CBS Marks 50 Years Since Cronkite’s Anti-War Activism With Vietnam

During Tuesday’s CBS Evening News, the network paid homage to their legendary broadcaster and former anchor Walter Cronkite on the 50-year anniversary of his liberal anti-war efforts during the Vietnam War. It was a celebration of the abandonment of journalistic objectivity and the rise of activist reporters no longer reporting the news but shaping it.

“For it seems now more certain than ever that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate,” Cronkite said in the clip CBS played after they came back from a commercial break. “But it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy and did the best they could.”

Anchor Jeff Glor touted the clip noting, “That was Walter Cronkite 50 years ago tonight. 33 days later, President Johnson announced he would not run for re-election. Years later, Cronkite reflected on Johnson's decision.

“I don't think our broadcast had a principal effect on, that but I think it was a straw on the back of a lot of indications that he was unhappy with the progress of the war and thought he ought to-- he himself ought to get out,” Cronkite boasted in a second clip.

 

 

As an activist journalist, Cronkite had a long history of putting a liberal spin on the news he reported. And as the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker wrote back in the late summer of 2003:

A couple of weeks ago Walter Cronkite, the anchor of the CBS Evening News for about 20 years ending in 1981, started writing his new weekly column for King Features. In the first one, he claimed that "basically I'm a fiscal conservative and a social liberal" and went on to rationalize why journalists are liberals. In the second one, he outlined his recommended "basic goals" for the Democrats, ten liberal agenda items made to seen as innocuous as possible.

Cronkite explained the liberal nature of reporters by asserting they had reached some sort of “intellectual adulthood” because of their “daily close-ups of the inequality in a nation that was founded on the commitment to equality for all. So we are inclined to side with the powerless rather than the powerful.”

The CBS report was essentially a victory lap for the network, in that they seemed as though they wanted to remind their viewers they had a hand in America’s embarrassing withdrawal from Vietnam.

Transcript below, click expand to read: 

 

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CBS Evening News
February 27, 2018
6:51:14 PM Eastern

WALTER CRONKITE: For it seems now more certain than ever that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate. But it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy and did the best they could.

JEFF GLOR: That was Walter Cronkite 50 years ago tonight. 33 days later, President Johnson announced he would not run for re-election. Years later, Cronkite reflected on Johnson's decision.

CRONKITE: I don't think our broadcast had a principal effect on, that but I think it was a straw on the back of a lot of indications that he was unhappy with the progress of the war and thought he ought to-- he himself ought to get out.

GLOR: 50 years ago tonight.

NB Daily Foreign Policy Vietnam Military Broadcast Television CBS CBS Evening News Video Jeff Glor Walter Cronkite

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