Sunday, July 15, 2007

Revival of a Gold Standard ?

In 1968, upon returning from reporting on the ground in war ravaged Vietnam, CBS News Anchorman Walter Cronkite assessed and editorialized before millions of viewers about what he had seen and discovered. He cited mounting evidence that reinforced the perception that America's involvement in Vietnam was turning increasingly tragic and that the victory we originally sought may not be possible. His ending paragraph in an evening newscast almost 40 years ago, feels all to applicable today. The last paragraph of Cronkite's words were as follows:
To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe, in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past. To suggest we are on the edge of defeat is to yield to unreasonable pessimism. To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic, yet unsatisfactory, conclusion. On the off chance that military and political analysts are right, in the next few months we must test the enemy's intentions, in case this is indeed his last big gasp before negotiations. But it is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could.

This past week, CBS News' Bob Schieffer and anchor Katie Couric both asked bold, honest and important questions of current Bush administration policy.

Below is a link to Shieffer's commentary about the the Iraqi Parliament taking a long recess over the month of August, all the while American troops continue to die. It is powerful, honest and served up with a dose of truth, much like Cronkite's frank assessment in 1968. (The issue of heat,the Parliament's vacation, while American soldiers suffer in the same heat, was first questioned by ABC News Reporter Martha Radditz who was quick to point out our troops fate to White House Press Secretary Tony Snow. The questions from Radditz came after Snow defended the Iraqi parliament's August vacation at a White House Press Conference, which he said was due to the fact that it is hot (130 degrees) in Iraq in August.)

Schieffers commentary, short but stinging and powerful, is refreshing to hear from this veteran of journalism, especially when compared to what some see as a long period of timidity, and gussied up broadcast and cable news programs. And, Couric's brief commentary/question from her "notebook" regarding the President and the law (found in the second link) sends a velvet dagger through the heart of what increasingly looks to be an ethically challenged White House. One can only hope that the powers that be at CBS News, continue to allow, perhaps encourage such critical commentary, analysis and reporting. There is power in the press beyond just the facts and hopefully more television news outlets will accept greater responsibility and embrace that truth fulfilling its necessary role as a guardian of democracy.
Shieffer's Commentary from CBS NEWS-FACE THE NATION

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