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Walter Cronkite (November 4, 1916 – July 17, 2009)was a famous American broadcast journalist who is most famous for anchoring the CBS Evening News for 19 years from 1962 – 1981. Before this prestigious position, Cronkite worked for CBS in various positions and special news reports. He was often referred to as “the most trusted man in America,” and he always ended his broadcasts with “And that’s the way it is.”
He reported on some of the most important news of his time, including the Vietnam War, Watergate, The Iran Hostage Crisis, and the assassinations of John Lennon, JKF, and Martin Luther King Jr.
Keep reading to see some of the famous and notable quotes that this legendary newsman made over the years of his impressive career.
39 of The Best Walter Cronkite Quotes
1. “If that is what makes us liberals, so be it, just as long as in reporting the news we adhere to the first ideals of good journalism – that news reports must be fair, accurate and unbiased.” – Walter Cronkite
2. “The first priority of humankind in this era is to establish an effective system of world law that will assure peace with justice among the peoples of the world.” – Walter Cronkite
3. “Not only do we have a right to know, we have a duty to know what our Government is doing in our name. If there’s a criticism to be made today, it’s that the press isn’t doing enough to put the pressure on the Government to provide information.” – Walter Cronkite
4. “I am neither Republican nor Democrat. I am a registered independent because I find that I cast my votes not on the basis of party loyalty but on the issues of the moment and my assessment of the candidates.” – Walter Cronkite
5. “Those advocates who work for world peace by urging a system of world government are called impractical dreamers. Those impractical dreamers are entitled to ask their critics what is so practical about war.” – Walter Cronkite
6. “I have never pretended to be a great writer. I am totally immodest about being a great reporter and a good news writer. I write fast and I write accurately, nearly as accurately as anybody can be, and that’s my skill.” – Walter Cronkite
7. “Ethics must be reintroduced to public service to restore people’s faith in Government. Without such faith, democracy cannot flourish. Your ambitious agenda is filling a desperate need.” – Walter Cronkite
8. “When the Eagle landed on the moon, I was speechless – overwhelmed, like most of the world. Couldn’t say a word. I think all I said was, ‘Wow! Jeez!’ Not exactly immortal. Well, I was nothing if not human.” – Walter Cronkite
9. “We’ve got a great percentage of our population that, to our great shame, either cannot or, equally unfortunate, will not read. And that portion of our public is growing. Those people are suckers for the demagogue.” – Walter Cronkite
9. “Probably the most important single element that I found in my own marriage was a sense of humor. My wife had a delicious sense of humor, and I think I have an adequate one.” – Walter Cronkite
10. “I think most newspapermen by definition have to be liberal; if they’re not liberal, by definition of it, then they can hardly be good newspapermen. If they’re preordained dogmatists for a cause, then they can’t be very good journalists.” – Walter Cronkite
11. “I sort of think in a way that many of us young reporters who had the opportunity to go overseas for our organizations were kind of, in a sense, war profiteers. We were enhancing our careers while covering that terrible conflict.” – Walter Cronkite
12. “I’m very proud of what Harry Truman turned out to be in office and the record he made. Certainly I think he’ll go down in history as one of the greats, because of his conscience, his determination to stick with what he knew was right.” – Walter Cronkite
13. “For how many thousands of years now have we humans been what we insist on calling “civilized?” And yet, in total contradiction, we also persist in the savage belief that we must occasionally, at least, settle our arguments by killing one another.” – Walter Cronkite
14. “The debates are part of the unconscionable fraud that our political campaigns have become a format that defies meaningful discourse. They should be charged with sabotaging the electoral process.” – Walter Cronkite
15. “For many years, I did my best to report on the issues of the day in as objective a manner as possible. When I had my own strong opinions, as I often did, I tried not to communicate them to my audience.” – Walter Cronkite
16. “We must strengthen the United Nations as a first step toward a World Government, patterned after our Own Government with a legislature, executive and judiciary and police.” – Walter Cronkite
17. “Let us hear the peal of a new international liberty bell that calls us all to the creation of a system of enforceable world law in which the universal desire for peace can place its hope and prayers.” – Walter Cronkite
18 “I did not believe that the public was sophisticated enough to understand that a newsman could wear several hats and that we had the ability to turn off – nearly, you can’t say perfectly, but nearly – all of our prejudices and biases.” – Walter Cronkite
19. “I covered the Vietnam War. I remember the lies that were told, the lives that were lost – and the shock when, twenty years after the war ended, former Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara admitted he knew it was a mistake all along.” – Walter Cronkite
20. “History must share with reading, writing and arithmetic first rank as the most important subjects in the curriculum. Understanding the issues on which citizens of a republic are expected to vote is impossible without an understanding of the past.” – Walter Cronkite
21. “Anybody who’s spent thirteen or fourteen years in print journalism has a lot of stories he thinks were inwardly satisfying as far as preparation, understanding, and diligence.” – Walter Cronkite
22. “I had as much time to prepare for that moon landing as NASA did, and I still was speechless when it happened. It just was so awe-inspiring to actually be able to see the thing through the television that was a miracle in itself.” – Walter Cronkite
23. “The death of Churchill at 90 was one of those watershed moments in which the obituary rises to a special calling beyond the sharing of remembered times. It gave an older generation a rare opportunity to explain something of itself to its children.” – Walter Cronkite
24. “Grandfather was an old-fashioned pharmacist who never ceased venting his resentment at the growing number of retail items the drugstore had to carry, and he would go into periods of fearful rage when the subject of chain stores was raised.” – Walter Cronkite
25. “I never ceased to be surprised when southern whites, at their homes or clubs, told racial jokes and spoke so derogatorily of blacks while longtime servants, for whom they quite clearly had some affection, were well within earshot.” – Walter Cronkite
26. “I can swear on a stack of Bibles that not once in doing the ‘CBS Evening News’ for 19 years – well, I take it back. Once perhaps. But during 19 years, with perhaps one exception, was I ever aware of any political or commercial pressure on that broadcast whatsoever.” – Walter Cronkite
27. “We all have our likes and our dislikes. But… when we’re doing news – when we’re doing the front-page news, not the back page, not the op-ed pages, but when we’re doing the daily news, covering politics – it is our duty to be sure that we do not permit our prejudices to show. That is simply basic journalism. “- Walter Cronkite
28. “I am joining the hundreds of thousands who shall be marching in the Virtual March on Washington to Stop Global Warming in order to demonstrate the concern that we all hold for the future of our planet and all the living things – flora, fauna, human and animal – that exist upon it. “- Walter Cronkite
29. “I take a certain pride in having maintained a reputation for fast copy throughout my newspaper career. Fast-breaking stories left my typewriter in a hurry. Not great literature, perhaps, but fast, and usually accurate.” – Walter Cronkite
30. “I’m so tired of stories starting, ‘Maud Jones was walking her dog down Broadway.’ You’ve got to go over to the back page somewhere to finally find out the damn dog was run over by a truck. Get the thing told, for heaven’s sake. Everybody doesn’t have to be an O. Henry.” – Walter Cronkite
31. “It seems to many of us that if we are to avoid the eventual catastrophic world conflict, we must strengthen the United Nations as a first step toward a world government patterned after our own government with a legislature, executive and judiciary, and police to enforce its international laws and keep the peace.” – Walter Cronkite
32. “Watergate just happened to come along at the same time as the demand for honesty in relations between the sexes, in advertising, in ecology, in almost everything. It just stumbled into that great big elephant trap that had already been built for it.” – Walter Cronkite
33. “We need not only an executive to make international law, but we need the military forces to enforce that law and the judicial system to bring the criminals to justice before they have the opportunity to build military forces that use these horrid weapons that rogue nations and movements can get hold of – germs and atomic weapons.” – Walter Cronkite
34. “As anchorman of the CBS Evening News, I signed off my nightly broadcasts for nearly two decades with a simple statement: ‘And that’s the way it is.’ To me, that encapsulates the newsman’s highest ideal: to report the facts as he sees them, without regard for the consequences or controversy that may ensue.” – Walter Cronkite
35. “In journalism, we recognize a kind of hierarchy of fame among the famous.
We measure it in two ways: by the length of an obituary and by how far in advance it is prepared. Presidents, former presidents, and certain heads of state are at the top of the chain.”
36. “The military people don’t like it; the government probably doesn’t like it, but the people should know what they’re sending their young people into when they permit their governments to declare war and engage in war.” – Walter Cronkite
37. “For heaven’s sakes, in the newspaper days, when we had competing newspapers, and the newsstands sale was as important as the circulation – as the agreed-upon circulation, whatever you call that – in those days, why, gosh, the sensationalism was tremendous.” – Walter Cronkite
38. “I don’t think it’s in any way harmful, this marriage of media and politicians. I think it enhances the communications process considerably and makes it possible for the public to be far more aware, far more up-to-date on issues and the opposite sides of the issues. – Walter Cronkite
39″With police wielding unprecedented powers to invade privacy, tap phones and conduct searches seemingly at random, our civil liberties are in a very precarious condition.” – Walter Cronkite.
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Video: Walter Cronkite’s Final Sign Off
From the CBS News archives, legendary anchorman Walter Cronkite signs off for the final time on the “CBS Evening News.” Cronkite manned the anchor desk from April, 16, 1962 until March 6, 1981.
After reading 39 quotes from Walter Cronkite from his career, which spanned decades, you may feel that you know who he was a little better. He was an interesting man and a great news anchor. What it must have been like to live through all the events in his life and have the privilege of reporting the next to the American people.
He reported during a time before 24-hour cable news or the internet when the nightly newscast and the morning paper was how people knew what was happening in the world. As Uncle Walter (one of his beloved nicknames) would say, “And that’s the way it is.”
Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons