Commentator: (n) a person who delivers a live commentary on an event
His name was Walter.
People under the age of forty probably don’t even remember who he was.
In this age of controversy about the news media, Walter stands out as historically unique. Case in point:
I have no idea if he wore ladies underwear.
I have no private information on whether he ever sexually harassed his office staff.
I do not know if he was secretly gay.
These are things that seem to be important to us nowadays. We not only want people to do their job, but we want them to do it to our standard of morality.
But what set Walter Cronkite apart from the rest of the commentators of his day–and certainly of our season–is that he really believed what he was doing was valuable.
It was so important to him that he always delivered the news with sincerity, neutrality, gravitas and yet in a reassuring way, letting the American people know that the sky was not falling–there would be another day, and a good chance it would be better.
Maybe it was the bit of “gruff” in his voice, which hinted at crankiness, or the bristle of mustache, perhaps outdated–but aging uncles and grandfathers never seem to care.
Or maybe it was the fact that when the President of the United States was shot in Dallas, Walter, like us, was mortified–and found himself breaking into tears.
There are three things Walter knew about humanity:
- When you run across goodness, proclaim it. It’s not always easy to be human and good.
- Don’t expect humans to be good in every arena, but make sure they respect the holy ground of their calling.
- And Walter knew that as a human being, he needed to make sure he kept his ears tuned to the mission of his heart, and far away from the gossiping rabble.
Walter Cronkite was a commentator.
But history has shown his mercy, his faithfulness and exactly how uncommon he was.