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Douglas Brinkley presents the definitive, revealing biography of an American legend: renowned news anchor Walter Cronkite.
An acclaimed author and historian, Brinkley has drawn upon recently disclosed letters, diaries, and other artifacts at the recently opened Cronkite Archive to bring detail and depth to this deeply personal portrait.
He also interviewed nearly two hundred of Cronkite’s closest friends and colleagues, including Andy Rooney, Leslie Stahl, Barbara Walters, Dan Rather, Brian Williams, Les Moonves, Christiane Amanpour, Katie Couric, Bob Schieffer, Ted Turner, Jimmy Buffett, and Morley Safer, using their voices to instill dignity and humanity in this study of one of America’s most beloved and trusted public figures.
Want” that staff religiously adhered to was letting the anchorman read his viewer mail, which was delivered regularly to his office. No prescreening. He liked keeping his ear to the ground. As producer Les Midgley and vice president of CBS News Blair Clark both noted, Cronkite, unlike most TV performers, liked his praise and criticism straight-up. What Cronkite adored about producer Sandy Socolow was that, unlike either the CBS correspondent pool or the corporate executives, he delivered rotten
grandeur of the Denali wilderness. As a surprise, Minor helicoptered in a card table, cooked turkey, and vintage wine so the Cronkites could have a high-altitude lunch with snowcapped Mount McKinley as the backdrop. “It was our way of telling Walter thank you,” Minor recalled. “We made it this incredibly romantic lunch for them.” While Universe had a devoted following, the ratings were lukewarm. For one show, Cronkite flew out to Palo Alto, California, to interview the founder of a company
24, 1972. 36 Woodrow Wilson’s closest advisor: Ibid., p. 27. 36 Determined to be the big man on campus: Ibid. 37 “the campus big shot of Fort Worth”: Walter Cronkite to Helen Cronkite, 1934, Box: 2.325–E454a, WCP-UTA. 37 a “magna cum virgin”: Art Buchwald, “Anchor’s Away: The Life of Walter,” Washington Post, July 17, 2009. 37 he and Bit resorted to letter writing: Don Michel to Douglas Brinkley, October 15, 2011. 37 “For Vice-President—WALTER CRONKITE”: Box: 2.325–C130, WCP-UTA. 37 The
family man. Truth be told, any news organization—even The New York Times—would have been lucky to employ Cronkite. What one columnist at the New York Daily News wrote about Cronkite in 1965 was already his reputation in journalism in 1948: “Solid as a mountain,” and “As reliable as the sunrise.” In the 1930s, Cronkite had bounced back and forth many times between his first love, newspapers, and the new medium of broadcast radio. With his move to Washington in December 1948, though, his
himself in Kaycee, which was often, he’d invite Cronkite out for brisket and baked beans. But they lost contact with each other until Cronkite was hired by CBS. “I used to see him fairly frequently when he was doing the 11 o’clock news for WTOP television in Washington, D.C.,” recalled Mickelson of being an early booster of Cronkite’s career at CBS. “I would go down to Washington often and watch the show and sometimes have a drink with him afterwards. He was not under my jurisdiction until 1954