Walter Cronkite: Trailblazer of Bias

Walter Cronkite: Trailblazer of Bias
by Dan Gifford

"Krankheit" in German is pronounced the same as the "Cronkite" following "Walter." The German word means "sickness" while the "Walter" word means the man who infected TV news with the gazillion dollar-salary Star Anchor larger than the news he is supposed to be presenting. 

I don't say that to be mean-spirited or disrespectful of a man who was  "the most trusted man in America," but nobody else appears to be pointing out that Cronkite was actually a one world government ideologue; an advocate 
of a politically correct, totalitarian world government who used his trust to influence public policy in accordance with his own beliefs.

Cronkite should be the poster boy for full disclosure of a reporter's politics -- something I strongly advocate. Instead, he continues to be 
lauded as "Uncle Walter," the journalist who was totally unbiased in his 
reportage at a time when there were only three networks and the size of 
his news audience and personal influence on politics and national policy 
was far beyond anything that can be imagined by those who did not 
experience it. That meant Cronkite was the national oracle of fact and 
truth during his time as Anchor and Managing Editor of CBS Evening News 
from 1962 to 1981. But was he really unbiased? Well, that's not quite 
the way it was.

Cronkite was accused of political prejudice by Republicans and 
conservatives as soon as he became CBS' big kahuna. The bias they 
claimed was not so much in the words he said, it was in the way he said 
those words in combination with his story selection, pictures and facial 
expressions following comments made by non-liberals.

The first time I really noticed Cronkite's tricks was while watching his 
TV newscasts during the 1964 presidential campaign between Arizona's 
Republican Senator Barry Goldwater and incumbent Texas Democratic 
President Lyndon Johnson. What most caught my attention was that 
Cronkite's favoring of Johnson was different than the overt fawning over 
JFK four years earlier by Cronkite and the general news establishment. 
This was a subtle, sub-textual skewing which presented benign accurate 
facts about Goldwater in a way that demonized and marginalized him.

Every actor, director and script writer, among others, knows what I'm 
talking about and how to accomplish the same thing. When I was a TV 
reporter, I would often make the point during speaking gigs that people 
should be careful what conclusions they draw from a TV news story 
because accurate facts can be juxtaposed and presented in such a way 
that the viewer can be left believing the opposite. It's all a matter of 
using the camera, voice and expression to exploit known fears, biases 
and commonly believed "truths" which may not be true at all.

To cut to the chase, Goldwater was not just a US Senator, he was also an 
Air Force General who spoke bluntly about his anti-communist views and 
his belief that we should take a harder military stance against 
hegemonic Marxism, especially in Vietnam. He was equally blunt about his 
opposition to the civil rights bills and Johnson's proposed "Great 
Society" welfare state then being argued in Congress because of 
constitutional issues like equality before the law, the right of 
association and other individual rights against the sort of all powerful 
state Cronkite wanted. 

So Goldwater's views were twisted by Cronkite within a media favoring Johnson and became the stuff of Stewart/Colbert 
type ridicule by wags of the day to the effect that Goldwater was a 
racist and real-life General Jack Ripper, the fictional Dr. Strangelove 
character who goes crazy and starts a nuclear war. It was not the 
Goldwater I discerned from his writings and speeches, but it was the 
image of him I noticed being embellished on the Cronkite newscasts.

Cronkite gave the false Goldwater characterizations full credibility 
before taking them to another level. Instead of simply focusing on 
Goldwater's message during his run for the presidency, I started 
noticing that CBS reports often sidetracked into stories that made 
Goldwater's win of the Republican nomination at the convention (that's 
how it was done then, not via the primaries) seem like some malevolent 

There were stories about Goldwater's use of secret communication devices 
and other electronic wizardry that sounded downright nefarious. There 
were other stories that implied Goldwater may not be right in the head 
because he rested at the bottom of his home swimming pool while 
breathing through an air hose. Others referenced Goldwater's Jewish 
ancestry in ways I recognized that targeted the anti-Semitism buttons 
buried within Americans who would never admit they disliked Jews in 
their heart of hearts. But even that was overt compared to the really 
subtle stuff in Cronkite's delivery subtext achieved through tone shifts 
in his wonderful voice and those facial expressions that sent a 
decidedly anti-Goldwater message.

I am not claiming that Cronkite alone caused Goldwater to lose the 
presidential election. But I am saying that Cronkite was not the 
unbiased arbiter of truth he is being made out to be. The way that he 
delivered the news generally told me and many others how he felt about 
most any given story, and his expressed opinions, starting with his 
undercutting of the US Vietnam War effort after American and Republic of 
Vietnam forces had annihilated the North Vietnamese during the Tet 
Offensive, told me I was right.

For those who don't know, Communist forces in Vietnam were near defeat 
but decided to throw everything they had left at US and Republic of 
Vietnam soldiers in the form of huge suicidal attacks that intentionally 
targeted civilians for wanton murder during the Chinese New Year called 
Tet. It was crushed and the loss broke the back of the Marxists. 

Despite that fact, Cronkite told America that Vietnam was a "stalemate" and 
"unwinnable." That emboldened both the Communists there and anti Vietnam 
protesters here -- many of whom were communists or sympathizers -- and 
turned a massive Marxist battlefield defeat into a political win that 
sustained Communist morale by confirming America's Achilles heel, 
according to former North Vietnamese Colonel Bùi Tín:

     "[The American anti-war movement] was essential to our strategy. 
Support for the war from our rear was completely secure while the 
American rear was vulnerable ... America lost because of its democracy; 
through dissent and protest it lost the ability to mobilize a will to win."

That will to win was undermined every afternoon by Cronkite and his CBS 
News ensemble.

Only after retirement did Cronkite actually admit the liberal newsroom 
influences that are still denied today by those in them in addition to 
the personal beliefs his critics had said all along were skewing his 

     1996: "Everybody knows that there's a liberal, that there's a heavy 
liberal persuasion among correspondents," Cronkite told those at a Radio 
and TV Correspondents Association dinner.

     1999: During an awards ceremony at the United Nations, Cronkite 
admitted that "half a century ago" he was offered "a job as spokesman 
and Washington lobbyist for the World Federalist organization" that 
advocates a one-world government. "I chose instead to continue in the 
world of journalism." Then he riffed: “[W]e must strengthen the United 
Nations as a first step toward a world government ... We must change the 
basic structure of our global community to a new system governed by a 
democratic UN federation ... Today the notion of unlimited national 
sovereignty means international anarchy. We must replace the anarchic 
law of force with a civilized force of law ... [we must ratify the] 
"Treaty for a Permanent International Criminal Court" ... [and we must 
have a] revision of the [U.S. power of] Veto in the Security Council. 
Cronkite then praised international billionaire financier George Soros 
as one of the best thinkers on this topic.

     2004: On CNN's Larry King show: “I have a feeling that [Osama bin 
Laden's newly released videotape] could tilt the [presidential] election 
a bit. In fact, I'm a little inclined to think that Karl Rove, the 
political manager at the White House, who is a very clever man, that he 
probably set up bin Laden to this thing.”

Karl Rove set-up Bin Laden?

That's as wacky a bit of conspiracy dementia as Bill Moyers' claim on 
the Charlie Rose Show that, "if [John] Kerry were to win [the 
presidency] in a — in a tight race, I think there’d be an effort to 
mount a coup, quite frankly.”

A coup d’etat orchestrated by Karl Rove, no doubt.

"For many years, I did my best to report on the issues of the day in as 
objective a manner as possible. When I had my own strong opinions, as I 
often did, I tried not to communicate them to my audience," said Cronkite.

But he did.

And that's the way it really was.

Dan Gifford is a national Emmy-winning,
Oscar-nominated film producer and former
reporter for CNN, The MacNeil Lehrer
News Hour and ABC News.