Letter to the editor of The Wall Street Journal, Wed. 04/10/13
The Tet Offensive and Press Conduct
Reader George McKenna is right in citing Walter Cronkite as an example of how a new form of journalism gave distorted narratives due to liberal ideology (Letters, April 6). As a West German combat correspondent, I was with Peter Braestrup in Hue during the 1968 Tet Offensive. Like Braestrup, I stood at a mass grave filled with the bodies of civilians slaughtered by the Viet Cong; like Braestrup, I also witnessed the destruction of the VC as a fighting force. Like Braestrup, too, I was enraged when Cronkite declared the war unwinnable, thus prompting President Lyndon B. Johnson to remark, "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost Middle America."
With that Cronkite betrayed the very principle of journalism he had once stood for, namely, that a reporter should report and not opine. Once an honorable war reporter himself, he thus placed himself at the head of the new narcissistic media movement dominated by self-important pundits. This was both Cronkite's personal tragedy and a catastrophe for journalism as an indispensable pillar of democracy—all democracies, not only America's.
Laguna Woods, Calif.