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August 23, 2014

What if the Apollo 11 moon landing didn't happen under Cronkite's watch?

by Danny Gallagher, posted Jul 20th 2009 1:04PM
Walter Cronkite on the cover of TimeWalter Cronkite's passing didn't mark the end of an era in the TV news business. The era he helped produce and prolong died long before he did.

It's hard for me to ever imagine a time when people considered a major network news anchor as America's most trusted source for anything. Claims of bias and political persuasion being injected into every story with a meat syringe created a thick fog that made it very hard to cover anything with a modicum of honesty.

Cronkite, however, was the man people turned to when something blew up, exploded, imploded, launched, landed or any other number of descriptive verbs, because his goal wasn't to make news every time he stepped in front of a camera. His goal was just to report it.

Nobody illustrated this unwritten job title better than another news titan of his day, humorist Art Buchwald. The Washington Post re-ran a great piece he wrote of the newsman during the week of his retirement from the CBS news chair in which Buchwald describes the great hardships and sacrifices Cronkite had to endure as a walking man made of truth. It's not easy, to say the least. His track record with girls makes mine look like a Levitra-sponsored Wilt Chamberlain.

His and his staff's record for truth-telling and pure objectivity are unmatched, only to that of his predecessor, Edward R. Murrow. The only time he exhibited a smidgen of himself into a story he covered was on the night of the moon landing when he uttered an exuberant "Oh boy!", a memory that makes his passing even more timely since NASA just celebrated Apollo 11's 40th anniversary.



Just imagine if the moon landing happened today on live television. First off, if NASA scheduled it during American Idol, 30 Rock or Wipeout, you wouldn't get to see it. That means you would more than likely have to watch the whole thing on cable where the networks would post their chief personal beef fountain who would throw away the basic rules of reporting in favor of their own take on this historic moment in the history of mankind.

Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow would watch the lunar module takes its slow decent to the surface of the moon and one would wonder aloud, "It's a good thing Mr. Cheney isn't a moon-man or he might mistake the spacecraft for a freshly flushed quail in the heat of the hunting season."

Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck would sit behind their very red desks monitoring the footage of Neil Armstrong taking his first historic steps on the surface of another freakin' planet. But you wouldn't be able to hear his first words because of either Bill's incessant bellowing over how this program means the middle class' taxes will drive them into a life of hobo box-cardom or Beck's needless tears flooding the floor of the studio and shorting out the wires that feed the footage from NASA.

Lou Dobbs would demand the construction of a space wall directly over America.

That's why I find it so tragically hilarious that all of the major networks gave so little coverage to Cronkite's passing as they did for other recently deceased celebrities that need not be mentioned. It's clearly obvious they haven't learned much from him.

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Joseph Singer

And let's not forget that news especially on the news channels such as CNN you have 1/3 of the screen taken up by permanent needless clutter. During CNN's reporting of Walter Cronkite's death most of the screen was continuously filled with information that they could easily give every few minutes, but instead they choose to fill it with tickers and pernament junk to fill the screen.

July 21 2009 at 5:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Scott

You know, every time someone holds up Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow as somehow the equivalent of O'Reilly, Hannity, or Beck, they utterly discredit themselves. Maddow and Olbermann are not objective journalists, nor do they claim to be. But neither are they the bullying, lying jackasses that the Fox team are.

July 20 2009 at 2:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Scott's comment
jim

Precisely.

July 20 2009 at 3:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Max

You know, every time someone holds up Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, or Glenn Beck as somehow the equivalent of Olbermann and Maddow, they utterly discredit themselves. O'Reilly, Hannity, and Beck are not objective journalists, nor do they claim to be. But neither are they the bullying, lying jackasses that the MSNBC team are.

They're all interchangeable.

July 20 2009 at 7:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
GerryofNorVA

Good point, Danny, but at the same time you missed a key point. 21st C reporting is about the Web and Bloggers now. The 24hrs news channels have thoroughly polluted news. If and when something momentous happens I turn to the major news/video feeds and bloggers first.

July 20 2009 at 1:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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