So Whoopi Goldberg is a fan of the "We Report, You Decide" school of TV journalism. Who knew? Unfortunately, her choice of "fair and balanced" news icons leaves much to be desired.
On ABC's "The View" Oct. 19, Goldberg said, "I don't get my news often times from any of the networks because, ya know, I'm from the Walter Cronkite generation, where they told you what was going on and you were left to make your decision. You were left to figure it out."
But was Cronkite really the gold standard for impartial reporting?
Back in 2006, the Media Research Center compiled quotes from Cronkite dating from the years after his 1981 retirement. These words clearly exposed not only his liberal views but also his belief that being a good journalist means being liberal.
In 2003 during an interview with Time magazine, Cronkite said that reporters, who see the "meaner side of life" and therefore have "sentimental feeling toward their fellow man," are often misinterpreted "by some less-sensitive people as being liberal."
Cronkite advocated for gun control. He played with the idea of finding "some marvelous middle ground between capitalism and communism." He wanted to return to a "Rooseveltian" social welfare pattern. He was "inclined to think" that Bush political advisor Karl Rove arranged for a videotaped message of Osama bin Laden to appear right before the 2004 election. He disagreed with Reagan's "endorsement of laissez-faire trickle-down economics." He called Bill Clinton "very courageous" and declared that Kenneth Starr's investigation was "more divisive" to the country than Vietnam. He thought that Americans "overreacted to the Soviets," saying that a Soviet bomb was simply a "part of their pursuit of nuclear equality." He argued that to avoid World War III, a "system of world government" that would require America to lose its "precious sovereignty" would be "mandatory." He believed that terrorism was fueled by the "great division between the rich and the poor in the world."
Cronkite himself summed up his views in his book A Reporter's Life, saying, "I don't believe the public has rejected liberalism; it simply has not heard a candidate persuasively advocate its humane and deeply democratic principles."
But Cronkite's liberalism didn't just emerge once he vacated the anchor chair. The most notorious instance of his on-the-job bias was his declaration after the decisive American military victory in the Tet Offensive in Vietnam: "To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, yet unsatisfactory, conclusion." America's only "rational way out" was to "negotiate" with the Vietcong.
Cronkite's pronouncement did much to galvanize the anti-war movement and convince the country that Vietnam was not worth the cost.
That was the wonderfully unbiased "Walter Cronkite generation."