Morley Safer tonight called him “the father of television news.” Tom Brokaw: “The managing editor for America.” Long was he considered the country’s most trusted man, and that was an honor he forever wore with nothing less than the utmost seriousness.
A couple of years ago, I wrote a short story in which legendary newsman Walter Cronkite — and, more specifically, his awe-filled play-by-play of Neil Armstrong’s mind-blowing 1969 moonwalk, the fortieth anniversary of which we’re mere days from celebrating — played a brief but pivotal role. And even though Cronkite’s remarkable career was already beginning its twilight by the time I became aware of his enormous presence, his contributions to American journalism continue to stand as the form’s standard bearers, the impossible bar that today’s multiplicity of blank-faced telegenic jokers is forever aiming to clear.
The news of Mr. Cronkite’s passing this evening at the age of 92 saddens me in a way I can’t quite put my finger on just yet. But, as the marvelous Sherry Ann so wisely counseled me several weeks ago, I’ve reached that age where the heroes are beginning to prove themselves to be mere mortals, just like the rest of us, just like me. People are born, people die. One door opens, another door closes, and that’s the way it is.