Cronkite Bashes Blogs

Speaking at USC's Annenberg School for Communication, Walter Cronkite, the anchor who preceded Dan Rather at the CBS Evening News, had much to say about what's happening to journalism.

The LA Times reports:

In a brief interview, Cronkite said he fears the blogosphere, still in its "infancy," could threaten the standing of mainstream media as a news source for consumers already confused by cable's "opinion journalism." It is the function of the educational system, he believes, to train people to understand the difference.

Later in the day Cronkite held a question and answer session with university students. Some of the topics were the state of today's education and CBS' National Guard story from last year. You can watch the whole video at USC.

Cronkite promised to only "whisper" which party to vote for.

"Thomas Jefferson once said, 'The nation that expects to be ignorant and free, expects what never can be.'

"Well, we've got a nation that expects to be ignorant and free, and we're not going to succeed that way. Our republic is in danger if we're not smart enough to vote properly, to understand the issues.

"I'm not saying which party you have to vote for properly, but I'll whisper it to you if you want."

His remark brought laughter from the aspiring newsmen and women.

One student asked him what he thought of the Memogate scandal from last year.

"That was a personal failure on the part of Dan. Not the entire story was his fault. One of our top producers, a very good woman producer who was convinced of the sources that she had for that story. And Dan accepted, as would be natural for him to do so, it was a darn good story.

"But then he made the mistake of when it turned out there was some doubt about the authenticity of the sources, he did not immediately say, 'We have a problem with this story. We're looking into it, we'll get back to you just as soon as we have an answer.'

"Instead of for four days defending the story and carrying on with it, that was the fatal mistake. The country wouldn't have paid much attention to it if it had been dropped immediately and then they came back to it to say we made a mistake. But that would've come later and it would've been forgotten. There was a mistake made, in other words, in handling the story."

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