Walter Cronkite, the anchor of middle America

Jun 27, 2012

Credit: HarperCollins

History is shaped by many, but perhaps even more so by journalists and members of the media, whose choices about what stories to follow and questions to ask shape much of public dialogue (like it or not).

Walter Cronkite, who delivered newspapers as a boy in Houston, grew into one of the most prominent members of this special circle, coming into his own as a television anchor at the same time that television itself began to usurp radio and print media as a news source. Cronkite covered everything from the space race and the Vietnam War to the first Earth Day in 1970.

His special ability to predict the next story was strengthened by both a strong work ethic and an earnest desire to reach the general American public, not the intelligentsia – according to author Douglas Brinkley, President Lyndon B. Johnson once said, “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost middle America.”

At 667 pages, Brinkley’s biography of Cronkite approaches the weighty influence of the man himself, but you can get a snapshot tomorrow when Brinkley joins Patt to talk about the life of one of the most famous U.S. news anchors of all time.


Did you grow up watching Walter Cronkite on CBS news? Do you have memories of a specific broadcast? What are the differences you see between news then and now?


Douglas Brinkley, author, “Cronkite”

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