Walter Cronkite, once known as the “most trusted man in America,” is dead at 92. He passed away at a time of tremendous changes in the media, particularly at his beloved CBS. As he would say, “That’s the way it is.”
Cronkite was the gold standard of the “old guard” — serious journalists who lead the networks during their most transformative and influential period. Yet, he also became one of the first celebrity journalists — a trend that would turn news into a personality driven industry (as vividly shown by his friend and contemporary Barbara Walters). Cronkite’s celebrity and iconic status, however, was not so troubling because he was a serious and honorable newsman. He offered a sober and unbiased look at the news and world leaders. He was recruited in 1950 by the other great icon of his generation: Edward R. Murrow
CBS is now struggling with a ratings drive under Katie Couric, who is perhaps the greatest example of celebrity anchors. Couric’s celebrity status, however, never translated into ratings for the Tiffany Network and she has racked up some of the worst ratings in the history of the network.
He reportedly died from cerebrovascular disease and complications from dementia.