There is a special on CBS tonight that I was a small part of. It's called "That's The Way It Is: Celebrating Cronkite At 90. I hope you will tune in at 8:00pm ET to visit again with the man that held our hand through the last half of the 20th century. It is an incredibly moving hour, not only because of our collective love for Walter Cronkite, but for the history he brought to us through the window of The CBS Evening News each night.
Walter Cronkite practically invented our notion of the TV anchor man. He became "Uncle Walter" and seemed to always be there, like the good uncle he was, when we needed him the most: the Kennedy assassination, the space shots, the walk on the moon, Vietnam.
He became so much a part of our lives that there was once even a movement to run him for president. No other national newsperson has had that level of trust, admiration and love. It certainly surpassed that of any of the politicians he covered.
Watching the special is like leafing through a photo album of our lives. It reminded me of what we try to do in the news and why the news is more than just the facts of a story. It's the story of the story. The special is moving because it's our life, and Walter Cronkite is ours, too.
As I watched a copy of the special last night there was one thing I wish I had said about him that I didn't. Television news, at times, has been dominated by Ted Baxter-ish characters trying their hardest to bring what Walter brought, effortlessly, into so many homes. Despite his stentorian voice and dignified countenance, there was something almost preternaturally relaxed, and yes, natural about Walter's delivery. He didn't read or recite…he communicated. He talked to us and in the many stories he recounted, revealed his intelligence and humanity -- I think that might have been his greatest gift.
And that's why having his voice introduce my broadcast is at once chilling and wildly exciting. Fifty years later he's still part of The CBS Evening News and -- dare I say it -- that's the way he is.