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End of an Era – Journalists React to Cronkite’s Death

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Once known as “the most trusted man in America,” Walter Cronkite has died at the age of 92. He became a cultural icon and legend of journalism having anchored the CBS Evening News from 1962 to 1981. Many of noted that his death has signaled an end to a previous era and drawn a litany of praise from those currently following in his footsteps.

Katie Couric, anchor and managing editor, CBS Evening News, correspondent, 60 Minutes:

“When I think of Walter Cronkite, I think of his high journalism standards, integrity – but most of all his humanity. I think he was so trusted because he exhibited a sense of purpose and compassion, night after night. He was the personification of excellence.”

Andy Rooney, 60 Minutes commentator:

“I’ve been proud over the years to see Walter become, not just one of the best known people on television but one of the best known people in the whole world of people. He was proud of me, too and there’s no better feeling in life than that. I wouldn’t trade Walter Cronkite liking me for just about anything I’ve ever had.”

Morley Safer, 60 Minutes correspondent:

“Walter was truly the father of television news. The trust that viewers placed in him was based on the recognition of his fairness, honesty and strict objectivity…and of course his long experience as a shoe-leather reporter covering everything from local politics to World War II and its aftermath in the Soviet Union. He was a giant of journalism and privately one of the funniest, happiest men I’ve ever known.”

Charles Osgood, Anchor, CBS Sunday Morning:

“There was a reason why Walter was called the most trusted man in America. Nothing was more important to him than getting the story right and telling it fairly, and he expected the same of us. I’ve learned a lot from wonderful colleagues here at CBS News, but from him most of all.”

Brian Williams, Anchor and Managing Editor, NBC Nightly News:

“America has lost an icon, our industry has lost its living giant, and all those who learned about the world from Walter Cronkite have lost an exceptional teacher.

He loved his country and had a profound effect on it. He told us the truth in a plain-spoken manner. He never forgot that he was one of us, and yet we admired him so. That’s why I can’t help but fear that his loss means we’ve lost a tiny bit of who we are. He was a founding father of our profession. Others had done the job before him, and yet no one before or since has had just a mystical hold on the American people. He perfectly reflected his audience and our times. Watching Walter do what he did — better than anyone — was a formative experience. While he was deeply uncomfortable with overstatements of his own importance, those of us watching at home were so comfortable knowing he was in that chair during those years of great change and upheaval.

To use the terminology of his beloved sailboat, he was our national barometer, our compass and our rudder. With Walter at the helm of that broadcast, we knew we would sail through whatever crisis we faced as a country. He always seemed to point the wheel, with a gust of wind in his sails, toward our collective North Star.

On a personal note, Walter Cronkite was the man I grew up wanting to be. Our household, like many, came to a halt when his broadcast came on the air each night, and dinner was served only after he said good night. Knowing Walter was among the great blessings of my life.”

Tom Brokaw, Former Anchor and Managing Editor NBC Nightly News:

“Walter Cronkite became the most famous journalist in America and the most trusted man in the country because he cared so passionately about the place of a free press in a democratic republic. From the time he left Texas as a young man to cover World War II to the end of his life he had no higher calling than the title journalist – and for those of us who followed it was his high standard that became our lodestar.

Walter was the competition to those of us at NBC News but as a competitor, he made us better.

On a personal note, it was privilege to know him as a friend – to share an anecdote, a drink, dinner and a laugh, always a laugh. I will always treasure my time with Walter and his late wife, Betsy.

This is a sad day but we were so fortunate to have him as a fellow citizen for as long as we did.”

Charles Gibson, ABC News Anchor:

“Walter Cronkite was and always will be the gold standard. His objectivity, his even-handedness, his news judgment are all great examples. He, as much as anyone, is responsible for developing network television news. He set the standard. He told it ‘the way it is’ and all of us who are privileged to work in this business owe him an enormous debt of gratitude.”

Barbara Walters, ABC News Anchor:

“There never was and there never will be another Walter Cronkite. We trusted him and that trust was well founded. He was also a jolly and supportive friend. He will be missed by each of us individually who knew him and by the whole country who loved him.”

Dianne Sawyer, ABC News Anchor:

“He was the defining anchor of America’s story – reminding us of what we can be at our best.

He had depth, foreign reporting experience, endless excitement about the news, and an irresistible irreverence.

A call, a note, a compliment from Walter was pretty much the Nobel Prize for a young reporter. I am so lucky to know what it was to be part of the Cronkite team.”

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