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Civil War, Conventional Wisdom And Cronkite Moments

(CBS/The Early Show)
As we noted earlier, NBC has made an editorial decision to begin describing the ongoing violence in Iraq as a "civil war." NBC's cable channel, MSNBC, has been discussing the change all day but it's hardly the first time the situation has been described as such. I'll leave the debate over semantics to other forums. But this turn of phrase is already being touted as a turning point. It's kind of hard not to wonder who will be the first to call this a "Cronkite Moment."

That would be tempting, considering all the hot and heavy debate over use of the term "civil war." Just one problem – this war has already seen its "Cronkite Moment." In fact, it's seen a few of them. Remember when Congressman John Murtha first called for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq? A Cronkite Moment. When ABC anchor Bob Woodruff and cameraman Doug Vogt were severely injured in an attack? A Cronkite Moment. When conservative icon William F. Buckley pronounced Iraq a failure? You guessed it, a Cronkite Moment.

Of course, Walter Cronkite himself has provided that moment by repeatedly voicing his view that the U.S. should get out of Iraq. We've written about what it takes to have a true Cronkite Moment and discussed whether it was as momentous as we've come to believe. One thing we can say with certainty is that even if a true Cronkite moment is no longer possible, the phrase has taken on a life of its own.

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