Newsweek Editor Lets Cronkite's Son Argue Liberal Bias Is Just 'Open-Mindedness'

Newsweek editor Tina Brown published a huge chunk of a letter to the editor objecting to Howard Kurtz’s harsh take on Walter Cronkite. The letter writer? Cronkite’s son Chip. He merely repeated his father’s lame argument that “liberal” means “open-minded,” and isn’t that what a reporter should be?

“Admitting to a liberal philosophy (which he defined as something akin to open-mindedness), while adhering to a career, almost a calling, of the straightest, old-fashioned journalism? This is ‘linguistic hedging’?” Why yes, it is. “His liberal radio editorials were evidence of openness, no?” Why no, they’re not. Why publish hundreds of words of this?

Chip really doesn’t bring much more to the table than “I don’t know.”

Does reporting a proposed German trip indicate contempt for Goldwater? I don’t know.

Did he add another (not very influential, I wouldn’t think) voice for RFK to run? I don’t know.

Is a subsequent interview evidence of a quid pro quo? Maybe, but probably RFK would have been happy to give him an interview anyway.

Chip doesn't know why it might be biased to suggest great affinity between Goldwater and the Nazis of Bavaria (Daniel Schorr knew while he was unloading his slime bucket.) Chip doesn't know why it might seem unseemly to urge a liberal to run for president with the candy and cupcakes of your favorable publicity. In short, Chip doesn't know enough to deserve a letter in Newsweek magazine.

What was his father doing accepting free air travel from Pan Am? Oh, that wasn't Daddy's fault, either:

The free PanAm trips, as I recall, amounted to three. Perhaps that is three more than proper, perhaps not. His party consisted of just him, his wife, and his youngest child, still living at home (me). Other journalists along on the trips were Bob Considine, Art Buchwald, and Neal and Judith Morgan. I blame James Michener for instigating it all, anyway.

Kurtz's point was that Douglas Brinkley's new Cronkite biography shows that too many journalists want to just paint a legend and leave the reality behind. Chip wants to be in that number, and thinks Newsweek should be, too.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis