Friday, September 20, 2019

Pure Journalism

Another quickie.  I just finished reading Kevin M. Kruse's One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America (Basic Books, 2015).  It's a fun, informative read, and here's another passage that I wanted to pass along.

In 1954, President Eisenhower signed a bill adding "under God" the Pledge of Allegiance.  Though he was enthusiastic about the new law, he chose not to make a photo op of the signing.  Members of Congress, however, did, with a rally on the Capitol steps.
CBS broadcast the event live on television, with Walter Cronkite leading the coverage of what he called “a stirring event.” “‘New glory for Old Glory’—a wonderful idea,” he said. “Maybe if we all remember to display our flags today and every special day, we will remember more clearly the traditions of freedom on which our country is founded.”
This tickled me, because I see so much complaint about today's news media mixing reporting with propaganda.  Cronkite himself is largely remembered as a role model, except for the one time he expressed doubt about the US invasion of Vietnam.  Not, of course, because he objected to the war itself, but because we weren't "winning" it.  Yet here Cronkite gushed, and nobody seems to have cared.  I bet that it wasn't the only time.

I speculate that the reason this was okay, but complaining that we weren't winning in Vietnam was "editorializing," is that in this case he was supporting US policy, whereas on Vietnam he was criticizing it.  Make sense?