And that's the way it is: Cronkite Rips Bush Misadministration
Posted by: lex on http://PEJ.org Saturday, November 20, 2004 - 01:38 PM
No longer the just-the-facts newsman, retired CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite, 88, blasted the Bush administration during a charity appearance on Fisher Island.
What America needs right now, legendary TV anchor Walter Cronkite said Thursday, is a new election -- and, he warned a laughing press conference full of reporters, he wasn't kidding.
''That's not entirely a joke,'' Cronkite said solemnly, arguing that the Bush administration has spent itself into ruin while embroiling the country in a war that will eventually make public revulsion to the war in Vietnam look ``like peanuts.''
''I think you journalists today have a great four years ahead of you,'' Cronkite observed dryly. ``It's going to be a great story to cover.''
Cronkite -- in South Florida on a promotional visit for the Fisher Island Philanthropic Fund, a children's charity -- spent 30 years at CBS News, including 18 as anchor of the network's evening newscast, before retiring in 1982.
His retirement has mostly been a quiet one. But during the past year, Cronkite -- who turned 88 earlier this month -- has made some startling departures from his old just-the-facts anchorman's demeanor. He proclaimed that most journalists are liberals and praised them for it, and accused Republican political operative Karl Rove of orchestrating the release of a new Osama bin Laden tape last month to help President Bush win reelection.
On Thursday, he whacked away at the Bush administration even harder, accusing it of destroying the nation's infrastructure and wrecking its education system to the point that American democracy itself is in danger.
''You want to get down to the nub of how this democracy is going to defend itself,'' Cronkite said. ``We've got to have an intelligent electorate and we're not going to have it because our education system is in a shambles right now.''
The most immediate problem, Cronkite warned, is Iraq.
''We have a war that is tearing us apart,'' he said. But, he added, the administration's deficit spending is a close second, creating ``a debt that will have to be paid by our great-grandchildren, and maybe beyond that.
''In the meantime, we do not have the money to do the things that we ought to -- have to -- do here at home,'' Cronkite said.
Cronkite said the news media have generally done a good job covering the problems, including during the presidential election. But he backed away from a question about the troubles at his old network, where an independent panel is investigating a report by Cronkite's replacement, Dan Rather, that raised questions about President's Bush's Vietnam-era service in the National Guard.
''I'm not going to comment on the Dan Rather matter until the investigators come up with their report,'' said Cronkite. ``I've had great difficulty keeping my lips buttoned, but so far I've made it.''