Walter Cronkite is known to many as “the most trusted man in America” for his CBS News broadcasts, which began in 1962.
A new biography about the late news anchor, however, has the public viewing him in a completely different manner. Reports have surfaced in Douglas Brinkley’s “Cronkite” biography, which allege, according to The Christian Post, that:
“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.”
The Huffington Post reports that this kind of freebie would not be allowed in news organizations now, who have very heavy restrictions on the number of gifts their journalists are allowed to accept. For example, The New York Times company policy states that:
“Staff members and those on assignment for us may not accept anything that could be construed as a payment for favorable coverage or for avoiding unfavorable coverage. They may not accept gifts, tickets, discounts, reimbursements or other benefits from individuals or organizations covered (or likely to be covered) by their newsroom.”
In yet another questionable move, The Daily Beast reports that Walter Cronkite met privately with Robert Kennedy, encouraging him to run for president. He then later went on air with Kennedy in an exclusive interview, discussing those plans to run for president.
The Daily Beast’s Howard Kurtz writes that:
“I am shaking my head at the spectacle of a network anchor secretly urging a politician to mount a White House campaign—and then interviewing him about that very question. This was duplicitous, a major breach of trust.”
Douglas Brinkley writes in his book though that:
“Nobody wanted to go after Walter Cronkite…he became a force of nature. He could almost dictate anything he wanted. He was the franchise.”
The Christian Post reports that Kurtz also stated:
“Had Cronkite engaged in some of the same questionable conduct today- he secretly bugged a committee room at the 1952 GOP convention- he would have been bashed by the blogs, pilloried by the pundits, and quite possibly ousted by his employer.”
The book also alleges that Walter Cronkite took part in misleading editing of interview footage from Vietnam, and also gave misleading coverage of some political campaigns.