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THE CARLSON-CRONKITE DISS-CONNECTION

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BOB FRANKEN
FOR RELEASE TUESDAY, DEC. 11, 2018

THE CARLSON-CRONKITE DISS-CONNECTION
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Tucker Carlson is no Walter Cronkite. That is not to disparage Tucker. Truth be known, he's a longtime friend of mine, even though we disagree on pretty much everything, which is not uncommon in our business.
For starters, he laughs at my immature jokes, so what's not to like about him, except for his harsh -- and in my view, grossly misguided -- opinions about the issues of the day? But why would I even bring up a comparison with Cronkite? Glad you asked. Here's why:
Back in February 1968 (good grief, that was more than 50 years ago!), in the days when CBS, NBC and to a lesser degree ABC -- just three networks -- had a monopoly on all of U.S. television news' world and national coverage, Cronkite sat at the top of the heap. He was known during that era as the "Most Trusted Man in America," or "Uncle Walter"...regarded as a straight-shooting anchorman in a time of intense turmoil roiling the United States.
The Vietnam War, among other primal issues, significantly and violently split this country. History has shown that was for good reason; deceit at the highest levels had turned the region into a deadly lie, with more than 58,000 U.S. military deaths and millions more killed overall on both sides. Walter Cronkite decided to venture out from his studio and report on the ground, just as he had as a young reporter pup in World War II. He was appalled at what he (and his cameras) saw, particularly appalled at the fraudulent drumbeats of optimism from military and civilian leaders at the top echelons. Cronkite came back to America to report on the dreary reality and closed his program with a blunt contradiction of those who predicted ultimate victory:
"[I]t seems now more certain than ever that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate ... [I]t is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could."
In other words, let's pack it up as a lost cause and bring our troops home.
First and foremost, it was a crushing repudiation of President Lyndon Johnson, who symbolized the war effort. And here is the point (finally): Johnson told aides, "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost Middle America."


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Fast-forward to 2018, a half-century of at least two media generations. No. 1 was the birth of the cable networks with all news, all the time. That shattered the dominance of the three broadcasters. Now the second one: technologically driven high-speed social media, where objectivity is meaningless "Fake News."
It still stands out that Carlson bluntly disparaged current President Donald Trump, particularly since his Fox News program is avidly watched by millions of Trump supporters. Much of what he says aligns with Trump's positions -- harsh ones, in my opinion, even crazy ones. But there Carlson was, being quoted as saying of Trump: "I don't think he's capable."
Granted, it was in a Swiss publication. More important, let's also grant that Carlson is not a down-the-line Trump sycophant like some of his Fox colleagues, but still, what he said was blunt: "[Trump] knows very little about the legislative process, hasn't learned anything, hasn't surrounded himself with people that can get it done, hasn't done all the things you need to do, so it's mostly his fault that he hasn't achieved those things."
In contrast to the Cronkite-Johnson era, in the Carlson-Trump era, Carlson's negative comments about Trump will not mean diddly squat. Trump will not lose anyone in his intensely loyal base. Besides, media are too fragmented. Everything is just more static. Being "the most trusted man in America" is impossible when everyone is distrusted.

(c) 2018 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 11, 2018 7:39 AM.

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