Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Personal Aside: The Most Trusted Man in America? Hah!
Note: For the past two days the blog has been out of action due to mechanical failure. Sorry. Here goes.
Such is American mainstream medias preoccupation with fact-free labeling is that when pompous old phony Walter Cronkite died at 92 last week the canard floated freely from the news agencies that here was the most trusted man in America. Ironically by trusting this egocentric faux sage, Americans and its president were misled to lose Americas first war. True one would hope a president would be resolute enough not to be swung to and fro by someone like Cronkite or to base the act of winning a war on public sentiment and to pursue through to the end but such was the case with Lyndon Johnson in the late 1960s. And also with the media where in an era of no cable, no internet, no talk radio the biggest megaphones were held by CBS, ABC and NBC along with the unflaggingly liberal big urban dailies and newsmagazines.
Up to 1968 Cronkite had an honorable career covering wars and assassinations. He was a firm supporter of the Vietnam war until Tet. Then, after a trip to Vietnam in early 1968, he as the ranking CBS anchor more than anyone else convinced Americans to toss in the chips on the Vietnam warmaking the 58,209 American lives lost in that engagement all but in vain since they were albeit honorably engaged in a war that America lost via public opinion through his inaccurate reporting swayed by liberal ideology by Cronkite and other media types of the Tet Offensive.
The men and women who lost their lives were thus betrayed by a portly avuncular anchor who gloried in his own celebrity and ratings in acclamation of his pronouncements, having earlier supported the war as essential to defeating Communism. His switch led Lyndon Johnson to say if Ive lost Walter Cronkite, then Ive lost everything. That tells one a lot about Johnson but polls and media were his nemesis. Johnsons utter weakness was matched by that of Robert McNamara and the so-called wise men who gathered around him. If leaders were to gauge winning wars on public support, George Washington would have capitulated, James Madison would have surrendered having been forced to flee the Capitol, Lincoln would have surrendered after Bull Run and George W. Bush would have tossed up his hands when the Iraq insurgents began to take a toll of American lives.
American lives spent to win the Vietnam War were not wasted but they were entitled to have a president not give up in the face of their glorious sacrifice. As it was, largely due to Cronkite and the influence this relativist had over our institutions basis his ratings their lives were sacrificed as magnificently as those soldiers of other wars, but because of the media which swayed Johnson from his perch led largely by Cronkite the hallowed dead were denied their sacred rightto have participated in a winning phase of what John Kennedy called the long twilight struggle in this chapter of the Cold War to attain victory. Always adept at wiping away a tear when a liberal icon died, Cronkites ego began to be enlarged by his celebrity. But the worst was to come.
Rather than the media calling Cronkites dereliction to national attention, short-hand myth instead of factual labeling has canonized a newsman who for whatever reason had more to do with America losing the war than any other single American.
For those who want the unvarnished facts, here they are. On the evening of the last day of January, 1968 during the Tet holiday Vietnamese communist armies launched attacks on dozens of towns and U.S. bases in South Vietnam. Long before that, shrinking national media correspondents such as David Halberstam of The New York Times became convinced we should get out. They formed an emotional chord with the unshaven, un-bathed (and thats before we consider the men) ill-educated students, the children of affluence, at Ivy League universities. Forgotten was the need to stress patriotism. Arthur (Punch) Sulzberger the published of The New York Times asked his son Pinch who was at Harvard if he could muster up at least fraternal regard for an American soldier killed by the Viet Cong. Pinch Sulzberger, now the publisher, told his father not a chance. Matter of fact I would welcome it since we are the invaders of their land. This self-same Pinch who would cheer the death of an American soldier runs the bankrupt New York Times todaytalk about an index of decadence.
Up to that time the American people were behind Johnson and his prosecution of the war. But the avalanche of news media and Cronkites commentary that we were defeated at Tet changed public opinion despite the fact that it later it became known that Tet was an enormous Communist defeat. No correction ever came from Cronkite for he was on the glory-road to personal adulation, fatal for a newsman. Johnson of course was uncertain and as soon as public support melted, he melted. For comparison, let us see how George W. Bush endured the most savage criticism and saw it through to victory in Iraq.
Cronkites pronouncement changed the U. S. by making a false sloppily judged news perception reality as it happened many times since but not with as disastrous a result. Liberals canonized Cronkite for his pronouncement and he luxuriated in their warm glow. Larded with acclamations, he was seen as an intellectually honest savior. Johnson who was never buttressed in certainty beyond his own poll numbers, saw his ratings decline and tossed in the chips. Robert McNamara his weak-willed numbers defense secretary was shattered and literally wept himself to dissolution in his office. A ruined man, bereft of any confidence, he was sacked and a canny opportunist lobbyist-lawyer Clark Clifford came in with a history of placating Johnson who was his client. With Gene McCarthy entering the presidential primary in New Hampshire in a display of savagery because McCarthy was passed over for vice president in favor of Hubert Humphrey and Bobby Kennedy coming in afterward, Johnson was transformed into a ruined old man who refused to continue the war with aggressiveness.
Thanks to the media and largely to Cronkite a surprising comment came from Leslie Gelb, then a key operative at the Pentagon. Gelb said Vietnam passed the bounds of reasonable debate and fair discussion. What was important was not so much what was going on in Vietnam but what was happening in America The war could e lost only if the American public turned sour on it. American public opinion was the essential domino. U. S. leaders knew it. Hanois leaders knew it.
Thus the North Vietnamese were secure in going on fighting with the conviction that even if they lost on the battlefieldas they did at Tet which once the Americans regained the initiative mowed down 47.627 of the enemy in that offensive alone (falling just less than America lost in the whole war) a horrific Communist cost for which there was no decent reportage American public opinion would follow the French public opinion and give them victory. Suffused with acclamations and honorary degrees from the Left, Cronkite went on to embrace a whole panoply of liberal causes, each gathering more applause from the so-called establishment than preceding.
So now we honor the old codger who called the war he once supported immoral. What is more immoral than one who betrays his country for liberal applause and acclaim by telling it we had lost the war while withholding the real facts that Tet was a destructive failure for the North Vietnamese. Cronkite continued prattling his news with altered statistics never, ever reciting the facts of ultimate victory convincing it that all is lost rendering its president that he could not go on? In private life, Cronkite turned out to be Old Uncle Wackadoodle, endorsing many liberal political and social ideas. Cronkites followers in the media persecuted George W. Bush faced when he stood firm for the Surge. Indeed, Cronkites prime legatee is Barack Obama who prattled that the Surge wasnt working and still cannot bring himself to admit its success.
Now we are asked to stand in hushed reverence before the bier of duplicitous old Walter on the pretext that he was the most trusted man in America? Most trusted at that time, yes because he was an agent of duplicity. Unfortunately with which he sold out that trust to urge surrender and for which he bears major responsibility for desecrating the nations honor and the young people who gave their lives for their country to win. Not me, my friends.
Walter Cronkite indeed! Had this man held an important media post of influence during in the Civil War when the Confederate campfires could be seen by Abraham Lincoln from the White House portico we would have sundered the Union. Spare me your tears for this wicked old relativist who savored Standing Tall in Georgetown.