The death of Mr. Cronkite at age 92 creates an opportunity to explore how the press is behaving in America right now, as opposed to when Mr. Cronkite was the nation's most powerful broadcaster.
I was hired at CBS News shortly after Walter Cronkite was forced out by the network. In fact, I was one of Dan Rather's first new correspondents. A few years later I actually interviewed Walter Cronkite while anchoring the news in Boston, and it was clear he was still bitter about being replaced by Rather. He did not think Dan was up to the job. Subsequently, Mr. Cronkite was proven correct, and it is important to understand why.
Walter Cronkite came out of the World War II experience. His war coverage was superb, and after seeing how America defeated tyranny, he believed the USA was essentially a noble nation. In his later years, Mr. Cronkite did move into the committed left area. But in his younger days he was not an ideologue; he was a reporter. And he did the country a great service by telling the truth about Vietnam, as well as other major stories.
Dan Rather, on the other hand, was a product of the Vietnam era and the Watergate fiasco. He believes to this day that the establishment, especially conservatives, are flawed people. Mr. Rather skewed his reporting left, taking the entire CBS News operation in that direction. Although I was there only briefly, I saw it happen.
Rather, of course, is not alone. After Watergate, all the other networks and many major newspapers became left-wing organizations, and that remains to this day. Enter Barack Obama. As the president said at a recent media dinner, most of you voted for me, and that is true. That could also be hurting the nation, as Mr. Obama may take this country into bankruptcy, and it is happening very fast. His health care plan will create more debt than the country will ever be able to repay, no matter how much he taxes.
But The New York Times and other left-wing media do not care about that. They want the health care entitlement, seeing it as a human right.
So there is little scrutiny about the president's incredible spending by the press because it is sympathetic to Mr. Obama's agenda. Walter Cronkite, in his later years, would probably have bought into that. But in his early years, he would have been skeptical of it, as all journalists should be.
That is the profound change that has happened in Walter Cronkite's lifetime. We've gone from a media that challenged authority while seeking the truth to a media that champions ideology.
And that's "The Memo."
Pinheads & Patriots
A horrific car accident in Milwaukee. An SUV flipped over, erupted into flames and trapped a mother and her two little kids in an obviously life-threatening situation. Bystanders tried to help, but it was only when off-duty firefighters John and Joel Rechlitz showed up that the three were rescued. For risking their lives, the Rechlitz brothers are patriots.
On the pinhead front, Jesse Ventura had this to say about Sarah Palin:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JESSE VENTURA, FORMER GOVERNOR OF MINNESOTA: She's a quitter. Let me put it to you this way, Larry, and by not being sexist, she could never make it as a frogman or a Navy SEAL, because if you utter the words in BUDS training, Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL training, "I quit," you're gone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
For comparing himself to herself when the situations are dramatically different, Gov. Ventura is a pinhead.