Unbeknownst to the millions who tuned in religiously to the CBS Evening News, Walter Cronkite cut a deal with Pan Am to fly his family to vacation spots around the world. Together with a handful of friends, they roamed from the South Pacific to Haiti, with Cronkite snorkeling, swimming, and drinking, thanks to a friend at the airline. According to Douglas Brinkley’s sweeping and masterful biography Cronkite, the news division president, Dick Salant, was upset at what he deemed a blatant conflict of interest, but took no action against his star anchor…

There were more serious infractions as well. In what would likely be deemed a firing offense today, Cronkite blatantly manipulated an interview with LBJ shortly before Johnson died. According to Brinkley, his producer spliced the footage in unflattering ways, reshooting Cronkite asking the questions so it appeared that he was nodding or raising his eyebrows in disgust when Johnson talked about Vietnam. LBJ saw a rough cut and pronounced it “dirty pool”; I would call it a video version of lying. Under pressure from the former president’s team, CBS undid the misleading editing, so the public never learned of the deception.

It turns out that the most trusted man didn’t always tell the truth. In 1974 Cronkite got into a spat with the rebellious Schorr, flatly denying the charge that CBS executives had ordered the evening news to “go soft on Nixon” as the president was resigning. But Cronkite’s denial was misleading. As Salant later acknowledged, “we in CBS management … telephoned the correspondents who would be covering the story that night to remind them that it was not a time, no matter how any of them felt … for gloating remarks or for editorial attacks.” So Cronkite’s outrage was bogus.