Friday, July 17, 2009

Uncle Walter

Ten years ago, we sent a copy of the pre-publication galleys of the book Tabloid Baby to the office of Walter Cronkite, in hopes that the great newscaster would write a nice blurb for the book, as his colleague Mike Wallace had done.

On a return phone call, Walter's assistant was apoplectic. "There's no way he's writing anything about that book!"

A few good tabloid news notes in the clip above: Walter Cronkite's reporting of the death of John F Kennedy was burned indelibly into the minds of many a young future tabloid journo. His show of emotion is a reminder that Steve Dunleavy didn't invent the practice. And Dan Rather's confirmation of JFK's death was premature-- he didn't really have it confirmed, but like the shaved bronzed midget Harvey Levin and his corporate porn-pushing gossip site TMZ.com would do in the case of Michael Jackson decades later, he went for it.

With Uncle Walter's death, the era of 20th century news and its avuncular, Voice-of-God, trusted, probably liberal and with some lineage to Edward R Murrow "anchorman" can safely be called officially over-- which doesn't bode well for the Brian Williamses and Katie Courics, who keep those Burberry trenchcoats in their closets.

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