Iconic American newscaster Walter Cronkite dies at 92

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Walter Cronkite, the American newscaster who was a household name in television journalism, has died at the age of 92, according to media reports. Cronkite died after a long battle with cerebrovascular disease.

Walter Cronkite in 2006
Image: NASA.

From 1962 to 1981, Cronkite anchored the CBS Evening News, and in that capacity reported the Kennedy assassination in 1963, the 1969 landing of the Apollo 11 astronauts on the Moon, and the 1974 Resignation of Richard Nixon to millions of Americans. As an editorial journalist, Cronkite's powerful criticisms of the Vietnam War reportedly moved then-president Lyndon Johnson to say, "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost Middle America." He will be remembered by some for his customary signoff, "and that's the way it is...", which ended most of his broadcasts. Also, his addition of "day..." counting up the days of the Iranian hostage crisis inspired a similar practice on Countdown with Keith Olbermann.

Cronkite's career began in radio in the 1930s in Houston, Texas. Joining UPI in 1939 as a war correspondent, he covered the Nuremberg war crimes trials following World War II. Cronkite's rise to television prominence began with the 1952 Republican National Convention. The term "news anchor" was coined to describe his role in the coverage.

After retiring in 1981, Cronkite remained active and prominent in the media, advising an eponymous journalism school at Arizona State University, writing books, recording voice-overs for the film Apollo 13, and making guest appearances on the newsroom-based sitcoms The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Murphy Brown. Cronkite was also an avid sailor.

"It is impossible to imagine CBS News, journalism or indeed America without Walter Cronkite. More than just the best and most trusted anchor in history, he guided America through our crises, tragedies and also our victories and greatest moments," said CBS News president, Sean McManus in a statement to the press.

Cronkite leaves behind three children, Nancy, Kathy, and Walter III ("Chip"); and four grandchildren.


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