On March 15, 1962, Walter Cronkite became the anchorman and managing editor for the CBS Evening News, a position he held until 1981. During this time, his news program became the one most watched in America. Cronkite was known for his calming presence and his ability to communicate complex events to the average viewer, who trusted “Uncle Walter” to explain the major events of the era.
Cronkite’s heartbreaking report on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy became one of the most famous news reports in television history. Because of his in-depth coverage of the Apollo Space Program
The Apollo program refers to the effort in the 1960s and 1970s by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to send astronauts to the moon. During the program's existence there were seventeen manned and unmanned Apollo space missions. The most famous of these missions was Apollo 11 in 1969, during which astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin Eugene "Buzz" Aldrin became the first humans to land on the moon.
, especially the Apollo 11 moon mission in 1969, he was called “The Dean of Space.” His special report from Vietnam
Vietnam is a nation in Southeast Asia that is bordered on its north by China. For the first half of the twentieth century it was a colony of France, but after World War II Vietnamese forces fought the French for independence. The French left in 1954 and Vietnam was divided in half. Ho Chi Minh, a Communist, led the north, and Ngo Dinh Diem controlled the south. The Vietnamese people were divided because of differing views on government and culture.
In the years after World War II, world leaders were very concerned about communism spreading and created a "containment policy" to block its advance. U.S. President John F. Kennedy pledged to help South Vietnam fight against the Communists, and in 1963 the United States began sending military personnel to the region. This action was the beginning of America's long military involvement in Southeast Asia against communism.
The number of U.S. forces in Vietnam increased throughout the 1960s under President Lyndon B. Johnson. When Richard M. Nixon was elected president in 1968, he vowed to end the conflict in Vietnam. After initial heavy bombing of the north, troops were gradually removed and the last of them were gone by March 1973. North Vietnam invaded the south and overthrew Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, on April 30, 1975, ending the war with the entire country under the rule of the Communists, who remain in power today.
is credited with helping to change national opinion about the war. Cronkite resisted the Nixon administration’s attempts to intimidate the media and won awards for his reports on the Watergate scandal that ended Nixon’s presidency. Under his leadership, the CBS Evening News
also devoted much attention to the civil rights movement
The Civil Rights Movement was a mass social movement during the 1950s and 1960s in the United States that sought to end racial inequality, segregation, and discrimination against African Americans.
and environmental concerns. Walter even used his influence to set up peace talks between the leaders of Egypt and Israel. Because he often stayed on air for long stretches while covering special events, he was nicknamed “Iron Pants.”
Because Cronkite made a point of carefully checking his sources and trying to report breaking news in a fair and impartial manner, the American public put great trust in his nightly sendoff, “And that’s the way it is.” In 1972 an independent opinion poll named Cronkite “The Most Trusted Man in America,” a reputation he would keep for the rest of his career.