Walter Cronkite, veteran television journalist and communicator has died. And that’s the way it is on Friday, July 17, 2009.
To suggest that Walter will be missed is an understatement. He’s been missed for over a decade as the effects of his aging first began to take their toll.
Edward R. Murrow selected Walter for Columbia Broadcasting System’s’ television news division in 1950. Murrow’s affiliation with CBS news was the reason that communicators like Dan Rather bent and contorted their careers to continue working for the network behemoth even after its purchase by Viacom, a televised “amusements” corporation.
Viacom drove in the next nail, in 2005, when CBS News found itself formally under the aegis of a corporation named, “National Amusements.” Yeah, that would have been Murrow’s Dream Fulfilled.
The death of Cronkite marks the end of an era and condemns CBS to being just another label, another brand, another worthless commodity that spews garbage out onto the great, unwashed masses. Humans can be conditioned to accept just about any form of treatment as “normal,” given enough time and enough commitment on the part of the “conditioners,” and CBS has conditioned its viewership to accept pap like “Survivor,” a faux reality show, as entertainment. While tacitly accepting the thematic implication that survival in the 21st Century will depend more on interpersonal deception and individual skill than on actual “teamwork” and interpersonal cooperation, viewers of “Survivor” have unwittingly allowed themselves to be conditioned to accept, without question, widespread social disintegration as an acceptable part of their daily lives. A “house divided” mentality in lieu of the values that make democracy and democratic institutions strong becomes the new “normal” in a culture captured and numbed by the entertainment offered up in shows like “Survivor.” With the advent of mega-corporate ownership, the CBS network exchanged its proud heritage in support of social democracy and democratic institutions for the dubious heritage and corruption left to us by the large trusts at the beginning of the 20th Century.
Cronkite was no doubt appalled at how, in the space of less than a century, an entire culture could be manipulated en masse to unlearn what it had learned from its prior mistakes, effectively rendering the lessons learned from reining in the ambition of J.P. Morgan and the Standard Oil Trusts null and void.
And that’s the way it is.
Radio talkshow pundit Mike Malloy, among others, often wonders what it is going to take to get all of us to meet the first layers of corporate authority, en masse, at the “barricades” in protest of our systematic enslavement to the New World Order. As he and others continue to wonder out loud, the noose tightens and all our collective bloviation accomplishes is perhaps less than nothing. The fact that we announce, publicly, our discontent and befuddlement may actually be soothing our anxiety and panic over what is clearly taking place, rather than spurring us on to begin to intelligently and strategically plan the revolution that we all thought President Obama might help us to avoid. We had a very comfortable existence prior to the appearance of Ronald Reagan in 1980, and it has been a long, slow slide downhill into fascism ever since. Now it is time that we recognize our predicament and, rather than despair, choose the only real hope any of us ever has: the hope that we can, as individuals, overcome our denial of a past that is now over and our willingness to fully concede that what lays ahead, most likely, is a world of division and divided loyalties. Capitalism will then come to a head and reveal the boil of fascism that it has always been. Fascism is evil, and capitalism is fascism by any other name.
Walter Cronkite must have understood the day he took off his glasses and fought back the tears welling in his eyes that, at some level, democracy had come to a tragic end on the streets of downtown Dallas in November, 1963. For that day wasn’t just about the murder of John Kennedy – an individual human being and President of the United States – but the death of the American Experiment; the death of human hope that the best of our collective intelligence would save us from our own individual impulse to tyranny.
There is only one form of terrorism that has reigned supremely over this globe since the days of the Great Trusts that heralded the 20th Century, the People’s Century: the terror of every man, woman and child turning a deaf ear to the suffering we cause one another when we demand for more than what we need to live happily and humbly under the care of a generous Creator, whatever our conception of that Creator might be. Truly, there is no other terror because there is no colder place in all the cosmos than where Life denies itself the right to continue and to become.