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Remembering Walter Cronkite

The late CBS news anchor, Walter Cronkite, played a key role in the unravelling of Watergate.

Cronkite, who has died aged 92, broadcast two extensive stories on Watergate in 1972.

Walter Cronkite testifies before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Freedom of the Press, September 30th, 1971 (Photo Credit: Bettmann via Getty Images)

Ben Bradlee, the former Washington Post editor, said today that a lot of “Washington people, people who followed national stories – a lot of them who had not decided that we were right changed their minds because of Walter”.

This is part of Bradlee’s comments in Newsweek:

“In October 1972, Cronkite devoted two segments, back to back, to the Watergate story. The first was 14 minutes, the second eight.

I think that second night was curtailed by CBS chairman William S. Paley because Paley was scared of it.

The fact that Cronkite did Watergate at all (let alone at that length) gave the story a kind of blessing, which is exactly what we needed—and exactly what The Washington Post lacked.

It was a political year, and everyone was saying, “Well, it’s just politics, and here’s the Post trying to screw Nixon.”

We were the second-biggest newspaper in the country trying to scramble for a good story—whereas Cronkite was the reigning dean of television journalists. When he did the Watergate story, everyone said, “My God, Cronkite’s with them.”

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Malcolm Farnsworth
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