WASHINGTON (CNN) - Goodbye, Walter. I'll miss you, even though it's been a while since we last spoke. I'll miss what you stood for even more.
Walter Cronkite anchored the CBS Evening News for nineteen years, from 1962 until 1981. I joined CBS News in 1964, so I was there for most of it. It was a special time. We thought we had the best team. We in Washington thought we had the best bureau. We probably did. One review of network news back then said, I still remember, "People at other networks talk a lot about CBS people. So do CBS people." Right. And we knew, of course, that we had the best anchor.
Chet Huntley and David Brinkley of NBC led the ratings when Walter's tour began. He overtook them and was number one for years until he retired. CBS stayed first for a time after that but then lost it, and never, if I remember properly, got it back.
What was it about him? He wasn't TV slick or TV handsome, that's for sure.
What he was, I think, was reassuring. However bad the news was, and it was often pretty bad back then–Vietnam, Watergate–you remember–this earnest, believable man seemed to be saying, in addition to his spoken words, "It's okay, folks, we'll get through this." He didn't openly show emotion – the Kennedy assassination, of course, and once I remember a "Go, baby, go!" when a spacecraft lifted off the launch pad. That feeling of solidity, of "this is a guy I can believe," was always there.
When Lyndon Johnson famously said of the Vietnam War, "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost middle America," he was probably right.
I've missed you on screen too, Walter. TV news just ain't what it used to be. But I'm happy to have been one of your "so-and-sos," as in, "so-and-so has more on that." Good memories of the way it was, back then.
Bruce Morton is a veteran political reporter who worked for CBS News from 1964 to 1993 and for CNN from 1993 until his retirement in 2006. His blog is available at http://brucemortonblog.blogspot.com/.