Walter Cronkite, called “the most trusted man in America” during his tenure as CBS Evening News anchor, was quite untrustworthy when it came to uncovering the truth about the biggest news story of the 20th century–the assassination of President Kennedy. Yeah, I’ve seen the video of his “choked-up” reporting of JFK’s death on Nov. 22, 1963, but what I remember most is his 1967 CBS documentary which supported and praised the Warren Commission’s work. The Warren Report has since been exposed as a 26-volume pack of lies, but Walter went to his grave defending it. This indefensible lapse in journalistic integrity and fortitude was no accident. Walter was either ordered, or strongly “encouraged,” to mislead Americans by his boss, William Paley.
Regular readers of this blog are familiar with Operation Mockingbird, the CIA’s subversion of the free press in America. Frank Wisner, who ran the project in the 1940s and 1950s for the Agency, once famously said that the American media was like his own “…personal Wurlitzer; I can play any tune I want on it and America will follow along.” In the 1970s, CIA director William Colby admitted, “The CIA owns assets at every major media outlet in America–TV networks, newspapers, publishing houses, and magazines.” In a 1977 Rolling Stone article, Carl Bernstein estimated that there were hundreds, perhaps thousands, of CIA-friendly assets at all the major TV networks, newspapers and periodicals in America. William Paley, president of CBS, had an especially cozy relationship with the CIA. It began in the 1950s when Allen Dulles was head of the Agency. Dulles and Paley became close friends, and Dulles convinced Paley to broadcast CIA-approved stories, employ CIA “journalists,” and provide cover for covert agents on assignment. CBS even provided film clips of stories on foreign nations and their leaders. Many times these clips were not broadcast unless the CIA gave its approval.
The apparatus, then, was in place for the CIA to prevent an honest investigation of its murder of the 35th president of the United States. The Washington Post, the New York Times, Time/Life, ABC, NBC, and CBS all attacked those who dared to criticize the official version of events, and publicized propaganda and false information about how and why JFK was murdered. CBS, in particular, led the charge with Cronkite and Dan Rather out front, heading off any real investigative journalism. Paley ruled over his reporters and his news network with an iron fist. NO way was he going to take on the CIA.
So I say, Walter, you may have been an avuncular sort who played to the camera, but you got the most important story of your lifetime wrong. Because of that, you aided and abetted the falsification of 20th century American history…and for that you will forever be disgraced as a journalist. This November when Cronkite’s reporting of November 22, 1963, is re-broadcast, and tributes to him come gushing from the mouths of the uninformed, I will get nauseous.