Brinkley's book unveiled the so-called "most trusted man in America" had secretly bugged a committee room at the 1952 Republican convention in Chicago. This from the man who found the Watergate bugging to be horrific on the level of a constitutional crisis? Kurtz bluntly called it "a stunt of questionable legality that should have disqualified him from ever holding his subsequent powerful position of public trust."
Few Barry Goldwater backers forget 1964, when Cronkite repeatedly smeared the GOP nominee. When Goldwater accepted an invitation to visit a U.S. Army facility in Germany, CBS hack Daniel Schorr said he was launching his campaign in "the center of Germany's right wing." Kurtz recalled that on the day of JFK's assassination the year before, Cronkite nodded his head in thinly veiled contempt when handed a note on air that Goldwater said "no comment." Never mind that Goldwater was attending his mother-in-law's funeral that day.
In 1968, Cronkite met privately with Robert Kennedy in his Senate office. "You must announce your intention to run against Johnson, to show people there will be a way out of this terrible war," said The Most Trusted Man in America. Soon afterward, Cronkite was awarded an exclusive interview in which Kennedy left the door open for a possible run --the very candidacy "Uncle Walter" urged him to undertake.
Kurtz concluded: "I am shaking my head at the spectacle of a network anchor secretly urging a politician to mount a White House campaign -- and then interviewing him about that very question. This was duplicitous, a major breach of trust."
As Brinkley said to Kurtz on CNN's "Reliable Sources" on Sunday, "Everybody had made a decision in America. They liked Walter Cronkite. They didn't want to hear anything negative about him. And the journalists, the press world thought of him as like the king daddy of the fourth estate, Uncle Walter -- almost a patriarchal figure to young reporters, so he had immunity."
That immunity is dead. Cronkite's image is in need of correction, as ultimately Rather's was. So, too, must the idea of objectivity at CBS "News" be vaporized once and for all, given Moonves' public and unmistakably partisan words and activities.
And still, CBS denies it has a bias.
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