Walter Cronkite facts for kids

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Walter Cronkite (1985)
Walter Cronkite in 1985

Walter Leland Cronkite, Jr. (November 4, 1916 - July 17, 2009) was an American news reporter. He was the anchor of CBS News from 1962 to 1981. Important events he reported included when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. He reported the Apollo 11 moon landing. He also reported on the Watergate scandal, which led to President Richard Nixon resigning from his position. He was often called "the most trusted man in America." People across the country tuned in nightly to hear his coverage of the Vietnam War as it progressed.


Presidential Medal of Freedom

Cronkite was born on November 4, 1916 in St. Joseph, Missouri. He studied at the University of Texas at Austin. In 1935 he left school to work for the Houston Post. He later worked for several midwestern radio stations. In World War II he was a war correspondent for United Press International. After the war he was chief correspondent at the Nuremberg trials. He went to work for CBS News in 1950. In 1962 he helped start the CBS Evening News. He served as the news anchor until he retired in 1981.

After retiring, in 1981 he was a co-producer of a PBS program, Why in the World. In 1982 he hosted CBS's Universe. He was the host of A&E's Dinosaur. He did Cronkite Remembers for CBS and the Discovery Channel. He also wrote several books. He has won several awards during his career. In 1981 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He has won two Peabody Awards and several Emmy Awards.

Key stories

He was also known for his coverage of the U.S. space program from Project Mercury to the Moon landings to the Space Shuttle. He was the only non-NASA recipient of a Moon-rock award. Cronkite is well known for his departing catchphrase "And that's the way it is," followed by the date on which the appearance aired.

Cronkite made history when he became the first television reporter to announce the assassination of John F. Kennedy. In the newsroom at CBS, the cameras were not ready when the news came in over the wire service. Cronkite's voice was broadcast over a blank CBS placard on the screen: "Bulletin . . . In Dallas, Texas, three shots were fired at President Kennedy's motorcade. The first reports say the President was seriously wounded, that he slumped over in Mrs. Kennedy's lap, she cried out, 'Oh, no!' and the motorcade went on . . . The wounds perhaps could be fatal . . ." For three and a half days there was no entertainment, no commercials, just the news.

Cronkite's reporting of vietnam, however, was controversial. He reported the events on the evening news. But at the Tet Offensive he traveled there to see the results. What he saw upset him. On February 27, 1968 Cronkite reported the war in Vietnam could not be won. This was a major change from his usual objective reporting. He was voicing his own opinion on national television. It was the view of David Halberstam and others that Cronkite's broadcast turned many Americans against the war. Also that it played a part in Lyndon B. Johnson's decision not to run for another term as President. The other viewpoint is that Americans had already turned against the war before Cronkite's broadcast. After watching Cronkite's broadcast Lyndon Johnson said to his press secretary, George Christian, "If I have lost Walter Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America." Whatever the effect Cronkite's broadcast had, by 1967 Johnson's approval rating on the war was down to 32%.

Personal life

He was married to Mary Elizabeth "Betsy" Maxwell from 1940 until her death in 2005. They had three children. Cronkite died on the morning of July 17, 2009 in New York City, New York from cerebrovascular disease, aged 92.

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