Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Eye Of CBS Is Upon You

All the livelong day. I used to believe what Walter Cronkite told me, even when I was a Berkeley radical. When he announced after the Tet Offensive that the war in Vietnam was lost, I believed him. It was years later that I found out (from the writings of NorthVietnamese General Giap) that the Tet Offensive had been an absolute disaster for the communists. He thanked Cronkite for his help in turning that around.

That left me thinking that Cronkite had made a left turn and discarded real reporting for editorializing in the 60s. Now I find out even that was wrong. It was a lengthy evolution for the voice of CBS News. It turns out that the great news reader who so loudly condemned Richard Nixon for his presidential “dirty tricks” got there way ahead of Tricky Dick. As early as 1952, Cronkite was playing a few dirty tricks of his own, all in the name of news-gathering, of course.

Turns out that “the most trusted man in America” had bugged a secret committee room of the Republican Party during that year’s Republican convention. During the Watergate Scandal, Cronkite became almost apoplectic describing the horror of Nixon’s bugging of the offices of Democratic operatives. He termed bugging of political opponents “a stunt of questionable legality that should have disqualified [Nixon] from ever holding a powerful position of public trust.” Considering that almost twice as many people trusted Cronkite as trusted Nixon, I can only say “newsman, heal thyself.”

Disguised as news, Cronkite’s editorializing misled millions upon millions of decent Americans. His contempt for Barry Goldwater was visible even when Cronkite wasn’t making direct statements about him. When Republican presidential candidate Goldwater visited an American Army base in Germany in 1964, Cronkite’s puppet Daniel Schorr reported it thusly: “Republican Barry Goldwater, announcing his presidential run, made his first campaign appearance in the center of Germany’s right wing.” The implication was clear—Goldwater was a closet Nazi. The camera returned to Cronkite in New York, and there was the old bastard, his lips pursed, slightly shaking his head indicating disapproval (of Goldwater, not Schorr). Not a word--just a look.

This kind of sneering “news” continued throughout Cronkite’s career right up to the day he retired. At least now his editorializing is no longer being treated as news. To a greater or lesser extent, he praised every Democratic candidate and damned every Republican candidate, though rarely expressly using clear wording to accomplish the task.

Now let’s jump forward to recent times to see if things have gotten better. Well, the CBS anchor for the nighttime national news certainly doesn’t have the cachet that Cronkite had. But the inability to separate news from purely political causes goes all the way up to the top. Last week, Les Moonves, president and chief executive officer of CBS News attended a widely-publicized Beverly Hills Democratic fundraiser featuring the Wonderful Wizard Barack Obama.

Responding to a question from a friendly reporter, Moonves said: “I run a news division, I’ve given no money to any candidate.” Well, technically, at this particular fundraiser, that was true. What he did give was $25,000 to the Democratic National Committee’s LGBT :Leadership Council. So he gave money to a left wing group sponsored by the Democratic Party, at an Obama fundraiser at which the candidate was present. And everyone knows that a celebrity appearance at a fundraiser for the Democratic candidate is an endorsement of that candidacy whether Moonves gave him money directly or not. My showing up at a fundraiser without writing the candidate a check means exactly nothing. The CEO of CBS showing up in the West Coast center of news and entertainment means a great deal more than a simple check.

Moonves is not a news reporter, but his position as head of the news division of a major TV network appearing at an Obamafest is news. Now, how many CBS news reporters are going to do either of two things? Report Moonves’s participation in a big Hollywood Obama fundraiser? Report on the total impropriety of such an appearance? Anyone want to hazard a guess?

It is highly-doubtful that Moonves will make a similar appearance at a Mitt Romney fundraiser. That’s because he knows that such an appearance, particularly when well-publicized among the party faithful, is tantamount to an endorsement. That would offset his tacit endorsement of Obama, and he wouldn’t want to muddy the waters. Even if he did show up, I’m quite sure he wouldn’t write a $25,000 check to the Republican National Committee’s Traditional Morals Leadership Council. (OK, I made that up).

26 comments:

Tehachapi Tom said...

Hawk
I do say, are you surprised that media moguls would attend bo's "the infallible ones" event?

tryanmax said...

Your story about the Cronkite "look" puts me in mind of a particularly aggravating interview I heard on NPR as of late. The interview was no one of any note compared to Cronkite, or anyone for that matter--thank heavens--but clearly of the same school.

Interview is a generous term; it was more like a reprimand. The targ- er, interviewee was a high schooler who had made a few ripples by questioning her teacher's take on global warming. There was nothing wrong with the wording of the questions per se, but the interviewer delivered each with a tone of "how could you?" Each response was received by an audible *tsk* or a note of disappointment. You wouldn't know how cogent or salient the high schooler's answers were by listening to the interviewer.

BevfromNYC said...

I lost faith in Cronkite along with Teddy Kennedy and clan stopped the wind turbine development in Cape Cod Sound because it would obstruct the ocean views from their seaside mansions and get in the way of their yacht races. I am not making this up. Those are the reasons they gave. When their blinding hypcrisy was pointed up to them by the NYT no less, Cronkite said that they should give an old man a break. Yeah that was before he married his last young wife...

Speaking of Obama, he is appearing at the WTC site right at this very moment. I just saw his motorcade pull in. Next he's headed to the Sarah Jessica Parker/Anna Wintour Dining for Dollars fete and then on to uptown to get mo' money, mo' money, mo' money from some other entertainment mogul...All this during evening rush hour. They shut the westside trains and all traffic down...yea us.

K said...

I was disturbed by Cronkite relatively early. I remember in particular an incident at the beginning of the CBS coverage of the history making Apollo 11 moon shot - the Saturn 5 was just about to be launched - it was what you would call super prime time since virtually everybody in the country would be watching. Suddenly, (as I remember it) Cronkite went into a diatribe about since we had now won the race to the moon that it was time to move on to funding social programs including national health care.

My reaction was WTF?

T-Rav said...

Unfortunately, I have no direct memories of Mr. Cronkite. I do, however, remember reading that he was a member of the Ho Chi Minh Fan Club (I guess there was an official society for the guy or something); heck, he may have been its president. Seems like that would also be worth letting the audience know about.

LawHawkRFD said...

Tehachapi Tom: Surprised, no. Disgusted, yes. Still, in the past, the MSM biggies used to maintain a pretense of neutrality, however unbelievable. This thing means even the pretense is gone.

LawHawkRFD said...

tryanmax: Liberal body-language is so apparent that even a non-political amateur can spot it. They've raised the sneer and the hand-wave to all new heights. But the one that is most obvious and most childish is the eyeball-roll. I have to mention that in a joint appearance on Fox with Michelle Malkin, Juan Williams practically rolled his eyes out of their sockets as Malkin finally just laid him out, point-for-point with facts. The deeper she cut, the faster his eyeballs rolled. Deliciously, it was all about Williams's belief that Obama had said the right thing about the private sector being "just fine."

LawHawkRFD said...

Bev: The Democrats with their "eat the rich agenda" are some of the greatest hypocrites of all time. The wind farm thing was part of that hypocrisy, but just a small part. Nimnydism (not in my neighborhood, you don't) is a human frailty, but only rich, influential Democrats can turn it into high hypocritical art. They are masters of "do as I say, not as I do." Fat cat Democrats love poor people and minorities so long as they can't see them from their homes' front windows.

And just for the record, I find that Wintour woman to be one of the phoniest, most pretentious, most obnoxious women ever to push her ugly mug onto the public stage. I really sympathize with New Yorkers who had to put up with their hypocritical shenanigans today.

Individualist said...

Lawhawk

Born in late enough in the 60's to not remember Chronkite's speeches s I can't speak to that. However I will say this at least the political editorializing was limited to the news back then.

There is an article on Fox news today about how on HBO's Game of Thrones they had need for a head on a stick and don't you know due to the low budgets at HBO they have to recycle body parts. Well this one time the head used to represent Sansa Stark's father just happened to be that of George W Bush. On the DVD commentary they actually admit this but explain it wasn't a political statement just that they have so few body parts and for that show they need lots (I am confused as to how many heads on a stick you need to impress enemy royalty if one of the is that person;s Dad you actually need ut OK)

HBO's apology basicly reeiterated their lack of budgets for new body parts but theyt said they should not have told people the head was George Bush's. Using it however I guess is still not a problem?

What gets me is why does HBO need any severed George Bush heads. Why was it there to use.

This is exactly the kind of crap these leftist hacks do LAwhawk, they literally have no shame whatsover.

LawHawkRFD said...

K: I give you credit for being more prescient than I was. I saw that same broadcast and missed the foolish parallels Cronkite was drawing. But I hadn't had my epiphany at the time, and as a good socialist, I thought there was plenty of money to go around (and more to be printed), so as much as I applauded NASA and the space program, I bought into Cronkite's argument that it was being done largely by withholding money from the needy. God, I was naive.

LawHawkRFD said...

T-Rav: You kids! You missed it all. Cronkite was the vice-president of the Ho Chi Minh fan club. Jane Fonda was the president. LOL

LawHawkRFD said...

Indi: I gotta admit, until they told me the severed head was George Bush's image, I didn't see it. Now I do. HBO claims they "hire out" those special effects and didn't know that it was an intentional insult done by their subcontractor. Baloney. The productions are lavish and expensive, and I suspect they've known all along. They don't do farmed-out cheap effects on major projects such as Game of Thrones.

Individualist said...

But Lawhawk

The HBO Exec said that they have to use body parts for all their shows all the time and they just don't have enough, so if one of the heads is W so be it, gotta cut corners don't you know.....

IT is Bush's fault since he is responsible for the economy under Barack OBama's dynasty.

AndrewPrice said...

I came along after Cronkite, so I never had the respect older people did for him. And throughout the 80's and 90's he really proved himself to be a leftist ass on issue after issue. So none of this surprises me because I never saw him as anything more than typical for modern "journalists."

T-Rav said...

LawHawk, yeah, speaking of which, why couldn't that howitzer have blown up or something?*

*(I denounce myself.)

LawHawkRFD said...

Indi: You're right. It's Bush's fault. In fact, he probably OKd the project so he could get his face in front of the public again and be resurrected. Bush and Republicans are never believable, show people like HBO are always believable. I had almost forgotten the formula.

BevfromNYC said...

Indi and LawHawk - The GOT head excuse is just bogus. My question is why did they even HAVE a stock severed GWB head to begin with? Frankly I don't think anyone would have known if they didn't include it in their special features video.

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: We in the Dark Ages had little to compare him with, so we went along with it. The whole idea of free speech and a vigorous free press is detoured when only one point of view is being shown. That started to change in the 80s, and the internet and talk radio pushed the envelope even farther. We may get a lot of cuckoo points of view these days as well as good hard news and fair editorialization, but at least it doesn't come from only one point of origination anymore.

LawHawkRFD said...

T-Rav: Violence? VIOLENCE !?!?!?!

LawHawkRFD said...

Bev: This is beginning to turn into one of the funniest mistakes the liberals have made in awhile. Whoever is responsible for it, a sick attempt at insider humor has now gone viral. I can't even imagine all the negatives that would already have gone on prime time TV news if that head had been Obama's instead of Bush's.

Anthony said...

Cronkite is waaaay before my time, but based on what I read of him, I always figured him for a liberal. The bugging thing is a bit surprising though.

Bias in journalism doesn't shock or horrify me. People have opinions about things, their opinions are going to affect what they cover and how they cover it.

Cronkite's opposition certainly didn't help, but there were a lot of problems with the Vietnam War.

rlaWTX said...

Anthony, modern libs aren't known for their appreciation of subtlety - they want affirmation and attribution!

Cronkite is before my time, but I remember hearing appreciation for him from my g'parents and parents. I think they were part of the oblivious masses at the time...

['subtlety' is a stupid to spell word!

StanH said...

Oh gawd, Walter Cronkite. Good catch Indi. On the Cronkite commentary on Apollo 11, I watched Huntley/Brinkley…ha. Though I was quite young, I remember watching Cronkite with his flack jacket, helmet sitting sideways, reporting the exact opposite of what had just happened in Tet. Like everyone else we took it on faith, “that’s the way it is.” Then after ’75 and the great leap into the sea, with the withdrawal from Vietnam, the truth of Tet began seeping out. I was at a party at my older brothers house in the mid ‘70s, and two Vietnam vets were there, Army helicopter pilot, and a Marine, both were in Tet , and the discussion of the withdrawal ensued. Though both men were pleased it was ending, they were vehement about how they kicked the dog squeeze out of the Viet Cong during Tet, and most of the time they were in country. As a devoted counter culturist, and fan of Jimmy Carter, this flew in the face of the liberal doctrine. The part that sent me to the other side was when Cronkite told us that Jimmy Carter was smarter than Reagan, just before the ’80 election, by then my conversion was complete.

LawHawkRFD said...

Anthony: As the old saying goes, "you had to be there." Anyone coming in on Cronkite in the 80s or 90s would immediately see the liberal bias. We didn't have the advantage of other points of view in the 50s and 60s that younger people have, so we thought Cronkite was mainstream. We learned, the hard way.

Nobody is blaming Cronkite for the loss in Vietnam. You are relatively new to our blog, so you may not know that I was an activist opponent of that war, and criticized the politicization and civilian "brain trust" interference aspects of both the war and the way it was being conducted. That said, few defeats are attributable to one cause. Cronkite was just one in a multitude of factors which led to an American defeat. Where Cronkite's role was particularly reprehensible is that his "news" regarding the Tet Offensive was patently wrong, and a major milestone in turning an American victory into American defeat.

LawHawkRFD said...

rlaWTX: My generation was not so much naive as simply uninformed. It was rare to hear an opposing view. Oddly, even though I was very far left at the time, I seemed to see something unique about the commentary coming from one critic of the mainstream view--William F. Buckley.

LawHawkRFD said...

Stan: Glad to have someone confirm that I am not alone in remembering the complete dependence we had on national news, only to find out they had been misleading us for years. Maybe we should have known, if only because of the truth that came out in the 50s about Walter Duranty's lies printed in the New York Times about the Soviet Union in the late 20s and throughout the 30s. But we just didn't have the readily-available resources that people have today.

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