I've always had a problem with Walter Cronkite. He had this mind-meld grip on the brain of everyone, including me, who came of age in the 1960s and 1970s, with his subliminal promotion of mediocrity and complacency that kept an entire generation in the doldrums. And no, I'm not talking about his views on the Vietnam War and LBJ's line "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost middle America." That was just noise.
Look, the guy could read the news okay. It's not rocket science. "Uncle Walter" had the anchor seat on the CBS Evening News from 1962 to 1981, back when people actually watched the news on television. How quaint. Seven o'clock, right after the local news. Like clockwork, finish dinner, put on Cronkite. And he was good--heck, he was the master. He taught himself to speak slowly, with a half regal, half Midwestern accent, so he could penetrate American minds, and infect them with his mystical powers of persuasion.
Am I talking about liberal media bias? No. C'mon, stay with me here. Every night, right after the news stories and vignettes on acid rain and student protests and Dan Rather in the jungles of Vietnam and crumbling cities and heroin epidemics and exposés on Watergate and fraud and corruption and burning slums, Walter Cronkite would turn to the camera, and with almost undisguised smugness, tell me, right to my face, "... And that's the way it is."
Liberal schmiberal. That was a cover. He was the voice of the establishment, The Man trying to keep us down. And there's nothing we could do about it because that's the way it is. And I believed him. We all did. A conspiracy by advertisers on his show? Who knows, but it took me a long time to break out of his trance.