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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Walter Kronkite

This is Steven Petrick Posting.

Walter Kronkite is dead, and as a child I learned that he was the most trusted man in America. I might not have understood, at that point in my young life, what was going on, but I did know that the man with the mustache on TV was to be trusted. This has been his praises most of the last half century of his life, and has been stridently proclaimed anew since his passing.

Would that I could still believe it.

Walter Kronkite may have been a good newsman at one point in his life, but he became an example of most of what is wrong with the modern news media.

We lost the Vietnam War, and Walter Kronkite realized we had lost it before anyone else did. Realized it and on his own sought to sway the American public to his realization. It was Walter Kronkite, the man who was trusted, who declared that Khe Sanh's airfield was closed, standing in front of a wrecked Cargo plane that had been pushed off the airfield. It was Walter Kronkite who let the Marines and other military personnel in Khe Sahn know that they were doomed and simply waiting for the Vietnamese to overrun the base. Kronkite knew the airfield on Khe Sahn was closed because he was flown in and landed on that airfield to record his story, and was flown out again from that airfield the same day. And all the while he was making his report, more supplies were being flown in. And, of course, since it was not enough of an impending disaster, Walter Kronkite had sounds of gunfire and explosions "dubbed" into the background of his report.

It was not the first time Walter Kronkite deliberately made an erroneous report in favor of his own chosen agenda after he decided the Vietnam War was lost, nor would it be the last.

Walter Kronkite was an elitest in the sense that he determined that the American People were (to borrow a phrase) too stupid to know what to think (note specifically that I am not saying Walter Kronkite ever said those exact words), so he pioneered the concept of not telling the American people the facts and letting them make up their own minds, but instead telling them what they should think about the story he was delivering.

He is the Parent of most of today's "talking heads" who do their best not to tell us the facts, but just what we should think about the story they are telling us.

Don't ask "how much is this new government program going to raise my taxes", just accept that this new program is a great idea because the talking heads say it is. Do no listen to reporters in the combat zone who say that American troops are doing well and have good morale, listen to the story the Editors create from that report that says Morale stinks and the troops know they cannot win, because that is the correct way Americans should be thinking.

I know Walter Kronkite will be a presented as the shining exemplar of what media personalities should be. To me, he will always be a traitor to his sacred trust as a reporter.