Accuracy in Media

Former CBS Evening News anchorman Walter Cronkite has criticized as “grossly irresponsible” Baghdad Peter Arnett’s interview with Iraqi television. The interview seemed to confirm Cronkite’s admission of a liberal media bias during an appearance at Drew University. Ironically, however, Cronkite shared Arnett’s opposition to the Iraq war. Cronkite claimed President Bush was arrogant, and that Jimmy Carter was the smartest U.S. president he ever met. We say those are “grossly irresponsible” comments as well.

As the reporter for the Daily Record put it, “The ‘most trusted man in America,’ retired CBS Evening News anchor Walter Cronkite, put aside his journalistic impartiality?and issued a blistering dissent to President Bush’s decision to wage war with Iraq. At Drew University, in comments that now seem absolutely ludicrous and reminiscent of what Arnett told Iraqi TV, Cronkite said he feared the war would not go smoothly. He ripped the “arrogance” of Bush and his administration and wondered whether the new U.S. doctrine of ‘pre-emptive war’ might lead to unintended, dire consequences.”

The Daily Record said that Cronkite began his remarks by discussing one of his journalistic high points, reviewing the D-Day invasion with President Eisenhower in Normandy. He anchored the evening news from 1962-81. His 1968 editorial urging negotiations with Hanoi and a U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam is considered a turning point in that conflict. The communists eventually overran South Vietnam and Cambodia and millions were slaughtered. Cronkite has since joined forces with the World Federalists and now advocates world government.

While Cronkite was critical of the war on Iraq, we could find no record of his criticism of President Clinton’s war on Yugoslavia. That was truly a unilateral military action, conducted without congressional approval through NATO. While Bush says the war on Iraq is being conducted to protect the American people from an aggressive Arab regime with terrorist ties seeking weapons of mass destruction, Yugoslavia never threatened the United States at all. In fact, the Serbs were U.S. allies during World War II.

Yugoslavia was trying to exert control over a rebellious province, Kosovo, and a civil war was occurring that took a couple thousand lives. Clinton’s war was an intervention on behalf of the Muslims there. Cronkite was silent about that during the Drew forum. However, the Daily Record said he “speculated that the refusal of many traditional allies, such as France, to join the war effort [against Iraq] signaled something deeper, and more ominous, than a mere foreign policy disagreement.” Cronkite said the war reflected “a pretty dark doctrine.”

Cronkite seemed unconcerned that France had operated under a doctrine that permitted it to send several thousands troops to the Ivory Coast last year without U.N. approval, and that it has intervened in Africa almost 40 times in the last 40 years. So Cronkite’s concern about a so-called unilateral foreign policy appears to be directed only at the U.S. and its current Republican president.

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