The news over the weekend of Walter Cronkite’s death hit me pretty hard. I didn’t grow up with him on my TV news- I was born in the late 70s and Ilive in Canada. But the history geek in me led me to him and his com padrein truth, Edward R. Murrow. I, like many others of my generation, saw him in flashback almost, in his bigger, grander moments. I saw him nearly lose all composure announcing JFK’s death, felt the wonder seeping out of the tubes as he observed the moon landing, felt his irritation about the futility in Vietnam. His were first person accounts on videotape, the most trusted man in America, able to influence an entire nations feelings on a war by simply observing it. It has been said time and again over the last couple of days that there will never be another Walter Cronkite. Certainly this will be true- not only because he was one of a kind, but because no one seems to aspire to be that type of journalist any more. The era where journalism was a true profession, capable of providing checks and balances to the government, is really over.
Frank McCourt also dies this weekend after a battle with cancer and meningitis. His was a fascinating story. Not famous outside of being an eccentric NYC teacher, he published one of the most elegant, tragic, beautiful memoirs in history. I’ve read Angela’s Ashes and ‘Tis numerous times. He found humor in the hypocrisy and poverty of his life and inspired me to find the truth in my own voice as a writer, even while writing snarky recaps for TV shows.