Like good wine, reporting, reading the news, should be savored

I see by reports in today's [Tuesday] newspapers, that at 87 years of age, Walter Cronkite is laying down his pen.

Cronkite, with his retirement will end a career which took him to a variety of locales and brought him the reputation as “The most trusted newsman on television.”

Cronkite, who covered the siege of Bastogne on the ground in Belgium in 1944 was the man who single-handedly draped the mantle of defeat around the necks of U.S. Servicemen after the Tet offensive in Vietnam, Jan. 29-31, 1968. Even after the three day battle failed to arouse an uprising against the U.S. in the South along with estimated KIAs of North Vietnamese Regulars estimated to be at 45 thousand compared to just over four thousand for the U.S. and its allies including Australians and South Vietnamese, Uncle Walter in a 30-second sound-bite therorized that the U.S. was “...losing the war.”

It was a statement not lost on President Lyndon Johnson; so powerful was the nation's trust in Walter Cronkite, that Johnson knew that to the American public, we'd lost the war even though we'd won every major engagement. That was news that anyone could have and still could read in print, but we are captivated by instant, less substantive news.

We had, according to the political line of that era, been fighting to win the “...minds and hearts...” of the Vietnamese people. With Cronkite's rash statement we lost the minds and hearts of the American public. It took us til 1975 to totally lose the minds and hearts of our Vietnamese allies.

However such is the danger of those who depend on all of their vision of the world from the sound bites of television journalism, especially in the 21st century when lax laws against media conglomerates have been allowed to flourish.

When CBS, is allowed to host Bill Clinton, (or any other mover and shaker) to push the sales of a book that was published by their [CBS'] parent company, something stinks.

When media magnate Rupert Murdoch is allowed to own Fox Television News and newspapers such as The New York Post , it gets slimier.

When Murdoch's “reporters” not only slant their so-called “Fair and Balanced” reporting but begin discussions between themselves that are heard as editorial statements, they are less fair and balanced than any report torn from the pages of The New York Times or Washington Post .

In the last 20 to 25 years we have had mergers between media, banks and industry that are criminal, mergers that have been blessed by politicians on both sides of the aisle, and now they are surprised when scandals such as Enron occur? Please.

I've never been to Mount Rushmore, but I'm sure there are tears on Teddy Roosevelt's face; the old trustbuster has to be spinning in his grave and weeping.


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