I have no reaction aside from the basic human sympathy one would feel for anyone who’s died. But as I said after Jacko passed: If you’re in the habit of watching cable news, you’re in for a very rough, very hagiographic week. Good luck.
Update: He retired as anchor of the CBS Evening News in 1981 at the ripe young age of 64, leaving us with decades of Dan Rather coverage that might not have been. Terrific.
Update: WaPo was ready with its obit. His most controversial moment as a reporter:
Cronkite was often viewed as the personification of objectivity, but his reports on the Vietnam War increasingly came to criticize the American military role. “From 1964 to 1967, he never took anything other than a deferential approach to the White House on Vietnam,” Gitlin said, but added, “He’s remembered for the one moment when he stepped out of character and decided, to his great credit, to go see [Vietnam] for himself.”
In 1968, following the surprise Tet Offensive of the communist North Vietnamese, Cronkite went to Southeast Asia for a firsthand look at the war. His reports on the “Evening News” and in a half-hour special were instrumental in turning the tide of American public opinion against U.S. policy.
“To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe, in the face of evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past,” he said, casting doubt in the minds of millions of Americans on official versions of the war. Cronkite’s viewers were certain that he would never lie to them, and the White House and the Defense Department did not command that level of credibility.
President Lyndon B. Johnson was widely quoted as having told aides, “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America.”
Update (Ed): I don’t have much to add here either, except to send my condolences to the Cronkite family. I have felt for a long time that both his fans and his opponents made far too much out of Cronkite, who was a good news reader — and a better ambassador for CBS than his successors. Walter Cronkite did not lose us the Vietnam War; that was lost by Congress in 1974-5, after Richard Nixon had managed to put it back more or less to status quo ante years past Johnson’s quote.