It is wrong to speak ill of the dead. On the other hand, it is an insult to the intelligence of the American people to pretend that Walter Cronkite was the “voice of God” and “universally credible,” as Mara Liasson put it on Fox News Sunday. The terrible truth is that Walter Cronkite symbolized liberal media bias and used that bias with disastrous consequences for our nation and the world. His latest cause was world government and the destruction of American sovereignty.
We found out after his retirement that he was not only a liberal, which was evident from his broadcasts, but a one-worlder. In appearances before the World Federalist Association, which favors world government financed by global taxes, he called for the U.S. to renounce “some of its sovereignty” and pass a series of United Nations treaties-many of which are now being pushed in the Senate by President Barack Obama. Cronkite called for an “international Liberty Bell.”
He called for Senate ratification of the Treaty to Ban Land Mines, the Law of the Sea Treaty, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Most important, he said, we should sign and ratify the Treaty for a Permanent International Criminal Court, which would violate U.S. constitutional rights by enabling foreign judges to prosecute American citizens and imprison them in foreign jails. Cronkite was determined to use the U.N. and its treaties to inhibit the ability of the U.S. to act in its own national security interests.
One of Cronkite’s appearances, where he accepted a “Global Governance” award, is available on video, at an event which featured the wife of then-U.N. boss Kofi Annan and a video from then-First Lady Hillary Clinton. The same “Global Governance” award had also been given to former Time magazine columnist Strobe Talbott, another advocate of world government, later a top State Department official in the Clinton Administration and subsequently named as a “special contact” of the Russian intelligence service by a Russian spy. Talbott now runs the liberal Brookings Institution.
In 1988, seven years after his retirement as anchorman of the CBS Evening News, Cronkite addressed a left-wing People for the American Way conference and denounced President Reagan for the “unilateral” military actions in Grenada, when the U.S. military evicted a communist gang, and Libya, when Reagan ordered a military strike in retaliation for the acts of terrorism against Americans. Cronkite despised Reagan’s peace-through-strength policies and said that the smartest president he ever met was Jimmy Carter.
Later, Cronkite denounced Operation Iraqi Freedom and attacked the Bush administration for its “arrogance.”
His role in the Vietnam defeat is being reported as if it were a highlight of his career. Yet, his misreporting helped create the conditions for a premature U.S. military withdrawal, leading to the loss of the lives of 58,000 Americans in vain, not to mention the millions of additional deaths caused in Vietnam and Cambodia by the Communists. Cronkite’s public verdict that the 1968 Tet offensive was a “defeat” for the U.S. is widely seen as a turning point in American support for the war. Cronkite falsely claimed that the Vietcong had held the American embassy for six hours and that the offensive “went on for two months.” The facts show that Tet was actually a major defeat for the communist enemy.
Accuracy in Media founder and longtime AIM Report editor Reed Irvine noted that Cronkite “contributed a great deal to our defeat in Vietnam.”
Beyond Vietnam, Cronkite got it wrong on one of the big issues-freedom versus Soviet communism. In the 1974 book, TV and National Defense, Dr. Ernest Lefever examined how CBS News programs for two years had covered national security issues and concluded that the news organization was “an active advocate of several national defense positions which were frequently critical of U.S. policy, and usually from a perspective that implied or called for a lesser military commitment and lower defense expenditures.”
In 1972, for instance, the CBS Evening News aired nearly 1,400 presentations supporting the dovish view. Contrary or hawkish positions were aired only 79 times.
Asked about the charges, Cronkite displayed the bias that guided his news program, saying that “There are always groups in Washington expressing views of alarm over the state of our defenses. We don’t carry those stories. The story is that there are those who want to cut defense spending.” The “most trusted man in America” didn’t deserve our trust.
In 1979, he gave an interview to the Soviet magazine, Literary Gazette, and told Vitaly Kobysh that the “Soviet threat” was “most likely…a myth.” According to the magazine, Cronkite went on to say that “I will never believe in a ‘Soviet threat.'”
Shortly after the interview was published, the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. He retired as CBS Evening News anchorman in 1981.
Cronkite told AIM founder and editor Reed Irvine that he had been misquoted by Kobysh, and that he had a tape recording of the interview to prove it. The tape never materialized. Irvine ran into Kobysh at an international media conference and the Soviet journalist said the interview was entirely accurate.
After Ronald Reagan took office as President and proceeded to build up U.S. national defense capability, in the wake of the disastrous Jimmy Carter years, CBS News acted to counter the Reagan effort. They aired a five-part program, “The Defense of the United States,” in which Cronkite appeared to tell us that the relationship with the Soviet Union was dominated by “the same old fears and doubts” because we didn’t have a genuine dialogue with the Soviet communists.
Irvine noted at the time of the broadcast that CBS gave us “the Kremlin view that it is the United States, not the Soviet Union, that is striving for an impossible military superiority, while creating fantasies about Soviet aggression.”
However, Irvine noted that Reagan “was not deterred” by the CBS News assault, but that the momentum behind his election mandate to rebuild America’s defense was “weakened” somewhat by the constant repetition by the media that he was spending too much on national security. Cronkite’s accomplices in this crusade included Dan Rather, his successor, and Bill Moyers, then with CBS and now with public television.
For many years Irvine drew attention to the “persistent anti-defense bias of CBS News” and reported, “One has to wonder why the anti-defense bias is so strong and persistent at CBS. My own feeling is that it is a reflection of the views enunciated by Walter Cronkite that show a benign view of the Soviet Union.”
In 1989, while expressing the hope that the Soviet archives would one day be opened to demonstrate how the Kremlin manipulated American journalists such as Walter Duranty of the New York Times, who had lied and helped Stalin cover up his monstrous crimes that resulted in the deaths of 7-10 million Ukrainians, Irvine added that “It will be fascinating to see what they say about Walter Cronkite, who spent two years in Moscow after World War II as a UPI correspondent and who has been remarkably restrained in his criticism of that country ever since.”
This may sound harsh, but the fact is that Cronkite was consistently wrong about Soviet intentions, and his attitude dominated CBS News coverage of the old Soviet Union.
After the Soviet collapse, Irvine wrote a 1990 AIM Report about those personalities who had taken “a benign or even adulatory view of communism and the Soviet Union in the years since the 1917 Bolshevik coup d’etat.” Cronkite was on this list of “doves,” which also included “Hanoi Jane” Fonda.
It is fine to recognize Cronkite for his long life and many years as anchorman of the CBS Evening News. He captured important moments and reached millions. But don’t pretend that he was an objective journalist.
Cronkite’s journalism cost lives and could have cost many more, had it not been for a President named Reagan who had the courage to bypass the major media and go directly to the American people with the truth about our crumbling defenses when America was increasingly vulnerable.
“The country was very lucky to have him in that seat” as anchorman, Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace said, in paying tribute. No. America was fortunate to have escaped his pernicious influence. Now we have to try to escape the fate of world government that Cronkite made his primary cause later in life, which has been adopted by President Barack Obama and Pope Benedict XVI.