Cronkite Called War in Vietnam Unwinnable, Not an Atrocity

Walter Cronkite, toward the end of his life looked like your typical gentle grandfather. This death of one of corporate media’s own is being used to portray him as having been trustworthy, and extend this portrayal of trustworthiness to the U.S. media cartel justifying continuing brutal wars of occupation and promoting the predatory financial globalization of human and planetary resources.

Cronkite reported on location during the Vietnam War, and of course for years made no waves, and was no more trustworthy than other reporters who managed to stomach what was being done to that beautiful Buddhist society of ancient cultural roots.

Following Cronkite’s editorial report during the Tet Offensive that the Vietnam War was unwinnable, President Lyndon Johnson is reported to have said, “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America.”

Johnson’s whimper reminds us that Cronkite was for years not reporting the real conditions in South Vietnam, not reporting the deceptions that led to the creation of the puppet government, not reporting Eisenhower’s and the South’s refusal to hold promised elections, not reporting that Ike confessed that U.S. WWII ally Ho Chi Minh would have won by 80% had the pan-Vietnam election not been blocked, the rampant corruption at every level, the brutal French colonial history, the carnage from years of bombing the delta. Cronkite and CBS acted like servants and sycophants of our government, dutifully trumpeting almost every lie and distortion passed to them by the Pentagon and White House.

During the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Cronkite was anchoring the CBS network coverage as violence and protests occurred outside the convention, as well as scuffles inside the convention hall. When Dan Rather was punched to the floor (on camera) by security personnel, Cronkite commented, “I think we’ve got a bunch of thugs here, Dan.”

Cronkite would have never in thousand years have called the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force, crucifying the agrarian French colonial population of Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, “a bunch of thugs.”

Now, as in Walter Cronkite’s lifetime, major humanity is still in a fight for a billion lives against the military and banks of the Anglo-American Empire, with the EU, NATO and Japan in tow, China and Russia going along for now, the Third World watchful and apprehensive. Conglomerate owned satellite powered media is not on the side of major humanity, but the tool and protection of its capitalist governance.

But Walter Cronkite’s death should not be an occasion of our criticizing him for what he was not. Nor for propaganda to make media be seen as trustworthy. Walter worked in corporate media, a regular guy, pretty much in mainstream. He was no Gandhi, no Nelson Mandela, no Martin Luther King Jr. or Albert Einstein, who were trustworthy and always honest about imperialist foreign policy, but Cronkite did have a few moments of realization that U.S. use of military in foreign policy was less than sane.

The deceased deserve their rest in peace, with some respect for their contributions. Commercial media hype to distract us from conglomerate owned media’s mission of war-mongering, support for empire and predatory global financial hegemony is obvious, insensitive and inappropriate to our mourning the passing of a fellow human being.

Jay Janson, spent eight years as Assistant Conductor of the Vietnam Symphony Orchestra in Hanoi and also toured, including with Dan Tai-son, who practiced in a Hanoi bomb shelter. The orchestra was founded by Ho Chi Minh,and it plays most of its concerts in the Opera House, a diminutive copy of the Paris Opera. In 1945, our ally Ho, from a balcony overlooking the large square and flanked by an American Major and a British Colonel, declared Vietnam independent. Everyone in the orchestra lost family, "killed by the Americans" they would mention simply, with Buddhist un-accusing acceptance. Jay can be reached at: Read other articles by Jay.

6 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. brian said on July 20th, 2009 at 7:04am #

    Im surprised he didnt do what current media do about war atrocities and call it a ‘mistake’…

  2. rosemarie jackowski said on July 20th, 2009 at 11:02am #

    Great article!

  3. Deadbeat said on July 20th, 2009 at 1:03pm #

    What Cronkite did was question his own assumptions and that his much more than what is happening in the mainstream today. The mainstream today is much more concern with profits and wealth extraction than about asking questions.

  4. catherine said on July 20th, 2009 at 4:58pm #

    Thank you for an excellent does of reality.

    He was better than many today, but how little that says.

  5. Russell Olausen said on July 20th, 2009 at 5:44pm #

    An other brick in the wall. God speed anyway.

  6. kalidas said on July 21st, 2009 at 12:30pm #

    Walter Cronkite died for our sins..

    Or was it Alfred E. Neuman?

    I forget..