Speaker Madam first, in 1946, he had just come back from Moscow after World War Two had ended, and my first impression, I thought, this is a great reporter. I mean, you had an if there’s such a thing as looking at someone and saying there is real security here. I mean, you felt a maturity in him, even though he wasn’t that old at that time. Of course, I really felt it was an honor. And he made you immediately feel like you were an old friend, even though we had just met. We went out to lunch and I was filling a man on what the gossip in the Washington Bureau for United Press. It was United Press, then later United Press International. But I was so impressed with him and I knew that he had done great things for UPI United Press. So I think your first impression of this man is he is a real man. He’s solid.

Speaker Now, you both were at Dupee, and I just was wondering when you were there, was did he already have a reputation? And before you answer, I need to ask you, I’m taking my questions off camera, so I need the subject matter, the name Walter Cronkite, however, and the ask the question in your answers so I know what you’re talking about. Right.

Speaker So just in terms of why Walter Cronkite had not made his tremendous fame when he was at the AP, but all the war correspondents knew him and he did a bang up job there and also in Moscow. But it was very limited audience. And later on, he became a world figure.

Speaker And then when he came to Washington, did you have more contact with him?

Speaker Well, then he soon went to Westinghouse Broadcasting and then with our paths crossed, but not in that closely. But I had total admiration for him because he represented to me the old line Georgian journalists who really had great integrity about the facts. And he had not moved into any special realm where journalism seemed to be headed. Did.

Speaker Now, both of you were real wire service people, dead line lovers.

Speaker And did you not love Denver identified until the deadline to face the facts?

Speaker I know that there was this kind of. Expression that they would take you very young, work really hard and.

Speaker Pay very little. And work your long, long hours. We loved it. Really? I have never left. Never met anyone who worked for United Press in the past who hasn’t looked back and longing at those salad days and all the agony.

Speaker Tell me, what was it about us that made it so? I know that I turned down a job at CBS at one point to continue with the. What was it about?

Speaker Was in this Freedom Corps and a great sense of the importance of news and presenting it in a straight way. We all had this dedication. Most of us came out of college and immediately became copy boys and copy girls and dictations and so forth. Because I think that most people who went into journalism in that period always had their eye on being reporters from grammar school, almost worked on school papers and that sort of thing. And now I know he has a school in name, in his name at Arizona State and so forth. Arizona University, I guess.

Speaker Now, what you had said a little bit, I just wondered whether you could tell me a little bit about the qualities that Walter know, what are his qualities as a person and as a journalist?

Speaker I think that he represented the best in America, that you always had this sense. This is a true American. You never felt that you were being blindsided or strung up so long or that he would schmooze unnecessarily. He was about as straight and decent, but the integrity came through for everyone that people wanted him to be president. They wanted in the end. And when Lyndon B. Johnson said, I’ve lost or because Walter Cronkite had gone to Vietnam and he said, you cannot win this war, I mean, that was almost the death knell and definitive word. Even those of streets were being, you know, enraged and the protesters were out and everything. But as Walter Cronkite, that got the message to LBJ that the game was over.

Speaker Were you aware of Johnson calling CBS, calling after reports that he was trying to sort of keep a hold of Cronkite? Did you have any sense of that?

Speaker No, but I’m not surprised. Jackson was never hesitant about getting on the phone and talking to Frank Stanton and anybody, you know, at the top echelon is no holds barred. In fact, you call up a reporter in the middle of a dictation saying you got it all wrong. So we felt we were all Big Brother was haunting us. Now, that doesn’t surprise me.

Speaker I’m sure that was not unique to Johnson. Was that true of other presidents?

Speaker Mostly Johnson.

Speaker I mean, the paranoia came through the Nixon in a different way.

Speaker Well, with Johnson, it was love, hate. He wanted to be loved. Nixon. Nixon had a dark side. He always had two roads to go and he always took the wrong road.

Speaker There was something in his personality.

Speaker With Johnson is cuddly. Very insecure.

Speaker What do you see as Cronkite’s greatest accomplishments up to this point?

Speaker He set a tone for television. I think you say, Walter. Walter Cronkite. Walter Cronkite, I think, was magnificent in the role that he played. He really laid down the standards for what it is to be a great broadcaster. Handled the news as a wire service reporter would convey it in such a coherent, articulate way that I think that very few can aspire to what his image.

Speaker Now, did you see a difference between do you think that there was a big difference between the way Murrow handled things and then sort of.

Speaker Well, like, I don’t think that Murrow would have cried while broadcasting the Kennedy. I think he had probably a different style, more sophisticated.

Speaker I liked the crying in the sense. And I think that.

Speaker Walter Cronkite never wasn’t. I mean, he played everything straight, but he showed emotion on a space shots and self-worth. You knew you felt it with him. And I don’t think it was afraid to show his emotion. And yet, at the same time, it didn’t appear slanted or biased.

Speaker It was a unique stance, I think.

Speaker You think that emotionality or that quality is what made him so, so beloved in this country?

Speaker I think it helped that that he could show true sympathy. And yet at the same time remain in position. Right. I mean, reporters are the difficult spot and that’s supposed to really lean in any. Especially if you’re a straight reporter. And I think he carried that over in his job. That’s what made him so great. When when the anti media campaign began in 1968, the announcers and reporters were always being faulted for showing any kind of emotion slanting and so far at the ultra right was really on target on that and all the analysis and everything. I don’t think they ever were able to find that one on Walter Cronkite.

Speaker Now, did you feel when you heard Walter on his broadcast when he said this is a stalemate. We need to get out of here?

Speaker I mean, hurray. I have. I was against the war from whenever it started when I thought it was over with the NBN pull in 1954. And then it goes on and on and on. And for us to jump into it, I thought that was catastrophic, a disaster and the biggest mistake of that era, of course. And two presidents eventually had to realize that to. Go 10000 miles away to kill people because you think that they may be taken over by the Communists? Well, it’s true.

Speaker There was a Cold War and we did have to protect that flank, but not at that price.

Speaker So can you say again what your reaction was when Walter came on, you know, on the broadcast, expressed his opinion?

Speaker And did you feel that he crossed the line that was. I mean, how did you feel about him crossing the line? He was always a very straight down the middle. Reported straight.

Speaker I think there comes a time when you have to take a stand. And I think that he had enough credibility as a straight reporter to give it and to give this true assessment after having been to Vietnam. I think Walter Cronkite did the right thing. But telling the people what is honest observation must.

Speaker And do you think it’s true that the press is responsible for the.

Speaker I mean, there’s that we lost the war in Vietnam, that the press. What does your opinion of that?

Speaker There are a few words I could say, but you wouldn’t put them on. But I say baloney. No, the war was lost because it could never be won. You cannot invade a country and conquer it. People somehow breathes there. A man with soul so dead who never to himself has said, this is my non my native land. Mean there were Viet Cong and every office in Saigon practically. And the question is your loyalty to your country, to your family. He made the right observation. Obviously, it was hurtful for for President Johnson because he knew how how important Cronkite was, how important his voice was in this country.

Speaker And do you think that that affected somewhat Johnson’s decision not to run again?

Speaker I think that everything contributed to Johnson’s decisions. He couldn’t leave the White House without going to some military base. Men, women and children were marching every day by the hundreds that thousands, hundreds in front of the White House. Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today? Who could stand that chant? No, I think. But, of course, the New Hampshire primary. All these things. And Johnson felt me in politics was everything. That was his life. That’s his power. And I think they read all the signs and his. I think his whole inclination was a great hope that he would be drafted. And they’ve said no, no. But then he realized after in Grant Park in Chicago and the Democratic National Convention that the hostility to his presidency was so great.

Speaker Are you OK? Yeah.

Speaker I wanted to go back, since you go all the way back to the wire service, a lot of reporters, especially print and radio reporters in the early days of television, looked down on television at the beginning. What was that all about? Why the condescension?

Speaker I don’t think it was done. Maybe we saw the future. We were afraid of it.

Speaker I think that. And on the contrary, I don’t see TV was late in coming to the White House. And I think that people understood how formidable it would be. And the wire services had all kinds of priority. The first two questions at a presidential news conference and so forth. I don’t think it was a threat so much as realizing that we had to be prepared for change. And change is always difficult. No, no, I mean, nothing can replace see it with your own eyes. And that’s TV, the visual thousand words.

Speaker Now, when did you start watching television to get the news?

Speaker To get the nose to. I don’t think I ever watch it to get the news per say, until the most recent years. We listened because we wanted to know what was going on, but at the same time, we felt that we were giving them the news. In fact, the TV correspondents would be checking up to see what was in The New York Times and all for Washington Post before they’d even give a broadcast rep and read.

Speaker Now, where were you when when Cronkite announced on television that JFK had been shot?

Speaker I was in Washington and at the White House, I had a.

Speaker I was really getting ready to go on a vacation. And then my office, when this happened, when I found out my rather famous reporter, Merriman Smith, was in the third car in Dallas and all hell was breaking loose. They sent me to Andrews Air Force Base. I was forced to go to Dallas. But on the drive to Andrews, I heard on the broadcast that he that it was officially announced that Kennedy was dead.

Speaker So I stayed at Andrews Air Force Base until Air Force One landed with a coffin and so forth. And then Merriman Smith gave me a stack of copy, including the swearing in of Johnson as the new president and so forth. And I dictated to my office, had an open line for about an hour and a half. And then I went to the White House. And for that from then on, nobody slept for four days, covered every part of the.

Speaker And in a way, that was true with the air for three days straight. Right.

Speaker And I think people would feel very would have felt and probably did that. Walter Cronkite felt very comforted that he was doing the broadcasting. There was something in the soulless consoling because they trusted him. That’s the whole thing about him. I think, in a nutshell, trust.

Speaker And it was really the first time that the country sort of came together around this event.

Speaker I think that everyone cried, except maybe for some people who might have hated John F. Kennedy. But at the same time, I mean, there was tremendous start. The world cried in Dhaka, staff Rika. They would have photographs of Kennedy and Nick right next to the pope. I mean, he was revered for what he represented. I think.

Speaker Histories of television begin with the growing power of television news at political conventions of the 1950s. These events transformed the event. They covered. They transformed the way we all understood the political process. Do you feel that Cronkite had a role in changing that process?

Speaker I think that he was one of the great broadcasters. He set a tone and so forth. Certainly he was one of them and probably the most important. Even before Brinkley and name came on.

Speaker But they were few and far between. You know, they became real Hollywood stars, in a sense. Rock star.

Speaker If you were to put it in today’s terms, I’m sorry, can you give me the subject matter that you’re talking about?

Speaker I think that broadcasters became very famous because they were in your living room every day. And certainly a Walter Cronkite became the old friend. He was a father figure. He was a.

Speaker Beloved.

Speaker Are there any particular broadcasts that you remember vividly? I mean, we talked about the Kennedy assassin. Is there any broadcast that you saw of Cronkite that really moved you or affected you or. You had some sort of.

Speaker No. But I do remember that if I had a choice, I always tried to listen to Walter Cronkite, mainly because not only being old friends, but, again, the element that you knew you’d get the news straight.

Speaker Oh.

Speaker Cronkhite said that after the 1964 the political conventions, that the conventions were reduced to marketing tools from that day forward, the image of the two has been the most difficult aspect of a political campaign.

Speaker And politics and television have gone skipping hand-in-hand.

Speaker And the cameras take somewhat of a second.

Speaker Take your time. Can we stop tape, please?

Speaker On camera? Oh, yeah. Films. Six years.

Speaker Yeah, yeah.

Speaker Okay, speed, perfect.

Speaker After Cronkhite stop doing the CBS Nightly broadcast, he’s become very outspoken about foreign policy, domestic policy and presidents. What is your feeling about that?

Speaker I think that Walter Cronkite feels free at last, free to speak. And and these are the constraints you have as a journalist, especially lately, where you have to be liberal is to be demonized.

Speaker And you had had to be very careful because, well, every talk show, Dallas ultra conservative. And it’s it’s all very sad, in my opinion, because I consider myself an out, not liberal and always will be. Day I was born and so forth, but.

Speaker I think it’s good for the American people to hear someone straight from the shoulder and Walter Cronkite certainly have shown a very lot of courage because I suppose you can alienate a lot of people and a lot of people probably live. Much of the public doesn’t understand that we are very limited in what we can say if we are considered just straight reporters. But once those restraints are lifted, you really you feel that you can say, for example, when I was first started reporting for more than 50 years, I was back to the facts.

Speaker But I didn’t buy a lot of the human race. I permitted myself to think, to care, to believe. But it didn’t get in my copy and didn’t buy. And I think that now that I’m a columnists, I go for broke. And once the editor first started looking at my copy, when I moved into writing a column, he said, Where’s the edge? Said the what’s your opinion? My watch. My opinion. Now I wake up in the morning to say, who do I hate today? Who can’t write a column. Really? Who are the hardest Lukacs up the ass. Can I like anything? But actually, I think I think it’s refreshing for for people who really lived the lifetime and lived so much history to really be able to express themselves. And I’m glad that he’s doing that now. I think it’s helpful. I think it’s very important for the other side to be told. And I think that the conservatives had the voice in this country, and I want them and the people to know that there’s another side to the story.

Speaker Now, did you ever have an opportunity? Sorry. Are you looking at me? I didn’t think so.

Speaker Maybe I was.

Speaker I need an audience, second born performer. She’s right here. Don’t worry about it.

Speaker I don’t want to leave anyone out. I miss my lectures behind the screen.

Speaker I want to ask whether you have ever traveled with Walter. When you follow the presidents. Has he ever been on any of the trips with you?

Speaker The China trip 19, 1972. Well. When President Nixon decided to go to China, every reporter in the world, especially in this country and especially in Washington, wanted to travel with him and the U.S. was limited to 87 people are less than 90. And that would include reporters, cameramen, technicians and so forth. And, of course, all the anchor men. So Walter Cronkite was among those who traveled. And I think that he got a lot out of it. As we all did, because we had had no relations. U.S. had no relations with China for 20 years. The only thing we knew about I mean, the CIA knew from Hong Kong and India and so forth. But the average American didn’t know what had happened in the transformation of China. So we all felt very important in transmitting this word and images that we were looking at.

Speaker And what what was he like to travel with his Walter Cronkite?

Speaker He is always wonderful to them, a great conversationalist and also a great listener. So I think everyone felt very friendly. And this is security about this man, that sense of trust.

Speaker What about his humor? Have you had any experience with his humor?

Speaker I haven’t been the victim of it lately, I don’t think.

Speaker I said all newspaper people usually have a sense of humor. You have to. And I think of him as newspaper as well as broadcast’s.

Speaker That’s a compliment.

Speaker I wanted to ask you about the. Cronkhite was riding high in 1952 and fifty six conventions, he was reporting on the conventions and then not so much in the 1960 where he was sort of knocked off from from reporting on it. But then the space program got him back on top. Is that how you see it? I mean, what effect did the space his reporting on space.

Speaker I have I think he became the voice of America, really in terms of the space program. I mean, everyone relied on him. And I think everyone turned to him. I didn’t know about that hiatus from conventions to the others. I always felt he was there, though.

Speaker Let’s let’s take. Well, OK, that’s fine.

Speaker But I mean, did you feel like he he brought to his reporting on the moon? More than just, you know, reporting on the events, he seemed to have really done a lot of research. Did you feel that in the way he reported on the landing?

Speaker I think he had spent a lot of time with the astronauts, which was very, very important, you know, and I think he understood the program. But the point is, the point about Walter Cronkite is that he speaks English and he speaks. And so art is so articulate and it’s everything is a conversation, really.

Speaker Now, do you think that his early background had anything to do with the fact that he came from from the Midwest and then he lived in Texas? Do you think that there is something about that background of being in that part of the.

Speaker I think people tell it like it is in the Midwest and the West. There are no areas really. They find everybody else is phony. It doesn’t measure up in the same way of being very. Shooting from the hip and straightforward.

Speaker Great.

Speaker What what kind of power did you see? Cronkite had at the height of his death, at the height of his popularity? Did he have a lot of.

Speaker Well, I never heard of any other announcer did want to run for president. I think that shows you his popularity, certainly.

Speaker Well, that was the I think that most presidents are fearful, not fearful. That’s the wrong word of anchor people because they know they carry a lot of weight. They reach millions of people. And that in itself can be very potent.

Speaker Do you feel that’s true with the anchors today?

Speaker No, because cable and all the other programs have entered, beaned and. I think some of the much stamped as very pro administration and so forth. They’ve lost their.

Speaker None identity.

Speaker You see a real difference in the kind of anchor that Walter Cronkite was versus what you seen today on television.

Speaker Yes. I don’t think that you would really call up any program today or any news program and really count on it as such a solid way as you did with Walter Cronkite. I don’t know what the word would be, but I think it’s it’s comforting to know that someone really is giving you the straight goods.

Speaker One of your cards. OK. Thank you.

Speaker I think you were referring to this president thing every in the nineteen seventy two, there was a poll. They found Cronkite, the most trusted man in America. But they don’t know the circumstances. People don’t know the story. And I think you were referring to that where Oliver Quayle was polling whether Nixon or McGovern were more believable. And for the hell of it, he threw in another wild card names of someone very recognizable, Walter Cronkite. Nixon and McGovern together got 19 percent. And Cronkite got 73 percent. So I guess it is what this says is at that time, Cronkite, maybe all journalists were more believable than politicians. I’m just curious about what you think.

Speaker Well, I like to think that that journalists are believable because that’s stock in trade. Truth is supposed to be our holy grail. And the only ethical reason for being so. And I don’t think that’s true of politicians, at least not the ones I’ve covered. Too bad.

Speaker Now, do you know the story about Oliver Quayle? Had you had you heard this story? No. I thought that was funny. I want to go to Watergate.

Speaker And do you feel that Cronkite’s report, Watergate kept the story alive?

Speaker Everybody kept the story alive. It was a Greek tragedy. It was inexorable, inevitable. There was no way you could stop it. I saw all the attempts on the part of the White House to change the subject and to try to patch up and so forth. There was nothing. It was just a straight route to his resignation.

Speaker Nothing could put Humpty Dumpty together again. It was darkness at noon at the White House for several for several months before it actually happened. But you always knew the other shoe was going to fall. And it wasn’t the question of the press going after him. It was life itself.

Speaker It was fate that everything would be revealed. And good judges eventually and Anna. And lawmakers who cared about the country enough credibility, its integrity.

Speaker I wondered if you would mind saying, I don’t know what you’re talking about, Nixon, and I don’t know you’re talking about Watergate.

Speaker Okay, context in terms of Watergate, I think that certainly the press kept the story going. But I feel that that President Nixon would have gone down the drain anyway because everything came back to haunt him, really. And it was to me, I liken it to a great tragedy. The end was an extra bowl inevitable. There was no way that Nixon could deter anything. And it wasn’t the question of Walter Cronkite or any other anchorperson or even Bob Woodward and his colleagues know being there, you saw that there was no ways they could change the.

Speaker Picture now in the Carter, in the Carter, the whole hostage crisis under Carter.

Speaker They would say, I think he and the other anchor people contributed to the demise of Carter.

Speaker No other time, at no other time. And our crises have we’ve been reminded every minute, every day that this crisis is going on. This is the hundred and first day. This is the one hundred and the second day. This is one hundred. Third day and so forth. Very few presidents can tolerate that. The constant reminder. But I don’t think it was deliberate or insidious. I think that that’s the way they saw the story. I felt sorry for Carter having to suffer under that.

Speaker Again, I’m very sorry, I have to ask you to repeat that, explaining that during the hostage crisis, President Carter during the hostage crisis.

Speaker I do think the press contributed a lot, especially the anchor people, because they kept saying this is the hundred first date that the hostages are still held in Tehran. It’s the second day, the hundred and third day and so forth. There was a constant din, a constant reminder. No president can escape that. There’s nothing you can do. And so I do think that contributed. But he was not alone. I mean, this this became the M.O., the modus operandi for the broadcasters.

Speaker But it was Cronkite who really did that counting. I don’t know. They all did it.

Speaker OK. And now when Cronkite interviewed sat down and confronted him with would you meet him enough in making Israel? Do you think Cronkite had some influence in getting him there?

Speaker I think all questions have influence. I think certainly Walter Cronkite’s questions still to a VIP, to celebrity or to a world figure. Yes, I do think that. I think they mull over what should they do? And once they think that this is the word from the street. No, I mean that reporters do have an influence. I don’t think they have the conclusive influence. I think the people are the ones that really and you’re you’re a major politician, a president. Your aides are telling you this is what they’re saying. This is what’s happening.

Speaker What I’m trying to say is I don’t think that journalists are all powerful, but I think they certainly contribute to building a fire.

Speaker Walter regretted retiring almost immediately with every big story I was covering it still. Does this surprise you?

Speaker No. Every reporter, in fact, that Cronkite one to hang on. We all do once it gets in your blood. I mean, that’s that’s what the profession is. It’s not the money. It’s not the power. Not the celebrityhood. Which is it is now it really being there and wanting to be a reporter. And he wanted to be a reporter for the age of six. So Cronkite is a born reporter and I know exactly what he means.

Speaker The last chapter of his book, Cronkite says that his life hasn’t been a success. I mean, when you think of it, he’s the American ideal of success, money, fame, celebrity, all that stuff that we think is is the important things. He says his life hasn’t been a success because he didn’t establish standards that lasted after he left.

Speaker Well, I think that most people would not agree with that. Cronkite was not a success and they don’t usually have the criteria for deciding it. He does know I think he set a tone. I would bet most of the broadcasters I see now seem to be imitating the anchor people of the past in one way or another, whether it’s inflection of voice or an expression or don’t know. He made his mark. He is unfair to himself.

Speaker Do you have any insights or anything that you that you feel that you haven’t said you’d want to say about Walter?

Speaker I think it’s a great loss that he’s not on the air. And I sure would like it if I went back, I would be the first to tune in.

Speaker I have a couple of very funny little quotes that. That Cronkite had a VIP photo session preceding dinner. It was suggested that Mr. Cronkite just weeks out of the hospital for bypass surgery, take a chair. And he says, I don’t want to take the chair of a lady. Be exceedingly polite. I consider noticing you piece Helen Thomas and his mitts and you strike back. I’m not a lady.

Speaker I’m a reporter. Let’s remember that.

Speaker That’s very funny. Did you have that kind of a kind of a kind of bantering with him? I mean, do you have that kind of relationship with him?

Speaker Well, I had that kind of banter with everyone. I like the ones you feel you can tease and be it and they can tease you. Now, you have maybe a rapport with him. And I think most people feel that way, makes you feel at home.

Speaker And you got to know his wife Betsy a bit.

Speaker And what was she like? Well, I didn’t know her really personally well, but I know that she was very she was there for him and she was very protective. You can tell that. And I think she enjoyed sharing them as much in his mother, too, as was apparently is really something. I went to age 90. I think it was dancing with her. But I didn’t know Betsy that well, except I liked her immediately. I didn’t feel any hostility or any kind of celebrityhood.

Speaker Right now, Heartiness, certainly.

Speaker You can’t live with a newspaper man who’s got to promote poverty, too. To not be real.

Speaker Well, thank you. This was wonderful. No, it was just great.

Speaker I just think saw a great any anecdotal story that you experienced with him that you could share with us that would give sort of a sense of.

Speaker Nothing really comes to mind except. I just think that he had a head a. An expansive goodness toward life and toward people. I think that’s what what came through. That’s what makes him different from other anchor people. I mean, you have this sense that this man has is opens his heart and his mind. He’s lived a good life and continues to. I hope.

Speaker The only other thing that I think we we cut tape when you were coughing was on the political conventions in the 50s when television first started. OK. And remember, if you cannot contextualize, say, the conventions.

Speaker Well, during the 50s and 40s and early as NAT, the decisions, major decisions at conventions were made in smoke filled rooms by a small coterie of people who really had strong influence on politics, the politicians themselves.

Speaker I think once television. Then I think it did change the whole aspect of the smoke filled rooms and so forth and everything. Major decisions at conventions were in public. A reporter would find out and then there would be the frenzied. Paradine and all the press to go and find the same story. So was much more open. And TV is certainly contributed to that, but I like the fact that I think people should see this great moments in history.

Speaker But you don’t.

Speaker Now, the conventions now, you know, they it’s because money is the God and there is they’re cut down on showing us anything and self-worth because they don’t feel that it’s worth it then. They can’t get the advertising to go for 18 hours and so forth.

Speaker The thing. So you think that if there was advertising money, one would be able to actually see the cash?

Speaker I think the network’s not the smoke filled run, but you see the convention. I mean, they’ve been cut out of major speeches. And so so for now, it’s almost eliminated the.

Speaker So do you feel that that the whole financing has changed?

Speaker News reporting somewhat the hope so. Worry about ratings. The advertising dollar. How much has that affected you?

Speaker I think that the corporations, television, media giants and so forth are interested in in profits and less interested in news. And that’s why the entertainment has gotten so high as a priority in television. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. So I think it’s sad because when I first thought of television, I thought of news and my first introduction to seeing things seen actually seen moments in history.

Speaker Good. OK. I just want to get a minute of room tone.

Speaker We’re just going to be around.

Speaker Are you sort of are you optimistic or are you have you become more pessimistic about what’s happening to news reporting in this country?

Speaker It’s going and undergoing great change. And I think that too many terrible things have happened to the press, a fabrication, the planting of stories by the government itself. Good news about Iraq. And so the Iraqi press so that are knows and people are getting shot every minute in front of their eyes. It’s the unreality. The problem is everybody was a laptop. They saw journalists. They don’t have our standards. They don’t have our ethics or anything else. They are certainly the sense of the need for accuracy. And so I think the changes are revolutionary. And I don’t think for the better in terms of what we’re producing and what is coming out.

Speaker Newspapers, one newspaper towns, as I said before, they would reduce stories to 300 words when they shouldn’t be much longer. The whole question of in-depth reporting is gone by the board. You see very few documentaries on television, real documentaries.

Speaker Do you think someone like a Walter Cronkite or whatever?

Speaker I mean, do you think that level, that kind of journalism is still possible? Do you think that’s something of the past?

Speaker I think it could it can be a heavyweight as an anchor person and convey the sense of. But I think it takes time and experience and maturity. But right now, they’re rattling off everything. No sound bite is. I don’t watch enough television to give you some great answers, but I don’t feel I’m being deprived because I’m not hugging, hanging on to every unless there is news breaking that you really want to watch. TV is necessary, I think, and it’s great to have it, but I think it’s lost the Latin translation in recent years. High tech is great, but if it wipes out this whole sense of what news is most to be. And then my complaint with the networks is they have been lousy. They won’t show the gruesome film. They will not show what Moore’s really like and what we’re being subjected to and who’s dying. So and now The Washington Post is beginning to show the photographs, but they suppressed all of that and the press went along with it.

Speaker I had.

Speaker No great respect for my colleagues in the run up for the war. They’re coming out of their coma now. The sleeping giant. Finally. But it took too damn long. When they should’ve been asking the questions. President Bush’s March six, two or three press conference was a fiasco fiasco. Everybody knew he was going to war. And nobody said why.

Helen Thomas
Interview Date:
American Archive of Public Broadcasting GUID:
"Helen Thomas , Walter Cronkite: Witness to History" American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). February 28, 2006 ,
(1 , 1). Helen Thomas , Walter Cronkite: Witness to History [Video]. American Masters Digital Archive (WNET).
"Helen Thomas , Walter Cronkite: Witness to History" American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). February 28, 2006 . Accessed March 21, 2023


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