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kottke.org posts about Walter Cronkite

Walter Cronkite Spit In My Food

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 04, 2016

Today’s Google Doodle honors the 100th anniversary of the birth of legendary newsman Walter Cronkite.

Today would be the 100th birthday of the man known widely throughout the ’60s and ’70s as “the most trusted man in America.” Walter Cronkite, the legendary broadcast journalist reported, served, and comforted a nation during its most trying times, including World War II, Watergate, the Vietnam War, and the assassination of JFK, to name a few.

Walter perpetuated an objective reporting style rooted in justice and integrity: “Press freedom is essential to our democracy, but the press must not abuse this license. We must be careful with our power. The free press, after all, is the central nervous system of a democratic society.”

Since I missed most of Cronkite’s career as a TV news anchor (I was 7 when he retired), I mostly associate him with the coverage of the Apollo 11 Moon landing and the early web meme Walter Cronkite Spit In My Food.

It was an unbelievable account of a drunken Walter Cronkite raging at a honeymooning couple in a restaurant. It included an obviously faked video clip of Walter Cronkite spitting and a fuzzy photograph of a man who looked vaguely like Cronkite.

Google’s honor is a bit ironic given that Cronkite favored tougher libel and slander laws for “would-be writers and reporters on the Internet”:

I am dumbfounded that there hasn’t been a crackdown with the libel and slander laws on some of these would-be writers and reporters on the Internet. I expect that to develop in the fairly near future.

as well as legislation against anonymous expression online:

I favor legislation that requires people to stand by their words by identifying themselves on the Internet. They should not be permitted to operate anonymously.

He was clear that he was not after censorship:

I hope to make it clear that I did say that I am opposed to any form of censorship. This is identification… forced identification by those who use the Internet. Not censorship. It is simply requiring them to take the same responsibility that people in print and in broadcasting have to take.

We Work Remotely

Live TV coverage of Apollo 11 landing and moon walk

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 20, 2014

Apollo TV teaser

45 years ago today, the lunar module from the Apollo 11 mission landed on the Moon. For the 40th anniversary of the landing in 2009, I put together a page where you can watch the original CBS News coverage of Walter Cronkite reporting on the Moon landing and the first Moon walk, synced to the present-day time. I’ve updated the page to work again this year: just open this page in your browser and the coverage will start playing at the proper time. Here’s the schedule:

Moon landing broadcast start: 4:10:30 pm EDT on July 20
Moon landing shown: 4:17:40 pm EDT
Moon landing broadcast end: 4:20:15 pm EDT
{break}
Moon walk broadcast start: 10:51:27 pm EDT
First step on Moon: 10:56:15 pm EDT
Nixon speaks to the Eagle crew: approx 11:51:30 pm EDT
Moon walk broadcast end: 12:00:30 pm EDT on July 21

Here’s what I wrote when I launched the project:

If you’ve never seen this coverage, I urge you to watch at least the landing segment (~10 min.) and the first 10-20 minutes of the Moon walk. I hope that with the old time TV display and poor YouTube quality, you get a small sense of how someone 40 years ago might have experienced it. I’ve watched the whole thing a couple of times while putting this together and I’m struck by two things: 1) how it’s almost more amazing that hundreds of millions of people watched the first Moon walk *live* on TV than it is that they got to the Moon in the first place, and 2) that pretty much the sole purpose of the Apollo 11 Moon walk was to photograph it and broadcast it live back to Earth.

(FYI, I didn’t test it, but I’m almost positive this will *not* work on mobile…it uses YouTube’s Flash player to show the video. Sorry.)

Is Muhammad Ali a superhero?

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 07, 2014

In a clip from The CBS Evening News With Walter Cronkite in 1981, a man in a hooded sweatshirt yelling about the Viet Cong threatened to jump from the 9th story of a building in Los Angeles. Out of nowhere, like a freaking superhero, appears Muhammad Ali, who manages to coax the man back into the building.

(via @DavidGrann)

The home office of the 21st century

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 05, 2013

In a report from 1967, Walter Cronkite takes us on a brief tour of what they imagined the home office would be like in the 2000s.

In the 21st century, it may be that no home will be complete without a computerized communications console.

Cronkite also toured the kitchen and living room of the future.

(via viewsource)

Live TV coverage of Apollo 11 landing and moon walk

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 20, 2012

The Apollo 11 Lunar Module landed on the surface of the Moon 43 years ago today. For the 40th anniversary of the landing in 2009, I put together a page where you can watch the original CBS News coverage of Walter Cronkite reporting on the Moon landing and the first Moon walk, synced to the present-day time. I’ve updated the page to work again this year: just open this page in your browser and the coverage will start playing at the proper time. Here’s the schedule:

Moon landing broacast start: 4:10:30 pm EDT on July 20
Moon landing shown: 4:17:40 pm EDT
Moon landing broadcast end: 4:20:15 pm EDT
{break}
Moon walk broadcast start: 10:51:27 pm EDT
First step on Moon: 10:56:15 pm EDT
Nixon speaks to the Eagle crew: approx 11:51:30 pm EDT
Moon walk broadcast end: 12:00:30 pm EDT on July 21

Here’s a post I wrote when I launched the project.

If you’ve never seen this coverage, I urge you to watch at least the landing segment (~10 min.) and the first 10-20 minutes of the Moon walk. I hope that with the old time TV display and poor YouTube quality, you get a small sense of how someone 40 years ago might have experienced it. I’ve watched the whole thing a couple of times while putting this together and I’m struck by two things: 1) how it’s almost more amazing that hundreds of millions of people watched the first Moon walk *live* on TV than it is that they got to the Moon in the first place, and 2) that pretty much the sole purpose of the Apollo 11 Moon walk was to photograph it and broadcast it live back to Earth.

Thanks to Dave Schumaker for the reminder.

Original Apollo 11 CBS News broadcast

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 20, 2010

I had so much fun with this last year, I’m doing it again: watch the original CBS News coverage of the Apollo 11 Moon landing and first Moon walk, reported live by Walter Cronkite exactly 41 years after it happened.

Apollo 11 on TV

Just leave this page open in your browser and at the appointed times (schedule is below), the broadcast will begin (no manual page refresh necessary).

Schedule:
Moon landing broacast start: 4:10:30 pm EDT on July 20
Moon landing shown: 4:17:40 pm EDT
Moon landing broadcast end: 4:20:15 pm EDT

Moon walk broadcast start: 10:51:27 pm EDT
First step on Moon: 10:56:15 pm EDT
Nixon speaks to the Eagle crew: approx 11:51:30 pm EDT
Moon walk broadcast end: 12:00:30 am EDT on July 21

If you’ve never seen this coverage, I urge you to watch at least the landing segment (~10 min.) and the first 10-20 minutes of the Moon walk. I hope that with the old time TV display and poor YouTube quality, you get a small sense of how someone 40 years ago might have experienced it.

Please note that schedule times are approximate, based on your computer’s clock, and that the syncing of the videos might not be perfect. You need to have JS and Flash 8+ to view. This is just like real TV…if you miss the appointed time, there’s no rewind or anything…the video is playing “live”. I have not done extensive browser testing so it may not work perfectly in your browser. If you run into any problems, just reload the page. Thanks for tuning in.

You Are There

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 23, 2009

First broadcast on the radio in 1947, You Are There presented historic events as they would have been reported by modern news broadcasters. In 1953, the program jumped to television with Walter Cronkite as the host, who also hosted a brief revival of the show in the 70s.

The series also featured various key events in American and world history, portrayed in dramatic recreations, with one addition — CBS News reporters, in modern-day suits, would report on the action and interview the characters. Each episode would begin with the characters setting the scene. Cronkite, from his anchor desk in New York, would give a few words on what was about to happen. An announcer would then give the date and the event, followed by a bold, “You Are There!”

Cronkite would then return to describe the event and its characters more in detail, before throwing it to the event, saying, “All things are as they were then, except… You Are There.”

At the end of the program, after Cronkite summarizes what happened in the preceding event, he reminded viewers, “What sort of day was it? A day like all days, filled with those events that alter and illuminate our times… and you were there.”

Here’s a clip from an episode from the 70s version of the show about the siege of the Alamo. Cronkite reports and Fred Gwynne (Herman Munster) plays Davy Crockett.

What a fantastic idea for a show…I’d love to see a contemporary version of this. Well, not too contemporary; watching a CNBC-style presentation of the 1929 stock market crash wouldn’t really be that fun.

Cronkite in pictures

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 21, 2009

Photographer Jill Krementz has some nice photos up in remembrance of Walter Cronkite. I love the ones of him playing his daily tennis match with Andy Rooney.

Update: Esquire reprinted a 2006 interview with Cronkite.

I grew my mustache when I was nineteen in order to look older. I never shaved it off even though it overran its usefulness many, many years ago. Once you get started in television, people associate you with your physical appearance — and that includes the mustache. So I can’t shave it off now. If I did, I’d have to answer too much mail.

CBS News Coverage of Apollo 11

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 21, 2009

For those of you who missed the show last night or if you just want a replay, the CBS News footage of the Apollo 11 Moon landing and Moon walk, presented by Walter Cronkite, is available on YouTube. The Moon landing video is here and the first of 7 videos of the Moon walk is here.

Apollo 11 landing on TV as it aired 40 years ago

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 20, 2009

Inspired by the ApolloPlus40 Twitter account and We Choose the Moon, both of which are tracking the Apollo 11 mission as it happened 40 years ago, I’ve built a page where you can watch the CBS News coverage of Walter Cronkite reporting on the Moon landing and the first moon walk, 40 years to the second after it originally happened.

Apollo 11 on TV

Just leave this page open in your browser and at the appointed times (schedule is below), the broadcast will begin (no manual page refresh necessary).

Schedule:
Moon landing broacast start: 4:10:30 pm EDT on July 20
Moon landing shown: 4:17:40 pm EDT
Moon landing broadcast end: 4:20:15 pm EDT
Moon walk broadcast start: 10:51:27 pm EDT
First step on Moon: 10:56:15 pm EDT
Nixon speaks to the Eagle crew: approx 11:51:30 pm EDT
Moon walk broadcast end: 12:00:30 pm EDT on July 21

If you’ve never seen this coverage, I urge you to watch at least the landing segment (~10 min.) and the first 10-20 minutes of the Moon walk. I hope that with the old time TV display and poor YouTube quality, you get a small sense of how someone 40 years ago might have experienced it. I’ve watched the whole thing a couple of times while putting this together and I’m struck by two things: 1) how it’s almost more amazing that hundreds of millions of people watched the first Moon walk *live* on TV than it is that they got to the Moon in the first place, and 2) that pretty much the sole purpose of the Apollo 11 Moon walk was to photograph it and broadcast it live back to Earth.

Thanks to Meg for her JS help…any errors or sloppy code are mine. Please note that schedule times are approximate, based on your computer’s clock, and that the syncing of the videos might not be perfect. You need to have JS and Flash 8+ to view. This is just like real TV…if you miss the appointed time, there’s no rewind or anything…the video is playing “live”. I have not done extensive browser testing so it may not work perfectly in your browser. Bug reports are welcome and I will try to fix things as they crop up. If you run into any problems, just reload the page. To ensure that you have the latest (hopefully bug-free) version before the broadcast begins, reload the page. Other than that, if you leave it open, the broadcast will happen automatically.

If you like this, tell your pals on Twitter.

Update: If you missed the “live” show, you can watch all of the clips on YouTube.

The most trusted man in America

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 17, 2009

Walter Cronkite has died; he was 92. CBS News has a nice remembrance.