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From The TVNewser Archives: Insights From Walter Cronkite

Cronkite W.jpg“I believe having all the information that’s now available to us is a good thing,” Walter Cronkite said in 2007, reflecting on the state of round-the-clock news. On the emergence of opinionated program hosts, he added, “And I believe there is a place for most of those opinion and shout shows.”

Cronkite shared these thoughts for a TVNewser profile of him, one of a number of stories over the past couple of years in which we were honored to hear directly from the legendary broadcaster.

Here’s a look back at more from Walter Cronkite:

• His favorite memory of growing up in Texas (December, 2007): “When I was ten years old, we had just moved to Houston from Kansas City. My father defied and walked out on the well-established dentist with whom he was to go into practice when he unveiled to my father his deep-rooted racism. It was the first time I realized how much I admired my dad for having the courage of his principles and for standing up to those Texans who challenged his beliefs in equality.”

• Why he felt the Big 3 nightly news programs are here to stay (September, 2008): “I don’t think cable news will ever replace the networks’ evening newscasts…far from becoming outdated, I believe the evening news broadcasts are and will remain vital for a healthy democracy.”

• His thoughts on Edward R. Murrow, who recruited Cronkite to CBS News in 1950 (April, 2008): “A friend whom I greatly admired…[he] became the gold standard of journalism.”

• For his 92nd birthday last November 4 — Election Day 2008 — Cronkite’s chief of staff, Marlene Adler, told TVNewser that Cronkite would begin his day “with a trip to the voting booth” and that “given his long political news career…it seems quite fitting that for his birthday this year he will be getting a new president!”

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Andy Rooney, Others Update Walter Cronkite’s Health

Gail Shister
TVNewser Columnist

Cronkite_6.19.jpgAiling legendary newsman Walter Cronkite “is not in good shape,” says CBS’s Andy Rooney, who visited his longtime friend at home yesterday.

“60 Minutes” commentator Rooney, 90, and Cronkite, 92, “CBS Evening News” anchor from 1962 to 1981, were fellow World War II correspondents. They see each other often, Rooney says.

“Walter’s going to live,” says Rooney, quickly adding: “for a while. He’s dressed. He looks good. He’s thinking pretty well. I know he’s not active. He can’t get around much. He’s old, for goodness sake.

“He’s gone downhill, but not in the last few days… I don’t know whether he’s going to die tomorrow, or not. I’m not a doctor.”

Cronkite’s chief of staff Marlene Adler, who did not return calls yesterday, says her boss is “suffering from the challenges of age. He’s ill, but the angel of death is not standing over his bed.”

Adler won’t disclose any details of Cronkite’s illness. “The family has asked that we keep everything private,” she says. “I’m not going to go into his medical condition.”

Cronkite goes out three or four times a week, always in a wheelchair, according to a close family friend. His memory is failing and his systems are slowly shutting down, but death is not imminent, the friend adds.

wallacerooney_6.19.jpgCBS’s Mike Wallace, 91, says he hasn’t seen Cronkite recently, “but I know he’s had a tough time because of age. From this old man about another old man, I think that’s what it amounts to. I love the man.”

The fact that CBS updated Cronkite’s obituary more than a week ago doesn’t mean anything, Adler adds.

“It’s normal at CBS to prepare things in advance.” From time to time, Cronkite has given CBS updated information, “just to get prepared for the ultimate,” Adler says.

Still, producers at CBS News weekend shows were advised today to be prepared for a possible Cronkite obituary at the last minute, says a network insider.