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Walter Cronkite Review: 'Gawd Almighty,' Shout 'the Truths' of Liberalism

In 2006 the MRC put together a compilation outlining how, since his retirement in 1981 after nineteen years as anchor of the CBS Evening News, Walter Cronkite had made clear his liberal views on a range of issues.

For the full collection of Cronkite's liberal pronouncements, and denunciations of conservatives, since the late 1980s check the MRC's "Walter Cronkite: Liberal Media Icon." Categories: "Promoting Liberalism," "Denouncing Conservatives," "Get Out of Iraq 'Now,'" "Believing in Conspiracies," "Wishing for 'One World Government,'" "Terrorism Caused by Economic Disparity," "Pushing for More Gun Control" and "Proud of News Media's Liberal Persuasion."

Here are some highlights:

"Gawd Almighty," Shout "the Truths" of Liberalism:

"I know liberalism isn't dead in this country. It simply has, temporarily we hope, lost its voice....We know that unilateral action in Grenada and Tripoli was wrong. We know that 'Star Wars' means uncontrollable escalation of the arms race. We know that the real threat to democracy is the half of the nation in poverty. We know that no one should tell a woman she has to bear an unwanted child....Gawd Almighty, we've got to shout these truths in which we believe from the housetops. Like that scene in the movie 'Network,' we've got to throw open our windows and shout these truths to the streets and the heavens. And I bet we'll find more windows are thrown open to join the chorus than we'd ever dreamed possible."
- Cronkite, at a November People for the American Way banquet. Quoted in the December 5, 1988 Newsweek.

Journalists Liberal Because They're Nice and They Care:

"I think they [most reporters] are on the humane side, and that would appear to many to be on the liberal side. A lot of newspaper people - and to a lesser degree today, the TV people - come up through the ranks, through the police-reporting side, and they see the problems of their fellow man, beginning with their low salaries - which newspaper people used to have anyway - and right on through their domestic quarrels, their living conditions. The meaner side of life is made visible to most young reporters. I think it affects their sentimental feeling toward their fellow man and that is interpreted by some less-sensitive people as being liberal."
- Cronkite to Time magazine's Richard Zoglin in an interview published in the magazine's November 3, 2003 edition.

"I believe that most of us reporters are liberal, but not because we consciously have chosen that particular color in the political spectrum. More likely it is because most of us served our journalistic apprenticeships as reporters covering the seamier side of our cities - the crimes, the tenement fires, the homeless and the hungry, the underclothed and undereducated. We reached our intellectual adulthood with daily close-ups of the inequality in a nation that was founded on the commitment to equality for all. So we are inclined to side with the powerless rather than the powerful. If that is what makes us liberals, so be it, just as long as in reporting the news we adhere to the first ideals of good journalism - that news reports must be fair, accurate and unbiased."
- Cronkite in his debut as a syndicated columnist, August 6, 2003.

News People "Should Be Liberal"

Caller: "You've been quoted as saying that you felt that most journalists were liberal, in fact that a good journalist was by nature a liberal."
Walter Cronkite: "I define liberal as a person who is not doctrinaire. That is a dictionary definition of liberal. That's opposed to 'liberal' as part of the political spectrum....open to change, constantly, not committed to any particular creed or doctrine, or whatnot, and in that respect I think that news people should be liberal."
- Exchange on CNN's Larry King Live, September 11, 1995.

Advises Kerry: Be Proud of Your Liberalism:

"When the National Journal said your Senate record makes you one of the most liberal members of the Senate, you called that 'a laughable characterization' and 'the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen in my life.' Wow!...What are you ashamed of? Are you afflicted with the Dukakis syndrome - that loss of nerve that has allowed conservatives both to define and to demonize liberalism for the past decade and more?...If 1988 taught us anything, it is that a candidate [like Dukakis] who lacks the courage of his convictions cannot hope to convince the nation that he should be given its leadership....Take my advice and lay it all out, before it's too late."
- Cronkite in a syndicated column fashioned as an open letter to the presumed Democratic nominee, titled "Dear Senator Kerry...," published in the March 21, 2004 Denver Post.

Denounces Bush, Calls Carter "Smartest President"

At a 2003 forum at Drew University, former CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite, the Daily Record of Parsippany, New Jersey reported, "said he feared the war would not go smoothly, ripped the 'arrogance' of Bush and his administration and wondered whether the new U.S. doctrine of 'pre-emptive war' might lead to unintended, dire consequences." The newspaper also relayed how Cronkite "said that the smartest President he ever met was Jimmy Carter" and that journalists tilt to the left because "they see the poverty. They see the want."

Torquemada's "Spirit Comfortably at Home" in Ashcroft:

"Attorney General John Ashcroft has earned himself a remarkable distinction as the Torquemada of American law. Tomás de Torquemada...was largely responsible for...[the] torture and the burning of heretics - Muslims in particular. Now, of course, I am not accusing the Attorney General of pulling out anyone's fingernails or burning people at the stake (at least I don't know of any such cases). But one does get the sense these days that the old Spaniard's spirit is comfortably at home in Ashcroft's Department of Justice."
- Cronkite in his syndicated column published in the September 22, 2003 Philadelphia Inquirer.

Starr's Probe "More Divisive" than Vietnam, Hounding Clinton with "Excessive Zeal"

On October 13, 1998 Cronkite told CBS This Morning's Mark McEwen that unless "peccadilloes got in the way of performing the job" we should ignore it since "I don't think we should be digging into other people's private lives." Despite Monica's favors occurring in work areas and during official phone calls, Cronkite maintained it met his "private affair" standard. Hours later at a luncheon with reporters, Cronkite called Starr's investigation "more divisive" to the country than Vietnam, Peter Johnson reported in the October 14 USA Today. After accusing Starr of "considerable excessive zeal," Johnson relayed that Cronkite "says he'd 'like to get Kenneth Starr out on the boat,' presumably to give him a piece of his mind."

Cronkite "Had Trouble" with Reagan's Political Views

"The Fords were among the most friendly occupants of the White House, but Reagan won the affability contest hands down. I had trouble with his political philosophy, particularly his endorsement of laissez-faire trickle-down economics, the concept that if the people and industries at the top are successful, prosperity will somehow be visited on all the rest of us."
- Cronkite in his 1997 book, A Reporter's Life

Karl Rove "Probably Set Up bin Laden" Video. Cronkite charged that Karl Rove "probably" arranged for a videotaped message from Osama bin Laden to show up just before the 2004 election:

"I have a feeling that it [bin Laden's new videotape] could tilt the 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. The advantage to the Republican side is to get rid of, as a principal subject of the campaign right now, get rid of the whole problem of the al Qaqaa dump, explosive dump. Right now that, the last couple of days, has, I think, upset the Republican campaign."
- Cronkite on CNN's Larry King Live, October 29, 2004. [Real video clip]

Wishing for "One World Government;" U.S. Must "Give Up Some of Our Sovereignty" to the UN:

"It seems to many of us that if we are to avoid the eventual catastrophic world conflict we must strengthen the United Nations as a first step toward a world government patterned after our own government with a legislature, executive and judiciary, and police to enforce its international laws and keep the peace. To do that, of course, we Americans will have to give up some of our sovereignty....
"Time will not wait. Democracy, civilization itself, is at stake. Within the next few years we must change the basic structure of our global community from the present anarchic system of war and ever more destructive weaponry to a new system governed by a democratic U.N. federation.....
"Our failure to live up to our obligations to the U.N. is led by a handful of willful senators who choose to pursue their narrow, selfish political objectives at the cost of our nation's conscience. They pander to and are supported by the Christian Coalition and the rest of the religious right wing."
- Excerpts from a speech by Cronkite to the World Federalist Association on October 19, 1999. Published the December 3, 1999 Washington Times.

"System of World Government is Mandatory"

"If we are to avoid that catastrophe [a nuclear World War III], a system of world order - preferably a system of world government - is mandatory. The proud nations someday will see the light and, for the common good and their own survival, yield up their precious sovereignty, just as America's thirteen colonies did two centuries ago. When we finally come to our senses and establish a world executive and parliament of nations, thanks to the Nuremburg precedent we will already have in place the fundamentals for the third branch of government, the judiciary."
- Cronkite in his 1997 book, A Reporter's Life.

"Overreacted to the Soviets"

"I thought that we Americans overreacted to the Soviets and the news coverage sometimes seemed to accentuate that misdirected concern. Fear of the Soviet Union taking over the world just seemed as likely to me as invaders from Mars. Well, perhaps I was naive, but I'd seen those May Day parades and Soviet bread lines and miserable conditions hidden behind them. That war-devastated country didn't seem that threatening to me...The nuclear arms race was on in earnest. All the anti-Soviet paranoia that had been festering since the war really blew up then. A Soviet bomb was seen as an assault on us. But I saw it as part of their pursuit of nuclear equality. After all, what should we expect, that our enemy's just going to sit still there and not try to develop the bomb?"
- Cronkite on the year 1948 in Part 3 of the Discovery Channel's Cronkite Remembers, January 16, 1997.

- Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center