Sunday, July 19, 2009

Bay Area journalists remember Cronkite

The Chron's Leah Garchik contacted several Bay Area residents who had worked with Walter Cronkite, met him or had opinions about his work. Here are three quotes from her column:
    Thuy Vu — who is now a KPIX anchor - and her family fled Vietnam in 1975 when Saigon fell. "I was very young when Cronkite's broadcasts aired, but I've certainly learned about them and seen some of them in archival footage. For the older members of my family, there are mixed feelings. I would sum it up this way: While Cronkite is certainly respected for his dedication to his craft, there's lingering bitterness over his comments about the Vietnam war. His report in 1968 that the war was 'unwinnable' helped turn public opinion against U.S. involvement. Some Vietnamese Americans old enough to remember the war have mixed feelings. Cronkite was a brilliant newsman, but his report hastened America's exit and left South Vietnam in a lurch."

    Mill Valley writer and oral historian Alison Owings was a staff writer at CBS News in the mid-'70s, and among the projects to which she was assigned was the Evening News. "He spent most of the day in his office, then hustled late, very late, to the anchor desk, often without saying a word to any of us who'd been toiling all day and were anxious that he liked our toil. He then began timing scripts, pen in one hand, stopwatch in the other, that famous voice grumbly, low, serious, with emphasis in the right parts, rehearsing for show time. ... Sometimes, pre-show or during, he'd whirl around and type a rewrite on his own typewriter. ... We often left him the space stories to do because that was his big interest, and we knew he'd rewrite us anyway. Civil rights, too."

    Ann Caen met Cronkite through Herb Caen, in 1986 or so. "He was very warm and had the ability to sort of jump inside of you. He really wanted to hear from you, always asking questions. She recalled that Cronkite had been in the Bay Area the Valentine's Day that Mayor Gavin Newsom had started issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in San Francisco ... "And Gavin came down" and greeted them all, and the subject turned to the marriages. "And Walter just thought the whole concept was great."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Cronkite thought that Newsom's violating the will of the voters--not to mention breaking the law--was great? How odd.