I watched a little bit of the Walter Cronkite coverage last night. Don Hewitt sounded out of it on the Larry King Show, and Larry didn't sound too sharp either. At one point Hewitt was asked to reflect on the moon landing coverage.
HEWITT: One of the singular moments in television was Walter's man on the moon.
(Pause, as he realizes he should probably say a little something else.)
I think deep down, he wishes it was him -- he who was landing on the moon.
L. KING: Yes, he would have gone.
HEWITT: He would have gone.
Yes, Walter Cronkite's true greatness lay in his willingness, if called upon, to go to the moon. Moments later they were talking about the campaign to get Cronkite to run for office. "He would have given Nixon a run for his money," said Hewitt, and I had a vision of Walter Cronkite delivering his victory speech ON THE MOON.
Switching over to Rachel Maddow, there was Dan Rather. "One of his great strengths was ad-libbing," said Rather, and it can't have been lost on anyone that that was just what he himself was doing. While Rachel stuttered questions about "this icon, this legend," Rather spoke passionately, in fully formed paragraphs, with dates and capsule histories of the media. It struck me that he was paying tribute by articulating a sense of the moment in the old-school anchorman way he'd learned from Cronkite.
Anyway, I know everyone loved Walter Cronkite, but not everyone has one of these: A glossy photo of him from 1974, accompanied by a letter from his secretary (seen above in the scrapbook that also holds my birth and baptism certificates). I'd sent him a letter and a wallet-sized school picture of myself. His secretary wrote back:
September 16, 1974
Walter Cronkite has asked me to thank you for your very kind letter to him.
I'm returning your picture and also enclosing a photo of Walter which I hope you will like.
We hope you will continue watching our EVENING NEWS as well as other CBS programs.
Good luck in school,
If you could go ahead and refrain from speculating about why seven-year old boy would write fan mail to a middle-aged broadcaster, that would be great.