The Assassination of John F. Kennedy
Forty-six years later, Cronkite’s announcement that President Kennedy had died is still chilling. Though it’s eerie to watch the news be confirmed live on air, Cronkite's calm, reassuring demeanor helped Americans through the tumultuous period.
“It seems now more certain than ever that the bloody experience of Vietnam is to end in a stalemate,” the previously hawkish Cronkite reported after visiting the country in 1968. Upon hearing Cronkite’s broadcast, President Johnson reportedly said, “If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost Middle America.”
The Apollo 11 Lunar Landing Mission
“That’s one small step for man…” The race to space was breathlessly covered by the media, but it was Cronkite who brought America the first images of man landing on the moon.
The Iran Hostage Crisis
As the Iranian hostage crisis dragged on from November 1979 to January 1981, Cronkite began appending the duration of the hostages’ captivity to his show’s closing as a reminder to his audience that the situation remained unresolved.
The Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.
Cronkite pulled no punches in his reporting of Martin Luther King Jr.’s death, delving into the grisly details of the crime.
Three Mile Island
“The world has never known a day quite like today,” began Cronkite in his 1979 broadcast about Three Mile Island. The U.S. was still in the grip of Cold War paranoia when news broke that a nuclear plant in Pennsylvania had leaked radioactive gas into the surrounding area.
September 11, 2001
Though he was no longer the face of CBS Evening News in 2001, Cronkite added his voice to the post-9/11 commentary, appearing on The Late Show with David Letterman. There he said, with a glimmer of his old hawkishness, “We know that we want to get retribution…we are with the president 100 percent.”
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