When Walter Cronkite died Saturday, it truly did mark the end of an era.
There will never be another like him.
Quite simply, the state of TV news won't allow for it.
Watching CBS' excellent documentary last night on Cronkite's life and career I was struck by how well Cronkite's related to so much of the general population. There was liberal or conservative spin to things, no shouting at the camera, no none of the things that have lead to the decay of TV news today.
The networks have largely become irrelevant in terms of delivering news, and I've never gotten much value from CNN, MSNBC or Fox News, all of which present stories with extreme bias for the liberal or conservative side. (Some of the regular readers of this column will no doubt comment that Fox isn't biased. Just because a network describes itself as "fair and balanced" doesn't make it so.)
Cronkite's time as anchor was winding down just when I was getting to an age to start following what was going on in the world. His career spanned the most fascinating time in American history -- Vietnam, the moon landing, the civil rights movement, Watergate and, most famously, the Kennedy assassination.
When Cronkite famously criticized Vietnam in the late 1960s, Lyndon Johnson commented that if he's lost Cronkite, he's lost America. It was that feeling that made Cronkite "the most trusted man in America." It's hard to think of any of today's anchors having that influence.
Cronkite was synonymous with the news. When I interviewed a Warner Robins gentleman last week about the moon landing, he noted that "twice we were on Walter Cronkite."
It'd be nice to see TV news return to a delivery that values substance over style, but I'm afraid that ship has already sailed. News watchers will never see the likes of Cronkite again, and that truly is sad.
MONDAY'S BEST BETS: Before Cronkite's death, I had planned on devoting today's posting to the new season of "Torchwood," (BBC America, 9 p.m.), which kicks off a five-part miniseries tonight that will run each night this week.
If you haven't caught one of TV's coolest series, there's a recap of the first two seasons tonight at 8 p.m. Torchwood is the name of a super-secret agency that operates in Britain, defending the Earth against alien threats. It's lead by the immortal Capt. Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), an omnisexual former time agent who brings his rugged good looks to the fight. He's backed by former cop Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) and jack-of-all-trades Ianto Jones (Gareth David-Lloyd).
"Torchwood: Children of Earth" begins tonight with the team still reeling from the death of two of its members at the end of last season. The team is activated when all of the children around the world simply stop moving at the exact same time. What's the cause and what does it mean? That's the mystery.
"Torchwood" is a tremendous amount of fun, never taking itself too seriously yet still delivering powerful storytelling. A spinoff of "Doctor Who," it's a more adult-leaning style of storytelling. Note that each episode runs 75 minutes, so set your recording devices accordingly.
As for the rest of the night, Showtime has new episodes of "Weeds" and "Nurse Jackie" beginning at 10 p.m., and TNT delivers new installments of "The Closer" at 9 p.m. and "Raising The Bar" at 10 p.m.
ABC Family has a new "Secret Life of an American Teenager" at 8 p.m.
On regular TV, the men tell all on "The Bachelorette" (ABC, 8 p.m.) It's followed by a new reality show called "Dating In The Dark," in which the contestants meet in a dark room and are given a piece of their date's clothing. Then they are supposed to describe what they think the date looks like based on that. I guess either people get disappointed or hilarity ensues once the lights come on, but whatever floats your boat, I guess.
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