Cronkite was a key figure in many ways, but foremost among them, perhaps, was the fact that he cleared the way for the mainstream media and the Establishment to join what Lionel Trilling called “the adversary culture.” Cronkite, the gravelly voice of accepted American wisdom, whose comportment suggested he kept his money in bonds and would never even have considered exceeding the speed limit, devastated President Lyndon Johnson in the wake of the 1968 Tet Offensive by declaring that the United States “was mired in stalemate” in Vietnam—when Johnson knew that Tet had been a military triumph…

When Rather attempted, in 2004, to bring down a president in the midst of a close reelection bid with a report based on obviously forged papers—a greater journalistic sin than Cronkite’s, by far—he was undone in 12 hours by a lawyer in Atlanta commenting on a blog and a jazz musician in Los Angeles with a blog who demonstrated the papers in question had been produced at least a decade after the report claimed they had. Had there been an Internet in 1968, and military bloggers aplenty, Cronkite’s false conclusion about Tet would have been challenged immediately; we would not have had to wait for Braestrup to publish his enormous book nine years later.

So the passing of Walter Cronkite is a moment to remember an era that has passed, an era toward which we should not experience a moment’s nostalgia.