kennedy assassination and the space program are part of the myth as well, so maybe it’s a cumulative effect. Or maybe if you hear “America’s Most Trusted Newsman” or something like it often enough you’ll believe it.

Next, how do guys like Uncle Walter get a pass for their myriad indiscretions, bias, and unethical behavior?

This is easier to answer. Over time, Cronkite had accumulated huge amounts of personal power and influence. This was enough to cause others to look away his indiscretions; ignore or explain away his bias; and finally, CBS needed to protect a revenue stream/well-branded product (that is, he brought in money and/or some sort of network-level prestige).

It would have been useful if these revelations—that is, that Walter Cronkite was a biased and flawed human (as we all are) who somehow ended up in a position of significant authority and influence—had been useful to have been exposed back in the day.

Like another Walter, NYT Pulitzer Prize winner Walter Duranty.


About Professor Mockumental

I enjoy almost all forms of parody, buffoonery, and general high-jinks. Satire has shown itself to be an essential societal need; I therefore humbly offer my services in such a manner. I enjoy mocking the usual suspects at the New York Times (Charles Blows, Moron Dowd, and the earth is flat guy) and Washington Post (Dana Milkbag, E.D. Dijon, and David Ignoramus). There are many others as well, but sadly, there are always too many targets and too little time.

Posted on May 21, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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