Roundups of Cronkite-death reactions are bound to include the President's personal memories, and Dan Abrams trashing personal memories. Also, Shaq's sword, Clooney's sad, Jeff Jarvis is so over this, Sarah Palin's rainbows, and Kelly Bundy has something to say.
Because Important People Deaths carry more weight than ol' lowercase regular people deaths, they can either elicit well-considered, clear-minded objectivity, or they can inspire transparent glibness, insipid tributes, and reactionary nonsense. Writing about Cronkite's death online is meta (man...), because his death apparently signifies the end of old-media (or something). Did his professional decedents and famous people respond accordingly? Well...
George Clooney wants to die. Clooney - who's old man was a newsman, and the inspiration to tell Edward Murrow's story in Good Night and Good Luck - doesn't want to exist in a world without Cronkite. Really.
"He was the most important voice in our lives for thirty years," the Oscar winner, who delved into the history of the CBS newsroom when he directed and costarred in Good Night and Good Luck, said in a statement Friday night. "And that voice made people reach for the stars. I hate the world without Walter Cronkite. "
Between this and his pet pig dying, it's been a shit year for him. You know who else is sad? Christina Applegate. Bet you weren't ready for this: ready for this:
President Obama got right down to business:
"For decades, Walter Cronkite was the most trusted voice in America. His rich baritone reached millions of living rooms every night, and in an industry of icons, Walter set the standard by which all others have been judged. He was there through wars and riots, marches and milestones, calmly telling us what we needed to know. And through it all, he never lost the integrity he gained growing up in the heartland.
But Walter was always more than just an anchor. He was someone we could trust to guide us through the most important issues of the day; a voice of certainty in an uncertain world. He was family. He invited us to believe in him, and he never let us down. This country has lost an icon and a dear friend, and he will be truly missed."
As far as media personae go, let's start with former MSNBC anchor Dan Abrams (of course), only because David Carr is somewhere in Bogota eating Arepas and has nothing to Tweet about Cronkite so far.
Abrams, whose new
media consulting business arm media website ranks media personae against each other when they're not trying to kick sand at other outlets or mourning the breakup of gay penguins. Well, for one thing, poor Cronkite wasn't even awesome enough to make the list of 214 TV/News anchors in the first place. Sad. Abrams' website more than made up for it, though, with six different posts on the matter, each one more Google-happy than the next. The King Shit, however, takes a shit on all the media coverage of Cronkite, including that of his own site's:
...every major journalist is now vying to be part of the Cronkite coverage (including, I suppose, this one). No question so many grew up watching Cronkite's masterful work over the years - from war zones to the White House. And those who knew him well have offered moving tributes to Cronkite the man. But showing one's respect for Walter Cronkite also means paying homage to what the Cronkite name has come to represent –a time when it would have been unthinkable to cover Michael Jackson's death day after day....Even in reporting on his death many journalists have violated one of Cronkite's basic tenets: report the news don't become it. How many times this weekend have we heard top journalists memorializing Cronkite with sentences beginning with the word I. "I met Cronkite in. . ." or "I remember seeing him. . ."...
Having reported on many of the most notorious trials of the past two decades (including that of Michael Jackson) I have no claim to Cronkiteian journalistic purity. The same applies, however, to some of my colleagues now attempting to tether themselves to Cronkite's legacy.
Nothing better than a little self-flagellation to relieve the symbolic pain of a symbolic death now, is there? Meanwhile, friend of this site Peter Feld - who's done a few political liveblogs, here - just went live with a column on Mediaite...about personal memories of Cronkite.
Tina Brown's Daily Beast went with only three articles, including a pretty solid video tribute.
Another self-proclaimed Media Expert, Jeff Jarvis, couldn't have hidden his glee any worse:
And while our boss was being letting the company strategy out of the bag, and our night editor was coming up with conspiracy theories, Sarah Palin didn't have anything to say about Cronkite, instead, going for some nonsense about there not being rain without rainbows.
There's no greater point about Cronkite to be made here so much as a point about the immediacy and speed with which we react to the death of someone we consider to be important, and the natural de-evolution of that importance by the moment. But you'll often be surprised by who takes expediency in these matters, and maybe that, too, is the salient point: an Important Death can often bring out the more surprising, unforeseeable reactions you wouldn't expect. Like the New York Times taking Cronkite from above the fold:
While Drudge keeps him up:
Then again, maybe Drudge just - like the rest of us - enjoys a famous dead person. So it goes.