At 90, Cronkite still loves news

November 04, 2006|By Marisa Guthrie | Marisa Guthrie,McClatchy-Tribune

Walter Cronkite turns 90 years old today, and the renowned broadcaster has lost none of his lust for the news business.

"I would like to think that I'm still quite capable of covering a story," he told the New York Daily News this week.

After anchoring the CBS Evening News for nearly two decades, the man with the famous stentorian voice can now be heard introducing one of his successors, Katie Couric.

Asked for his reaction when CBS News executives invited him to do the introduction, he replied without hesitation: "I would like to be doing the whole broadcast."

Cronkite was there to interpret for attentive audiences (undistracted by today's dizzying array of news sources) major world events like the Cuban missile crisis, Vietnam, the Watergate scandal, the Apollo 11 moon landing and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

And while the image still lingers of the tearful newsman telling a stunned nation that Kennedy was dead, Cronkite is proudest of his coverage of the civil rights movement, the peace talks between Egypt's Anwar Sadat and Israel's Menachem Begin in the 1970s and the space program.

"The [moon landing] was certainly one of the greatest stories of the century and perhaps will be the greatest story of many centuries."

So which broadcast does "Uncle Walter" watch?

"I bounce around a little bit," he said. "I think all the three major networks do a good job. I'm particularly fond of Jim Lehrer's report on public radio."

And Couric?

"I think Katie's doing very well," he said. "I would like to see just a little bit more hard news on the broadcast. But I think she does quite a good job."

These days Cronkite spends his working hours doing documentary narration and voiceover work, as well as some writing, although he gave up his syndicated column last year. He tries not to ruminate too much on the past.

"I don't dare look at myself too carefully," he said with a laugh.

Cronkite does have one recent regret.

"I unfortunately have not been to Iraq," he said. "It's the first war since [World War II] that I have not covered."

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