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Walter Cronkite (1917 - 2009)

Monday, Jul. 20, 2009 3:56 AM

The passing of Walter Cronkite really speaks to how shallow and superficial broadcast news has become.

"Uncle Walter," as many folks from my and my parents' generation remember him, was there to relate the day's events on the national and international stage. The screen wasn't cluttered with dancing baloney, and we weren't told to go visit the network's web page for more information.

Cronkite was one of the journalists who defined the role of the 'anchor' - the stable viewpoint where viewers could return to and be confident they were getting facts, rather than 'expert opinion' and manufactured controversy. (And if Cronkite or any other anchor of the era offered an opinion, it was clearly labeled 'commentary.')

I maintain that there's no such beast as the 'mainstream media' - it's a boogeyman used to browbeat the media into covering a viewpoint out of 'fairness.'

And leading the way is the guy who says we don't need the Fairness Doctrine, because the 'marketplace of ideas' will regulate itself: Rush Limbaugh.

Think about that for a second. Rush insists the market will self-regulate, meaning what we have now must be fair - but he's also the one still decrying how unfair the so-called 'mainstream media' is to conservatives, two decades after the Fairness Doctrine was revoked.

The problem with a 'marketplace of ideas' is that a million-dollar budget and nationwide syndication do not equal veracity, nor does volume equate with character. When we allow profit and volume to dictate the outcome, profit and volume win - not ideas.

That being said, would a new Fairness Doctrine solve things? It's hard to say, because the public and the media have been bamboozled into accepting the Rush Limbaugh definition of 'fair.' It would mean a significant change to the way the media does business, as the manufactured controversy approach does not meet the original goals of the Fairness Doctrine, which called for an honest, equitable and balanced approach.

40 years ago, man first set foot on the moon, a technological achievement fraught with danger, but underscoring the importance of education, scientific endeavors, and America's can-do attitude.

I'm sorry, but I don't see a nation where school boards are headed up by people who believe in a 6,000 year-old Earth achieving anything of this scale.

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