But it is the 1967 Cronkite meeting with Robert Kennedy that stuns. Cronkite willingly became an active player in national politics, choosing a personal favorite for president and directly attempting to induce a prominent politician to run for the White House. Are we to believe that Cronkite’s private importuning had no effect on his reporting? Can anyone defend this as even vaguely ethical for a man in his position? Cronkite was a citizen, of course, and if his views on Vietnam and his preferences for president were strong, he had the option to step down as anchorman and enter the political arena in some fashion. Or he could have transitioned into a newspaper columnist or TV commentator, openly pushing the agenda of his choice. Instead, Cronkite had his political cake and ate it journalistically, too.
All of this suggests what most people have always supposed: there is a partisan predisposition among some of those at the top of the journalism profession, despite their denials. Furthermore, some elite journalists do not step back from their bias but privately seek to re-make the world as they prefer it to be.
The remarkable case of Walter Cronkite leads to certain questions. Did he do similar things in additional cases? How about other prominent anchorman and reporters of that time? Were they behind-the-scenes players while pretending to be passive observers?